If you’re approaching retirement, you probably have an image of how you’ll spend your days after you leave the office, whether that’s perfecting your golf game, watching the waves, or learning a new skill. But before you can start daydreaming about retirement, there’s one essential question to answer: Where will you live?
For some retirees, staying put can make the most sense, especially if friends and family are nearby. But if your dream destination isn’t your current town, there’s probably a reason. That may be economic considerations, like cutting down on expenses, or factors motivated by a favorite hobby or ambition. Money scoped out some great places to settle for all kinds of retirees—no matter what your plans or interests.
Best for Belt Tighteners: Coweta, Oklahoma
- 50-plus population: 34%
- Median home price: $188,000
- Average Property tax: $1,655
If you’re aiming to save your nest egg for hotels abroad or other bucket-list items, Coweta, a suburb about a half-hour southeast of Tulsa, can help you stretch your dollars with one of the lowest costs of living in the country.
At $188,000, Coweta’s median home price was among the most affordable of those in all the towns we evaluated. Plus, the average home price was just 2.6 times as high as the local median family income, an entire percentage point less than the national average income-to-home-price ratio. Not only are your day-to-day expenses low, but the 5.8% sales tax is one of the lowest in our database. The average property tax, meanwhile, is about $1,655 per year.
Spend some of your hefty savings at one of the area’s favorite eateries, like Dixie’s Cafe, Roy’s Fried Chicken, or the Fish Shack. And check out some of the activities in Coweta’s downtown Broadway District: Browse antiques at Off the Beaten Path Vintage Mercantile, or meet other community members at annual events like the Coweta Fall Festival parade or the summertime Patriotic Festival, which features a fireworks display.
Also consider Bartlett, Tenn.; West Chester, Ohio
Best for Water Lovers: Torrance, California
- 50-plus population: 41%
- Median home price:
- Clear days per year: 263
If you’re seeking an oceanside retirement, Torrance is a great option. This city in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County boasts 1.5 miles of beach along the Southern California shore, without all the crowds of L.A. beaches to the north and Long Beach to the south. Besides swimming and sunbathing, the beach allows for activities like scuba diving, fishing, and surfing. Try cycling down the Strand, the SoCal coastal bike path that originates in Torrance.
The city also features access to a high concentration of hospitals within a 15-mile radius. WalletHub ranked Torrance as the best place to retire in the state, owing to the area’s top-notch health care, low cost of living, and number of senior centers per capita. Plus, Torrance provides subsidized taxi services for disabled citizens or those age 65 and older, and seasonal excursions designed for those 50 and older.
While not too pricey by California standards, Torrance’s cost of living is about 63% higher than the national average, according to PayScale, with a median home price of $829,500 in 2018.
Also consider Pembroke Pines, Fla.; Lewisville, Texas
Best for Cultural Offerings: North Hempstead, New York
- 50-plus population: 42%
- Median home price: $692,500
- Museums within a 30-mile radius: 679
History buffs hoping to retire in one of the cradles of American culture should look no farther than North Hempstead in Nassau County on Long Island.
During the American Revolution, rebels used the town as a meeting place to lay the groundwork for secession from England. Army aviators in World War I used Hempstead Plains to train, and not long after, F. Scott Fitzgerald tapped Sands Point, one of North Hempstead’s incorporated villages, as the setting for The Great Gatsby.
To immerse yourself in the area’s rich history, head to one of its museums or landmarks. The Polish American Museum in nearby Port Washington displays folk art and historical artifacts, including a room dedicated to Polish Nobel Prize laureates like Marie Curie, while the Nassau County Museum of Art features work from Jean-Michel Basquiat. What’s more, North Hempstead is a short train or bus ride away from the major cultural hub of New York City. North Hempstead also offers discounted transportation services to senior citizens.
Also consider Clifton, N.J.; Monterey Park, Calif.
Best for Sports Fans: Bloomfield, New Jersey
- 50-plus population: 52%
- Median home price: $360, 050
- Major sports teams within 30 miles: 14
The leafy New Jersey township of Bloomfield may not have many sports teams of its own, but its many parks and proximity to New York City mean residents can toss the football one day and see their favorite professional team play the next.
MetLife Stadium, the home of two New York football teams, is a nine-mile drive from the heart of the township, while Madison Square Garden’s famed basketball court is just a 30-minute train ride away via one of Bloomfield’s two NJ Transit lines.
Hockey fans can watch a New Jersey Devils game at the nearby Prudential Center or travel a little farther to see the New York Islanders play at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. You can also catch a baseball game at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field via public transportation.
Bloomfield isn’t just a place for spectators. The township is home to numerous parks and recreation facilities equipped for basketball, tennis, baseball, and more.
Also consider Goodyear, Ariz.; Dranesville, Va.
Best for Outdoor Enthusiasts: Scottsdale, Arizona
- 50-plus population: 46%
- Median home price: $442,000
- City parks and recreation facilities: 41
More retirees are moving to Arizona than to almost any other state, according to a recent SmartAsset interpretation of Census data. If you’re one of the many people intrigued by the Copper State’s dry heat, mild winters, and abundance of scenery, you may want to consider moving to Scottsdale.
The Phoenix suburb is known for its resort-like atmosphere, with a bustling downtown, plentiful spas, and golf courses galore. But, perched on the edge of Tonto National Forest, Scottsdale is also an excellent place to spend time in nature.
The city’s parks are home to numerous trails, many of which allow hiking and horseback riding. Scottsdale has dedicated bikeways, ideal for retirees who enjoy cycling. Those living in Scottsdale can take advantage of the city’s proximity to the Desert Botanical Garden, home to 50,000 desert plants, and the Salt River, a calm body of water perfect for kayaking.
With nearly half its residents over the age of 50, Scottsdale plays host to myriad Meetup groups and clubs dedicated to staying active.
Also consider Weston, Fla.; Sandy, Utah
Best for Golfers: Wellington, Florida
- 50-plus population: 40%
- Median home price: $310,000
- Golf courses within 30 miles: 220
Thanks to its 234 days of clear skies and proximity to Palm Beach County’s plethora of golf courses and country clubs, Wellington is a golfer’s paradise. Residents can choose from a whopping 220 nearby golf courses, including the award-winning Wellington National Golf Club, designed by golf Hall of Famer Johnny Miller. Wycliffe Golf & Country Club boasts two 18-hole premier championship courses, plus public and private lessons for newbies to the sport.
Equestrians and animal lovers will enjoy the town’s annual Winter Equestrian Festival, the largest and longest-running horse show in the world. The 12-week contest hosts 6,000 horses and participants from more than 42 countries. Both residents and guests can attend events and competitions from January to April.
Soak up the sunny weather at the city’s nearby beaches. Lie out on Lake Worth Municipal Beach, or stroll over to the William O. Lockhart Municipal Pier to try your hand at fishing. Bring the grandchildren to the Lakeside Family Fun Days, which offer free kayaking and other activities. For a bite to eat, visit the iconic Benny’s on the Beach for fish and chips or shrimp and grits.
Also consider Peoria, Ariz.; Whittier, Calif.
Best for Encore Workers: Flower Mound, Texas
- 50-plus population: 36%
- Median home price: $384,250
- Projected job growth: 16%
If you’re considering a career after your career, you’re not alone. By 2024, 13 million people age 65 and older are expected to participate in the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—up 44% from the nearly 9 million seniors working today.
If reentering the labor force fits into your post-retirement plans, Flower Mound is as good a place as any to do just that. Boosted by the huge growth of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the northern Texas city is one of the fastest-growing markets in the U.S., with jobs projected to grow 16.1% by 2026.
The city’s Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital is one of Flower Mound’s largest employers, but other well-known names—like electronics chain Best Buy and the communications division of medical technologies company Stryker—also have large presences in the city. Positions from caregiver to bookkeeper are listed on RetirementJobs.com, a job board for adults 50 and older.
Also consider Ashburn, Va.; Palm Coast, Fla.
Best for Lifelong Learners: Des Plaines, Illinois
- 50-plus population: 38%
- Median home price: $247,000
- Four-year colleges within 30 miles: 78
While any city within commuting distance of a public Illinois university is a good choice for retirees who want to continue their education, Des Plaines may be one of the best. Just 20 miles northwest of Chicago, Des Plaines is within 30 miles of 78 four-year colleges.
For retirees trading a cubicle for the classroom, Illinois makes it easy to hit the books. The Land of Lincoln’s state universities and community colleges allow students over the age of 65 who meet certain financial criteria to attend credited and uncredited classes tuition-free.
Low-income retirees in Des Plaines have the ability to attend tuition-free classes for credit at nearby four-year colleges like Northeastern Illinois University, about 30 minutes away by car, or the slightly farther-flung Chicago State University.
Other local schools offer senior discounts regardless of income. According to its website, Harper College provides a “100% tuition discount” for in-district students age 65 or older, while Oakton Community College, located right in town, features discounted tuition for residents 60 or older and an emeritus program for adults over 55.
Also consider Wayne, N.J.; Newton, Mass.
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 593 places.
We then collected about 135,000 different data points to narrow the list. We considered data on each place’s economic health, cost of living, health care, crime, diversity, quality of living, and amenities, all provided by research partner Witlytic. Money teamed up with realtor.com to leverage its knowledge of housing markets throughout the country. To pick the retirement destinations noted here, we put the greatest weight on cost of living, quality of living, and health care factors. The top places were then evaluated for the presence of whatever amenity or feature Money was highlighting—whether job opportunities, outdoor space, or golf courses.
Finally, reporters researched each spot, checking out neighborhoods and searching for the kinds of intangible factors that aren’t revealed by statistics.
Among the statistics called out here: Projected job growth reflects Moody’s forecasts through 2022. Average property tax reflects the annual city tax paid by residents.