Best small towns for retirees in America
While many American retirees are remodeling their homes to help them age in place, others who have bid adieu to the workplace are seeking new locales. With no shortage of choices, how do they decide?
Some ways to narrow down the list include moving closer to grandkids or choosing a vacation spot that has generated wonderful family memories over the years. Folks who get the blues from high taxes and cold weather can find plenty of tax-friendly, warmer settings to establish new roots. Likewise, those with aspirations of spending time on perfectly manicured greens with a club in hand have their pick of communities that cater to golf enthusiasts.
Big cities have advantages, but retirees shouldn’t overlook small towns. Many smaller communities enable residents to live a quiet lifestyle while offering plenty of cultural and recreational activities, restaurants, shops, and other amenities. Some towns offer advantages that appeal to denizens of all generations, like Del Mar, California, while others have been specifically designed for adults, like Cypress Lake, Florida.
To help retirees planning to move, Stacker referenced Niche’s Best Places to Retire study, which lists 50 American small towns that offer the best retirements. A maximum of 10 towns from each state and towns with a population of fewer than 40,000 were considered for the rankings, which Niche calculated according to retiree representation, weather quality, cost and safety, access to healthy living, and a handful of other factors. Niche labels such as “urban” or “dense urban” for area feel were excluded. For each town, Stacker has included the town’s resident population along with figures for median home value, median rent, and median household income.
Read on to see which small towns are among the best spots to retire in America.
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#50: King, Wisconsin
- Population: 1,804
- Median home value: $116,000 (71% own)
- Median rent: $808 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $67,583
This Waupaca County town, which Niche says has the lowest cost of living in Wisconsin, is brimming with outdoor recreation options. Nearby Hartman Creek State Park, for example, is perfect for hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.
#49: Trent Woods, North Carolina
- Population: 4,081
- Median home value: $227,200 (89% own)
- Median rent: $1,224 (11% rent)
- Median household income: $86,593
Trent Woods, North Carolina, has a little bit of everything: It's one of the safest towns in the nation and boasts affordable housing, a family vibe, a relatively low cost of living, and the great year-round weather means a plethora of options for outdoor activities. It's no wonder, then, that it's considered one of the best small towns for retirees.
#48: Village of Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan
- Population: 2,860
- Median home value: $477,600 (92% own)
- Median rent: $1,833 (8% rent)
- Median household income: $150,703
This town on the shoreline of Lake St. Clair offers residents beautiful views and bountiful water pursuits, and the all-inclusive Grosse Pointe Yacht Club is the city’s only commercial property. Area cultural institutions include the Grosse Pointe Symphony Orchestra and the Grosse Pointe THeatre. With Detroit about a 20-minute drive away, there is easy access to even more arts and entertainment.
#47: Great Neck Estates, New York
- Population: 2,841
- Median home value: $1,356,100 (90% own)
- Median rent: $1,884 (10% rent)
- Median household income: $148,939
Less than an hour outside of New York City, Great Neck Estates is a small village on Long Island in Nassau County. Kake.com called Nassau County one of the best counties in which to retire in New York, especially for those looking for a bit more "hustle and bustle." The cost of living is on the higher end, but residents are rewarded with trips into New York City, visits to the ports and harbors of the North Shore of Long Island, or playing tennis and other activities at Great Neck Estates Park.
#46: Carefree, Arizona
- Population: 3,749
- Median home value: $721,500 (78% own)
- Median rent: $1,264 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $97,773
Carefree, Arizona, is exactly that—a worry-free small town that is one of the best for retirees. Located in Maricopa County, the town is located less than 45 minutes from Phoenix, giving it fantastic connectivity. The town is small, with just under 4,000 people, and is known for its great weather and bountiful outdoor activities like art and cultural festivals, gardens, and al fresco dining.
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#45: Great Neck Gardens, New York
- Population: 1,183
- Median home value: $941,800 (92% own)
- Median rent: National$949 (8% rent)
- Median household income: $218,603
This .2-square-mile hamlet is one of several communities in the Great Neck area. Getting to New York City’s Penn Station takes about 35 minutes by train, but there are plenty of reasons to stay close, including the activities and programs offered by the Great Neck Park District.
#44: Emerald Bay, Texas
- Population: 1,307
- Median home value: $240,900 (98% own)
- Median rent: National$949 (2% rent)
- Median household income: $74,470
Perched on Lake Palestine in eastern Texas, Emerald Bay is a top spot in the state for retirees because of its small population (approximately 1,300 residents), rural feel, and affordable cost of living. The town is home to the Emerald Bay Community, as well, which has an 18-hole golf course, clubhouse, and restaurant.
#43: St. Simons, Georgia
- Population: 14,302
- Median home value: $366,100 (75% own)
- Median rent: $1,409 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $85,350
St. Simons Island is part of the barrier islands off the coast of Georgia known as the Golden Isles. It's one of the largest of the islands, and one of the most beautiful and quintessentially Southern. Picture Spanish moss hanging from stately oak trees, quaint streets, restaurants, and shops. The median age on St. Simons, according to the World Population Review, is about 54 years old. The island has a higher-than-average cost of living—understandable what with the island's great weather, pristine setting, and wealth of outdoor activities.
#42: Town and Country, Missouri
- Population: 11,066
- Median home value: $726,600 (86% own)
- Median rent: $1,114 (14% rent)
- Median household income: $178,000
This affluent St. Louis suburb is the home of the Bellerive Country Club, which hosted the PGA Championship back in 2018. In 2017, Town and Country began creating a New England-style town square to foster a more tight-knit community.
#41: Pinehurst, North Carolina
- Population: 15,821
- Median home value: $297,100 (85% own)
- Median rent: $1,547 (15% rent)
- Median household income: $80,128
Low crime rates, combined with deliciously warm weather, golf courses (around 40), park space, and gardens makes Pinehurst, North Carolina, a great place to retire. The small town enjoys a great perch from which to access the busier cities, as well: Chapel Hill is an hour-and-a-half away and Charlotte is two hours away.
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