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Here Are 11 Surprisingly Affordable Cities That Are Flocking To Retirement

Here are 11 surprisingly affordable cities that are flocking to retirement


Last year there were nearly 20 million Americans between the ages of 60 and 64. If you are one of them, you are probably thinking about retiring.

There are many ways to ensure that you are prepared for the golden years. There are tools to help you Optimize your 401 (k) like Blooom and calculators like Finhabits that show you how to do it Save hundreds of thousands of dollars for retirement, both of which can provide a great boost if you can fallen behind in savings. (Spoiler: Most of us have.)

But once you’ve paid off your retirement income, the next big question is where will you be spending the fall of your years? Boca Raton? Palm Springs?

Nonsense! Most of the popular retirement spots in the US are overpriced and, in my humble opinion, boring. When I retire, I want to be with active colleagues who enjoy nature – and who can actually afford a retirement home.

This generation of retirees still prefer to age in their own community. However, when they do want to move, they look for walkable cities where they don’t need a car to get around, said Jana Lynott, senior strategic policy advisor at AARP.

“They want places with a bit of life,” she said.

So I went looking for unsung, affordable (and cool) cities that new retirees are flocking to, and I found some surprising cities.

To formulate this list of the best places to retire on a budget, I used the latest available data from the US Census Bureau, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as research from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Here are the factors we considered:

  • Percentage of retirees.
  • Percentage change in the pensioner quota from 2012 to 2016.
  • Percentage of retirees who moved in the last year.
  • Percentage of healthy people.
  • Annual property taxes.
  • Average house values.
  • Ratio of property tax to retirement income.
  • Annual health care costs.
  • Assisted living facilities per capita.
  • Annual cost of assisted living facilities.
  • Violent crime rate.
  • Citizens’ associations per capita.
  • Doctors per capita.
  • Access to exercise facilities.
  • Food availability index.

A few quick methodological notes: 2016 is the last year that the census shows, and for “retirees” we looked at the population of people 65 and over.

We then used a statistical technique to weight many of these factors and bring you the list of the best affordable places to retire to. So … ready to find your dream retirement town?

Here are the 11 best places to retire on a budget

You may not have heard of some of the best places to retire on a budget. So we’ve rounded up some interesting facts and cool things for each city on the list.

I have to admit, I was surprised by a few because when I think of retirement I think more of Florida. Especially since I grew up in Sarasota, where the median age is 46 – nine years older than the median age in America.

1. St. George, Utah

Alpenarts / Getty Images

Pensioner: 21%

Change in the pensioner relationship: 18.1%

Healthy residents: 88.5%

Average retirement income: $ 26,670

Annual taxes: $ 1,834

Annual health costs (district): $ 8,594

Median house value: $ 223,200

Assisted living facilities per 1,000 inhabitants (district): 5.4

Doctors per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 58

Average Assisted Living Facility Cost (State): $ 35,400

Cities in Utah have topped several The Penny Hoarder’s best-of lists lately: cities that have actually seen wage growth, best cities for technical professions, and cities with the fastest growing incomes, among others. Utah has some of the fastest growing metropolitan areas, so it’s no surprise that retirement people are flocking to their cities.

In St. George, a town of around 80,000 people, you can wake up every morning with a cup of coffee (or tea if you’re like me) and gaze at the hills, mesas, and mountains. Sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it?

If you’re planning an active retirement, the city is less than an hour from Zion National Park and has plenty of hiking, camping, and fishing trails. According to the St. George Chamber of Commerce, the city had the most golf courses per capita. Foreground!

2. Palm Coast, Florida

Evening afterglow on the golf course in Palm Coast, Florida
Michael Warren / Getty Images

Pensioner: 26.6%

Change in the pensioner relationship: 16%

Healthy residents: 77.2%

Average retirement income: $ 27,535

Annual taxes: $ 1,610

Annual health costs (district): $ 9,988

Median house value: $ 168,400

Assisted living facilities per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 4.4

Doctors per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 51

Average Assisted Living Facility Cost (State): $ 36,540

Surprised that a city in Florida didn’t come first on this list? Well, Palm Coast, which sits between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, hardly missed it.

Just a few minutes from the beach, you won’t experience cold winters here. For active retirees, the city offers a healthy mix of golf resorts and nature trails.

Oh, and it’s only two hours from The Villages, considered to be one of the rowliest age communities in the country. Hang up your golf cart and head inland for the occasional party.

3. Loveland, Colorado

Dramatic Rocky Mountains
RiverNorthPhotography / Getty Images

Pensioner: 17.3%

Change in the pensioner relationship: 23%

Healthy residents: 90.3%

Average retirement income: $ 25,995

Annual taxes: $ 1,357

Annual health costs (district): $ 8,324

Median house value: $ 237,200

Assisted living facilities per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 8th

Doctors per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 86

Average Assisted Living Facility Cost (State): $ 48,750

One trend you’ll notice on this list is that most of the best places to retire are relatively close to trendy cities. Loveland, Colorado, less than an hour’s drive from Denver, is a perfect example.

As I am sweating in the 90 degree weather in Florida and writing this, the people of Loveland are enjoying a 69 degree day in the middle of summer. Jealous.

Loveland is a cultural hub and is home to at least nine art museums and galleries, five music venues, three theaters, and a cool sculpture park. Oh, and Loveland has a booming tourism scene, so you can grow that retirement income by becoming an Airbnb host.

4. Cape Coral, Florida

Beach vacation destination Cape Coral Florida
TriggerPhoto / Getty Images

Pensioner: 20.2%

Change in the pensioner relationship: 16.5%

Healthy residents: 87.6%

Average retirement income: $ 24,416

Annual taxes: $ 1,884

Annual health costs (district): $ 10,113

Median house value: $ 173,400

Assisted living facilities per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 2.7

Doctors per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 62

Average Assisted Living Facility Cost (State): $ 36,540

Cape Coral was one of the cities hardest hit by the Great Recession, largely due to the construction of new residents, most of whom would have been over 64 years old. But now that the economy is booming again, the city is attracting hordes of retirees in search of affordable living.

The city has 356 miles of canals, meaning there are hundreds of miles of land on the water, albeit man-made. And since it’s Florida, there are plenty of opportunities for golfing and fishing.

Lee County, which surrounds Cape Coral, is also the headquarters for spring training for the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins. That makes it perfect for retirees from those cold cities in search of sunshine – and baseball.

5. Surprise, Arizona

USA: Welcome to the Arizona Sign
mtcurado / Getty Images

Pensioner: 21.6%

Change in the pensioner relationship: 13.7%

Healthy residents: 89.5%

Average retirement income: $ 26,912

Annual taxes: $ 1,377

Annual health costs (district): 9,603 USD

Median house value: $ 197,600

Assisted living facilities per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 8.5

Doctors per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 71

Average Assisted Living Facility Cost (State): $ 42,000

The founder of Surprise, Arizona reportedly named it that because she would have been surprised if it had been anything. Well, Flora Mae Statler, your town has just landed at number 5 on the list of Best Affordable Places to Retire to.

Surprise has one of the largest tennis complexes in the Southwest – in case you want a break from one of the dozen of golf courses.

And as in Cape Coral, the spring training complexes of two major league baseball teams are located here: the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers.

6. Henderson, Nevada

Welcome to Nevada sign along the freeway
toddtaulman / Getty Images

Pensioner: 17.8%

Change in the pensioner relationship: 20.2%

Healthy residents: 89.2%

Average retirement income: 30,909 USD

Annual taxes: $ 1,827

Annual health costs (district): $ 10,634

Median house value: $ 237,800

Assisted living facilities per 1,000 inhabitants (district): 4.8

Doctors per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 55

Average Assisted Living Facility Cost (State): $ 36,600

Henderson, Nevada is consistently one of the safest cities in the United States. The latest data shows that around 211 violent crimes were committed per 100,000 population in 2016. That’s 45% less than the US as a whole.

So if your suburb is to live close to the country’s gambling mecca, Henderson is your safest choice. (See what I did there?) But along with all of the casinos, resorts, and golf courses, there are over 35 miles of hiking trails too.

And you’re only half an hour from the Hoover Dam if that’s that kind of thing.

7. Port St. Lucie, Florida

Beautiful nature reserve in Port Saint Lucie Florida.
Rauluminate / Getty Images

Pensioner: 18.3%

Change in the pensioner relationship: 14.3%

Healthy residents: 86.7%

Average retirement income: $ 22,426

Annual taxes: $ 2,107

Annual health costs (district): $ 10,956

Median house value: $ 149,400

Assisted living facilities per 1,000 inhabitants (district): 3.6

Doctors per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 40

Average Assisted Living Facility Cost (State): $ 36,540

Port St. Lucie, like Palm Beach, is another underrated Florida retirement destination on the state’s east coast.

A stroll along the Riverwalk Boardwalk not only makes for sunbathing on the beach, but also for a relaxing weekend. That reminds me that the St. Lucie River nearby means you have opportunities for both saltwater and freshwater fishing.

In addition to the more than 20 golf courses, the New York Mets also spend their spring training in Port St. Lucie. Well if they could only figure out how to win.

8. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico at dusk.
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

Pensioner: 19.4%

Change in the pensioner relationship: 9.6%

Healthy residents: 88.5%

Average retirement income: $ 36,194

Annual taxes: $ 1,375

Annual health costs (district): $ 6,345

Median house value: $ 259,700

Assisted living facilities per 1,000 inhabitants (district): 4.1

Doctors per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 103

Average Assisted Living Facility Cost (State): $ 43,200

Santa Fe is the country’s oldest capital. And over the years it has only gotten better.

Indians called the country the “Sun Dance Place” for good reason. The Jémez Mountains offer some excellent sunsets. These mountains aren’t just meant to be looked at either. Sante Fe is home to an extensive network of trails that you can hike and explore during the 320 days of sunshine per year.

And if nature isn’t your thing, Sante Fe is also known as a cultural hotspot. The four centuries old city combines Indian, Spanish and Anglo-American roots into a unique art and historical hotspot.

9. Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina, USA at twilight.
Sean Pavone / Getty Images

Pensioner: 17.1%

Change in the pensioner relationship: 9.8%

Healthy residents: 88.3%

Average retirement income: $ 28,534

Annual taxes: $ 1,818

Annual health costs (district): $ 8,101

Median house value: $ 212,000

Assisted living facilities per 1,000 inhabitants (district): 5.3

Doctors per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 141

Average Assisted Living Facility Cost (State): $ 36,000

Asheville is located in the valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains and has become a haven for foodies, art connoisseurs and film fans.

Asheville, called Beer City, USA, brings out your inner cicerone in 2009. Whether you’re a fan of IPAs or stouts, you’ll find your taste at one of the many beer festivals Asheville hosts year-round.

Non-drinkers will find plenty of arts and entertainment options in the city center or prefer a stroll on George Vanderbilt’s 1895 Biltmore Estate – an architectural masterpiece that rivals any French or British grand castle.

10. Charleston, South Carolina

Downtown Charleston, South Carolina in the early evening.
traveller1116 / Getty Images

Pensioner: 13.6%

Change in the pensioner relationship: 13.4%

Healthy residents: 89%

Average retirement income: $ 31,652

Annual taxes: $ 1,448

Annual health costs (district): $ 9,018

Median house value: $ 269,400

Assisted living facilities per 1,000 inhabitants (district): 5.6

Doctors per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 124

Average Assisted Living Facility Cost (State): $ 36,000

From the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter to the 60-mile stretch of the Atlantic coast, the old port city has something for everyone. Settled in 1670, Charleston is the oldest city in South Carolina. It has also grown to be the largest in the state.

In its 350-year history, the city has been at the center of many wars and conflicts. History buffs will find the museums and national monuments particularly attractive.

With mild winters, Charleston offers a cozy place to beat the cold while offering some of the best golf courses in the country. And on those hot summer days, a quick trip to the beach is never an option because it’s so close.

11. Redding, California

Sundial Bridge in Redding, Northern California.
jgreesonarts / Getty Images

Pensioner: 18.7%

Change in the pensioner relationship: 15.4%

Healthy residents: 87%

Average retirement income: $ 27,012

Annual taxes: $ 1,842

Annual health costs (district): 8,329 USD

Median house value: $ 232,000

Assisted living facilities per 1,000 inhabitants (district): 8.7

Doctors per 100,000 inhabitants (district): 73

Average Assisted Living Facility Cost (State): $ 48,000

Almost two centuries ago, settlers poured into the Redding area during the California gold rush. Now visitors rush to the 217 foot high sundial bridge that spans the Sacramento River.

But Redding is much more than just a tourist attraction. The residents have settled into a balanced life full of adventure and culture. The city has received multiple awards for its pristine state parks and has been named one of the top 10 fishing towns in North America.

Redding is surrounded by mountains and a hiker’s dream. In addition to a flourishing theater scene, the city center also offers many entertainment options.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. He plans to retreat outside of Asheville, where he can fly fish all day and play bluegrass on his front porch until late at night.

Editor assistant Adam Hardy contributed to this report. He lives on a diet with stale puns and Iced coffee. Read his full bio Here.


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