The best and worst cities for retirement

2019 Best Cities to Retire

The best and worst cities for retirement

Retirement is a time for you to enjoy what you love—whether that’s traveling, spending time with family, or serving your community. If you want to live your retirement dream, you need a plan. And knowing the best cities to retire can help you make your hard-earned dollars go farther when you’re ready to put your plan into action.

So, what makes for a good retirement city? Two of the most common factors include the cost of living and quality of life. Some others include:

  • Tax rates
  • Housing costs
  • Quality of health care
  • Overall happiness of residents

With those factors in mind, check out some of the best cities to retire.1 For each one, we've included a brief description, a short list of stats and a special feature that distinguishes each city from the rest.

Let’s take a look!

10. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Okay, folks. Let’s start the countdown for best cities to retire with Dallas-Fort Worth.

So why did it make the best cities to retire list? Well, of course, there are several draws for sports lovers—Dallas is home to the Cowboys of the NFL, Mavericks of the NBA and Texas Rangers of the MLB.

There’s also extra incentive for grandkids to visit with attractions Six Flags Over Texas and the Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park. And if you dream about the cowboy life, you’ll be happy to hear there are plenty of opportunities to attend rodeos and country-style two-step dance events.2

  • Taxes: No state income tax3
  • Median Home Price: $248,375
  • Median Monthly Rent: $1,022
  • Average Temps: 77° / 56°
  • Average Annual Rainfall: 36″
  • Special Feature: Nicknamed “Cowtown” after cattle drives saved the economy

9. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Along the Grand River—Michigan’s longest waterway—you’ll find the hidden gem of Grand Rapids. With the weather being quite cool during much of the year, getting outside and enjoying nature is a great option.

Plus, the city is known for its breweries—in part because there are tons of them! Grand Rapids has an affordable cost of living, which means things groceries and health care are cheaper than in other cities. There’s also affordable housing for retired folks and a growing health care industry.

4 Sure, health care facilities aren’t the most exciting things to consider when you think about where to retire, but they’re nice to have around when age catches up with you.

  • Taxes: No tax on income from Social Security5
  • Median Home Price: $181,533
  • Median Monthly Rent: $826
  • Average Temps: 58° / 40°
  • Average Annual Rainfall: 38″
  • Special Feature: Craft brewery scene with over 80 breweries6

8. Nashville, Tennessee

We have to admit, we’re excited to announce this one. Want to know why? It’s our hometown! Ramsey Solutions headquarters is just outside of music city. Seriously, though, Nashville is full of life. Day or night, the Broadway strip features live music performed by some of the best aspiring musicians in the world.

Also, you never know when you might bump into some of the music industry’s brightest stars Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood or Keith Urban. If music isn’t your thing, don’t worry: You can join sports fans to cheer on the Predators of the NHL and the Tennessee Titans of the NFL.

7 Want a break from all the noise? Take a short trip to nearby Franklin for a quieter, more historic atmosphere (and stop by our headquarters while you’re there!)

  • Taxes: No state income tax8
  • Median Home Price: $248,883
  • Median Monthly Rent: $951
  • Average Temps: 70° / 49°
  • Average Annual Rainfall: 47″
  • Special Feature: Full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon

7. Winston-Salem, North Carolina

If you food and festivals (who doesn’t?), Winston-Salem could be to a great place for you to retire. The city combines its friendly southern roots with a wide range of diversity, influenced by its many international citizens.

You can find typical southern BBQ, Greek pastries and Indian curries at all the different food scenes throughout the city.

If you’re a fan of performing arts, you can catch a community performance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts—the school Jada Pinkett Smith attended before pursuing her career in acting.

There are also plenty of places to explore the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Old Salem Museums and Gardens, Black Mountain Chocolate Factory and Historic Bethabara Park. In Winston-Salem, you get the same offerings of a big city with a small city vibe.9

  • Taxes: No tax on income from Social Security10
  • Median Home Price: $145,725
  • Median Monthly Rent: $732
  • Average Temps: 70° / 49°
  • Average Annual Rainfall: 47″
  • Special Feature: Birthplace of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in 193711

6. Jacksonville, Florida

Just south of the Georgia state line on the northeastern corner of Florida, you’ll find the huge city of Jacksonville—and we mean huge—coming in at 747 square miles!12 Part of that hugeness includes its gorgeous beaches and waterways.

Several bridges make it easy to get from downtown to the sandy beaches. And there are a bunch of other outdoor activities to do hiking, cycling and camping at places the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.

Sports lovers can cheer on the Jaguars NFL team among other sports teams, while music lovers can enjoy the annual Springing the Blues music festival.13

  • Taxes: No state income tax14
  • Median Home Price: $174,658
  • Median Monthly Rent: $1,019
  • Average Temps: 79° / 61°
  • Average Annual Rainfall: 49″
  • Special Feature: Largest city in the U.S. by land area—outside of Alaska

If any of these cities are starting to catch your eye, get the ball rolling on your retirement dream city by downloading our free Ramsey Relocation Guide today!

5. Port St. Lucie, Florida

Surprised to see the Sunshine State make another appearance? Yeah, we aren’t either. Port St. Lucie sits on the Atlantic coast of southern Florida, between Orlando and Miami.

With its consistently nice weather, you can wear flip-flops all year long, baby! This place is a haven for golfers—you can even find golf cart parking at grocery stores. And don’t worry if you’re not a pro golfer—yet. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to up your game at the PGA Golf Club.

If you love exploring, check out the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens and all the water adventures available—boating, fishing, beach bumming and paddling near manatees.15

  • Taxes: No state income tax16
  • Median Home Price: $211,083
  • Median Monthly Rent: $1,074
  • Average Temps: 82° / 63°17
  • Average Annual Rainfall: 52”18
  • Special Feature: Spring training grounds for the New York Mets of the MLB

4. Asheville, North Carolina

Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina is a land of cool mountain air and breathtaking views—yup, we’re talking about Asheville, Land of the Sky. Now, folks, if you have a creative itch, you’ll love Asheville.

The place is jam-packed with art galleries, museums, historic architecture and pretty-looking artists’ studios made from repurposed factories— the ones at the colorful River Arts District. Plus, there are over 100 different local craft breweries.

But if you’re someone who s it more quiet, you can enjoy stunning hiking trails at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests—just do yourself a favor and look out for black bears.19

  • Taxes: No tax on income from Social Security20
  • Median Home Price: $248,500
  • Median Monthly Rent: $849
  • Average Temps: 58° / 52°21
  • Average Annual Rainfall: 45”22
  • Special Feature: The beautiful, historic Biltmore Estate is the largest privately owned house in the U.S.—at 175,000 square feet23

3. Lancaster, Pennsylvania

The next best city to retire to is in the great state of Pennsylvania. If you variety, Lancaster is a dream town for retirement. It bundles farmland, suburbs and a lively downtown area all into one.

You can also visit the Amish communities where folks get around on horse and buggy and live without public electricity. Don’t worry, social butterflies, the downtown area features monthly arts and music festivals.

Lancaster also has a winter mountain resort, hiking trails, corn mazes, tractor pulls and even a notable dog park.24

  • Taxes: No tax on income from Social Security25
  • Median Home Price: $196,025
  • Median Monthly Rent: $957
  • Average Temps: 62° / 42°
  • Average Annual Rainfall: 42″
  • Special Feature: Oldest Amish settlement in the U.S.26

2. Sarasota, Florida

Located just below Tampa sits the runner-up of the best cities to retire: Sarasota. It offers all the outdoor fun you’d expect boating, fishing and beach activities. Speaking of beaches, Sarasota’s are praised for their clear, warm water and fine, white sand.

It’s the type of sand that’s so soft it makes you want to give the whole beach a hug! Also, the city tends to lean more toward accommodating older folks by providing a ton of activities golf and shopping.

27 Let’s just say you’ll definitely find plenty of things to enjoy in this city!

  • Taxes: No state income tax28
  • Median Home Price: $237,260
  • Median Monthly Rent: $1,089
  • Average Temps: 82° / 64°
  • Average Annual Rainfall: 53″
  • Special Feature: Some of America’s best beaches including Siesta Key Beach

1. Fort Myers, Florida

Here it is—Fort Myers is ranked as the number one city to retire! Along the state’s southwestern river of Caloosahatchee (say that 10 times fast), Fort Myers started getting really famous after Thomas Edison and Henry Ford chose to build their winter homes there.

In fact, it was nicknamed “City of Palms” after Edison started planting royal palm trees along McGregor Boulevard—a sight that screams “paradise.” And for you water lovers out there, hot spots Cape Coral, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island are all less than an hour away.


  • Taxes: No state income tax30
  • Median Home Price: $219,200
  • Median Monthly Rent: $1,035
  • Average Temps: 84° / 64°
  • Average Annual Rainfall: 53″
  • Special Feature: Edison Ford Winter Estates historical museum and botanical garden

How to Choose Your Best City to Retire

Can you picture yourself enjoying beautiful weather, heading to a sporting event, golfing with friends, or relaxing on a beach in retirement? Maybe you read this list and got excited by all the activities you have to look forward to—and now you can’t wait to move!

Find expert agents to help you buy your home.

But listen: Before you decide where you want to live when you retire, you need to get a little more clarity on what you want your retirement to look and what it will cost. Plug in a few numbers to our investment calculator to estimate how much you’ll need to save each month to make your dreams a reality.

The specifics will look different for everyone. For instance, some people are willing to retire on $40,000 a year, while others need $90,000 a year. Do some dreaming (and some math) to make sure you’ll be able to afford living in your chosen retirement city.  

Ready for the Retirement of Your Dreams?

To get clarity on your retirement game plan, connect with a qualified investment professional. Our SmartVestor program makes it quick and easy to get a list of pros in your area.

If you’ve already reached your nest egg goal and are ready to relocate for your dream retirement, get a head start with an expert real estate agent who will keep your best interest in mind.

The agents in our Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program are vetted by our team and are the top-performing agents in their market.

They also participate in ongoing peer-to-peer mentoring to ensure they’re growth-minded and focused on serving you first.

Find your real estate agent today!


The Best And Worst States For Retirement: All 50 States, Ranked |

The best and worst cities for retirement

Retirement means no longer having to sweat over how to tackle your company’s latest project, what you need to land your next promotion or who microwaved fish in the office breakroom.

But the end of your career brings new questions including where to spend your days now that you no longer punch the clock.

Should you settle by a bright beach and humming population hub? Or maybe in a place where residents wave to each other and green grass grows?

Perhaps a place near the center of it all: Nebraska.

The Cornhusker State is the best state to retire, according to a new Bankrate study, followed by Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Florida. Maryland, on the other hand, comes in the last place in our ranking. New York and Alaska also might be better for retirees to visit than reside, according to the study.

For this study, Bankrate looked at affordability, weather and a number of other factors important to retirees. We also created an interactive tool that allows you to see how the results change your preferences in retirement.

Ranking of best and worst states for retirement
South Dakota41723123910
North Carolina71328281233
North Dakota13221726492
New Hampshire153914413
West Virginia251818272439
Rhode Island2744852816
New Mexico372649382122
South Carolina41274522850
New Jersey42485162223
New York49501173830

The best state for retirement

Why should retirees pull the moving van off Interstate 80 and unpack in Nebraska?

The state has an average annual temperature of 49 degrees. So while the heartland can count on experiencing all four seasons, it’s no Hawaii, which had an average annual temperature closer to 80 degrees, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data Bankrate analyzed.

Nebraska lagged behind on weather compared with other states, but it fared well on the other measures in the ranking: affordability, crime, culture and wellness.

Wellness was especially a bright spot with Nebraska ranking No. 8 50 states. Dialing in on health care specifically, Nebraska had 61 percent of the health measures that achieved the benchmark or better, according to the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. That’s a higher percentage than about two-thirds of the other states, the data show.

Wellness and affordability carried the most weight in Bankrate’s ranking. Nebraska ranked within the top 15 states for the cost category.

Nebraska is not for everyone, as the state recently boasted in an ad campaign.

But Nebraskans can camp near Chimney Rock State Park, shop and dine near the Heartland of America Park and Fountain in Omaha or snap pics of the floral designs in Lincoln’s Sunken Gardens.

And of course, those who want to hit the road in retirement have a nice central point to visit national parks in the West, head north to Mount Rushmore National Park or east on I-80 into the Midwest.

The best of the rest

  • Iowa: In addition to teasing Iowa about having better corn, Nebraska can brag about beating The Hawkeye Eye state for livability for retirees. Iowa came in second in Bankrate’s ranking. The state ranked better for affordability (No.

    8) and scored within the top 20 states for culture but was outperformed in other measures.

  • Missouri: Third-place Missouri is more affordable and has a relatively moderate climate compared with other states. Unfortunately, sunshine and saving only go so far in The Show-Me State.

    Other states ranked higher for culture, wellness and especially safety.

  • South Dakota: Fourth-place South Dakota ranks better than most states on every measure except weather. The state had an average annual temperature of almost 46 degrees, according to Bankrate’s study.

    The state performed surprisingly well on culture, ranking 12th, partly due to having the second-highest number of arts, entertainment and recreation businesses per capita.

  • Florida: The Sunshine State has long been a haven for retirees. If you a warm climate, Florida has the second-best right behind Hawaii.

    The state scores well on culture (No. 13). If you’re looking for retirement-age friends to play pickleball, you’ll have the best chance of finding them in this state where 19 percent of the population is 65 and older. That’s the largest share of 65+ folks of any state, the data show.

“Where to live is probably one of the most personal decisions one can make because it’s not just about preferences, it’s also about the financial considerations that are associated with it,” says Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.

It’s not uncommon for retirees to get a new address after they step away from work. Almost 570,000 adults 65 and older moved to a new state or the District of Columbia during the past year, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Almost 4 in 10 retirees (38 percent) say they’ve moved at least once since leaving work, reported a 2018 survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

When choosing where to live in retirement, retirees most value proximity to family and friends, affordable cost of living, access to excellent health care and hospitals, good weather and a low crime rate, the survey results found.

“Obviously, a primary area of concern for older Americans is health care costs,” Hamrick says. “The older we get, the more ly it is we’re going to have an increasing need for health care services. In some cases, there will be illness and, in some cases, there will catastrophic illness. That can be very expensive.”

A typical couple who retire this year at age 65 is estimated to need $285,000 in today’s dollars for medical expenses in retirement, according to Fidelity Investments. That hefty price tag doesn’t include what may be needed for long-term care.

Rising health care costs are proving to be an issue as Americans find fewer tools available in their retirement planning toolboxes. As pensions have disappeared, individuals have had to take more responsibility for funding their own retirements, Hamrick says.

“We urge Americans as early as possible in their working lives to plan for retirement by taking advantage of a 401(k) through an employer and trying to fund the retirement as aggressively as one can possibly afford,” he says.

“The older one gets the more obvious it becomes how well they have been planning for retirement, and, unfortunately, if many Americans haven’t sufficiently saved for retirement then they have to seek at least part-time work in their senior years.”


To construct our ranking, Bankrate looked at eleven public and private datasets related to the life of a retiree. The study examined five categories (weightings in parentheses): affordability (40%), crime (5%), culture (15%), weather (15%) and wellness (25%).

Affordability was calculated using scores from the 2019 Cost of Living Index from the Council for Community and Economic Research, the percentages of people who needed to see a doctor but could not because of cost in the past 12 months from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and rankings for income, property and sales tax rates from the Tax Foundation’s 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index.

Crime was calculated using the property and violent crime rates per 100,000 inhabitants for each state from the I’s 2017 Crime in the United States report.

Culture was calculated using the number of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments per capita, restaurants per capita and adults 65 and older per capita from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Weather was calculated using the average daily temperature from 1985 through 2018 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hawaii’s temperature was calculated using the available data from the Honolulu weather station.

Wellness was calculated using the rankings from the Gallup-ShareCare Wellbeing Index, the number of places providing services for the elderly and people with disabilities per capita from the U.S.

Census Bureau and the number of health care benchmarks states achieved or exceeded in the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

For this study, Bankrate only looked at the benchmarks that included data for all 50 states.


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