I talk to a lot of people around the country about how to live out their retirement dreams. Whether your retirement is years away or right around the corner, knowing the best cities to retire can help you make your hard-earned dollars go farther when you’re ready to put your plan into action.
So, how do you know which cities are actually the best for retirement? Well, that depends on how you want to retire. But two of the most common factors include the cost of living and quality of life. Some others include:
- Tax rates
- Housing costs
- Quality of health care
- Overall happiness of residents
With those factors in mind, check out some of the best cities to retire.1 For each one, I’ve included a brief description, a short list of stats and a special feature that distinguishes each city from the rest.
Let’s take a look!
Top 10 Best Cities to Retire
10. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Okay, folks. Let’s start the countdown for best cities to retire with Dallas-Fort Worth. So why did it make the best cities to retire list? Well, of course, there are several draws for us sports lovers—Dallas is home to the Cowboys of the NFL, Mavericks of the NBA and Texas Rangers of the MLB. There’s also extra incentive for grandkids to visit with attractions like Six Flags Over Texas and the Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park. And if you dream about the cowboy life, you’ll be happy to hear there are plenty of opportunities to attend rodeos and country-style two-step dance events.2
- Taxes: No state income tax3
- Median Home Price: $248,375
- Median Monthly Rent: $1,022
- Average Temps: 77° / 56°
- Average Annual Rainfall: 36"
- Special Feature: Nicknamed “Cowtown” after cattle drives saved the economy
9. Grand Rapids, Michigan
Along the Grand River—Michigan’s longest waterway—you’ll find the hidden gem of Grand Rapids. With the weather being quite cool during much of the year, getting outside and enjoying nature is a great option. Plus, the city is known for its breweries—in part because there are tons of them! Grand Rapids has an affordable cost of living, which means things like groceries and health care are cheaper than in other cities. There’s also affordable housing for retired folks and a growing health care industry.4 Sure, health care facilities aren’t the most exciting things to consider when you think about where to retire, but I’d definitely like to live near some good ones when age catches up with me. Wouldn’t you?
- Taxes: No tax on income from Social Security5
- Median Home Price: $181,533
- Median Monthly Rent: $826
- Average Temps: 58° / 40°
- Average Annual Rainfall: 38"
- Special Feature: Craft brewery scene with over 80 breweries6
8. Nashville, Tennessee
I have to admit, I’m excited to announce this one. Want to know why? Nashville is my town! What more reason do you need? Ha! I’m just playin’ with you, people. Seriously, Nashville is full of life! Day or night, the Broadway strip features live music performed by some of the best aspiring musicians in the world. Also, you never know when you might bump into some of the music industry’s brightest stars like Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood or Keith Urban. If music isn’t your thing, don’t worry: You can join sports fans to cheer on the Predators of the NHL and the Tennessee Titans of the NFL.7 Want a break from all the noise? Take a short trip to nearby Franklin for a quieter, more historic atmosphere. I could go on, but I’ll stop here.
- Taxes: No state income tax8
- Median Home Price: $248,883
- Median Monthly Rent: $951
- Average Temps: 70° / 49°
- Average Annual Rainfall: 47"
- Special Feature: Full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon
7. Winston-Salem, North Carolina
I hope you like food and festivals—well, who doesn’t? Winston-Salem combines its friendly southern roots with a wide range of diversity, influenced by its many international citizens. You can find typical southern BBQ, Greek pastries and Indian curries at all the different food scenes throughout the city. If you’re a fan of performing arts, you can catch a community performance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts—the school Jada Pinkett Smith attended before pursuing her career in acting. There are also plenty of places to explore like the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Old Salem Museums and Gardens, Black Mountain Chocolate Factory and Historic Bethabara Park. In Winston-Salem, you get the same offerings of a big city with a small city vibe.9
- Taxes: No tax on income from Social Security10
- Median Home Price: $145,725
- Median Monthly Rent: $732
- Average Temps: 70° / 49°
- Average Annual Rainfall: 47"
- Special Feature: Birthplace of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in 193711
6. Jacksonville, Florida
Just south of the Georgia state line on the northeastern corner of Florida, you’ll find the huge city of Jacksonville—I’m talking huge, people—coming in at 747 square miles!12 Part of that hugeness includes its gorgeous beaches and waterways. Several bridges make it easy to get from downtown to the sandy beaches. And there are a bunch of other outdoor activities to do like hiking, cycling and camping at places like the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. Sports lovers can cheer on the Jaguars NFL team among other sports teams, while music lovers can enjoy the annual Springing the Blues music festival.13
- Taxes: No state income tax14
- Median Home Price: $174,658
- Median Monthly Rent: $1,019
- Average Temps: 79° / 61°
- Average Annual Rainfall: 49"
- Special Feature: Largest city in the U.S. by land area—outside of Alaska
If any of these cities are starting to catch your eye, get the ball rolling on your retirement dream city by downloading our free Ramsey Relocation Guide today!
5. Port St. Lucie, Florida
Surprised to see the Sunshine State make another appearance? Me neither. Port St. Lucie sits on the Atlantic coast of southern Florida, between Orlando and Miami. With its consistently nice weather, you can wear flip-flops all year long, baby! This place is a haven for golfers—you can even find golf cart parking at grocery stores. And don’t worry if you’re not a pro golfer—yet. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to up your game at the PGA Golf Club. If you love exploring, check out the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens and all the water adventures available—boating, fishing, beach bumming and paddling near manatees.15
- Taxes: No state income tax16
- Median Home Price: $211,083
- Median Monthly Rent: $1,074
- Average Temps: 82° / 63°17
- Average Annual Rainfall: 52”18
- Special Feature: Spring training grounds for the New York Mets of the MLB
4. Asheville, North Carolina
Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina is a land of cool mountain air and breathtaking views—yup, I’m talking about Asheville, Land of the Sky. Now folks, if you appreciate art and have that creative itch, you’ll love Asheville. The place is jam-packed with art galleries, museums, historic architecture and pretty-looking artists’ studios made from repurposed factories—like the ones at the colorful River Arts District. Plus, there are over 100 different local craft breweries. But if you’re someone who likes it more quiet, you can enjoy stunning hiking trails at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests—just do me a favor and look out for black bears.19
- Taxes: No tax on income from Social Security20
- Median Home Price: $248,500
- Median Monthly Rent: $849
- Average Temps: 58° / 52°21
- Average Annual Rainfall: 45”22
- Special Feature: The beautiful, historic Biltmore Estate is the largest privately owned house in the U.S.—at 175,000 square feet23
3. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Okay, people! The next best city to retire to is in the great state of Pennsylvania. If you like variety, Lancaster is a dream town for retirement. It bundles farmland, suburbs and a lively downtown area all into one. You can also visit the Amish communities where folks get around on horse and buggy and live without public electricity. Don’t worry, social butterflies, the downtown area features monthly arts and music festivals. Lancaster also has a winter mountain resort, hiking trails, corn mazes, tractor pulls and even a notable dog park.24
- Taxes: No tax on income from Social Security25
- Median Home Price: $196,025
- Median Monthly Rent: $957
- Average Temps: 62° / 42°
- Average Annual Rainfall: 42"
- Special Feature: Oldest Amish settlement in the U.S.26
2. Sarasota, Florida
Located just below Tampa sits the runner-up of the best cities to retire: Sarasota. It offers all the outdoor fun you’d expect like boating, fishing and beach activities. Speaking of beaches, Sarasota’s are praised for their clear, warm water and fine, white sand. You know what I’m talkin’ about, people. It’s the type of sand that’s so soft it makes you want to give the whole beach a hug! Also, the city tends to lean more toward accommodating older folks by providing a ton of activities like golf and shopping.27 Let’s just say you’ll definitely find plenty of things to enjoy in this city!
- Taxes: No state income tax28
- Median Home Price: $237,260
- Median Monthly Rent: $1,089
- Average Temps: 82° / 64°
- Average Annual Rainfall: 53"
- Special Feature: Some of America’s best beaches including Siesta Key Beach
1. Fort Myers, Florida
Here it is—Fort Myers is ranked as the number one city to retire! I bet you’re not surprised to see that it’s another Florida location. Along the state’s southwestern river of Caloosahatchee (say that 10 times fast), Fort Myers started getting really famous after Thomas Edison and Henry Ford chose to build their winter homes there. In fact, it was nicknamed “City of Palms” after Edison started planting royal palm trees along McGregor Boulevard—a sight that screams “paradise.” And for you water lovers out there, hot spots like Cape Coral, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island are all less than an hour away.29
- Taxes: No state income tax30
- Median Home Price: $219,200
- Median Monthly Rent: $1,035
- Average Temps: 84° / 64°
- Average Annual Rainfall: 53"
- Special Feature: Edison Ford Winter Estates historical museum and botanical garden
How to Choose Your Best City to Retire
Can you picture yourself enjoying beautiful weather, heading to a sporting event, golfing with friends, or relaxing on a beach in retirement? Maybe you read this list and got excited by all the activities you have to look forward to—and now you can’t wait to move!
Find expert agents to help you buy your home.
But listen: Before you decide where you want to live when you retire, you need to get a little more clarity on what you want your retirement to look like and what it will cost. So, use my retirement calculator to estimate how much you’ll need for your dream retirement and create a game plan to get you there.
The specifics will look different for everyone. For instance, some people are willing to retire on $40,000 a year, while others need $90,000 a year. Do some dreaming (and some math) with your spouse to make sure you agree on must-haves in your retirement city.
Ready for the Retirement of Your Dreams?
To get clarity on your retirement game plan, connect with a qualified investment professional. Our SmartVestor program makes it quick and easy to get a list of pros in your area.
If you’ve already reached your nest egg goal and are ready to relocate for your dream retirement, get a head start with an expert real estate agent who will keep your best interest in mind. The agents in our Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program are vetted by our team and are the top-performing agents in their market. They also participate in ongoing peer-to-peer mentoring to ensure they’re growth-minded and focused on serving you first.