Updated: Sep 27, 2020
For many people, retirement is the reward after decades of working and raising a family. After all that anticipation, deciding where to spend that precious time can be a tough decision, so Stacker compiled a list of the best places in the United States to spend those golden years.
Stacker used Niche rankings that utilize a variety of factors such as weather and access to health care. A maximum of 10 places per state were included. You can read more about the Niche methodology here. Warm, sunny weather was the most common denominator among the best places to retire, whether they were communities on the coasts of Florida and California or in the deserts of Arizona. Some locations boast of sunshine hundreds of days each year.
Options for recreation play another big role, especially top-ranked golf courses and clubs for tennis. Other top retirement destinations offer natural attractions, like trails for biking and walking or mountain settings for hiking and bird-watching. Sand and surf are key, with beaches, boardwalks, boating docks, marinas, fishing charters, swimming, and sailing opportunities. Desert sites are popular as well, offering the promise of sunny days, little rain, and striking landscapes.
Some of the most desirable retirement destinations are those located near major cities like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, ripe with arts, culture, and health care resources. But those choice locations carry the key drawback of a high cost of living, often due to pricey housing costs, that will not suit retirees often on fixed incomes. Low crime rates make a difference as well.
All the top retirement destinations take a cue from Arizona’s Sun City, the first planned community for active older adults that introduced the concept that retirees liked being busy and engaged, with little interest in just fading away. Whiling away retirement years in a front porch rocking chair was no longer the ideal.
Stacker put together the Top 100 Places to Retire in America and below we've listed the Top 10, plus added a few "notable mentions" in the midwest. Enjoy browsing!
#1: Pelican Bay, Florida
- Population: 5,844 - Median home value: $912,300 (95% own) - Median rent: $1,529 (5% rent) - Median household income: $127,571
Luxurious Pelican Bay, Florida, sits on about 3-square-miles, surrounded by beaches and parkland. It has about 6,500 homes and a host of activities such as sailing, tennis, and kayaking. Its beaches can be reached only by boardwalk or Pelican Bay’s tram system.
#2: Hillsboro Beach, Florida
- Population: 1,631 - Median home value: $389,700 (80% own) - Median rent: $1,821 (20% rent) - Median household income: $68,050
Upscale Hillsboro Beach is on a barrier island, sometimes called Millionaire’s Mile, that is about 900 feet across at its widest section. Its waterfront homes face either the Intracoastal Waterway or the Atlantic Ocean. About 20 miles to the south is Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
#3: Lake Success, New York
- Population: 3,102 - Median home value: $1,192,800 (98% own) - Median rent: $3,501 (2% rent) - Median household income: $190,500
Lake Success, an incorporated village in the town of North Hempstead, New York, is less than 20 miles from midtown Manhattan. Within its 2-square-miles are 43 acres of lakes. Its Village Club of Lake Success golf course is located on the site of a private Vanderbilt family golf club.
#4: South Palm Beach, Florida
- Population: 1,347 - Median home value: $251,400 (79% own) - Median rent: $1,560 (21% rent) - Median household income: $54,756
South Palm Beach sits on a barrier island, with the Intracoastal Waterway on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. About 3,000 people live in the residential community that is just over one-half of a mile long. The cost of living, on average, is higher than in the rest of Florida, especially for housing and transportation.
#5: Ridge Wood Heights, Florida
- Population: 4,140 - Median home value: $188,200 (68% own) - Median rent: $999 (32% rent) - Median household income: $53,235
Suburban Ridge Wood Heights, with a population of fewer than 4,000 people, is near Sarasota, Florida’s popular beaches and mangrove forests as well as its shopping and dining. It has dozens of golf courses nearby.
#6: Whiskey Creek, Florida
- Population: 5,030 - Median home value: $222,700 (90% own) - Median rent: $1,170 (10% rent) - Median household income: $73,810
Whiskey Creek, a community in Fort Myers, has condominiums reserved for adults over 55 and is overseen by a homeowners association. Some homes have boating access to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Caloosahatchee River.
#7: North River Shores, Florida
- Population: 3,663 - Median home value: $203,400 (78% own) - Median rent: $1,221 (22% rent) - Median household income: $52,729
North River Shores, Florida, is conveniently close to shopping, churches, and health care facilities as well as to Atlantic Ocean barrier islands and beaches. It’s located on the St. Lucie River, with boating access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Okeechobee Waterway, a 154-mile canal that crosses Florida through the Everglades to the Gulf of Mexico at Fort Myers.
#8: Cypress Lake, Florida
- Population: 13,120 - Median home value: $150,200 (68% own) - Median rent: $1,162 (32% rent) - Median household income: $48,408
Cypress Lake is a suburb of Fort Myers, Florida, that features a low cost of living compared to much of coastal Florida. Nearly all the homes are neither new nor old, but late 20th-century, between 20 and 50 years old. The suburb is home to the highly regarded Cypress Lake Golf Club.
#9: Highland Beach, Florida
- Population: 3,858 - Median home value: $592,800 (85% own) - Median rent: $2,292 (15% rent) - Median household income: $105,929
Just 1.1-square-miles, the town of Highland Beach, is sandwiched between Delray Beach, Florida, to the north and Boca Raton, Florida, to the south. It is residential, with a year-round population of about 4,000 that more than doubles in size during the winter. Four out of five residents are retirees.
#10: Jensen Beach, Florida
- Population: 13,477 - Median home value: $212,300 (75% own) - Median rent: $1,014 (25% rent) - Median household income: $53,920
On the Indian River along Florida’s Atlantic coast, Jensen Beach has a charming downtown with a weekly street fair and Caribbean- and Key West-style restaurants. Many homes are cottages with front porches and picket fences.
#14: Leland Grove, Illinois
- Population: 1,457 - Median home value: $222,300 (96% own) - Median rent: $950 (4% rent) - Median household income: $108,750
Many of Leland Grove’s 1,500 residents are artists, designers, and members of the media, giving the small city a creative character. The cost of living and the price of housing are reasonably low in the Springfield, Illinois, suburb.
#33: Bingham Farms, Michigan
- Population: 1,101 - Median home value: $395,400 (87% own) - Median rent: $1,042 (13% rent) - Median household income: $118,571
Picturesque Bingham Farms is a village on the banks of the winding Franklin Branch of the Rouge River. It is just 1.25-square-miles, with wildlife and wooded ravines. The village is about halfway between Detroit and Pontiac, Michigan.
#61: King, Wisconsin
- Population: 1,804 - Median home value: $116,000 (71% own) - Median rent: $808 (29% rent) - Median household income: $67,583
King is located in Wisconsin’s Waupaca region, which features the Crystal River and the spring-fed Chain O’ Lakes. The 22 glacially formed lakes offer an array of boating, swimming, and fishing. Some lakes are reserved for quiet, no-wake activities, while others allow jet skis and powerboating. King’s cost of living is low and housing is affordable, but it draws complaints for harsh winter weather.
#76: Wetherington, Ohio
- Population: 1,283 - Median home value: $432,900 (89% own) - Median rent: $975 (11% rent) - Median household income: $104,125
Wetherington is a private, gated community of about 300 single-family homes and a number of condominiums. It has a lively town center, landscaped common areas, pools, tennis courts, a country club with golf, and a walking and biking path more than 3 miles long. It is close to Dayton, Ohio, and to Cincinnati.
#94: Pleasant Ridge, Michigan
- Population: 2,389 - Median home value: $332,900 (96% own) - Median rent: $1,336 (4% rent) - Median household income: $116,583
Pleasant Ridge, a mile and a half north of Detroit, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for the classic houses along its wide, tree-lined streets. The community is built on an ancient beach ridge, one of many that are located parallel to the Great Lakes and their channels.
#95: Centerville, Ohio
- Population: 23,821 - Median home value: $183,000 (71% own) - Median rent: $886 (29% rent) - Median household income: $71,221
Centerville, Ohio, features about 30 old stone houses, built from native limestone, that give it a historic feel. For elderly residents, the city offers home maintenance resources and a call-in program to check on residents’ well-being.
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For the complete list of the Top 100 Best Places to Retire in America, visit the link below: