Aerial view of Charleston, South Carolina.

Aerial view of Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by David on Pixabay)

Retirement is a time for new beginnings, a chance to explore interests, pursue passions, and simply savor life’s finer things. But with so many options across the country, choosing the best place to retire in the U.S. can be overwhelming. Fear not, future retiree! This guide will navigate you through the top seven contenders, highlighting their unique charms and guiding you toward your ideal retirement haven.

How to choose where to retire:

Many states and communities offer benefits for retirees, but if you can find somewhere with the whole package, that is ideal. Here are some of the things that you will want to consider when choosing where to move:

  • Climate: Are you drawn to balmy sunshine or crisp mountain air? Do you crave the thrill of changing seasons or the stability of consistent weather?
  • Cost of living: Housing, healthcare, and general expenses vary dramatically across the country. Determine your budget and prioritize locations that offer affordability without compromising your desired lifestyle.
  • Healthcare: Access to quality healthcare is crucial in your golden years. Research the healthcare systems in your prospective locations, paying particular attention to the availability of specialists and senior-focused care.
  • Taxes: Tax rates can significantly impact your retirement income. Explore states with favorable tax policies for retirees.
  • Activities and amenities: Do you crave outdoor adventures, a vibrant arts scene, or a slower pace of life? Consider your recreational preferences and ensure your chosen location offers activities that align with your interests.
  • Community: Finding a welcoming community is essential for a fulfilling retirement. Research the demographics and social scene of your potential locations to ensure you find a place where you feel connected. Studies by The Centre for Better Ageing have found that social connections are just as important as money and health for a good later life.
  • Consider your personality: When planning your retirement spending, a new study suggests you might come up with something more realistic if you set aside the life expectancy calculators for a few moments and take a personality quiz.

Once you’ve identified your priorities, prepare to be swept away by the diverse array of the top seven best places to retire in the U.S. according to experts. From sun-drenched beaches and bustling cities to charming mountain towns and quiet rural havens, there’s a perfect fit for every dream. Did we miss your favorite spot? Let us know in the comments.

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

1. Tampa, Florida

When you think of a place to retire, Florida often comes to mind. So it’s no surprise that a spot in the Sunshine State is at the top of our list. “Tampa, Florida was ranked the best retirement city, based on a combination of affordability, activities, quality of life and health care,” reports The Hill

white boat on body of water near city buildings during daytime
Tampa, FL (Photo by Anita Denunzio on Unsplash)

“Residents of the Tampa Bay area enjoy both a laid-back beach lifestyle and the amenities of a large metropolitan area, including professional sports teams, museums, and an array of entertainment and dining options,” describes U.S. News. “The Tampa Bay metro area is a sprawling and diverse region that encompasses three cities – Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater – each with a distinct personality. Living in the Tampa Bay area is like being on vacation all year.”

Condé Nast Traveler notes that “Tampa (and its surrounding suburbs) is the perfect hub for people looking for an active life post-retirement. The city itself has plenty of housing options, a buzzing Riverwalk, and one of the best airports in the country. It also makes a great jumping-off point for exploring other great beach towns in the state. Foodies should also take note, as Tampa is known for its restaurants—Rooster & the Till (run by a James Beard semi-finalist) and La Segunda (beloved for its Cuban sandwiches) are two stand-outs.” As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why Tampa is number one on our experts’ list of best places to retire in the U.S. 

More Expert-Recommended Lists For Florida:

2. Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Many people hear the name Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and think of it as just being Amish Country. But this city has tons more for you to experience. Space Wise explains,”with the combination of small-town charm and accessible amenities like Lancaster General Health, Lancaster consistently ranks as one of the best places to retire—and for good reason! This small Pennsylvania city offers residents one of the lowest sales taxes in the country and no state taxes on retirement benefits—which include Social Security, 401(k)s, and IRAs. Lancaster offers several things to do for seniors, including Central Market Place, America’s oldest, continuously-running farmers market.”

brown and white concrete building near green trees during sunset
Lancaster, PA (Photo by Benjamin R. on Unsplash)

According to Country Living, “the extra low cost of living is one of the main reasons why you should consider retiring in Lancaster. It’s also close to major cities such as Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and more without all the hustle and stress.”

“If you like variety, Lancaster is a dream town for retirement,” says Ramsey Solutions. “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.”

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3. Naples, Florida

Another popular place to retire in sunny Florida is Naples. Niche claims that it “is one of the best places to live in Florida. Living in Naples offers residents an urban feel and most residents own their homes.”

white sand beach near city buildings under blue and white sunny cloudy sky during daytime
Naples, FL (Photo by Juan Pablo Mascanfroni on Unsplash)

“Naples, Florida is an ideal place to relax and enjoy your retirement years thanks to its warm, sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and an abundance of activities,” says Retire Better Now. “The city has 80 championship golf courses, 130 tennis courts, and miles of scenic beaches for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. Naples also has plenty to offer when it comes to culture and entertainment. The city has a vibrant cultural environment with world-class museums, galleries, and upmarket shopping and restaurants.”

“One of the advantages of living in The Sunshine State is residents get to enjoy tax exemption on income and inheritance taxes. [In Naples], You can also rest assured that you’ll be well-taken care of at world-class medical facilities like NCH Healthcare and Physicians Regional,” notes Space Wise

4. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Do you prefer experiencing all four seasons? Ann Arbor is next on our list of the top seven best places to retire, and it might just suit your fancy. “The change in seasons allow for year-round outdoor activities, like mountain biking, kayaking, ice skating and snowshoeing,” explains Ramsey Solutions. If those activities seem a little vigorous for your taste, there is still plenty to do to experience all four seasons. 

a city street at night with a theater sign lit up
Ann Arbor, MI (Photo by Brad Switzer on Unsplash)

“Ann Arbor is a city of contrasts,” notes U.S. News. “It is at once rural and urban, sporty and smart, outdoorsy and high-tech, counterculture and high society. It is best known as the home of the University of Michigan, and locals here enjoy all the trappings of a stereotypical Midwestern college town: a charming, historic main street lined with bookstores, gift shops and taverns; a healthy mix of longtime residents and shorter-term passers-through; and plentiful cultural destinations and events. At the same time, its proximity to reenergized Detroit, fast-growing startup scene, international community, spirit of inclusivity and high walkability give ‘Tree Town’ a feel not unlike that of a much larger city.” 

The Home Atlas went on to describe Ann Arbor as having “reasonable housing and living costs,” as well as “top-notch healthcare [and is] home to the University of Michigan Health System.” Check into Ann Arbor and see if it meets your specific preferences and needs as you enter into retirement. 

MORE: Best Places To Live In Michigan

5. Denver, Colorado

Looking for a mountainous area to spend your retirement years? Consider heading to Denver, Colorado. Located along the beautiful Rocky Mountains, the “city is also plenty large enough to support a thriving cultural scene. It is even well-known for its high-quality nursing homes,” reports Retireable

snow covered road near building during daytime
Denver, CO (Photo by Colin Lloyd on Unsplash)

Why should you retire in Denver? Let us count the ways,” comments Condé Nast Traveler. “There’s fresh mountain air and an abundance of outdoor activities. The restaurant scene is surprisingly good. The economy is steady. There are also plenty of high-quality hospitals, an efficient bus system, and a thriving international airport. Are you packing your bags yet?”

“Denver is a city that truly has something for everyone, with a variety of things to do and see,” notes Retire Better Now. “The Mile High City provides endless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment, with everything from beautiful parks and gardens to world-class restaurants and museums. Furthermore, the city’s low cost of living and pleasant weather makes it an excellent choice for retirees looking to settle down. Denver is the ideal place to spend your golden years, whether skiing in the Rockies, exploring historic neighborhoods, or simply relaxing in the sun.”

MORE: Best Places To Live In Colorado

6. Charleston, South Carolina

Look no further than Charleston, South Carolina if you want a southern, coastal city to call your new home. “Charleston’s historical charm, combined with its beautiful beaches and cultural richness, make it a top choice for retirees,” reports The Home Atlas.

people riding on carriage on road during daytime
Charleston, SC (Photo by Leonel Heisenberg on Unsplash)

“Charleston is filled with historic homes, churches and other buildings. Walking its streets can feel like you’re stepping back in time,” notes Ramsey Solutions. “The city’s Waterfront Park is a great place to take in views of sailboats in Charleston Harbor and Fort Sumter (where the first shots of the Civil War were fired). The Old City Market is the place to shop for crafts from local artisans. And don’t forget the low-country food that’s a staple in South Carolina coastal towns. (Shrimp and grits, anyone?)”

“Not only do you get access to safe, affordable neighborhoods and great beaches when you live in Chucktown, but you’ll also have access to one of the best medical centers in CharlestonMUSC Health – University Medical Center.” Space Wise also points out that “there are no taxes on Social Security benefits in South Carolina, and the state offers some of the lowest property taxes in the country, so retirees can get a bang for their buck. When finding things to do in Charleston, you can explore any of the historical attractions or experience King Street‘s boutiques, art galleries, fine dining, and more.” So, practice speaking with a southern draw or the unique Charlestonian accent and make your way there.

MORE: Best Places To Live In South Carolina

7. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The final location in our expert list is Pittsburgh. “If you’re looking for small-town friendliness paired with the benefits of big-city living, Pittsburgh has both!” says Space Wise. “This cultural city also has tons of art and museums for retirees to explore, like the Carnegie Museum of Art and Andy Warhol Museum.” 

red and black train on bridge over body of water during daytime
Pittsburgh, PA (Photo by Yuhan Du on Unsplash)

Are you a sports fan? This city is for you! “Pittsburghers are known for their devotion to their professional sports teams: the NFL’s Steelers, NHL‘s Penguins and MLB’s Pirates” notes U.S. News

According to Forbes, Pittsburgh “remains one of the most affordable cities on the East Coast, with an abundance of universities providing cultural and learning opportunities and first-rate medical care.” Sounds like a great place to retire to. 

Let us know in the comments which of these places is at the top of your list!

How To Begin Journey Into Retirement

If you’re ready to retire but aren’t sure how to start the exciting process, consider the following checklist to help get you situated:

Financial Planning:

  • Review your retirement accounts: Calculate your total retirement savings and projected income. This includes Social Security benefits, pensions, and retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs.
  • Create a budget: Estimate your monthly expenses in retirement. Consider housing, food, healthcare,transportation, travel, and leisure activities.
  • Plan for healthcare: Research Medicare options and consider supplemental insurance. Estimate future healthcare costs.
  • Pay off debt: Reduce or eliminate debt to minimize monthly expenses and improve financial security.
  • Tax implications: Understand how your retirement income will be taxed. Consult a financial advisor to optimize tax strategies.
  • Estate planning: Update your will, power of attorney, and healthcare directives. Ensure your family understands your wishes.

Lifestyle Planning:

  • Define your retirement goals: What do you want to achieve in retirement? Travel, volunteer, pursue hobbies,spend time with family, etc.
  • Research housing options: Consider downsizing your home, moving to a different location, or exploring senior living communities.
  • Stay active and healthy: Maintain a healthy lifestyle through exercise, nutrition, and preventative care.
  • Engage in social activities: Plan activities that bring you joy and connect you with friends and community.
  • Learn new skills: Consider pursuing hobbies, volunteering, or taking classes to keep your mind and body active.

Administrative Tasks:

  • Apply for Social Security benefits: Start your application three months before your desired retirement date.
  • Enroll in Medicare: Apply at least three months before turning 65.
  • Update beneficiaries: Review and update beneficiaries on all retirement accounts and insurance policies.
  • Notify employers and creditors: Inform them of your retirement date and contact information changes.
  • Cancel unnecessary subscriptions: Reduce expenses by eliminating unused subscriptions.
  • Organize important documents: Create a safe and accessible location for essential documents like wills,passports, and insurance policies.

Additional Considerations:

  • Legal and financial advice: Consult professionals for personalized guidance on estate planning, taxes, and investments.
  • Long-term care planning: Research long-term care options and consider insurance or other financial strategies.
  • Mental and emotional preparation: Address any anxieties or concerns about retirement. Consider seeking professional help if needed.

Remember: This is a general checklist. Customize it to your specific needs and circumstances. Start planning early and review your plan regularly to ensure a smooth transition into retirement.

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Sources:

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.

About Christy Duren

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99 Comments

  1. Joe Smith says:

    3rd photo from the top is clearly of South Beach FL, not Naples. LOL

    1. Bill Claggett says:

      Are you fukn stupid evidently you never lived in PA

  2. Divia says:

    I lived just outside of Lancaster for 14 years and agree with most of the negative comments about Lancaster. One thing that has yet to be mentioned is that aside from the outrageous tax rates, Lancaster is primarily a college city and with the very large population of under 30’s, age discrimination and hostility is rampant. Outside of the tourist areas, that Amish are justifiably clannish and standoffish due to the way outsiders treat them. As far as the complaints about the winter weather, well duh, it IS Pennsylvania after all, so it does get and stay cold in the winter. 🙂

  3. Lawrence Bound says:

    Christy Duren, who ever she is, has obviously never been to any of the cities mentioned. Denver has been taken over by liberals, getting to and back from the mountains takes hours, this is another “used to be” a great place to live until some fool writer names it as a great place to live and all the other fools come rushing in. This is true of Naples Florida, ruined by articles praising it as a great place to retire, if you enjoying 150,000 cars added to it’s roads during the season of northerners flooding the doctor’s offices, restaurants, and roadways. I left Denver years ago when California moved in, moved to Naples when it was a village on the Gulf. Speaking from experience, both cites are no longer “great places to retire Christy Duren – write about something you know about.

    1. Orange Fool says:

      Aww poor poor wittle MAGA man. How sad.

    2. pete says:

      Yes, Denver is and has been a $hithole.

  4. Bob says:

    Pittsboig!!!!! This writer has never been to Pittsburgh.

  5. Mark Underkofler says:

    There is a reason it is called “Pitts”burgh. Ugh. You’ve got to love RUST! I saw trucks in Pit-s-burgh with RUST on them! Really. Go to Kennywood and the picnic lookout looks out over a closed down RUSTING steel mill. Yummy!!

  6. gh says:

    I live in the rural mountains of Colorado and avoid Denver like the plague. Homeless bums, drug addicts, filth, and crime are rampant. This writer apparently just read the chamber of commerce brochures without actually going and seeing for themselves.

  7. J says:

    Every single place you highlight is awful. Lancaster PA… are you joking? Florida is the worst State to live in. It’s a nice place to visit for vacation.
    Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are beautiful states. Why leave them out? Too expensive I guess. You get what you pay for. Europe or Canada is my destination for retirement.

  8. Jaake says:

    Pittsburgh is horrible. Because of the Democrat majority, it keeps trying to keep up with the woke big boy cities and can’t get enough wokeness. The streets are congested with way too many transit buses that block and stop traffic. They made bike lanes where there really isn’t room for them. Their sports teams all suck. Smart people should avoid Pittsburgh!

  9. Ridiculous says:

    This has to be the WORST list I’ve ever seen! Two cities in PA for retirement us a joke. Everything in this POS state is run by the liberals and their failed policies and then introduce the crazy taxes we pay. Can not wait to get out of here. Ann Arbor Michigan is in the same boat. Who wrote this ridiculous article, some 2nd year journalism major?