Best Places To Retire In The US: Top 5 Communities Most Recommended By Experts

Choosing the ideal place to retire in the United States is a deeply personal decision, often influenced by factors like climate, cost of living, healthcare access, and lifestyle preferences. In this exploration, we’ll uncover some of the most sought-after retirement destinations across the country, highlighting diverse options that cater to various retirement goals and lifestyles. Whether you envision serene coastal living, vibrant urban experiences, or the tranquility of rural landscapes, the best places to retire in the U.S. offer a wide range of choices to fulfill your retirement dreams.

One factor considered by experts who determine the top places to retire is the amount of available leisure activities. A recent survey found the average retiree grows bored after just one year of a life free of employment. But rather than go back to the workforce, most would opt to try a new experience to liven things up. So, where you decide to live and its opportunities for new experiences could have a big impact on your overall satisfaction with retirement. And this may be especially important for extroverts who may have the hardest time coping outside of the office environment, according to a study on personality traits.

Besides things to do, when determining the best places to retire in the U.S., experts also considered cost of living, average income of those 65+ and state tax, among other variables. That’s because money is a big deal (for most of us) when it comes to exiting the workforce. Sadly, a survey determined just over a quarter of Americans ages 54 to 73 believe there is no amount of money that could sit in their savings account that would make them feel comfortable retiring. 

But for those that do decide to retire or have no other choice due to medical reasons, let’s find out: Is Florida truly out of the running for retirees? Read on for the top five best places in the U.S. to retire, according to 10 expert websites. You may even be surprised by the list! And make sure to leave a comment letting us know if you agree with the recommendations, or if there’s a best-kept secret out there we should know about. 

The List: Best Places to Retire in the U.S., According to Experts 

1. Lancaster, Pennsylvania

There may be no city in the U.S. that has that traditional, friendly, true-Americana vibe to it that than the farmy, cozy city of Lancaster. CBS News covers the best U.S. cities to retire, with Lancaster first on the list: “Metropolitan areas in Pennsylvania dominated the top spots on the list, with Lancaster earning the number one slot for its quality health care for seniors, retiree tax rates and overall happiness of residents.” 

Downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Downtown Lancaster (Photo by Benjamin Rascoe on Unsplash)

If cost is a factor for you, Changing America recommends this city as well. “Lancaster is affordable compared with other major metro areas, and homes are less expensive than the national median home sale price … food, health care, transportation and other living expenses fall in line with the national average.”

“Rich in heritage, history, and culture, the city of Lancaster has something for everyone. Our small-town, bustling city atmosphere offers exceptional dining, diverse shopping, and noteworthy historical landmarks,” the city boasts on its official website.

Another popular Pennsylvania city for retirees is Harrisburg.

2. Asheville, North Carolina

The great outdoors and great healthcare are two major selling points for Asheville, North Carolina when it comes to retirees. “Asheville is one of the best places to retire in! With affordable housing and tax exemptions for Social Security retirement benefits, this North Carolina city helps you stretch your dollar farther. In addition to veteran services and long-term care, there are many hospitals in the area, including Mission Hospital, which is recognized as one of the best hospitals in North Carolina. Nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville gives residents stunning mountain views and outdoor activities,” says SpaceWise.

Beautiful Asheville, North Carolina sunrise.
Beautiful Asheville, North Carolina sunrise (Photo by Clayton Manche on Unsplash)

That access to nature may be just what you need to keep you feeling satisfied in retirement. That, and the tax laws. According to Forbes, “Outdoor experiences — forests, parks, hiking terrain and whitewater paddling — and in-town culture abound around this scenic city in the Blue Ridge Mountains region of western North Carolina. The city is somewhat bikeable, although not all that walkable. The state income tax rate is a flat 4.99% for 2022, but Social Security income is exempt and there’s no state estate tax.” 

3. Orlando, Florida

Orlando is a sprawling city, and you’ll even find some 55+ communities there, with the most famous being The Villages. It’s not in Orlando, but is located 50 miles northwest. Forbes says it’s a fast-growing senior-citizen-oriented town of 132,000!  

Sunrise walk around Lake Eola park in Orlando on a chilly December morning.
There’s more than just theme park life in Orlando. Here’s a beautiful look at the city skyline at sunrise along Lake Eola park. (Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash)

Here’s why you may retire in the city though instead, per Condé Nast Traveler: “Even if you don’t necessarily want to trade your work hat for Mickey Ears, Orlando is one of the country’s best cities for retirees. Orlando has a particular abundance of quiet communities, great restaurants, and independent stores — and its inland location means you won’t have to worry quite as much during hurricane season. (Bonus: Given Orlando’s proximity to theme parks, you definitely won’t have to work hard to convince your grandkids to visit.)”

Retire Better Now recommends it for the endless activities, writing, Retiring in Orlando puts you in the heart of Florida in a place where it’s hard to ever be bored! Besides the theme parks, the city of Orlando is a bustling center with more than 2.5 million people in the greater metropolitan area. There are tons of restaurants, bars and outdoor activities to enjoy during the warm tropical summers and mild winters.” 

4. Charleston, South Carolina

Yahoo! used four main ranking categories for their list of the best places to retire: affordability, access to activities, quality of life and healthcare. “This city along the Atlantic coast is well-known for its historic charm and first-rate culinary scene. It ranked in the top half for all four categories, and did especially well in terms of activities and affordability.”

A horse carriage takes a stroll in Charleston, South Carolina.
Charleston, South Carolina (Photo by Leonel Heisenberg on Unsplash)

WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 46 key metrics and found Charleston to be a top contender for retirees. “Retirement isn’t all about the money, though. Retirees want to live in a place where they enjoy safety and access to good healthcare, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ideal city will also have lots of ways to spend leisure time, along with good weather.” 

5. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Kiplinger recommends Fort Wayne for its outdoor offerings, free college classes for seniors and lower than average home prices: “Fort Wayne and Allen County have a lot to offer, including 100 miles of biking, hiking and kayaking trails, meandering rivers, and peaceful forests. Farmers markets, breweries and a recently revitalized downtown also add to Fort Wayne’s draw. If you’re 60 or older, you can audit classes at the Fort Wayne campus of Purdue University for free through its Senior Scholars program. Home prices in Fort Wayne make it an attractive locale as well.”

Beautiful view of fall foliage and nature along Lakeside Park in Fort Wayne, Indiana
Photo by Greg Byman on Unsplash

Retirable also ranks it highly for all the things to do: “It is affordable and offers a metro area with a thriving arts scene. It is particularly known for the Three Rivers Festival in the summertime, named after the three local rivers: the St. Marys, the St. Joseph, and the Maumee. Outdoor activities abound, with over 80 parks.”

Any places you think the experts missed as the best places to retire? We want to know! Drop us a comment below with your feedback.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.