Thinking about retiring in greener pastures? Where you end up could significantly impact how well-off you are financially and health-wise, according to research by U.S. News & World Report.
U.S. News gathered its data by assessing the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. The goal? To determine which cities best met retirees’ needs and expectations. They surveyed people nearing possible retirement age (45 to 59 years old) and retirement-aged individuals (60 years and older).
Breaking It Down
U.S. News asked participants which retirement attributes in a city were most important to them. The results and the corresponding weight that U.S. News gave to each category were as follows:
- Housing Affordability Index (24%)
- Happiness Index (22%)
- Health Care Quality Index (16%)
- Retiree Taxes Index (16%)
- Desirability Index (13%)
- Job Market Index (9%)
1: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
The Amish appear to be onto something, for U.S. News dubs Lancaster the best city to retire in America. Quaint countryside farms, charming coffee shops, and many church communities make Lancaster a peaceful place to spend your retirement. The icing on the Amish whoopie pie is Lancaster’s affordable housing market, giving you a happy ending (that hopefully won’t end too soon).
2: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Harrisburg is a close second-best city for retirement in the US. It’s an ideal location for people who want to stay fit with outdoor activities, for biking and hiking trails abound. Lancaster is only about an hour’s drive away, giving Harrisburg retirees the best of both retirement worlds.
3: Pensacola, Florida
A beach town was destined to make the top three best American cities for retirement. Pensacola is attractive for retirees because of its southern charm, warm winters, and beautiful beaches. Though hurricanes are a yearly threat, retirees enjoy no state income or vehicle property tax.
4: Tampa, Florida
Tampa Bay is a metro region catering to young professionals and retirees alike. Downtown Tampa has a big cultural and museum scene, which you can explore via the Tampa Riverwalk. Nearby St. Petersburg and Clearwater offer a more traditional beach scene, with Clearwater making retirees feel as permanently on vacation as they are.
5: York, Pennsylvania
York is the third city in Pennsylvania that makes the top five best cities to retire in the US. Given its small-town feel and stunning historic architecture, it’s easy to see why. A low cost of living and high-quality health care makes York attractive to many retirees.
6: Naples, Florida
Naples is notorious among Floridians for being home to a booming retirement scene. Retirees will meet many permanent residents of retirement age among the snowbirds that visit during the winter. Due to continued development, particularly around Marco Island, housing costs aren’t as high in Naples as in many other parts of the US.
7: Daytona Beach, Florida
Whether your retirement dreams involve owning a yacht or frying up fish you catch from the shore each morning, Daytona Beach offers retirees both ends of the spectrum. The city has many theaters, antique markets, and the famous Daytona International Speedway, keeping retirees happy and socially active.
8: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor’s historic main street calls the attention of many retirees, landing it in the top ten best American cities for retirement. It’s ideal for people who love four distinct seasons and all of the outdoor activities that come with them.
9: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Allentown makes retirees feel at home, with gorgeous historic houses and a plethora of restaurants. Those interested in hiking and skiing will have many opportunities in Lehigh Valley and the Blue Mountain range.
10: Reading, Pennsylvania
You’re “reading” this right: Five out of the top ten best places to retire in America are in Pennsylvania. Reading is beloved for its Reading Railroad, straight from the Monopoly board game. Retirees can make the most of their social security checks, for the cost of living is significantly lower than the national average.
11: Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota is an excellent fit for retirees who love art and food culture. Beautiful Siesta Key is part of this beachside city. Younger people are starting to move to Sarasota, catching on to what retirees have already known for decades: The city is one of the best places to spend a happy retirement.
12: Melbourne, Florida
If you’ve dreamed of trading your desk job for a space suit, retiring in Melbourne will give you free access to watching satellite and space shuttle launches from the comfort of your home. And that’ll likely be a cheap home, given that Melbourne’s real estate is below the national median.
13: Lakeland, Florida
Lakeland residents get to enjoy 38 stunning lake views around their city. Retirees can stay young at heart by exploring trails around many of them and heading to nearby Orlando for some good Disney fun.
Retirees moving to Lakeland from other parts of the US will get to take advantage of low housing costs without worrying about the lower-than-average salaries that working-aged residents often suffer from.
14: New York City, New York
Honking horns and being in elbow-to-elbow pedestrian traffic isn’t everyone’s idea of a happy retirement. But according to U.S. News’ results, New York City is the 14th-best city to retire in the US. Despite receiving a low rating for housing affordability, New York City received a 10 out of 10 score in the healthcare quality category.
15: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Fort Wayne makes the top 15 best cities to retire in America. The midsize city feels smaller than it is, thanks to tranquil neighborhoods. Both rent and real estate in Fort Wayne are significantly lower than the national average.
16: Ocala, Florida
Calling all horse-loving retirees! Ocala gives Lexington, Kentucky, a run for its money. But even if you’re a retiree that isn’t into horses, the city’s lush countryside, growing food scene, and artsy flair make it a great place to call home, post-office life.
17: Scranton, Pennsylvania
Hello again, Pennsylvania. Scranton has a charming downtown with a small-town vibe, making it a strong contender for retirees looking for the conveniences of a city without the people and noise. The city also has a crime rate well below the national average.
18: Manchester, New Hampshire
Manchester may be the largest metropolitan area in New Hampshire, but its mountains and forests make retirees feel they’re a stone’s throw away from nature. Although retirees that move to Manchester will have to contend with a higher cost of living, there’s no state personal income or general sales tax.
19: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is a city packed with 300-year-old buildings and cozy coffee shops. Retirees can enjoy exploring the city’s street art between visits to public parks scattered around. Moving to Philadelphia is a near no-brainer for retirees who want to indulge in cheesesteaks where the very sandwich was invented.
20: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is showing its face again. This time, it’s Pittsburgh’s turn, with nearly 2,000 acres of city and county parks for retirees to explore. Low housing costs mean that retirees may be able to afford nice downtown accommodations for a fraction of the cost of where they moved from.
21: Youngstown, Ohio
Youngstown might not sound like an attractive retirement option for those old enough to remember the steel industry’s downfall in the 1970s. But the city has since undergone a facelift, with a lively downtown full of galleries, bars, restaurants, and boutique shops. Shall we say Youngstown will keep you feeling young at heart?
22: Port St Lucie, Florida
Port St. Lucie calls the Treasure Coast home. It’s a great choice for retirees who want to be within driving distance of larger cities (Miami and Orlando) while taking advantage of smaller city living. There’s no question that Port St. Lucie is a desirable city that makes many retirees happy. However, housing prices are pretty high.
23: Toledo, Ohio
The lesser-known Toledo goes by the nickname “Glass City,” given that it used to be a big glass producer. Though winters can be brutal in Toledo, the other seasons make up for it, coupled with its scenic location on Lake Erie. Many retirees who move to Toledo feel rich, for even with low average annual salaries, locals often live comfortably due to the relatively low cost of living.
24: Asheville, North Carolina
Hearing the word “Asheville” makes many retirees’ memories of their stressful work years melt away. The “Paris of the South” is framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains, fed by local farmers, and blessed with outdoor activities. Asheville’s cost of living is comparable to many similar-sized cities in the US, though it’s expensive by North Carolina standards.
25: Eugene, Oregon
Eugene attracts retirees looking for an artsy and outdoorsy scene. Walking down its downtown is a joy, with street art masterpieces around nearly every corner. Because Eugene ranks so highly for desirability for retirees, finding accommodation to buy or rent can be challenging.
26: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids is a stunning city for retirees located on the Grand River. Thanks to its excellent job market, it attracts many young professionals and families, making it perfect for retirees who prefer to be surrounded by youth. Groceries, health care, and housing costs all fall below the national average.
27: Green Bay, Wisconsin
Green Bay Packers fan retirees will be glad to know that they can enjoy an above-average retirement in Green Bay, according to U.S. News’ findings. Because Green Bay is Wisconsin’s oldest settlement, it has an old city charm. Retirees may need to set more money aside for state property taxes than they’re used to, which may offset Green Bay’s otherwise relatively affordable housing market.
28: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Retirees living in Myrtle Beach have the luxury of rotating between basking on the beach, golfing, and trying out new restaurants. Low taxes and a lower cost of living than the national average are a couple of the many reasons it makes the top 50 best cities to retire in the US.
29: Raleigh & Durham, North Carolina
Neighboring state North Carolina houses a college-age mecca, Raleigh & Durham, which also happens to be one of the best cities to retire in the US. Lots of parks, friendly locals, and southern cooking are some of the draws for retirees who move there. Although housing costs in Raleigh & Durham are higher than the national average, property taxes are relatively low compared to cities of comparable size and offerings.
30: South Bend, Indiana
South Bend’s revived downtown has become a magnet for young professionals and retirees alike that seek city living without enormous expenses. It’s an excellent place for retirees to get more bang for their buck, especially those living on small social security checks.
31: Orlando, Florida
Yes, the city seemingly made for kids is, in fact, one of the top retirement cities in America. Whereas downtown Orlando hosts abundant nightlife, the residential side of Orlando has a quieter vibe. Regardless of your preference, you’ll get to bask in not paying state income tax during your retirement years.
32: Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield is a mixed bag for retirees, and many see that as a positive thing. The city is an economic hub for the Pioneer Valley, meaning retirees can count on finding something to do downtown. But a short drive outside the city leads to stunning scenery and great hiking trails. Although housing costs are relatively low in Springfield, groceries and utilities are often higher than the national average.
33: Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester is a smaller city relative to many on this list, sitting in the Massachusetts hills about an hour outside of Boston. Retirees can enjoy many concerts, theaters, and restaurants downtown while enjoying the young vibe of college students. Retirees moving from expensive cities will find Worcester cheap, while others may view it as pricey.
34: Cincinnati, Ohio
Retirees wanting to reconnect with their German heritage will appreciate Cincinnati. The city has many museums, exciting baseball games, and restaurants serving the area’s world-renown chili. Retirees will get to enjoy daily living expenses that are below the country’s national average. However, housing costs are high compared to other cities in Ohio.
35: Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville takes the title of the largest metro area by land mass in mainland America. The city gives retirees plenty of options for filling their free time, from crisscrossing its many bridges to hanging out at the beach and shopping downtown. Housing prices vary in Jacksonville, so you may find accommodation more or less expensive, depending on where you’re from.
36: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Winston has become a city mixed with traditional southern charm and a modern, international feel. It’s a great choice for retirees who want to stay ahead of Americans by discovering lesser-known cities, for it hasn’t experienced major population growth. Essentially everything you buy in Winston-Salem will be well below the national average, including tobacco factories refurbished into apartments.
37: Portland, Maine
Portland allows retirees to enjoy cobblestone streets, views of Casco Bay, and farm-to-table restaurants. You’ll need to have performed well in your career to afford Portland. But life in Maine comes with excellent health care and social services.
38: Fort Myers, Florida
Yet another Florida destination makes U.S. News’ top cities for American retirees. Ft. Myers is traditionally known for having a thriving retirement community, though nowadays, it attracts people of all ages, given its 40% growth between 2010 and 2020. Therefore, retirees must search for housing in Fort Myers’ outskirts to find options below the national real estate average.
39: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach might strike you as more of a touristy resort town than a good retirement city. But its laid-back vibe, gorgeous beaches, and award-winning restaurants have put it on the map as one of the best retirement cities in the US. Retirees living in Virginia Beach can expect to pay more for health care and housing, while groceries and utilities are often at or below the national average.
40: Hickory, North Carolina
Hickory is a retirement gem located in the Catawba Valley. It has a charming downtown, taking inspiration from artsy Asheville. If you’re on the fence about where to retire, make a fast decision about Hickory; people from nearby Charlotte have started discovering it, which is limiting housing.
41: Syracuse, New York
Despite New York’s painfully high taxes and cost of living, Syracuse is (relatively) the exception to the rule. Summers in Syracuse are beautiful, with Onondaga Lake and countryside towns a stone’s throw away. New York City is also only about four hours away if you want a faster pace of life.
42: Portland, Oregon
Portland is the place for retirees who want to let their artsy and eclectic sides shine. With a city motto of “Keep Portland Weird,” all are welcome. Such liberalness comes at a price, for housing and living expenses are exorbitant. But according to US News’ study, many retirees believe it’s worth it.
43: Knoxville, Tennessee
Knoxville is both a college town and a place for history lovers of all ages to enjoy. After retirees browse through the old-time Mast General Store, they can hop in the car and drive 1.5 hours to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Equally as wonderful, nearly everything is cheaper in Knoxville than the national average.
44: Lansing, Michigan
Lansing offers the best of both worlds for retirees, with a booming metropolitan area and quiet countryside. The city is ideal for sports fans and will give you nostalgia for the automobile plant’s booming days. Retirees can snag housing in Lansing for under $130,000, something that’s practically unheard of for a city of its size in most other parts of the US.
45: Trenton, New Jersey
Retirees who want to live in a city with historical significance will want to consider Trenton. The city’s history started before the founding of America, and it was home to Revolutionary War battles. The price of single-family homes in Trenton is below the national average, though retirees need to brace themselves for taxes and expensive road tolls.
46: Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland has a long history, contributing to the multicultural environment it has today. Retirees can choose between living on the east or west side of the Cuyahoga River, both of which have their appeals. Whether you’re drawn to 20th-century homes or modern designs, you’ll pay less on average for a home compared to most other cities in the US.
47: Providence, Rhode Island
Providence is a quintessential New England city. Retirees will be able to appreciate its thriving economy without having to work there. Instead, adorable coffee shops, community gardens, and art-filled streets will await them. Retiring in Providence means spending more money than many of the cities on this list, though many retirees would argue it’s worth it.
48: Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis, or “Indy,” as locals call it, makes the top 50 best cities to retire in the US. It’s a multicultural city with a big food, sport, and college scene. Theaters, shops, and restaurants abound, and race car fans will appreciate spending their retirement so close to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
49: Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky
Lexington-Fayette is the second equestrian hub on this list, with retirees getting to watch horses graze in pastures even if horseback riding or racing isn’t their thing. The city attracts a young crowd, but given its relatively low cost of living, it’s also a favorite spot for retirees.
50: Rochester, New York
Rochester was home to the once-thriving Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch & Lomb. Though these company’s glory days have since ended in the city, parts of downtown have been revived, and the suburbs of Rochester is a popular choice among retirees. Despite Rochester having one of the highest property taxes in the US, its cost of living is well below the national average.
The U.S. News & World Report ranked America’s best cities to retire based on the top 150 cities with the largest metropolitan populations. That means some smaller cities popular with retirees never had the chance to make the cut.
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