The United States’ Top 10 Retirement Destinations
Do you wish to spend your senior years on the beach, mountain climbing, or tennis? Take some writing lessons, volunteer, and visit an art museum. The first question to consider is: Where should I reside?
While there is no simple answer, we have sought to decide where to retire a little easier for you. Money analyzed over 47,500 data points and factored in housing, environment, diversity, and safety to create a list of destinations that suit any taste or budget $255 loan. Further down, you’ll find more information about our techniques.
Pandemic means that the most beautiful events we’ve described can’t happen now or with extreme care. For the time being, venturing into new territory may be hazardous. Choosing the right site is a long-term loan commitment. We ranked these locations based on characteristics that will differentiate them throughout time and natural elements that must be relished.
Madison, Wisconsin, is the most populous city in the United States.
- This city has a population of 256,000 inhabitants.
- 28.2 percent of the population is above the age of 50.
- Each year, there are 185 days of sunshine.
- A residence costs an average of $292,000.
A college town in Wisconsin may not immediately spring to mind as a great place to retire. Due to its plethora of leisure activities and natural beauty, Madison, Wisconsin – a metropolitan town nestled between two lakes – has grabbed the top spot on our list.
It has a wide range of attractions that are reasonably priced. At $292,000., the city boasts one of the lowest median home costs among our winners.
Living near the University of Wisconsin provides several benefits. According to the university, persons aged 60 and over are eligible to audit courses for free, and 800 did so online during the fall semester. Visitors may wonder about the university Arboretum, and the Lakeshore Nature Preserve on a typical Saturday.
Madison has a thriving restaurant scene and free entertainment such as concerts by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra on the grounds of the state Capitol. The Dane County Farmers’ Market, the country’s largest producer-only market, is close to the Capitol and has extended its outdoor season throughout the pandemic.
The city’s art institutions, such as the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and different movie theaters, may provide a welcome respite on a rainy day. Visit the Madison Children’s Museum and Henry Vilas Zoo while visiting family, or rent a paddleboard or kayak at one of the nearby lakes to keep the kids amused.
With 38 retirement communities, the state capital has the most of any of our winners.
Wisconsin has one of the lowest sales taxes in the nation, with a property tax deferral loan program for people over 60 with a family income of less than $20,000 per year. Wisconsin’s workforce has fared better than the rest of the country, with a 5.7 percent unemployment rate in October, compared to a national average of 6.9 percent.
- This city has a population of 83,000 inhabitants.
- 48.4% of the population is above the age of 50.
- In a year, there are 244 days of sunshine.
- The median property price in the area is 211,000 dollars.
Largo, Florida, is a city in Pinellas County, Florida, on a peninsula bordered by Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It was formerly known as “Citrus City” because of its citrus export to northern regions. Although it is not as well-known as Boca Raton in the southeast as a retirement destination, it offers plenty of beautiful beaches and sunlight at a lesser cost.
Largo is the lowest of our winners, with an average home price of 211,000 dollars. Florida is tied with Tennessee as the most “tax-friendly” state; neither state has a state income tax. With 24 retirement homes in the area and more than half of the population aged 50 or over, it’s an excellent place for seniors to visit.
Because of its walkability and beautiful weather, the city on the Gulf Coast came out on top among our winners for a pleasant environment. Residents may visit the Florida Botanical Gardens or Largo Central Park, which contains fountains, picnic pavilions, and a playground on a sunny day. The Central Park Performing Arts Center, is an excellent place to take out-of-town visitors to enjoy live music, dance, or theater.
Of course, Largo’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico’s beaches — of which there are many — is a big lure. Indian Rocks Beach, St. Pete Beach, and Clearwater Beach, which has been voted the best beach in the United States by TripAdvisor for three of the last five years, are all close to Largo residents (the other two years it was Siesta Beach, which is under a 90-minute drive from Largo). Finally, no conversation about Florida would be complete without mentioning golf courses, and Largo boasts many of them, including the East Bay Golf Club and the Pinecrest Golf Club.
Lower Merion (Pennsylvania).
- This city has a population of 62,000 inhabitants.
- A total of 43.9 percent of the population is above 50.
- Every year, there are 205 days of sunshine.
- A home costs on average $500,000 to buy.
Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, was established by Welsh Quakers in the 1600s and is located near Philadelphia. The township has a suburban feel and is ideally placed near a vibrant city known for its culinary and artistic industries.
This location may be a good choice if access to healthcare providers is crucial to you in retirement. According to our data, lower Merion, in addition to the Bryn Mawr and Lankenau hospitals, has a high number of primary care providers, mental health experts, and doctors for its population. However, there is a cost associated with this access. Lower Merion has the best economy of our winners, but it also has the highest median home price, at $500,000.
If you’re looking for various ways to be intellectually and physically active, Lower Merion, home to the women’s college Bryn Mawr, could be worth it. With the 12-acre Barnes Arboretum (which initially housed the well-known art organization the Barnes Foundation until it moved to Philly in 2012) and treks along the Main Line, such as the Cynwyd Heritage Trail, this location is ideal for walkers. The Schuylkill River and the Schuylkill River Pedestrian and Cycling Network connect homes, businesses, schools, and more to parks and the Schuylkill River.
Because of its proximity to the City of Brotherly Love, Lower Merion has 234 museums and 367 theaters within a 15-mile radius for those seeking indoor entertainment. Meanwhile, individuals 55 and older may join the Center For Positive Aging in Lower Merion (PALM), which offers weekly food shopping and free medical tests and lectures, workshops, and entertainment, which have stayed essentially constant throughout the epidemic.
- This city has a population of 84,000 inhabitants.
- Over the age of 50, 36.5 percent of the population is over 50.
- Every year, there are 208 days of sunshine.
- The average price of a home in the United States is $495,000.
Franklin, Tennessee, is unique in that it can boast a history that includes Benjamin Franklin, Neil Diamond, and Taylor Swift. Three of the last four years, the city has been in the top 10 in Money’s Best Places to Live rankings, and it is home to Dark Horse Recording Studios, which has produced albums for many well-known artists. According to the Census Bureau, Franklin was one of the fastest-growing large cities in the United States between 2010 and 2019.
Franklin has a median home price of $495,000, which is more than some other cities on our list but cheaper than Brentwood. Because just a tiny fraction of individuals spend more than half of their income on housing, the city’s general housing market was one of our winners.
Although Nashville’s world-famous music business is just a half-hour drive away, Franklin offers its attractions. The city’s history, which includes walking tours of sites from the Civil War’s Battle of Franklin and museums such as the Lotz House and Williamson County Museum, will not make you sick. In Downtown Franklin’s historical section, there are 15 blocks of modern-day attractions, including restaurants, shopping, art galleries, etc. You don’t even have to go to Nashville to hear fantastic live music. Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant features live music. The Pilgrimage Music Festival in Franklin’s Harlinsdale Farm has drawn a varied spectrum of musicians, including the Foo Fighters, Lionel Richie, Sheryl Crow, and Justin Timberlake, to name a few.
- This city has a population of 234,000 inhabitants.
- The population over the age of 50 accounts for 34.1 percent of the people.
- There are 210 days of sunlight per year.
- The average price of a home is $335,000.
Where do most Basques — an ethnic group with roots in the Pyrenees Mountains’ western foothills — dwell in the United States? If you said Boise, Idaho, you’d be accurate. The Basque Museum and Cultural Center and The Basque Market are located on the Basque Block in downtown Boise, Idaho’s capital and most populous city. The Basque Market serves pintxos (for “tapas,” small meals meant to be shared) and paella.
Boise feels like a big city without the price tag that comes with it. According to a recent Move.org report, Idahoans enjoy the lowest utility prices in the US. The weakest averaskyscrapers don’t bog down Lakewood used for as cheap as 75 cents by anyone aged 65 and over.
Boise also boasts a thriving art scene. The Gene Harris Jazz Festival, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Ballet Idaho, the Boise Philharmonic, street art, and the Boise Art Museum are all located. Locals have access to nature despite this culture since the state’s mountains are accessible from their dwellings. In a single day, you can quickly go from fishing or canoeing on the Boise River in the morning to cycling the 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt in the afternoon to grabbing a bite to eat downtown.
- This city has a population of 154,000 inhabitants.
- 38.6% of the population is above the age of 50.
- Every year, there are 245 days of sunshine.
- A home costs an average of $392,000.
There are no skyscrapers in Lakewood, which is barely eight miles west of Denver and a 15-minute light rail ride away. The Rocky Mountain foothills surround Lakewood, which has 7,200 acres of open space.
Although this city’s median house price is higher than some of our other winners, it is still cheaper than the average home price in numerous other Colorado cities, including Centennial and Denver. It compensates for this in different ways, most notably with low-cost family entertainment. Approximately 850 amusements (festivals, zoos, boat rentals, and more) and 265 theaters within 15 miles.
Living in Lakewood means you’re just a short drive away from locations like Bear Creek Lake Park, which has 15 miles of trails for skiing, boating, and hiking. Indoors, though, there’s much to do, from the Belmar shopping and dining area, which has over 80 stores and restaurants, to the Lakewood Cultural Center, which features art galleries and performing arts courses.
Persons over 55 may participate in day trips, drop-in activities such as dance and art classes, sports, community meals, and more at the Lloyd G. Clements Communal Center. The Older Adult Wellness Fair brings the community together for fitness classes, strength testing, and health screenings (canceled this year due to COVID-19).
The city of Asheville, North Carolina
- This city has a population of 94,000 inhabitants.
- Over the age of 50, 35.8% of the population is over 50.
- Every year, there are 212 days of sunlight.
- The average price of a home is $328,000.
You’re not planning on retiring in the country’s largest privately-owned house, but you’d visit Asheville, North Carolina, if you were. There are 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces in the Biltmore House. Currently, it serves as a museum.
Apart from the Biltmore, Asheville is a low-cost city. Tastee Diner serves a $5 cheeseburger, while bus costs for people 65 and over are just 50 cents (or $110 for an annual ticket).
At UNC Asheville’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), seniors may hear from UNC professors about economics to photography (classes have moved online during the pandemic). Asheville Parks & Recreation Outdoor Programs’ Senior Treks, low-impact treks, are another option to experience the neighboring Blue Ridge Mountains. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Pisgah National Forest are also less than an hour distant from Asheville, but the hiking opportunities don’t stop there.
Once you’re back in the flow of things, you won’t run out of new restaurants to try. The Daily Meal rated Asheville one of America’s best gourmet towns in 2019, and its visitor’s bureau, Explore Asheville, portrays it as a “Foodtopi and to live up to its name. Asheville has the most bars and restaurants per capita among our champs.
There are a total of 12 retirement communities in the area.
The city of Bridgewater, New Jersey
- This city has a population of 45,000 people.
- Above half of the population (43.7%) is over 50.
- Every year, there are 205 days of sunshine.
- The median home price in the area is $390,000.
Since the stars-and-stripes first flew over it in 1777, Bridgewater Township, New Jersey, has changed drastically. The township has grown from a small farming community in the 1950s to one of New York City’s trendiest suburbs because of its proximity to the Big Apple, affordable real estate, and low crime rates.
Bridgewater, which is just 40 minutes by train from Newark and 90 minutes from Penn Station in Manhattan, has a median home price of $390,000. The New York–Newark–Jersey City metro area, by contrast, costs half a million dollars.
One of Bridgewater’s most fantastic attractions in Washington Valley Park, which has 720 acres of pine and hemlock woodlands and a 21-acre fishing pond. Hiking and mountain biking are accessible on many trails, and birdwatchers go to the Hawk Watch Area from August to November to view raptor species (including hawks, ospreys, and bald eagles) fly south.
When they return to town, golfers will enjoy hitting the greens at the Green Knoll Golf Course, one of Somerset County’s several publicly maintained courses. Green Knoll challenges golfers of all levels, and ambitious golfers may learn to play at the Neshanic Valley Golf Course’s Learning Center nearby Neshanic Station.
The New York Yankees’ Double-A affiliate team, the Somerset Patriots, may be viewed at TD Bank Ballpark to taste MLB-level talent without the price tag. The premium field box tickets start at $15. (However, owing to the coronavirus epidemic, games with large audiences are temporarily on pause.)
The city of Roseville, California
- This city has a population of 143,000 inhabitants.
- Over the age of 50, 36.2 percent of the population is over 50.
- Every year, there are 265 days of sunshine.
- The average price of a home in the United States is $461,000.
On the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Roseville is a 20-minute drive north of Sacramento. The climate of Roseville, like the rest of Sacramento, is the Mediterranean. When you live there, it’s not only about the weather; it’s also about the wine.
With 52 wineries within 25 miles of Roseville, it has the most of any city on our list. From family businesses like Dora Dain Wines to world-class vineyards like Wise Villa, it’s easy to spend a weekend (or four) savoring the region’s best varietals.
There’s no lack of things to do outdoors on these beautiful days. Two of the city’s many golf courses are Sierra View Country Club and Woodcreek Golf Club. Roseville is also home to the All-American Speedway, a NASCAR-sanctioned racetrack popular with residents.
The Westfield Galleria, Northern California’s second-largest mall, is located in the city and has Nordstrom’s flagship store and Hugo Boss and the Disney Store. Two additional malls in downtown Roseville are Stanford Ranch and the Ridge at Creekside.
Remember, after you’ve seen all Roseville offers — which might take a while – Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada ski resorts are two hours away.
Santa Fe, New Mexico.
- This city has a population of 84,000 inhabitants.
- The population over the age of 50 accounts for 41.8 percent of the people.
- Every year, there are 278 days of sunshine.
- A residence costs an average of $367,000.
This vibrant state capital in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is noted for its cultural scene and natural beauty, making it ideal for retirees who want to get the most out of life.
Santa Fe boasts the highest percentage of clear-sky days of any city or town on our list, which is fantastic news for outdoor lovers. There are hundreds of hiking paths in and around Santa Fe for novice and expert hikers, with the Santa Fe National Forest being a popular option. This forest covers over a million acres, including 300,000 acres of undeveloped land, 1,000 miles of rivers, and over 20 lakes available to anglers with a New Mexico fishing license.
If cultural attractions are more your thing, Santa Fe has much to offer. History fans will appreciate wandering around the ancient city center with historic adobe structures, local cafés and stores, and attractions like the Loretto Chapel, which is noted for its “miraculous” stairway, a spiraling wooden frame with two 360-degree twists and no apparent support.
In Santa Fe, there are hundreds of museums and art galleries. The Girard Wing of the Museum of International Folk Art, which has a miniature Mexican village, and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, which is dedicated to the artist who spent her last years in Santa Fe, are two highlights. Another local favorite is El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a living 18th-century settlement with adobe homes and costumed re-enactors. The ranch offers several events throughout the year, including the Santa Fe Wine Festival in July and the Harvest Festival in the fall.
Money’s Best Places to Retire evaluated only places with at least 25,000 people. Any location with a crime rate twice as high as the national average, a median family income less than 85% of the state’s median, or a lack of ethnic diversity was excluded. We now have a total of 1,890 slots available.
We collected around 47,500 unique data points and filtered out areas with a median sales price of more than $550,000 in the first quarter of 2020 to narrow down the list. We analyzed data from Witlytic on each city’s housing market, economic health, cost of living, quality of life, mental and physical health, diversity, and amenities. More information on the data we used may be found here. When choosing the retirement destinations mentioned below, we put the quality of life factors (such as weather and the number of people aged 50 and over) ahead of the cost of living, health and safety amenities, and the housing market.