The answer to “Where are the best retirement communities?” may vary depending on what the retiree values most, whether it’s a cheap cost of living, great weather, or opportunities for socializing. Here are some of the best retirement communities spread across different cities, states, and countries to help those who are preparing for retirement.
In this article:
- What to Consider When Picking a Retirement Community
- Cheapest Retirement Communities
- Best Places to Retire In
- Best Places to Retire In Based on Climate
- Best Active Retirement Communities
10 Cities, States, and Countries That Offer Great Retirement Communities
What to Consider When Picking a Retirement Community
While there aren’t any cookie-cutter templates people can use to instantly find the best retirement community to live their retirement years in, there are several factors they should consider to find one that suits them the most.
1. Opportunities for Social Interactions
Because some people are more introverted than others, they may not require a lot of interaction. On the other hand, those who are more extroverted might need considerably more social interactions on a regular basis.
While some may also want to start over again and make new friends, others may want to live out their remaining years in very familiar environments in the presence of very familiar faces. How much interaction you want, with whom, and what kind of social activities are available in the area should all be things to consider when choosing a place to retire in.
2. Cost of Living
This is probably the most important consideration for choosing where to spend one’s retirement years. Because most retirees stop earning regular income upon retirement and start relying on their savings, cost of living is a crucial factor for choosing between the different types of retirement communities out there.
Because a cheaper cost of living can optimally stretch any person’s budget, places with a relatively lower average cost of living are best for those who expect to have a long retirement period.
Some of the factors that affect the cost of living in retirement communities include:
- Average inflation rate and the total annual cost of living, including the cost of health care services
- Local and state tax rates, in case one’s retirement income, such as from a Traditional IRA or 401(k), is taxable
- Median income
- Median price or rental rates of homes
- Unemployment rate and average hourly wage rate, in case a retiree still wants to work part-time
Cheapest Retirement Communities
The Cheapest States
The following states are some of the cheapest options for retirees, according to a 2018 Kiplinger article. These are based on a number of factors, including retirement taxes, the average cost of senior living, and health care costs.
- Arkansas: This state offers a cost of living 17% below the national average as well as lower average cost of homes compared to the rest of the country. The state doesn’t tax Social Security benefits and retirement income up to $6,000, and it has one of the lowest property taxes in the United States.
- Alabama: Most senior benefits are tax-exempt and homeowners above 65 years old don’t need to pay state property taxes. It doesn’t impose estate and inheritance taxes either. The average cost of living is 13% below the national average.
- Arizona: The city of Prescott is one of the cheapest in Arizona that offers many services and activities for retirees. State capital Phoenix also offers lower living costs state-wide and doesn’t charge sales tax for groceries.
- Colorado: One of the biggest draws in this state is its below-average health costs, which has contributed to its #4 ranking in the United Health Foundation’s Senior Health Rankings.
- Florida: If you’re looking to retire somewhere where there’s no inheritance tax, estate tax, or state income tax, head on over to the Sunshine State.
- Georgia: Living costs here are at 7% below the national average. When it comes to taxes, the state exempts Social Security income, as well as up to $35,000 of retirement income for 62 to 64 year-olds.
- Ohio: Ohio offers living costs and health care costs well below the national average. Tax-wise, the state also exempts Social Security and offers a tax credit on other retirement earnings.
- Iowa: Like Ohio, Iowa also offers living and health care costs are lower than the rest of the country, at 12% and 5.6% respectively.
- Tennessee: If you’re still planning to put in some work to stretch your retirement income and become financially sound, Tennessee may be a good fit since the state doesn’t charge income tax. All major metro areas also offer lower expenses.
- Texas: Like Tennessee, Texas doesn’t tax income and the average income for 65+ households is typically higher. The cost of living is also 10% below the national average.
The Cheapest Cities
Birmingham, Alabama is the cheapest city to retire in the United States, according to a 2017 AARP article.
Birmingham got the top rank since it offers the most affordable transportation, housing options, and health care costs. Based on 2017 figures, a retired senior can comfortably live on only $33,219 a year.
The following are some of the cheapest cities to retire in according to the same article:
- Birmingham, Alabama
- Akron, Ohio
- Augusta, Georgia
- Brownsville, Texas
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Detroit, Michigan
- Jackson, Mississippi
- Memphis Tennessee
- Montgomery, Alabama
- Toledo, Ohio
Of these 10 cities, more than half are Southern cities while two of them, Detroit and Toledo, are located in the Midwest. With the exception of Augusta, cities in the East Coast and West Coast generally have higher costs of living.
The Cheapest Countries
Some people work so hard during their working years they never had time to enjoy the fruits of their labor by traveling.
That’s why many people look forward to retirement so they can finally start traveling to their hearts’ content. This is what makes retiring in another country attractive to some.
Here are 10 of the cost-friendliest countries for retirees according to the financial website The Street:
- Costa Rica
Best Places to Retire In
The Best Retirement States in the U.S.
Based on a number of factors, including cost of living, climate, and health care, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) published this list of the top 10 retirement states:
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
The Best Retirement Cities in the United States
If you’re in the market for specific cities you want to look at for retirement, here are 10 cities that made it to U.S. News’ “Best Places to Retire in the USA” list. They based it on a number of factors, such as the residents’ happiness and the affordability of housing.
- Sarasota, Florida
- Lancaster, Pennsylvania
- San Antonio, Texas
- Grand Rapids, Michigan
- El Paso, Texas
- McAllen, Texas
- Daytona Beach, Florida
- Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
- Austin, Texas
- Washington, DC
The 10 Best Retirement Countries
Because many soon-to-be retirees want to retire outside of the United States, International Living comes out with an annual ranking of the top retirement countries all over the world. International Living’s 2018 Annual Global Retirement Index ranked these countries as the top 10 retirement countries worldwide:
- Costa Rica
International Living ranked these as the top five countries because they scored high on multiple factors including discounts for senior citizens, entertainment/activities for seniors, climate, healthcare, the average cost of living, and ease of getting a visa as international visitors, among other things.
And speaking of the cost of living, notice that these countries are also among the earlier list of cheapest countries to retire in. At the end of the day, it still comes down to affordability.
Best Places to Retire In Based on Climate
- Warm weather: Those who are sick and tired of wet and cold winters can consider the South or Southwest that offer drier and warmer weather.
- Long, cold winters: Those who want to experience long and cold winter seasons with minimal sunshine should consider States in the Northeastern regions because they’re not as hot.
- Long, hot summers: Those who no longer want long and hot summer seasons can consider cooler places in the Upper Midwest or Northeast because they’re not as cold and rainy.
- Drier, less humid areas: Retirement preppers with arthritis may want to consider moving to dryer Southwest States like New Mexico or Arizona because there’s less humidity that may worsen arthritis symptoms.
- Avoiding hurricanes and tropical storms: Those who want to avoid frequent hurricanes and tropical storms are better off avoiding coastal areas like Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Home insurance costs in these areas are often very high because of frequent storms and hurricanes.
Best Active Retirement Communities
Retirement doesn’t have to be a long, boring slog until the grim reaper comes. Even if you’re of a certain age, senior retirees can – and should – continue living relatively active lifestyles to have their best years ever.
- Continuing Education: For retirees who value continuing education, the best retirement communities are those near or within college or university towns. These types of towns are also ideal for those who love sporting events and cultural activities.
- Arts: Those who want to immerse themselves in top-notch arts should consider retiring in or near large cities. Most thriving world-class arts communities normally reside in big cities, which are melting pots of different cultures and races.
- Travel: Those who love traveling around the country and all over the world during their retirement years should consider airport accessibility.
Because one can get important information on a variety of activities in local areas without having to actually go there, the best places to check out the best retirement cities and states based on certain activities are the social media pages or websites of local clubs and associations.
Due to the fact that quality of life is hinged mostly on location, a future retiree’s ability to live a satisfying and comfortable retirement is contingent on identifying the best retirement communities. We hope we helped narrow down the list of where you may want to spend your golden years.
Do you already have an idea of where you’d like to spend your golden years? If you have, then let us know in the comments section below!
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