Best county to retire in every state
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, and this reply perhaps applies to retirees more than any other demographic. Settling down after a lifetime of working and perhaps 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 1 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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Hawaii: Honolulu County
- Population: 987,638
- Median home value: $649,800 (56% own)
- Median rent: $1,703 (44% rent)
- Median household income: $82,906
Retiring in the consolidated city-county of Honolulu on the island of Oahu famously offers gorgeous weather and year-round fun—but it comes at an expense, according to Kiplinger, which ranked Hawaii as the #2 state for retirement. The publication reports that while the average household income for individuals aged 65 and older is the highest in the U.S. at 33.8%, the cost of living is a staggering 87% above the U.S. average. However, the high cost of living is somewhat countered by the affordable health care system across the county and state, which has led to the Honolulu area being home to some of the country’s healthiest residents, as noted by U.S. News & World Report.
Idaho: Lemhi County
- Population: 7,798
- Median home value: $171,000 (75% own)
- Median rent: $646 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $37,921
A cost of living that is 10.6% lower than the national average is one reason why retirees choose to live in Lemhi County, and Salmon was voted the best town in the county in which to retire, according to Niche. Desirable weather, health care access, and year-round entertainment also make Lemhi County a comfortable retirement spot. The scenic byways, canyons, rivers, mountains, hot springs, biking and hiking trails, and ghost towns make Lemhi County an especially appealing option for retirees who enjoy outdoor activities.
Illinois: Jo Daviess County
- Population: 21,834
- Median home value: $144,600 (78% own)
- Median rent: $639 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $57,083
Affordable housing, comfortable year-round temperatures, and plentiful health care services that include a local hospital, van services, and visiting nurses are all perks for retirees who might consider choosing Jo Daviess County for their golden years. Add in the local state park, fairs and festivals, a casino, and sporting events throughout the year, and it’s obvious why they stay. Niche reports that the top four towns for retirement in Jo Daviess County of Rawlins Township, Pleasant Valley Township, the Galena Territory, and East Galena Township—all with an A+ rating—provide a sparse suburban and rural feel, with current residents of East Galena Township noting a vibrant bar, restaurant, and coffee shop scene that retirees can enjoy.
Indiana: Wabash County
- Population: 31,631
- Median home value: $97,200 (73% own)
- Median rent: $693 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $50,637
In this historic north-central Indiana county, filled with farms, parks, and orchards, retirees can take advantage of all the getaway-style fun that visitors to the area experience—including hiking at the nearby Salamonie River State Forest, catching a movie at the 1324 Drive-in Theatre, or practicing their putting at the Honeywell Golf Course. Niche reports that Wabash County, which also offers a low crime rate, ranks #9 of 92 counties in the Hoosier State for the lowest cost of living.
Iowa: D**kinson County
- Population: 17,056
- Median home value: $179,300 (79% own)
- Median rent: $771 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $58,099
This Iowa county, named after the former New York Sen. Daniel D**kinson, offers a cost of living that is 6.3% lower than the national average, giving retirees extra bang for their buck in the northwest region of the state. Home to the three largest natural lakes in Iowa, the county provides dozens of recreational and sports-related outdoor activities for retirees to enjoy in the warm weather, while also hosting the University of Okoboji Winter Games during the cold winter months. Niche notes that D**kinson County received high grades for housing choices, diversity, health and fitness opportunities, weather, and more, making it clear why retirees choose this region of Iowa.
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Kansas: Greenwood County
- Population: 6,156
- Median home value: $63,500 (74% own)
- Median rent: $574 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $42,595
In Kansas, there really is no place like home, as Dorothy so famously uttered in “The Wizard of Oz,” and retirees appear to feel the same way about Greenwood County—located in the southeast section of the state—which offers a cost of living that is 31.3% lower than the U.S. average. Retirees can enjoy the Farm and Art Market, the local museum, a city pool, the historical society, an activity center, and Lake Eureka, where fishing, boating, and water sports are among the outdoor activities provided for the intimate population of about 6,200 neighbors. It’s no surprise that Niche ranks the county seat of Eureka as the fourth best place to retire in Kansas.
Kentucky: Lyon County
- Population: 8,186
- Median home value: $134,100 (81% own)
- Median rent: $567 (19% rent)
- Median household income: $50,097
Mostly rural farming communities comprise Lyon County, which is located within Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, a 170,000-acre recreation area that straddles Kentucky and Tennessee. Additionally, several lakeside retirement communities spread throughout the county’s 257 square miles enable retirees to enjoy outdoor activities like biking, hunting, and fishing. For inside entertainment, the Lyon County Senior Center offers an array of activities, including line dancing, Bible study, bingo, a bookmobile, congregate meals, and even blood pressure checks for seniors in the area.
Louisiana: Caldwell Parish
- Population: 9,996
- Median home value: $74,100 (74% own)
- Median rent: $590 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $32,174
Caldwell Parish, a quaint parish community established in 1838 and known for its plantation homes, is a cost-effective option for retirees; it boasts a cost of living 25.4% below the U.S. national average, which makes a limited senior living budget easier to maintain. The Caldwell Parish Recreation Center, equipped with a weight room, basketball and volleyball courts, and roller skating rink, keeps seniors active when not enjoying outdoor recreational spots like Brownville Park or the Dr. Charles Allen Nature Preserve, considered an “80-acre outdoor classroom.”
Maine: Lincoln County
- Population: 34,067
- Median home value: $213,300 (78% own)
- Median rent: $779 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $55,180
According to Niche, the town of South Bristol in Lincoln County is a top choice for retirees, boasting a beautiful location that comes with a cost of living 4% higher than the national average but offers services and amenities that help retirees to justify the expense. Founded in 1760, Lincoln County is host to an array of recreational activities that appeal to active retirees, including fishing, golfing, snowshoeing, skiing, and hiking. Keeping fit in one’s senior years is essential to residents of Lincoln County, which also offers indoor facilities that provide strong fitness and wellness programs with free weights, Tai Chi, dance studios, and more.
Maryland: Worcester County
- Population: 51,564
- Median home value: $255,400 (76% own)
- Median rent: $1,006 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $61,145
Niche gives Worcester County an overall grade of A- for its wealth of outdoor activities, health and fitness opportunities, weather, diversity, and housing, which is why retirees often opt to settle in this area. While the cost of living is 3.7% higher than the national average, the plentiful summer activities and recreational opportunities, including beaches, county fairs, U.S. Air Force air shows, fishing tournaments, crab derbies, and art and seafood festivals, are often viewed as outweighing this elevated cost.
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Massachusetts: Barnstable County
- Population: 213,690
- Median home value: $384,100 (80% own)
- Median rent: $1,268 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $70,621
When not sinking their toes into the sand or sunbathing on a boat, retirees in Barnstable County enjoy museums, artistic centers, opera houses, theaters, and festivals. The region also offers miles of outdoor recreational opportunities, including sailing, whale watching, and cycling along the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a scenic, 25-mile paved bike trail running through seven of the county’s 15 towns.
Michigan: Leelanau County
- Population: 21,639
- Median home value: $256,300 (88% own)
- Median rent: $865 (12% rent)
- Median household income: $63,831
Along with an overall grade of A, Niche ranked Leelanau County as the eighth-best county in which to live in Michigan. The county offers many outdoor recreation and exercise activities for retirees, specifically on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which stretches along 35 miles of the Lake Michigan coast, was voted the most beautiful place in America in 2011 by “Good Morning America” viewers.
Minnesota: Big Stone County
- Population: 5,016
- Median home value: $97,900 (73% own)
- Median rent: $557 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $51,920
Big Stone County is home to Big Stone Lake and roughly three dozen other bodies of water, affording active retirees endless opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating in the summer, biking and birding in the fall and spring, and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. Additionally, the county seat of Ortonville is home to Fairway View Senior Communities, a large complex of catered and assisted-living facilities.
Mississippi: Attala County
- Population: 18,581
- Median home value: $76,000 (71% own)
- Median rent: $518 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $34,756
Several structures in Attala County, including the 100-year-old Mary Ricks Thornton Cultural Center, are included on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, and the county seat of Kosciusko is host to a myriad of seasonal events from the Central Mississippi Fair to the Natchez Trace Festival. In fact, Kosciusko is less than a mile from the Natchez Trace Parkway, where residents have year-round access to a 444-mile-long stretch of national park celebrated for its riding and hiking trails, waterfalls, and scenic overlooks.
Missouri: Camden County
- Population: 45,096
- Median home value: $183,500 (80% own)
- Median rent: $757 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $52,087
After migrating from California, retiree Richard Smith told KY3 News that Camden County was the perfect place to retire since “you get more bang for your buck,” with a related study revealing that local residents could pay less for a bigger home on Lake of the Ozarks, along with lower taxes, lower gas prices, and access to quality health care, retail establishments, and other amenities. The cost of living is 8% lower than the U.S. average, and Niche highlighted Village of Four Seasons as the seventh-best place to retire in Camden County, where there is a dense suburban feel among home-owning retirees.
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Montana: Broadwater County
- Population: 5,834
- Median home value: $203,700 (81% own)
- Median rent: $686 (19% rent)
- Median household income: $56,469
What is now Broadwater County was once a stop on the Lewis and Clark Expedition Route, a notable draw for retirees who are history buffs. Seniors who want to spend a large portion of their retirement years outdoors will want to consider checking out this county, which is considered a sportsman paradise because of opportunities for bird and game watching, hunting, fishing, and horseback riding. Additionally, the county boasts a cost of living that is 8.2% lower than the national average and a population nearing a total of just 6,000 residents.
Nebraska: Thayer County
- Population: 5,098
- Median home value: $66,800 (79% own)
- Median rent: $566 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $50,734
Retirees in Thayer County can enjoy establishments and activities like the Belvidere Train Watching Station, Bruning Opera House, Centennial Park Arboretum, and Pony Express Trail. Alexandria State Recreation Area, which includes 55 acres of mature forest and two bodies of water, is also a popular spot for seniors who love the outdoors to picnic and fish. Thayer County also ranks #1 on Niche's list of Nebraska counties with the lowest cost of living.
Nevada: Douglas County
- Population: 47,828
- Median home value: $346,500 (70% own)
- Median rent: $1,077 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $62,503
With its hundreds of miles of open space surrounding Lake Tahoe, Douglas County is considered a hidden jewel of Northern Nevada. However, when retirees in the area also want to enjoy city life, the county is located less than 50 miles from the Reno Tahoe region, where they can partake in a vibrant restaurant and event scene. Bordering California to the left, Douglas County also gives retirees the option to cross over to the Golden State at their leisure.
New Hampshire: Carroll County
- Population: 47,840
- Median home value: $236,500 (79% own)
- Median rent: $937 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $61,116
Nestled between White Mountain National Forest and Lake Winnipesaukee, Carroll County is part of the gorgeous New England landscape. A “friendly tax structure, low crime rates, low poverty rates, outstanding schools, vibrant communities, and renowned medical facilities,” are all reasons for retirees to consider settling in the area, according to the county’s website. Plus, senior living services such as the ServiceLink Aging and Disability Resource Center are available to make retiring a safe move.
New Jersey: Cape May County
- Population: 93,705
- Median home value: $296,600 (78% own)
- Median rent: $1,112 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $63,690
Famous parks, zoos, and the Cape May Peninsula, which is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay, lure many retirees to Cape May County at the southernmost tip of the Garden State. Gov. Phil Murphy set a goal to bring in up to 150 million visitors to New Jersey annually by 2023, particularly in this county, where large and ever-growing wineries are already attracting thousands of visitors. Situated less than an hour from Atlantic City, Cape May County also offers retirees a plethora of restaurants, gambling venues, and a vibrant arts and nightlife scene.
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New Mexico: Lincoln County
- Population: 19,482
- Median home value: $206,600 (77% own)
- Median rent: $691 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $42,267
The Ruidoso Valley Chamber of Commerce calls Lincoln County the “Playground of the Southwest,” offering retirees endless leisure opportunities: racetrack and casino betting, biking or hiking in the nearby Lincoln National Forest, outdoor concerts and sporting events, beaches, lakes, golf courses, and museums, plus various fairs and festivals. The county boasts a Best Places Comfort Index rating of 7.8/10; local temperatures typically reach a low of 23 degrees in the winter and a high of 84 degrees in the summer.
New York: Nassau County
- Population: 1,356,564
- Median home value: $474,800 (81% own)
- Median rent: $1,738 (19% rent)
- Median household income: $111,240
Retiring in Nassau County, New York, comes at a price, specifically, a cost of living that is 62.2% higher than the national average, primarily due to the fact that it is less than an hour from New York City. With such close access to "the world’s most important city," according to Business Insider, retirees can engage with an endless list of possibilities for entertainment, food, sporting events, theater and the arts, and more. Niche’s three top cities for retirement in Nassau County—Lake Success, Manhasset, and Woodbury—offer suburban havens outside the bustling city; additionally, Nassau County boasts a strong Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums that is hosting the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival.
North Carolina: Brunswick County
- Population: 126,860
- Median home value: $199,900 (79% own)
- Median rent: $903 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $54,406
Historical sites, beaches, and opportunities for golf are reportedly three reasons why so many retirees move to Brunswick County, North Carolina, even though the cost of living is 1.8% higher than the national average. Once filled with Civil War-era plantations and post-revolutionary ports, the county borders South Carolina and has six beach communities nestled out of the sight of tourists. Additionally, Brunswick County is home to 30 professional golf courses designed by professionals, including Arnold Palmer and Fred Couples.
North Dakota: Barnes County
- Population: 10,836
- Median home value: $118,800 (69% own)
- Median rent: $677 (31% rent)
- Median household income: $57,064
Awarded an overall grade of B+ for retirees by Niche, Barnes County, boasting a cost of living that is 20.4% lower than the U.S. average, has a population of just under 11,000 locals. The county seat of Valley City offers acres of parks, scenic byways, and a walkable downtown filled with quaint shops and eateries. There is also a vibrant arts and culture program through Valley City State University, which promotes performances that are open to the community year-round.
Ohio: Ottawa County
- Population: 40,709
- Median home value: $148,400 (79% own)
- Median rent: $724 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $57,918
Several senior living communities throughout Ottawa County provide retirees with many options to find a place to call home. Nestled on Lake Erie in the northwestern region of the state, Ottawa County’s cost of living is 18.5% lower than the national average, making frugal senior budgets go further. With money-saving housing, plentiful health care, and affordable transportation and shopping, retirees have more money to enjoy recreational activities in the thriving Ottawa County Parks system or water sports, including fishing, kayaking, and sailing, along Lake Erie.
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Oklahoma: Delaware County
- Population: 42,112
- Median home value: $114,900 (76% own)
- Median rent: $673 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $39,742
Delaware County features enjoyable lake living, with Niche singling out the town of Grove as the prime spot for retirees to settle. Home to Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees and Natural Falls State Park, the county also boasts a cost of living that is 14% lower than the national average and a Best Places Comfort Index of 7.3/10. Retirees can locate affordable housing in this northeastern section of the state, including a handful of notable senior living facilities.
Oregon: Curry County
- Population: 22,507
- Median home value: $251,500 (70% own)
- Median rent: $870 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $46,396
According to Niche, Curry County is the best county for retirees in the Beaver State, and the town of Harbor in Curry County is ranked #1 in the entire state for retirement. With additional high grades in Niche for climate, health and fitness opportunities, and outdoor activities, retirees in this southwestern portion of the state also have access to a multitude of amenities in a safe area with a low crime rate. The one benefit that Curry County cannot offer, like so many other choice retirement spots nationwide, is a low cost of living, as it is currently 2.1% higher than the U.S. average.
Pennsylvania: Montour County
- Population: 18,294
- Median home value: $181,500 (69% own)
- Median rent: $742 (31% rent)
- Median household income: $57,183
Up to 20% of the residents who live in Montour County are 65 years or older, making the area very senior-friendly. Lake Chillisquaque, Montour Preserve, Danville Riverfront Park, and Geisinger Stewardship Forest—which offers 8 miles of trails across 300 acres—are just a few of the locations that retirees who particularly enjoy the outdoors can visit. Montour County Senior Center in Danville also provides several resources to the area’s aging population, including personal enrichment classes and health and wellness services.
Rhode Island: Washington County
- Population: 126,242
- Median home value: $328,300 (75% own)
- Median rent: $1,100 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $81,301
Washington County is the southernmost county in the Ocean State. Known locally as “South County,” the region centers around casual coastal living. Residents can explore the affluent coastal resort area of Watch Hill, home to the luxurious Ocean House hotel, scenic Napatree Point, and the Flying Horses Carousel, which is considered the oldest continuously operating carousel in America. Further east, retirees can enjoy iconic seafood hotspots, with South Kingstown’s Matunuck Oyster Bar offering top-rated seafood and salt pond sunsets, while the Coast Guard House and Monahan’s Clam Shack in the town of Narragansett provide sweeping ocean views along the seawall.
South Carolina: Beaufort County
- Population: 182,658
- Median home value: $288,900 (72% own)
- Median rent: $1,157 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $63,110
Beaufort County covers 923 square miles in the south-central portion of South Carolina, with plenty of activities for retirees, from learning about the history of the United States Marine Corps at Parris Island to attending any of the area’s annual water, shrimp, or film festivals to enjoying all the resort town of Hilton Head has to offer. Best Places reports a 7.2/10 Comfort Index—noting April, May, and October as the most pleasant months of the year—and a 5.9% lower cost of living than the U.S. average.
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South Dakota: Hutchinson County
- Population: 7,315
- Median home value: $84,700 (78% own)
- Median rent: $543 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $54,868
This quaint county of just over 7,000 residents in South Dakota is a great place to call home for retirees looking for peace and quiet; however, those thinking of settling here should anticipate a cost of living 2.6% above than the national average. Parkston and Freeman, both with populations hovering around 1,500 residents, are the top locations in the county for retirees, with Niche awarding both of the small and personable towns a grade of A+ for retirement living.
Tennessee: Loudon County
- Population: 51,610
- Median home value: $199,400 (77% own)
- Median rent: $750 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $56,078
Tellico Reservoir and Melton Hill Reservoir are two popular fishing and water activity areas located in Loudon County where retirees gather to relax. Along with boating, antiquing, and visiting a plethora of historical sites and museums, seniors who settle here also frequent nearby Knoxville and Chattanooga when they desire to take advantage of a vibrant nightlife and restaurant scene. A cost of living that is 7.4% lower than the U.S. average and a Comfort Index rating of 7.3/10 add to the appeal of this area.
Texas: Brewster County
- Population: 9,216
- Median home value: $134,300 (58% own)
- Median rent: $687 (42% rent)
- Median household income: $43,894
Home to Big Bend National Park—which is referred to by the National Park Service as “Texas’ gift to the nation”—Brewster County also features hundreds of miles of trails, scenic drives, bird spotting, kayaking down the Rio Grande, and retreating to the Mexican village of Boquillas. Add in a cost of living that is 10% lower than the national average, which gives this county an advantage over some other Lone Star State counties, and it’s clear why retirees seek out this prime U.S. southwestern spot that also offers several notable senior living facilities.
Utah: Washington County
- Population: 160,537
- Median home value: $262,200 (70% own)
- Median rent: $1,000 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $56,877
Located in the southwest corner of Utah, Washington County covers approximately 1.5 million acres, with 66,000 of those acres designated as wilderness areas. Once known for its former cotton colonies, the county is now popular for Zion National Park, featuring the Lower and Upper Emerald Pool Trails and the Kolob Canyons Area. When not enjoying outdoor recreation, retirees here frequent the St. George Utah Senior Citizen Center, which offers an array of activities including dancing, games, and arts and crafts. A cost of living that is 5.1% higher than the national average could be a welcome compromise for active seniors anxious to spend their golden years in the great outdoors.
Vermont: Windham County
- Population: 43,150
- Median home value: $212,500 (68% own)
- Median rent: $881 (32% rent)
- Median household income: $52,659
This southeast section of the Green Mountain State is perfect for retirees who love all four seasons, mountains, and a cost of living that is 8.1% lower than the national average. With dozens of mountains to ski or hike, orchards to explore, playhouses and museums to visit, and restaurants and spas to enjoy, retirees have plenty of recreational and cultural activities on hand to keep busy all year round. Niche awarded Dummerston and Guilford as the top two towns in Windham County to retire, giving them both a grade of A-.
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Virginia: James City County
- Population: 74,153
- Median home value: $339,600 (75% own)
- Median rent: $1,248 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $83,048
For retirees who are history buffs, in particular, James City County has a lot to offer. Both Jamestown Settlement—the first English settlement in America—and Colonial Williamsburg are located in James City County, providing a rich heritage to the locale. Williamsburg is also the home of one of the locations of Busch Gardens Theme Park, and county officials are working to improve the James City County Marina and add new restaurants to grow the local economy, making James City County even more attractive to retirees.
Washington: San Juan County
- Population: 16,473
- Median home value: $470,500 (74% own)
- Median rent: $986 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $60,711
Comprising over 700 islands northwest of the state of Washington in the Salish Sea, San Juan County offers retirees a variety of outdoor activities, art festivals, and top-notch seafood. Friday Harbor, the county seat and the only incorporated town in the county, boasts world-class whale watching along the border with Canada. However, this prime outdoor living comes at a price; the cost of living in San Juan County is 43.8% above the national average.
West Virginia: Ritchie County
- Population: 9,932
- Median home value: $85,800 (80% own)
- Median rent: $569 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $44,472
A low crime rate and a low cost of living—27.2% below the U.S. average—both serve to make Ritchie County an appealing option for retirees looking to spend their golden years in West Virginia. The county is home to Berdine’s Five and Dime, the nation’s oldest five and dime store, in operation since 1908. Additionally, North Bend State Park hosts several events, including an annual bluegrass festival and holiday happenings, and is known for a 72-mile hiking trail that follows an abandoned railroad corridor.
Wisconsin: Vilas County
- Population: 21,593
- Median home value: $206,900 (77% own)
- Median rent: $692 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $44,285
For retirees who do not want to own a home, the large selection of assisted living facilities in Vilas County offers retirees an opportunity to live mortgage-free in the state's northernmost section. With activities like golfing, hunting, and geocaching, retirees keep busy with outdoor recreation when not busy indoors at the local casino, bowling alley, and museums. Factor in a cost of living that is 10.3% lower than the U.S. average, and it is clear why retirees enjoy calling this Wisconsin town their home.
Wyoming: Big Horn County
- Population: 11,901
- Median home value: $154,600 (73% own)
- Median rent: $656 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $53,435
Located in the Big Horn Basin, Big Horn County is on the border of Wyoming and Montana, which allows retirees to skip over state lines and enjoy activities in Montana as well. However, most active seniors who settle here find their contentment at Shoshone National Forest and Cloud Peak Wilderness, either hiking, camping, and fly fishing or relaxing at a brewery or theater. Additionally, retirees on a fixed budget can also take advantage of a cost of living that is 11% lower than the national average to make the most of their golden years in the warm, dry summers and cold, snowy winters of Wyoming.
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