Real Estate

The 30 Best Towns to Move to for Retirement

If you're looking for the perfect place for you, your parents, or your grandparents to retire, you're probably weighing important factors like affordability, pleasant weather, and popular amenities. You'll be happy to know that, according to a U.S. News ranking of the top cities for retirees, plenty of stateside spots offer this trifecta of desirable traits. Click through to find out which 30 cities top the U.S. News list, then start planning your move to your retirement paradise.

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Sarasota, Florida

Retirees and celebrities like Stephen King and Rosie O’Donnell have flocked to this southwest Florida city for its sunny skies, clean beaches, and cultural attractions that include the Sarasota Ballet and the Sarasota Opera. When wanderlust sets in, Tampa is a mere hour away, and Orlando is just two hours away.

Related: The Best U.S. Cities for a Summer Staycation

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Approximately 60 colleges are located within a 50-mile radius of Lancaster, making this Mid-Atlantic city an ideal destination for retirees with college-age children. While the kids are hitting the books, empty-nesters can enjoy bucolic farmlands and independent coffee shops as well as the region’s diverse population, ranging from professionals to farmers.

Related: The Best Tiny Towns in Every State

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio’s well-known attractions, from the Alamo Mission to the River Walk, are a draw for visitors of all ages. But it’s the low median home value (less than $140,000, according to Neighborhood Scout) and the average high temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit that attract—and keep—golden-agers.

Related: America’s 50 Most Exclusive Neighborhoods

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Wikimedia Commons via Rachel Kramer

If you can brave the cold winters, this northern city will reward you with entertainment in the form of craft breweries and public art displays. An affordable real estate market allows residents to pocket a cost savings of $56,386 annually on housing compared with the national average.

Related: These 30 Places Have the Worst Weather in America

El Paso, Texas

The aptly named Sun City receives about 300 days of sunshine every year. The warm climate means retirees can comfortably venture outside the home for entertainment, including concerts at the Abraham Chavez Theatre, with its sombrero-shaped silhouette that makes it a dazzling architectural display in its own right.

Related: The Most Famous Houses in Every State

McAllen, Texas

Wikimedia Commons via Joel Pacheco

McAllen’s parks, museums, and festivals, including the Palmfest International Folklife Celebration, make it an attractive retirement locale for nature lovers and culture seekers alike. Its low unemployment rate of 7.7 percent and status as a tourism destination in the American South also appeal to the semiretired seeking part-time work.

Related: 10 U.S. Towns That Are Older Than America

Daytona Beach, Florida

While Daytona Beach offers the young plenty of excitement, from races at the Daytona International Speedway to boogie-boarding at area beaches, it also allows for more low-key leisure activities. Popular pastimes for retirees in this coastal city include fishing at the pier and strolling along the boardwalk. 

Related: 15 Tiny Beach Bungalows for Your Next Vacation

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Steel City boasts an affordable median home value of $130,400, according to Zillow, making it one of the more reasonably priced markets in the country. Buying into the city for this relatively small sum puts residents within driving distance of countless theaters, museums, and historical venues, many of which offer discounts for seniors.

Related: 15 Places Every American Should Visit at Least Once

Austin, Texas

Austin’s proudly proclaimed reputation for being “weird” doesn’t deter retirees from flocking to the city. Given its sun-soaked setting, lack of state income tax, and abundance of historic and live music venues, there’s a lot for frugal and culture-seeking retirees to love about the offbeat Texas city.

Related: The 20 Best Town Mottoes from East to West

Washington, D.C.

Just steps from the highest office in the land, retirees to our nation’s capital can avail themselves of scores of museums and historic sites, public parks, and world-class eateries. Particularly important for older folks, the city’s well-connected public transit, the Metro, allows residents to travel to all of these attractions sans car.

Related: Pedestrians Only: 20 Car-Free Places in America

Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Urban and suburban landscapes peacefully coexist in this North Texas city beloved for its Tex-Mex restaurants and public parks. It’s the perfect destination for those who prefer to spend retirement sitting on the couch with their feet kicked up, watching the game—the city has a whopping six professional sports teams.

Related: The 19 Most Photographed Homes in America

Houston, Texas

A median home price of $185,600, according to Zillow, coupled with inexpensive attractions that include the Miller Outdoor Theater and Eleanor Tinsley Park, help residents stretch their retirement funds. The budget-friendly delights of the city may even make it possible to occasionally break the dinnertime routine and eat out at one of 11,000 restaurants in the metroplex.

Related: 25 Tiny Towns to Visit for a Glimpse at How We Used to Live

Greenville, South Carolina

An uptick in manufacturing jobs has spurred the revitalization of this charming South Carolina town, but its appeal stretches far beyond working Americans. Seniors, too, are attracted by the city’s charms, including a pedestrian-friendly downtown that encourages them to hit local restaurants, shops, and museums like the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library.

Related: 9 Towns That’ll Pay You to Move There

Fayetteville, Arkansas

As one of America’s most budget-friendly cities, Fayetteville abounds with affordable attractions for retirees. Seniors can enjoy the best of Broadway without leaving town by visiting the Walton Arts Center on Dickson Street, or attending a show at TheatreSquared, a wildly popular destination for the arts community.

Related: 20 Beautiful Homes Hiding in America’s Most Affordable Cities

Fort Myers, Florida

For those seeking retirement in a mid-size city that feels like a small town, Fort Myers fits the bill. Seniors 60 and older, who account for a quarter of the city’s population, find plenty of opportunities to socialize in the pedestrian-friendly, restaurant-filled downtown, which has its own jam-packed social calendar.

Related: 12 Destinations You Should Actually Visit During the Off-Season

Des Moines, Iowa

Family-friendly and job-rich Des Moines is an attractive option for couples with small children. But once the kids have grown, empty-nesters can make a seamless transition into retirement by staying put in this city that the Census Bureau cites as the fastest growing in the Midwest.

Related: 7 Fictional Towns You Can Visit in Real Life

Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina

Wikimedia Commons via Bz3rk

While the Raleigh-Durham area is home to Research Triangle Park, a high-tech hub, it’s also rife with opportunities to unplug, with attractions like Pullen Park, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and concerts at the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre. The 43 inches of annual rainfall ensure verdant green spaces throughout the region.

Related: 10 Good Things Your Town May Give You for Free

Charleston, South Carolina

Wikimedia Commons via Ymblanter

Retirees fit in easily in Charleston, where nearly a quarter of the population is above the age of 55. Once they plant roots in the charming coastal city, they’re treated to a smorgasbord of sights, sounds, and colors, from boat tours and Southern comfort food to the array of 13 pastel-colored row houses of Rainbow Row on Bay Street.

Related: The 19 Most Photographed Homes in America

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Retirees who appreciate a sense of the past will find much to admire in Philadelphia’s 336-year history, which is preserved in the 18th-century buildings and cobblestone paths of the town’s historic Old City. An affordable median home value of $144,600, according to Zillow, means that retirees can soak up the local color without breaking the bank.

Related: 20 Places with (Almost) Zero Crime

Orlando, Florida

Youngsters know Orlando as the land of Mickey and Disney princesses, but retirees value the city for another reason. The budget-friendly and state-tax-free metro area is strategically situated near an international airport—ideal for retirees who love to travel.

Related: Island Living: 20 Tropical B&Bs That Are Only an Airplane Away

San Diego, California

There’s no shortage of fun or sun in this Southern California city famed for its breathtaking beaches. Those with a nest egg large enough to land a home in the area, which comes with a median price tag of $484,654, can spend their golden years mingling with friendly locals at nearby shops, restaurants, and farmers’ markets.

Related: 18 American Towns Every Old-House Lover Needs to See

Charlotte, North Carolina

Boasting a large and culturally diverse population of transplants, Charlotte makes non-native retirees feel right at home. Craft breweries, museums, and a wide selection of fine dining establishments in the city of over 842,000 appeal to the sophisticated tastes of boomers.

Related: The 20 Best (and Most Unusual) B&Bs in America

Jacksonville, Florida

The growing business sector in this city of more than 880,000 makes it fertile soil for retirees looking to start a new venture. For those who’d rather relax than join the entrepreneurial scene, the ample beaches and golf courses—and the lack of state income tax—are reason enough to call Jacksonville home.

Related: The Secret Histories of 15 Grand Old American Mansions

Honolulu, Hawaii

That pipe dream of retiring in Hawaii may be more attainable than you thought. Zillow reports that the median home value in this real-world tropical paradise hovers around $685,000, which is less than you’d pay in some West Coast cities like San Francisco or San Jose. If homeownership is out of reach, you might consider renting, which would come with a median monthly price of $1,569.

Related: 16 Weirdly Awesome Summer Vacation Rentals on Airbnb

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Every year, many seniors choose to start an exciting new chapter of their lives in Allentown, a city that was transformed from a rural village to a major steel producer, and is now home to thriving transportation and healthcare sectors. With a median home value of only $119,900, according to Zillow, the city is one of the most affordable in the country.

Related: Our 12 Favorite Farmhouses Across America

Lakeland, Florida

The beauty of Lakeland doesn’t lie only in the 38 lakes from which it derives its name, but also in its blend of natural and man-made wonders, from Hollis Garden to the historic Polk Theatre. In serene Lakeland, retirees can opt out of the hustle and bustle of big-city life, although the exciting burgs of Orlando and Tampa are both within a one-hour drive.

Related: The 10 Best American Towns for a Romantic Getaway

Portland, Maine

Retirement is a perfect time to take up a new hobby or trade, and where better to do it than in Portland? The city of 67,000 on the Eastern Seaboard is brimming with entrepreneurs—even if they aren’t entirely comfortable with the term—who put everything from independently grown coffee to home brews on offer for their neighbors.

Related: Endless Acres: 14 of the Biggest Properties in America

Boston, Massachusetts

In the 388-year-old city, historic buildings and cobblestone streets coexist with state-of-the-art hospitals and world-class sporting venues like Fenway Park to furnish retirees with unparalleled health services and virtually limitless amusements.

Related: Would You Recognize These 9 Iconic Streets Way Back When?

Tampa, Florida

The former Cigar Capital of the World is now a magnet for health-conscious seniors who favor outdoor amusements like swimming and dolphin-watching. A prominent Latino community has infused the Florida town with tapas bars and energizing entertainments.

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Miami, Florida

Miami is not one community but rather several diverse neighborhoods, each with its own distinct vibe, from boisterous South Beach to serene Key Biscayne. Whichever neighborhood you choose to retire to, you’ll enjoy a sunny annual average high of 84 degrees Fahrenheit as well as access to area beaches, stadiums, and events like Art Basel, one of the largest art fairs in the world.

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