People walking on a pier at sunset.

Best places to retire in America

January 12, 2023
Jon Bilous // Shutterstock

Best places to retire in America

For many people, retirement is the reward after decades of working and raising a family. The coronavirus pandemic also helped many realize that time could be fleeting. About 2.6 million more people decided to retire during the pandemic for various reasons, including safety issues and increases in the value of assets, according to an analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

But deciding where to spend that precious time can be a tough decision. Stacker compiled a list of the 100 best places in the United States to retire using 2022 data from Niche.com. Rankings were based on a variety of factors such as weather and access to health care. You can read more about the Niche methodology here. A maximum of 10 places per state were included.

Warm, sunny weather was the most common denominator among the best places to retire. The coasts of California and the deserts of Arizona are prime destinations, boasting hundreds of days of sunshine annually. Florida's climate has also been a big draw for retirees, and the Sunshine State has grown in popularity since COVID-19.

Options for recreation play another big role, especially top-ranked golf courses and tennis clubs. Other top retirement destinations offer natural attractions, like trails for biking and walking or mountain settings for hiking and bird-watching. Sand and surf locations offer beaches, boardwalks, boating docks, marinas, fishing charters, swimming, and sailing opportunities. Desert sites are popular as well, promising sunny days, little rain, and striking landscapes.

Some of the most desirable retirement destinations are those located near major cities like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, all of which are ripe with arts, culture, and health care resources. But those choice locations carry the key drawback of a high cost of living—often due to pricey housing costs—that will not suit retirees often on fixed incomes. Low crime rates make a difference as well.

All the top retirement destinations take a cue from Arizona's Sun City, one of the first planned communities for active older adults that offered opportunities for retirees—with little interest in just fading away—to keep busy and engaged. Whiling away retirement years on a front porch in a rocking chair is no longer ideal.

You may also like: Here are the best places to live on the East Coast, from New England to the Florida Keys

Aerial view of suburban neighborhood.
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tokar // Shutterstock

#100. Timonium, Maryland

- Population: 10,642

Timonium, Maryland, is a Baltimore suburb that gets high marks for accessibility to restaurants, shops, and transportation. It is served by a light rail system that carries passengers to downtown Baltimore and to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The former Timonium Race Track property is now home to the annual Maryland State Fair.

Aerial view of residential neighborhood in New Castle County.
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#99. Greenville, Delaware

- Population: 2,448

Located in New Castle County and a suburb of Philadelphia, Greenville, Delaware, is a woodsy community nestled near the picturesque Brandywine Valley. There are plenty of parks and about 51% of the residents rent their homes. President Joe Biden has a private home here.

River waterfall in Mammoth Spring State Park.
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#98. Mammoth Spring, Arkansas

- Population: 1,117

Located on the Arkansas border with Missouri, Mammoth Spring is a small town of just over a thousand people. The town's namesake is one of the largest natural springs in the world. The spring forms a 10-acre lake and the Spring River, which is known for its trout fishing.

James Madison University in Harrisonburg.
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#97. Belmont Estates, Virginia

- Population: 1,204

Belmont Estates is located in the Shenandoah Valley just west of Harrisonburg, Virginia. Residents take advantage of the area's many outdoor activities, from hiking and biking trails to fishing and paddling. Harrisonburg also has more than 200 restaurants and is home to James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University.

Lake view and Potawatomi Woods in Wheeling Township.
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#96. Riverwoods, Illinois

- Population: 3,536

In Riverwoods, Illinois, residents live among the trees. This village, located 24 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, has policies in place to protect its famed woodlands. The village borders the Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area, a 565-acre nature preserve that offers hiking and cross-country skiing along the Des Plaines River.

Mt. Tamalpais looking north before sunset.
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#95. Corte Madera, California

- Population: 9,793

Corte Madera, California, is located along the San Francisco Bay in Marin County, just 12 miles north of San Francisco. A nonprofit organization called Age-Friendly Corte Madera provides support and resources to help seniors stay active and involved in order to have a high quality of life. The organization has earned Corte Madera recognition as part of the World Health Organization's Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities.

Waterfall in wood area in spring.
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#94. Bella Vista, Arkansas

- Population: 28,819

Bella Vista, Arkansas, is known for its outdoor recreation possibilities. It boasts several lakes; golf courses; and the Back 40, a system of almost 40 miles of trails for biking, hiking, bird-watching, and walking.

Aerial view of residential homes in Bethesda.
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#93. Chevy Chase Village, Maryland

- Population: 1,871

Chevy Chase Village, the wealthiest town in Maryland, boasts a low crime rate and a highly educated population—65% of residents have a master's degree or higher. Being close to Washington D.C. gives residents easy access to all of the amenities of the city, but housing prices are also very high.

Aerial view of beach front and buildings.
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#92. Ocean City, Maryland

- Population: 6,957

Beachfront Ocean City, Maryland, has a year-round population of about 7,000 people and can swell to more than 300,000 on typical summer weekends. It has 11 miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches and a lengthy boardwalk, and it is popular for fishing from the surf, from piers, and from charter boats.

Aerial view of river and rural landscape.
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#91. Indian Hills, Kentucky

- Population: 3,011

Indian Hills, on the shores of the Ohio River, is a comfortable suburb of Louisville, Kentucky, and it's also about 100 miles from Cincinnati. But for retirees, Kentucky does not offer the best elder services, quality of life, or access to quality health care.

Aerial view of downtown Hendersonville.
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#90. Flat Rock, North Carolina

- Population: 3,354

Close to Asheville, North Carolina, and closer yet to Hendersonville, North Carolina, Flat Rock is a village with arts and crafts galleries, restaurants, and shops. It dates back to a time when wealthy residents of Charleston, South Carolina, and plantation owners built summer homes in the mountains to escape the summer heat. Located in the village is the state theater of North Carolina's Flat Rock Playhouse and the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.

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#89. Aledo, Illinois

- Population: 3,625

This county seat of Mercer County is located in the western part of the state, approximately 15 miles from the Mississippi River. The town has a rural feel to it and celebrates many festivals throughout the year, including one dedicated to rhubarb. For frequent travelers, the Aledo Police Department will check in on homes while residents are away to make sure they're safe.

An aerial view of homes and beaches on Emerald Isle.
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#88. Emerald Isle, North Carolina

- Population: 3,691

Emerald Isle is on Bogue Banks Island, part of North Carolina's Inner Banks islands on the Crystal Coast. The beach and ocean are key focal points of this town, with plenty of sand and water activities like boating, kayaking, beach volleyball, and fishing. Residents are allowed to drive registered golf carts in town.

Lake Summersville overlook on sunny day.
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#87. Summersville, West Virginia

- Population: 3,316

Summersville Lake is the gem of Summersville, West Virginia, and the lake season is celebrated here. Residents of this mountain town can enjoy swimming, boating, paddling, scuba diving, and fishing—the West Virginia Bass Federation regularly hosts tournaments at the lake. While life here can be peaceful, West Virginia ranks low in terms of senior health care and life expectancy.

Path over dunes Outer Banks.
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#86. Sea Breeze, North Carolina

- Population: 1,646

A suburb of Wilmington, North Carolina, Sea Breeze is an unincorporated waterfront community. During the Jim Crow era, it was a popular resort for African Americans, but Hurricane Hazel devastated the area in 1954. Today it's a popular destination for those who like to play on or in the water.

Myrtle Beach Yacht Club at Coquina Harbor.
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#85. Little River, South Carolina

- Population: 9,692

Little River, South Carolina, is an unincorporated community north of Myrtle Beach on the border of North Carolina. Residents don't have to pay local taxes, and they rely on the county government to provide services. Little River has a reputation for being laid-back and offers plenty of outdoor recreation ranging from water activities to golfing.

Sandia Peak Tramway and Albuquerque landscape.
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#84. Sandia Heights, New Mexico

- Population: 3,111

A suburb of Albuquerque, Sandia Heights has a rural feel—residents often come across deer, bobcats, roadrunners, and even bears exploring the area. Residents aim to keep a feel for the natural beauty of the area, including having homes in subdued colors that blend into the mountain environment. The Sandia Mountains are a major feature of the area and are a prime place for hiking and bird-watching.

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#83. Isle of Palms, South Carolina

- Population: 4,371

The barrier island community of Isle of Palms is just north of Charleston, South Carolina, with miles of sandy beaches as well as plentiful spas, golf courses, and the Wild Dunes Resort with private homes and condominiums. Isle of Palms is a nesting site for female loggerhead turtles, which build nests and lay eggs between May and August each year.

Sand dunes and colorful beach front homes.
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#82. Surfside Beach, South Carolina

- Population: 4,470

Family-oriented Surfside Beach has made it a point to be inclusive and welcoming, declaring itself an autism-friendly travel destination with specially trained employees at local businesses and specially designed lodging, and providing multiple entry points to beaches that can accommodate wheelchairs. More residential and year-round than other nearby resort towns, Surfside Beach is close to Myrtle Beach and to the Grand Strand, a 60-mile stretch of beaches along the South Carolina coast.

Chatham Lighthouse at sunny summer day in Cape Cod.
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#81. Chatham, Massachusetts

- Population: 6,009

The natural beauty and moderate weather of Cape Cod are among several reasons many people retire to the fishing village of Chatham, Massachusetts. Residents enjoy outdoor activities like boating, golfing, biking, hiking, and bird-watching at the nearby Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. Nearly half of Chatham's population is over 65, and there are plans to build a new Chatham Center for Active Living to serve this demographic.

Couple walking in park.
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#80. DeCordova, Texas

- Population: 2,981

A small town approximately 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth, DeCordova is a gated community located on Lake Granbury. Residents belong to the DeCordova Bend Estates Owners Association and the DeCordova Bend Estates Country Club, which features two golf courses, a swimming pool, a fitness center, a park, and courts for tennis, pickleball, and basketball.

People walking on pier.
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Jon Bilous // Shutterstock

#79. Seal Beach, California

- Population: 24,268

At the northern end of Orange County, Seal Beach, California, has sweeping beaches, picturesque neighborhoods, and one of the state's longest wooden piers. The saltwater wetlands of the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge provide a habitat for thousands of birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway as well as for an array of fish, sea turtles, and butterflies.

Aerial view of downtown.
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#78. Laguna Woods, California

- Population: 16,056

Laguna Woods sits on what was once a sprawling cattle ranch in Orange County. It features Laguna Woods Village, a gated community for older adults that offers tennis, horseback riding, golf, swimming, performing arts, and a bus transportation system to reach shops, restaurants, churches, and health care facilities.

View from lighthouse at Great Island looking at Seagull Beach and homes.
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Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#77. West Yarmouth, Massachusetts

- Population: 6,388

West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, comprises the southwest portion of Yarmouth, a town on Cape Cod. The community lies along the Nantucket Sound and Lewis Bay, so maritime activities are a big draw. The town has several beaches, ponds, boat launches, and trails.

Aerial view of Dayton confluence park and bridge at sunset.
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#76. Centerville, Ohio

- Population: 23,766

Centerville, Ohio, features about 30 old stone houses, built from native limestone, that give it a historic feel. For elderly residents, the city offers home maintenance resources and a call-in program to check on residents' well-being.

Aerial view of Lake Marble Falls reservoir.
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#75. Meadowlakes, Texas

- Population: 2,274

Meadowlakes is a gated community in the Hill Country of Texas, northwest of Austin. Its focal point is the Hidden Falls Golf Club, which features an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, and a pool. Lakeside Park offers access to boating and fishing on Lake Marble Falls, and the town also maintains a recreational vehicle storage facility for residents.

Waterfall in wooded area.
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Paper and Posies Photo // Shutterstock

#74. North Decatur, Georgia

- Population: 15,833

North Decatur is a suburb of Atlanta near Emory University. It has convenient public transportation to medical care facilities, the more commercial city of Decatur, and midtown Atlanta.

Summer lake scene with two chairs on dock beside canoe.
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Alessandro Cancian // Shutterstock

#73. Weston Lakes, Texas

- Population: 3,846

Weston Lakes, Texas, is a planned, gated community with lakes stocked for fishing and a championship golf course. It is located in rolling hills to the west of Houston. Nearly half of its residents are over 55.

Afternoon sun setting on golf course.
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#72. Indian Wells, California

- Population: 5,463

Luxurious Indian Wells, in California's Santa Rosa Mountains, is just a short drive from Palm Springs, California. It was popular with Hollywood stars in the '50s and '60s, and today its palm tree-lined streets are filled with spas, top dining, and shops. Indian Wells hosts the annual BNP Paribas Open professional tennis tournament. The cost of living is high, especially when it comes to housing.

Historic home and gardens.
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Randall Runtsch // Shutterstock

#71. Olmos Park, Texas

- Population: 1,856

Olmos Park is an affluent enclave of about 800 homes, surrounded entirely by the city of San Antonio, Texas, with impressive estates dating to the 1920s. Much of it is green and shaded by a canopy of old oak trees. Although Olmos Park is only about three-fifths of a square mile in size, it operates its own police, fire, and environmental services departments.

Couple walking on lawn in summer.
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#70. Prospect, Kentucky

- Population: 4,961

A suburb of Louisville, Prospect ranks as one of the safest cities in Kentucky. Its police department offers a house watch service for those who travel out of town. The town currently has five neighborhoods, but two more are under development as its population continues to grow.

Porch with rocking chairs.
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James Kirkikis // Shutterstock

#69. Herricks, New York

- Population: 4,032

Herricks, New York, is a hamlet on Long Island that is governed by the town of North Hempstead. Its southern border is along a bus line that allows residents to travel to other towns on the island. The bus line also connects with trains that will go into New York City.

Aerial view over Kemah Boardwalk and Galveston Bay.
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#68. Clear Lake Shores, Texas

- Population: 1,371

Clear Lake Shores bills itself as "the yachting capital of Texas," and for good reason—it is popular with boaters and anglers. The city also has a designation as a bird sanctuary, as it's part of the Clear Lake Loop of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. For getting around on dry land, residents are allowed to drive golf carts in town.

Lighthouse and park.
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#67. St. Simons, Georgia

- Population: 15,291

Historic St. Simons, Georgia, is brimming with stately mansions, beaches, and picturesque oak-lined streets. The area has a number of top golf courses, and the PGA's RSM Classic tournament is held at the Sea Island Golf Club on St. Simons.

Historic Pleasant Ridge welcome sign.
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#66. Pleasant Ridge, Michigan

- Population: 2,589

Pleasant Ridge, less than 2 miles north of Detroit, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for the classic houses along its wide, tree-lined streets. The community is built on an ancient beach ridge, one of many that are located parallel to the Great Lakes and their channels.

People enjoying clear day at beach park.
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Seojoohyun // Wikimedia Commons

#65. Del Mar, California

- Population: 4,331

Charming Del Mar, California, 20 miles north of San Diego, was once a getaway oceanside location for Hollywood film stars. It features Tudor-style buildings, outdoor cafes, and the feel of a European village. It also features thoroughbred racing at the Del Mar racetrack.

Aerial view of Outer Banks beaches and pier.
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#64. Southern Shores, North Carolina

- Population: 2,931

Southern Shores is situated to the north of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on the Outer Banks. The oceanfront town is residential, with low-density single-family homes and little commercial development.

Boats docked by waterfront homes.
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#63. Larkspur, California

- Population: 12,363

Marin County's Larkspur is scenic and historically rich, filled with false-front commercial facades, Victorian homes, a Mission Revival-style city hall, and the art deco Lark Theater. Larkspur Landing has dining, open-air shopping, and the Golden Gate Ferry terminal for boat travel to San Francisco.

Waterfront condos with boat docks.
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Richard A. McGuirk // Shutterstock

#62. Sunset Beach, North Carolina

- Population: 3,994

The town of Sunset Beach is set on a barrier island and on the mainland of southeastern North Carolina along the Intracoastal Waterway. Its historic pontoon swing bridge was replaced in 2010 by a steel span. From a small beginning in the late 1950s, Sunset Beach has grown, with nearly 4,000 year-round residents, three golf courses, preserved marshland and dunes, a protection program for nesting loggerhead sea turtles, and lush birding trails.

Couple walking dog in park in autumn.
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#61. West Brunswick Township, Pennsylvania

- Population: 3,214

West Brunswick Township is a quiet town in east central Pennsylvania with nearly 45% of its population being 55 and older. It boasts a low cost of living, and its hospital is accredited as a primary stroke center.

Family on bicycles in park on fall day.
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#60. Bellbrook, Ohio

- Population: 7,277

An outlying suburb of Dayton, Bellbrook is undergoing an economic revitalization program to improve its downtown area and reengage the community. Homes here typically cost less than in the surrounding area.

Bathers and boaters in the afternoon sun on Beekman Beach in Oyster Bay.
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#59. Great Neck Gardens, New York

- Population: 1,213

A New York City suburb, affluent Great Neck Gardens is located on Long Island's north shore. Its cost of living is nearly twice as high as the rest of New York, and the median price of a home is more than $1 million.

Beachgoers enjoy a summer's day.
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#58. Sea Girt, New Jersey

- Population: 1,725

This small borough along the northern Jersey Shore takes up just over 1 square mile, but includes prime beaches and wetlands that are home to rare species of birds and plants. Primarily residential, Sea Girt is known for its high cost of living. Median home prices are typically over $1 million.

Golf course on sunny day.
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#57. Palm Valley, Texas

- Population: 1,909

Palm Valley, Texas, sits in the lower Rio Grande Valley, just north of the Mexico border. It is a suburb of Brownsville and has easy access to golf at the Harlingen Country Club, birding and nature preserves, and saltwater fishing at nearby South Padre Island. The cost of living is low, and housing is especially affordable.

Golf course and country club on sunny day.
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#56. Pinehurst, North Carolina

- Population: 16,382

The village of Pinehurst, home to the renowned Pinehurst golf course, is modeled as a community of cottages, hotels, and boarding houses offering respite in the region's lush pine forests. Quiet and safe, it is about 50 miles from Charlotte and less than 75 miles from Raleigh. Its historic golf club has hosted more championships than any other in the nation, and it is the planned site of the U.S. Open in 2024.

Person playing golf on green.
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#55. Carolina Shores, North Carolina

- Population: 4,391

At the southeasternmost point of North Carolina, Carolina Shores is part of the metropolitan area of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It has a half-dozen planned communities, several golf courses, boating on the Intracoastal Waterway, nature trails, deep-sea fishing, and pristine Atlantic Ocean beaches. Almost three-quarters of its residents are 55 and older.

The Blue Sky Sculpture at the Centennial Park.
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#54. North Newton, Kansas

- Population: 1,981

Founded by Mennonites, North Newton is a small city north of Wichita, Kansas. Many retirees live at Kidron Bethel Village, which is near the Sand Creek walking trails. The retirement community has partnered with nearby Bethel College and Hesston College to give its residents access to a variety of educational courses.

Trees in bloom on beautiful sunny spring day in Long Island.
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#53. Great Neck Estates, New York

- Population: 2,865

Great Neck Estates is a village in Long Island's town of North Hempstead. Its waterfront park on the shores of Little Neck Bay features an Olympic-sized swimming pool, tennis courts, a marina, and boat docks. About 35% of its residents are 55 and older.

Neighborhood with golf course.
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#52. Emerald Bay, Texas

- Population: 1,023

Emerald Bay, Texas, is a member-owned golfing community on Lake Palestine, southeast of Dallas and near Tyler, Texas. It has a championship golf course as well as facilities for tennis, fishing, swimming, and boating.

Beach homes along the coast on clear summer day.
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#51. Surf City, New Jersey

- Population: 1,260

Surf City is located on New Jersey's Long Beach Island, an Atlantic Ocean barrier island. It has ocean and bay beaches, a main boulevard of shopping and restaurants, and boating facilities. It is popular with retirees, and 75% of the residents are 55 or older.

Aerial view of residential Denver suburb in autumn.
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#50. Holly Hills, Colorado

- Population: 2,815

Close to downtown Denver, Holly Hills is affluent, with mostly older and many large homes. Passing through it is the High Line Canal, a 71-mile greenway trail that is one of the nation's longest linear parks. Holly Hills also is part of the area's convenient light rail system.

Woman reading book in hammock.
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#49. Westminster, Louisiana

- Population: 2,713

Westminster, a quiet neighborhood suburb of Baton Rouge, is a diverse place, with a large Lebanese population and many Japanese speakers. Nearly 1 in 5 residents has French ancestry. Louisiana State and Southern universities are nearby, and seniors and retirees in Westminster tend to be highly educated.

Aerial view of Yuma.
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#48. Fortuna Foothills, Arizona

- Population: 29,297

An unincorporated area east of Yuma, Arizona, this community has a large number of retirees and seasonal residents. It's a place for people who love the sun and heat—on average, it rains only six days per year. Temperatures in the summer can easily top 100 degrees.

Aerial view of Saint Louis suburb community.
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#47. Town and Country, Missouri

- Population: 11,109

Town and Country, an upscale suburb of St. Louis, is popular with retirees. It is quiet, with large residential properties, wooded pathways, and parkland, yet it is conveniently located near the Midwestern hub city.

Welcome sign in front of desert landscape.
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#46. Carefree, Arizona

- Population: 3,863

Not far from Phoenix and Scottsdale in the Sonoran Desert is the rural, residential town of Carefree with about 1,900 homes. Marked by eye-catching rock outcroppings, Carefree is higher in elevation than its neighbors and tends to be several degrees cooler. It was named by its founders, two local businessmen who bought the land in 1955 and launched the Carefree Development Corp.

Desert golf course lake and green.
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#45. Sun Lakes, Arizona

- Population: 14,887

Sun Lakes, Arizona, is a planned adult community of five country club-style neighborhoods, each with a golf course, close to downtown Phoenix and to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. It has restaurants, fitness centers, swimming pools, tennis courts, fishing lakes, and miles of trails for walking and biking.

Road with saguaro cactus and mountain range on clear day.
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#44. Oro Valley, Arizona

- Population: 45,303

Outdoor activities abound in Oro Valley, located north of Tucson, between the Tortolita and Santa Catalina mountains. Miles of trails allow for biking, birding, hiking, and horseback riding, and the town is filled with galleries and studios. Oro Valley has more than 150 works of sculpture and other large public art installations on display, thanks to a mandate that began in 1997 requiring commercial developers to set aside 1% of a project's budget to create public art.

Crane standing in wetlands at sunrise.
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#43. Parole, Maryland

- Population: 17,505

Parole is a historic locale in eastern Maryland. At the time of the Civil War, camps located here exchanged captured soldiers under a parole system. It is adjacent to historic Annapolis, Maryland, on the scenic Chesapeake Bay. About 48% of its population is 55 and older.

People playing golf on California coast.
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#42. Del Monte Forest, California

- Population: 3,783

Del Monte Forest is a small beach city on Monterey Bay, south of San Francisco. It is known for its beauty, comfortable climate, and recreation like the top-rated golfing at nearby Pebble Beach. More than 60% of its residents are 55 and older, but the cost of living is more than twice the national average.

Aerial view of waterway and high rise community.
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#41. Orange Beach, Alabama

- Population: 6,130

Fans of Orange Beach, Alabama, say it offers the same wide sandy beaches, outdoor activities, and waterfront dining as its Gulf of Mexico neighbors in Florida, but at more affordable prices. Orange Beach has more than 8 miles of beaches and more than 25 miles of trails for biking and walking, as well as state parks, fishing piers, and boat-chartering choices.

Boat launch on Genesee Lake in Waukesha County.
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#40. Elm Grove, Wisconsin

- Population: 6,156

Ranked as one of the best places to live in Wisconsin, Elm Grove is a suburb with a rural feel due to zoning laws that require large residential lots. This family-oriented community has a number of recreational opportunities, including tennis courts and a heated swimming pool.

Aerial view over Nassau County on Long Island.
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#39. Manhasset Hills, New York

- Population: 3,808

This Long Island hamlet has a rural feel, even though it's less than 10 miles from Queens. Manhasset Hills, New York, has a number of social and recreational opportunities, including several senior clubs and Clinton G. Martin Park, which features a swimming pool, and tennis and bocce courts.

Aerial view of suburban community in autumn.
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#38. Penn Wynne, Pennsylvania

- Population: 5,769

Penn Wynne is a small suburb to the west of Philadelphia. Charming and upscale, it has plenty of arts, culture, and educational options. It's convenient for driving and train travel, and it's more affordable than several of the neighboring communities.

Waterfront homes by marina in summer.
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#37. St. James, North Carolina

- Population: 5,889

St. James, incorporated in 1999, is located in the coastal wetlands of North Carolina, some 30 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina, with a sizable population of retirees. It has several golf courses, tennis courts, and pools as well as a beach club and marina. Not far away are the Oak Island Nature Center and Lighthouse.

MARC train running along tree lined tracks.
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#36. South Kensington, Maryland

- Population: 8,494

South Kensington, Maryland, gets high marks for low crime, lots of parks and outdoor activities, stores, and coffee shops—all options that retirees might value. It's convenient to get to Washington D.C. via Maryland Area Regional Commuter trains and the Metro rapid transit system.

Aerial view of desert golf course community.
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#35. Paradise Valley, Arizona

- Population: 14,502

Arizona's Paradise Valley is residential but has nine resorts, three golf courses, and four medical centers. Development in the area started largely after World War II, and Paradise Valley was incorporated in 1961 to protect it against commercial expansion from nearby Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona, with the stated goals of staying residential with minimal government regulation and zoning of no more than one house per acre. It boasts 294 sunny days on average and about 7 inches of rain each year.

Aerial view of San Antonio suburban neighborhood.
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#34. Hollywood Park, Texas

- Population: 3,343

Hollywood Park is a largely residential enclave in the San Antonio metropolitan area, with plentiful trees and large home lots. It has shopping and restaurants of its own and is 15 miles from San Antonio's downtown amenities.

Close up view of clock tower and street signs.
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#33. Roslyn, New York

- Population: 2,888

The picturesque village of Roslyn, New York, is less than 1 square mile, with historic commercial buildings and homes, an early 18th-century Dutch-style grist mill, and a downtown duck pond and park. It is an easy trip to midtown Manhattan, about 22 miles away.

Red and white striped lighthouse and boats in marina at sunrise.
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#32. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

- Population: 40,000

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, consists mostly of gated communities, which it calls plantations, some of which are private and residential for year-round living and others that feature resorts and golf courses for visitors. The wealthy island offers deep-water boat docks, fishing, tennis, and boardwalks in a setting of live oaks and palmetto palm trees, lagoons, and beaches. It has a high population of retirees, but its drawbacks for seniors include a lack of doctor's offices and expensive housing.

Aerial view of suburban community in summer.
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Christian Hinkle // Shutterstock

#31. Chevy Chase, Maryland

- Population: 9,801

As a suburb of Washington D.C., Chevy Chase, Maryland, offers easy access to the capital region's arts, culture, shopping, and plentiful medical care facilities. The city is popular with retirees, and more than 40% of its population are senior citizens, but taxes are high.

Park in summer with path along river.
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RobDun // Shutterstock

#30. Windy Hills, Kentucky

- Population: 2,290

Windy Hills, Kentucky, boasts picturesque historic houses dating to the late 1700s, built by pioneers from Virginia and Pennsylvania. The town is largely residential, pleasant for walking, and less than 10 miles from downtown Louisville, Kentucky.

Aerial view of desert community at sunrise.
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#29. Sun City, Arizona

- Population: 38,888

Arizona's Sun City was the first planned recreation and residential community for older adults. It opened with five model homes in 1960 and was quickly successful, tapping into the novel idea that seniors wanted to enjoy an active retirement. Sun City is designed to be self-contained so that residents need not leave, and it has top-ranked health care facilities.

Lake scene in autumn.
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#28. Woodbury, New York

- Population: 8,901

Suburban Woodbury, on New York's Long Island, has a sizable retired population. It has green parkland, single-family homes, and condominium complexes for seniors. New York City is less than an hour away by train.

Sand dunes and beach at sunrise in Outer Banks.
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Michael R Brown // Shutterstock

#27. Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina

- Population: 1,284

Facing Bogue Sound, the barrier island side of Pine Knoll Shores is quieter and more secluded than neighboring towns on North Carolina's Inner Banks. The region has beaches and beauty that rival the better-known Outer Banks further north, and access to culture, commerce, and services in Morehead City and Beaufort, North Carolina. One of the state's three public aquariums is located in Pine Knoll Shores.

Aerial view of peninsula with beach and buildings.
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#26. Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

- Population: 9,292

Murrell's Inlet was a historic fishing village and a summer retreat for South Carolina's wealthy rice plantation owners. Today the community champions its environment and natural gems with features like the Wacca Wache freshwater marina amid the cypress and oak trees along the Waccamaw River and the MarshWalk, a boardwalk through a wildlife-filled salt marsh.

Fall sunset Long Island bay neighborhood.
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DroneDreams // Shutterstockk

#25. Manhasset, New York

- Population: 7,792

The small town of Manhasset, New York, sports a "miracle mile" of luxury shops and upscale restaurants. Nearby are Long Island's beaches and waterways, and New York City is just about 20 miles away.

The Woodlands waterway.
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#24. Shenandoah, Texas

- Population: 2,955

Shenandoah, Texas, is a small town north of Houston, with dozens of restaurants, shops, and miles of trails for hiking or riding in its pine- and oak-forested parkland. Its sports venues regularly host major college football, swimming, and diving championships.

Couple walking along beach holding hands.
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Spotmatik Ltd // Shutterstock

#23. Great Neck Plaza, New York

- Population: 6,980

The village of Great Neck Plaza, New York, is under 1 square mile, with a picturesque, upscale commercial district. From the village rail station, midtown Manhattan is about an hour away. To the north and east are boating and beaches of the Long Island Sound.

Aerial view of waterfront property along West Lake.
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Roschetzky Photography // Shutterstock

#22. West Lake Hills, Texas

- Population: 3,302

West Lake Hills, about 4 square miles in size, is an affluent suburb of expansive homes, winding roads, and hills about 6 miles from downtown Austin, Texas. About 44% of its residents are 55 and older, and the median price of a home is about $1 million, more than five times the mean price nationwide.

Nyack’s downtown shopping district.
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Brian Logan Photography // Shutterstock

#21. Piermont, New York

- Population: 2,541

Hilly Piermont, New York, overlooks the Hudson River. Many of the older homes are craftsman cottages and historic Victorians, and newer construction stretches along the waterfront. It has a small but bustling restaurant scene, and Manhattan is about a 60-minute ride by bus or train.

Curved sidewalk through neighborhood.
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romakoma // Shutterstock

#20. Bingham Farms, Michigan

- Population: 1,539

Picturesque Bingham Farms, Michigan, is a village on the banks of the winding Franklin Branch of the River Rouge. It is just over 1 square mile in size, with wildlife and wooded ravines. The village is about halfway between Detroit and Pontiac, Michigan.

Aerial view of luxury hotel and spa.
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Manuela Durson // Shutterstock

#19. Catalina Foothills, Arizona

- Population: 50,631

Catalina Foothills is located in the stunning Sonoran Desert north of Tucson, Arizona. It is known for its art galleries and golf courses as well as its sunsets, outdoor recreation, and the scenic Santa Catalina Mountains. It is popular with retirees, and more than half the population is 55 or older.

Beach with pier at sunset.
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#18. Garden City, South Carolina

- Population: 11,193

A few miles south of Myrtle Beach is Garden City—popular for boating, crabbing, and fishing. It's built on a peninsula between tidal marshes and the Atlantic Ocean, and it has about 5 miles of beaches.

Aerial view of the Fountain Hills park fountain and neighborhoods.
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Joel Hensler // Shutterstock

#17. Fountain Hills, Arizona

- Population: 25,167

Fountain Hills, Arizona, is a good spot for nature- and art-loving retirees. It has a local chamber music ensemble, a community chorus, and a large public art collection with opportunities to become a docent and lead tours. Fountain Hills is a designated International Dark Sky Community, with an astronomy club that throws regular star parties, and the local library loans out telescopes. Also, the MLB's Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks hold their spring training seasons nearby.

Aerial view of Sun City West community.
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Tim Roberts Photography // Shutterstock

#16. Sun City West, Arizona

- Population: 26,043

Along with seven golf courses, Sun City West, Arizona—which opened in 1978—has a 30-lane bowling center, five swimming pools, and more than 100 clubs dedicated to sports, arts, hobbies, and creative interests. The adult community's residents are nearly all over 55.

Aerial view of Interstate 19 and neighborhoods.
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Tim Roberts Photography // Shutterstock

#15. Green Valley, Arizona

- Population: 20,857

Green Valley, Arizona, is a retirement community consisting of more than 100 homeowner associations, distinct in their appearance, character, and neighborhoods. More than 20,000 people are year-round residents. It's located in the majestic Sonoran Desert, midway between Tucson, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico.

Palm tree lined street in downtown district with restaurants.
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#14. Whiskey Creek, Florida

- Population: 5,508

Whiskey Creek, Florida, a community in Fort Myers, has condominiums reserved for adults over 55 and is overseen by a homeowners association. Some homes have boating access to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Caloosahatchee River.

Aerial view of populated waterfront.
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#13. Jensen Beach, Florida

- Population: 13,592

On the Indian River along Florida's Atlantic coast, Jensen Beach has a charming downtown with a weekly street fair and Caribbean- and Key West-style restaurants. Many homes are cottages with front porches and picket fences.

People walking on boardwalk by dunes and homes.
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Dex Sightseeing Photography // Shutterstock

#12. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

- Population: 1,588

Rehoboth Beach is popular for its boardwalk, restaurants, fishing boat marina, and breathtaking beachfront homes. It has a lively and highly rated restaurant scene as well. But it can get very crowded with summer visitors.

Person kayaking through wetlands.
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Robert H Ellis // Shutterstock

#11. Cypress Lake, Florida

- Population: 12,766

Cypress Lake is a suburb of Fort Myers that features a low cost of living compared to much of coastal Florida. Nearly all the homes are neither new nor old, but late 20th-century, between 20 years old and 50 years old. The suburb is home to the highly regarded Cypress Lake Golf Club.

Person riding bicycle on park trail.
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hutpaza // Shutterstock

#10. Leland Grove, Illinois

- Population: 1,237

Many of the residents of Leland Grove, Illinois, are artists, designers, and members of the media, giving the small city a creative character. The cost of living and the price of housing are reasonably low in the Springfield suburb.

Aerial view of beach and high rise buildings at Siesta Key.
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Suncoast Aerials // Shutterstock

#9. Siesta Key, Florida

- Population: 5,587

The 8-mile island of Siesta Key on the Gulf of Mexico coast near Sarasota is known for its sandy beaches and turquoise water. Housing is expensive—nearly three times the price of an average home in Florida.

Boat on Del Ray Delray beach waterway.
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lunamarina // Shutterstock

#8. Gulf Stream, Florida

- Population: 885

This small Atlantic coastal community is the only town that still maintains the Australian pine tree canopy planted along State Road A1A when the road opened in 1916. That canopy sets the scene for the town's housing stock, nearly 70% of which is valued above $1 million. Residents in Gulf Stream also tend to be older—the median age is 60.8, 18 years older than the state median.

Aerial view of lighthouse and boating inlet.
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FloridaStock // Shutterstock

#7. Hillsboro Beach, Florida

- Population: 1,964

Upscale Hillsboro Beach, Florida, is on a barrier island—sometimes called Millionaires' Mile—that is about 900 feet across at its widest section, and 20 miles to the south is Fort Lauderdale. Its waterfront homes face either the Intracoastal Waterway or the Atlantic Ocean.

Walkway to beach over dunes.
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A. Joseph Molnar // Shutterstock

#6. Dutch Island, Georgia

- Population: 1,338

The tiny Dutch Island gated community, just about 500 acres, sits on the Intracoastal Waterway near Savannah, Georgia. It has lagoons and ponds, a deep-water dock, and tennis courts. Many of its homes have private pools and docks, and half of its residents are over 55.

Business district street view.
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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#5. South Palm Beach, Florida

- Population: 1,855

South Palm Beach sits on a barrier island, with the Intracoastal Waterway on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. The residential community is just over a half-mile long. The cost of living, on average, is higher than in the rest of Florida, especially for housing and transportation.

Man standing on beach with fishing rod on Indian River Island.
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Sergey and Marina Pyataev // Shutterstock

#4. Indian River Shores, Florida

- Population: 4,255

Located on a barrier island, Indian River Shores' 6 miles of Atlantic beachfront sustained major damage from the 2022 Hurricane Nicole, which the town is restoring. Much of its housing is in gated communities, with home values topping $1.7 million. Typical of many Florida beach towns, its population doubles in the winter.

Aerial view of ocean front homes.
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Skytrox Drones // Shutterstock

#3. Highland Beach, Florida

- Population: 3,907

Just over 1 square mile, the town of Highland Beach is sandwiched between Delray Beach to the north and Boca Raton to the south. It is residential, with a population that more than doubles in size during the winter. Four out of five residents are retirees.

Golf cart on green.
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Naypong Studio // Shutterstock

#2. Lake Success, New York

- Population: 3,228

Lake Success, an incorporated village in the town of North Hempstead, New York, is less than 20 miles from midtown Manhattan. Within its 2 square miles are 43 acres of lakes. Its Village Club of Lake Success golf course is located on the site of a private Vanderbilt family golf club.

White sand beaches with buildings in background in Naples.
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Pola Damonte // Shutterstock

#1. Pelican Bay, Florida

- Population: 6,257

Luxurious Pelican Bay is about 3 square miles in size, surrounded by beaches and parkland. It has about 6,500 homes and a host of activities such as sailing, tennis, and kayaking. Its beaches can be reached only by boardwalk or Pelican Bay's tram system.

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