Best county to retire in every state
Buyers and sellers of real estate alike—when asked what are the three most essential considerations about a property—will nearly always reply "location, location, location." While this answer is sometimes tongue-in-cheek, it is often quite accurate as well, and this reply perhaps applies to retirees more than any other demographic. Settling down after a lifetime of working and raising a family calls for the perfect location: a spot where you can enjoy life with as few concerns as possible.
When seniors aged 65 years or older decide on where they want to live out their golden years, they consider very specific factors, such as the cost of living, government services, health care facilities, weather and overall climate, crime rate, outdoor recreational activities, eating establishments, cultural and entertainment opportunities, and more. Stacker has compiled a list of the most desirable county for retirees in each state, based on Niche's list of best counties for retirees in America in 2020.
Location is critical as retirees determine where to spend their senior years enjoying favorite activities; however, it’s a very unique decision based on a multitude of preferences and needs. While some retirees choose to spend their golden years golfing on professionally designed courses in Brunswick County, North Carolina, other seniors aim to live a water-centric lifestyle of boating and fishing near Lake of the Ozarks in Camden County, Missouri.
Eleven of the 50 counties on the list boast populations under 10,000 residents, including Huerfano County in Colorado, which offers scenic views of the Spanish Peaks, paired with a low cost of living. For retirees looking for more hustle and bustle, two counties top a population mark of one million residents, including Nassau County, New York, less than an hour from New York City, which—unsurprisingly—comes with a much larger cost of living.
Whether it be mountains or cities, cold or warm weather, hiking trails or museums, retirees seeking to settle in a permanent spot are sure to find a private paradise in any of these counties recommended by Niche because, in the end, there is no place like home, no matter the location.
Read on to discover the best county in each state for retirees in 2020.
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Alabama: Lauderdale County
- Population: 92,585
- Median home value: $136,400 (68% own)
- Median rent: $658 (32% rent)
- Median household income: $46,265
Lauderdale County, particularly the area surrounding the capital city of Florence, located in the northwestern tip of the state, offers Southern-style retirement complete with a jazz and blues music scene. Retirees can indulge in notable annual cultural events year-round at the Alabama Renaissance Faire, Arts Alive, Singing River Music Fest, W.C. Handy Music Festival, and local historical museums, farms, and taverns. Add in the affordable classes and shows at the Tennessee Valley Arts Center, and Lauderdale County looks to be Alabama's prime retirement venue for individuals interested in entertainment, while also boasting a cost of living that is 18.9% below the national average.
Alaska: Matanuska-Susitna Borough
- Population: 103,464
- Median home value: $243,000 (77% own)
- Median rent: $1,112 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $75,905
Matanuska-Susitna Borough, nicknamed Mat-Su Valley, in south-central Alaska offers an excellent and eclectic retirement spot with libraries, walking trails, miles of scenic drives, and more. Retirees can enjoy recreational adventures year-round through dog sledding trips, wildlife viewing excursions, farm tours, and the Alaska State Fair. The local chamber of commerce of the community of Wasilla, the commercial center of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, promotes the area’s “charm, security, and familiarity of small-town living,” along with affordable housing, a growing economy, and excellent government services.
Arizona: Pima County
- Population: 1,019,722
- Median home value: $173,500 (62% own)
- Median rent: $885 (38% rent)
- Median household income: $51,037
With Tuscon as the capital of Pima County, retirees can take part in all the excitement the area has to offer, such as community center programs, antique grounds, concerts, trails, wildlife viewing, golf courses, fairs and festivals, parks, pools, stadium venues, and more. Several of the ideal locations in which to retire in Pima County, as reported by Niche, include Green Valley, Catalina Foothills, Ora Valley, and Casas Adobes, as these areas are friendly, quiet, low-crime neighborhoods, based on resident reviews.
Arkansas: Baxter County
- Population: 41,219
- Median home value: $128,800 (76% own)
- Median rent: $678 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $41,481
With a cost of living 22.8% lower than the U.S. average, Baxter County is home to retirees who cherish sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying their golden years. In particular, the town of Mountain Home is a mix of retirees and young professionals, all who appreciate the small city with a population of just over 12,000 residents nestled in the southern Ozark Mountains. In the warmer months, retirees in this area can take part in outdoor water activities on the local rivers and hiking in the Ozark National Forest or at Blanchard Springs Caverns, while, in the colder months, indoor venues include the Twin Lakes Playhouse, Cooper Park Recreation Center, and the shops and eateries at Veteran’s Plaza.
California: Amador County
- Population: 37,829
- Median home value: $296,400 (77% own)
- Median rent: $1,056 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $61,198
Home to a portion of one of California’s most significant wine regions in Shenandoah Valley, Amador County comprises both incorporated cities and upcountry communities huddled in the northern hills of the Golden State. Senior living apartment complexes and communities throughout the 607-mile county are close to many available indoor and outdoor activities; retirees can tour Preston Castle—a California State Historical Landmark—attend year-round wine tastings, ski at Kirkwood Mountain, explore Black Chasm Cavern, and camp at Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park.
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Colorado: Huerfano County
- Population: 6,583
- Median home value: $157,200 (72% own)
- Median rent: $631 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $36,705
The Spanish Peaks is one of the main attractions for active retirees who may choose to settle in Huerfano County. The county’s cost of living is 12.7% lower than the U.S. average, making it a financially responsible choice for seniors on a fixed income. Though Huerfano County sees up to 93 inches of snow annually, it also experiences an average of 271 sunny days each year, compared to the U.S. average of 205. Accordingly, the county’s Comfort Index rating of 7/10 indicates that the overall climate, with an average summer high of 82 degrees and an average winter low of 19 degrees, remains neither too hot nor too cold for long periods of time.
Connecticut: Middlesex County
- Population: 163,368
- Median home value: $284,900 (74% own)
- Median rent: $1,162 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $84,761
Middlesex County—just 30 miles northeast of New Haven—sits on the Connecticut River and comprises 25 municipalities that offer a range of rural and suburban living options for retirees. Stretching from the city of Middletown in the north to the coastal enclaves of Clinton, Westbrook, and Old Saybrook, Middlesex County combines a rich history with access to larger cities like New York City and Boston via the Shoreline East and Amtrak trains. The Middlesex County Area Transit program, part of a statewide agency called the Aging & Disability Resource Connection, provides transportation for residents over the age of 60, as well as disabled persons.
Delaware: Sussex County
- Population: 219,540
- Median home value: $248,900 (80% own)
- Median rent: $1,018 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $60,853
Sussex County has been promoted by publications such as The Wall Street Journal as an ideal location for retirement, citing a wide range of factors that contribute to its appeal. It boasts a serene saltwater bay shoreline—shared with seagulls and snow geese—along with miles of nearby farmland. Location is another likely draw since Sussex County is about a two-hour drive to Baltimore, a practical day trip for many residents.
Florida: Sarasota County
- Population: 412,144
- Median home value: $234,800 (74% own)
- Median rent: $1,201 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $58,644
Niche is not the only source ranking Sarasota County as a leading retirement spot; U.S. News & World Report also brands the county as a mix of paradise and reality, ranking it the #2 region in the U.S. for retirement. While retirees can enjoy year-round warmth and award-winning beaches in Sarasota County, they also have access to exciting arts and cultural opportunities, in addition to neighborhood services and other perks through the government’s park, recreation, and natural resource programs that include golfing, boating, and fishing.
Georgia: Union County
- Population: 22,775
- Median home value: $197,200 (78% own)
- Median rent: $731 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $44,978
Union County promises both adventure and solitude within its mountain community borders, which contain Georgia’s highest peak, Brasstown Bald. The crisp and clean high-altitude air is enjoyable throughout the year, signified by a 7.6/10 Comfort Index Rating on Best Places and the county also sees only about four inches of snow annually. The county seat of Blairsville, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and less than two hours from Atlanta, is a popular retirement spot, with a low violent crime rate and a cost of living 9.5% below the national average that makes it safe and financially sensible for retirees.
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