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What makes a great place to retire? It’s a trick question, of course — there are as many answers as there are retirees. Some love to golf in the sun, while others feel most invigorated by winter sports. For every history buff, there’s a modern art enthusiast, an adventurer for every homebody.
Here at Money, we tried to find something for everyone in our 2019 roundup of the best places to retire. To compile the list, we tapped the same data that we used to determine our Best Places to Live in America (please see more about our methodology below). Even if you have no plans to relocate, this list might inspire you to consider what you value most in retirement, which in turn will help you structure your days. And if you do plan to move, we offer suggestions for every interest and budget.
Catalina Foothills, Ariz.
- Population: 53,507
- Population 50-plus: 54.5%
- Days of sunshine a year: 284
- Median home price: $349,974
Set against the backdrop of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Catalina Foothills is a picturesque, traditional retiree destination filled with golf, sunsets and spas. Located just north of Tucson in Pima county, it’s a mid-size city with a population of around 54,000 that offers almost, well, everything.
Thanks to the diversity of the area’s landscape, with mountains, deserts and canyons, Catalina Foothills provides a great variety of outdoor experiences. The Sabino Canyon Recreation Area draws over a million visitors a year to experience the area’s natural beauty. But if that’s not your thing, you can stick closer to home and visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens.
Arizona is also home to the aerospace and astronomy industries, and with a bit of a drive you can immerse yourself in the miracles of the universe. Trips to popular attractions like the Mount Lemmon Sky Center at the University of Arizona and the Pima Air & Space Museum are great for visiting grandchildren.
The area also has lots of high-end shopping at places like La Encantada; for deals, look no further than the Tucson Premium Outlets.
Palm Desert City, Calif.
- Population: 53,437
- Population 50-plus: 54.2%
- Days of sunshine a year: 263
- Median home price: $334,398
Palm Desert City is the place to be if you’re passionate about the arts and love perfect weather.
Situated in the Coachella Valley area, Palm Desert City has a 50-plus population of 54%, so there’s an active older community ready to be joined.
A standout is the Sun City Palm Desert, a 55-plus gated community with 9,000 residents that offers huge a variety of activities and classes (think yoga, water aerobics and cycling), the renowned Mountain Vista Golf Club, and more than 1,000 acres designed with waterfalls, bocce courts and jogging trails.
If you aren’t ready to commit to desert living full-time, you can become one of thousands of “snowbirds” who flock to the city every winter — Palm Desert has 263 days of sunshine a year.
And thanks to its Art in Public Places program, featuring a collection of over 150 pieces, the city boasts fantastic public art projects all year around. Tours of these exhibits are free.
West Bloomfield, Mich.
- Population: 65,921
- Population 50-plus: 45.8%
- Days of sunshine a year: 180
- Median home price: $276,018
West Bloomfield, Mich., is an idyllic spot to consider if you picture your retirement overlooking calming shores and sunsets on the water. Dotted across the township are so many lakes that the area has been dubbed “lake township of Oakland County.”
Cass Lake, the largest of Oakland County’s more than 358 lakes, sits along the northern border of West Bloomfield. Neighboring Dodge State Park, a 139-acre recreation area, offers a variety of winter and summer activities. The public park, which has a picnic area, playground and beach, is the perfect place to host family gatherings and is also handicap accessible and pet-friendly. Nearby is a trip through America’s automotive history: the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village, about a half hour away, offer visitors the chance to take a ride in a real Model T.
Northfield Township, Ill.
- Population: 86,793
- Population 50-plus: 47.2%
- Days of sunshine a year: 189
- Median home price: $471,013
Only 25 miles north of Chicago sits the quiet and scenic Northfield Township.
With a true suburban community feel, Northfield is filled with parks and outdoor golf clubs. Also nearby are a botanic garden, lagoons, and Lake Michigan.
For those who prefer to spend their days lost in nature, you can roam the many nature preserves located within Northfield, such as Somme Woods, Chipilly Woods and Sunset Ridge Woods. There, you can hike, bike, cross-country ski or enjoy a picnic with friends and family.
While the township’s median home price ranks highest on our list, those who can afford to live there will enjoy easy access to a major city by public transportation. The trip to Chicago by commuter rail takes a little over an hour and costs about $7 one way, full fare (those 65 and older are eligible to apply for reduced fare).
What’s more, both the Chicago Botanic Garden (in nearby Glencoe) and the Skokie Lagoons, which border the east side of town, are only a short drive away.
Bonita Springs, Fla.
- Population: 54,555
- Population 50-plus: 57.1%
- Days of sunshine a year: 249
- Median home price: $333,373
If you like sunshine and volunteer opportunities, Bonita Springs City, Fla. offers both in abundance.
Located on the southwest coast of Florida in Lee county, Bonita Springs boasts beautiful nature spots like Lovers Key State Park, a two-mile long beach on barrier islands that offers walking trails, kayaking and other activities.
Bonita Springs has a population of about 55,000, with a significant 57% of residents aged 50 and older. If you’re not a beach lover, the city’s downtown offers a hub of community activities like farmers markets, local concerts and seasonal festivals throughout the year.
The residents of Bonita Springs care about giving back, and philanthropy is a huge part of the community atmosphere. At the annual Southwest Florida Wine and Food Fest, you can help raise money for all kinds of charities or simply donate food to the Bonita Springs Assistance Center, which offers support to low-income seniors.
While Bonita Springs was hit relatively hard by Hurricane Irma in 2017, the city undertook extensive cleaning and rebuilding efforts, and has begun drainage and other projects to mitigate the effects of future flooding. Bonita Springs is also just a short drive to the bigger city of Naples, which is home to a large retiree community of its own.
Minnetonka City, Minn.
- Population: 54,303
- Population 50-plus: 45.8%
- Days of sunshine a year: 196
- Median home price: $342,198
Minnetonka, Minnesota offers an ideal balance between nature and a big city. Just 30 minutes away is Lake Minnetonka, where you can stroll through the 73-acre Noerenberg Gardens or take a bike ride, hike or horseback ride along the 63-mile Luce Line Trail. The line is a former railroad that ran across Minnesota in the early 1900s that was converted into nature trails.
In Minnetonka, Ridgedale Center has all of your shopping and dining needs. The mall has more than 100 stores, several sit-down restaurants, and plenty of space for light exercise when the weather is bad. On nice days, you can take advantage of the 95-acre Big Willow Park and stroll on one of its easy trails. And for those who love to spend a day, or several, wandering through a bustling city, Minneapolis is a mere 20-minute drive away.
Nearly 46% of the city’s residents are age 50 and over, and about 69% of all residents own their homes. For those considering a move to more supportive housing, there are several assisted living options and retirement communities in the city and surrounding area, including on Lake Minnetonka.
Georgetown City, Texas.
- Population: 65,111
- Population 50-plus: 46.3%
- Days of sunshine a year: 229
- Median home price: $289,855
Charming town squares, fields of flowers, warm weather and easy access to a big city — sound like an idyllic movie set?
It’s all real in Georgetown City, Texas. An effort to revitalize the town’s main square in the 1970s established a picture-perfect downtown and a community filled with well-preserved Victorian houses, landing Georgetown on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s also home to Southwestern University, the oldest university in Texas.
The town is famous for its miles of fields of red poppy flowers. It hosts the Red Poppy Festival each year, which attracts tens of thousands of people. Gardeners can even pick up your own poppy seeds at the Georgetown visitor center and grow your own blooms.
Another well-known feature of Georgetown you can enjoy as a retiree is Sun City Texas, the county’s largest retirement community. The sprawling property is home to around 11,500 residents and features resort-quality amenities, with six swimming pools and 12 tennis courts. There’s a community library and a farmer’s market every Tuesday morning. One of the perks? It’s only 10 minutes from downtown and about 30 miles from Austin — so when you want a break from suburban living, there’s a diverse city close by to explore.
- Population: 85, 092
- Population 50-plus: 44.0%
- Days of sunshine a year: 213
- Median home price: $405,730
Want to retire to a place surrounded by nature, without sacrificing the amenities of a big city? Clarkstown, N.Y., can give you the best of both worlds. Located in Rockland County among a plethora of state parks, Clarkstown is roughly 30 miles from New York City.
Avid hikers and nature enthusiasts will find themselves close to several state parks, including Bear Mountain State Park. Here you can picnic, bike, fish, hike, and ice skate, among other activities.
But if you’re not an outdoor enthusiast, that’s okay too. Clarkstown is near the Palisades Center, which has all of your shopping, dining and entertainment needs. The center includes a 4-level shopping mall, 15 restaurants, a bowling alley, ice rink and comedy club.
History buffs won’t be disappointed, either: DeWint House, one of George Washington’s headquarters during the American Revolutionary War, is in nearby Tappan, N.Y. At Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site, you can visit the location of one of the last battles of the war in the northeast.
And for a true historic outing, enjoy brunch at Old 76 House, the oldest tavern in New York and a national landmark.
To find Money’s Best Places to Retire, we looked only at places with populations above 50,000. We eliminated any location that had more than double the national crime risk, less than 85% of its state’s median household income, or a lack of ethnic diversity. This gave us 601 places.
We then collected about 47,500 different data points to narrow the list. We considered data on each place’s economic health, cost of living, health care, safety, diversity, quality of life, and amenities, all provided by research partner Witlytic. You can view more information about the data we used at money.com/best-places-to-live-2019-methodology. To pick the retirement destinations noted here, we put the greatest weight on health and safety, cost of living, housing and economic factors, as well as the percentage of residents age 50 or above.
Among the statistics called out here: Population data reflects Synergos Technologies Inc.’s interpretation of Census and IRS data. Median home sale price reflects 2018 median from Attom Data. Count of sunny days reflects clear day data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.