Best Cities to Live in Retirement

What makes a city attractive for retirement? Everyone has their own list of must-have qualities in a retirement spot – some prefer culture, while others make proximity to family a priority. But individual preferences aside, most retirees seek active communities with natural beauty where the cost of living, taxes and crime rate are all low. Here are a few places to consider putting on your "best" retirement city list.

 

Arizona Dreaming

When you're selecting top retirement cities in the nation, objectivity and subjectivity both come into play. Bankrate picked its top 10 retirement cities based on objective factors like affordability and low crime rates, but its editors may have a soft spot for warm climates because three of its top four cities are in Arizona.

Bankrate’s top pick was the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, offering sunny skies, mild winters and dry weather. It also boasts a low tax rate and a relatively low cost of living. Laid-back Prescott takes third place and Tucson comes in at fourth, both cities boasting the same attractive attributes as Mesa.

 

Health Care Counts

When Kiplinger put together its list of great retirement cities, access to good, affordable health care was the top requirement. All of the choices have great health care options, but otherwise the cities run the gamut from big city to burg, coastal to central and north to south.

For example, Kiplinger suggests Sarasota, Florida, as a great retirement city because of its slow pace, miles of silky beaches and lively arts scene. But it also touts the small-town charms of Winchester, Virginia, with its four seasons and proximity to lovely Shenandoah National Park.

 

Cheaper Is Better

If you plan on retiring with only your Social Security benefits for income, you still have some great choices. According to U.S. News & World Report, 86 percent of retirees receive Social Security payments, and for more than one-third of them, those benefits make up at least 90 percent of their retirement income. 

When cost of living counts most, U.S. News & World Report suggests you look at cities like Albuquerque, Austin, Jacksonville or Spokane. All of these cities offer a lot of living for not very much money.

 

$100-a-Day Retirement Cities

With a bit more retirement income, your choice of potential retirement destinations increases dramatically. If you can count on $100 a day of income, U.S. News & World Report has an entirely different list of suggestions for your Golden Years.

If you like big cities, you're in luck. How about Denver or Dallas? Phoenix, Pittsburgh or Minneapolis? According to U.S News, a retired couple with a $3,000 a month income can be happy and active in any of these U.S. cities.