Choosing the ideal place to retire is a momentous decision that influences one's quality of life in later years. With countless options across the United States, this guide delves into the top 13 retirement destinations, each offering unique advantages. From serene coastal communities to vibrant urban centers, these locales cater to diverse preferences and lifestyles. Factors such as cost of living, healthcare access, recreational opportunities, and cultural amenities play pivotal roles in the selection process.
Whether you seek tranquility, adventure, or a mix of both, this compilation will illuminate the best retirement destinations, ensuring a fulfilling and satisfying retirement experience.
1. Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta offers an enticing retirement option for those who enjoy museums, parks, and sports events. It ranks 5th out of 182 in WalletHub's “activities” index. With the world's busiest international airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, residents have easy access to global travel.
The city's thriving modern Southern food scene ensures there's always something new to savor. In Atlanta, boredom is a rare occurrence, making it an appealing choice for retirees seeking vibrant cultural and recreational experiences.
2. Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville, Alabama, isn't the first place that comes to mind when thinking about desirable retirement locales, but it makes a strong argument for consideration. Retirees can save money because of the city's low cost of living and tax-friendly laws. Huntsville also boasts a highly educated populace, which has helped the city develop a thriving artistic community.
It has the normal advantages of Alabama, such as a mild climate, proximity to beautiful beaches, and excellent golf courses. Huntsville is well-known for its aerospace and technology industry, giving retirees access to exciting new opportunities in a warm and hospitable Southern environment.
3. Augusta, Georgia
Augusta, Georgia blends Southern charm with affordable living costs and favorable tax benefits for seniors. Known for the prestigious Masters golf tournament, the city offers a walkable and appealing downtown area with restaurants, museums, galleries, and vibrant nightlife.
Outdoor enthusiasts can explore a variety of activities like running, walking, biking, kayaking, and boating, thanks to the scenic Augusta Canal and the Savannah River, which are popular waterways in the region. Augusta's diverse offerings make it an enticing choice for retirees seeking a blend of culture, outdoor adventures, and financial advantages.
4. Casper, Wyoming
Casper is the place to go if you want to retire and live like Ron Swanson. It's a paradise for nature lovers, with abundant opportunities for outdoor pursuits like fly fishing, kayaking, and hiking in breathtaking settings. The closeness to both Grand Teton and Rocky Mountain National Parks also offers a wealth of outdoor activities. Casper has a wide range of cultural attractions, including art museums, a planetarium, and historic buildings.
This hidden jewel of Wyoming is a great option for retirees who want to spend their golden years doing meaningful things and learning new things, thanks to its seamless combination of challenging outdoor adventures and engaging cultural encounters.
5. Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City, often associated with its Mormon heritage, is a diverse and dynamic city that caters to a wide range of residents. Beyond Utah Jazz games and visits to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the city's main draw lies in its awe-inspiring natural surroundings.
With five national parks and numerous world-famous ski resorts just a short drive away, outdoor enthusiasts will find endless adventure. Furthermore, the modern airport terminal, inaugurated in 2020, ensures convenient travel, making it easy to stay connected with loved ones while enjoying all that Salt Lake City has to offer.
6. Wilmington, Delaware
Though Joe Biden has shifted his residence to Washington, D.C., Wilmington, northern Delaware's gem, deserves recognition. Its summer charm is epitomized by the picturesque waterfront. The city's culinary scene is a perennial attraction, with new restaurants catapulting Wilmington onto the list of top places to explore in 2023.
Retirement here means savoring delights like wagyu empanadas at Bardea Steak, indulging in mint-flecked lamb shoulder at Le Cavalier, and relishing Indian street food classics at The Chancery Market. Wilmington's blend of scenic beauty and gastronomic diversity makes it an appealing destination for retirees.
7. Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi is notable for its wide variety of cultural attractions, including those that appeal to fans of the Civil War, blues music, and ballet. Every four years, it plays host to the United States International Ballet Competition.
In addition, the Milken Institute recognizes Jackson as having ideal conditions for flourishing old age because of its plentiful healthcare specialists and reasonable costs. Jackson is a great place to retire because it offers a unique blend of cultural opportunities and access to high-quality medical care.
8. Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines delivers metropolitan living without the steep costs, making it an attractive option for retirees. The city's cultural scene thrives with attractions like an outdoor sculpture park, botanical gardens, and a zoo. Nearby Altoona adds a quirky touch with camel, ostrich, and zebra races, offering unique entertainment.
Moreover, Des Moines prioritizes healthcare, particularly services geared toward aging residents. With a blend of affordability, cultural richness, and strong healthcare support, Des Moines provides retirees with a well-rounded and budget-friendly retirement destination that combines urban convenience with unique entertainment options.
9. Scottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale is undeniably one of the prime retirement destinations in the U.S., excelling in both activities and quality of life. Renowned for its golf courses, it's equally appealing to those seeking destination spas, remarkable art, and architecture, as well as James Beard Award-winning dining options. However, it's important to brace for scorching summers, although the city's robust air conditioning helps combat the heat.
With a blend of diverse attractions and an exceptional quality of life, Scottsdale stands as an enticing choice for retirees of various interests and preferences.
10. Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage is a special place because it combines the conveniences of city life with those of the great outdoors in the North. The city has a wide variety of cultural institutions such as museums and theaters. Its tax climate is favorable, and the state uses its oil wealth to provide dividends to its citizens; in 2022, these dividends totaled $3,284, a substantial rise from the previous year.
Although Anchorage's cold winters and greater expense of living can put some people off, for those who aren't put off by any of these things, it should be near the top of their list of retirement choices.
11. Miami, Florida
When considering where to retire, many people choose Miami because of its beaches and golf courses. It's not the cheapest place to live, but if you're interested in art, Cuban cuisine, or museums, it's well worth it. The location's closeness to Key West is a major selling point.
For adults 55 and up, Miami-Dade County provides an “Active Older Adults Program” with free fitness classes and recreational activities, guaranteeing a rich and engaging retirement.
12. Hilo, Hawaii
Hilo, situated on Hawaii's Big Island, embodies the charm of Hawaii as a dream retirement spot. With lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and the iconic Mauna Loa volcano, outdoor enthusiasts will find endless adventure. Its downtown and waterfront are brim with galleries, shops, restaurants, and the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center for cultural and intellectual stimulation.
While the cost of living surpasses the national average, Hilo's tropical island paradise, replete with natural beauty and cultural offerings, makes it a captivating choice for retirement if you can manage the higher expenses.
13. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico, presents an enticing blend of Southwestern charm, abundant sunshine, and mild winters for retirees. The region offers a wealth of outdoor pursuits, from hiking to biking, with scenic mountains nearby. Moreover, Albuquerque boasts a vibrant cultural scene, featuring casinos, concert venues, and a myriad of entertainment options. This combination of outdoor adventure and cultural enrichment makes Albuquerque an attractive retirement destination for those who appreciate the Southwest's climate and diverse recreational opportunities.
Choosing the Perfect Place To Retire
Choosing the perfect place to retire in the United States is a deeply personal decision, influenced by individual preferences and priorities. From serene coastal towns to vibrant urban centers, the 13 destinations highlighted in this guide offer a diverse range of options. Factors like cost of living, healthcare access, cultural amenities, and recreational opportunities all play crucial roles. Ultimately, the best retirement location is one that aligns with your unique vision for this fulfilling chapter of life.
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I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.