Retirement should feel a bit like going on vacation forever, right? That’s why some retirees turn vacation homes into full-time dwellings to spend their golden years. Places in the U.S. primed for vacationers typically feature warm weather and leisure activities, but the homes here often run on the expensive side.
MagnifyMoney researchers compiled a list of the largest metros with between 5% and 30% of its housing stock dedicated to secondary homes and ranked them based on seven metrics, including affordability, access to health care and — of course — fun things to do. Here are the best vacation spots to retire.
Retirement years are meant for relaxation and slowing down. As such, the South attracts many retirees due to its temperate climate, lower cost of living and other benefits. It shouldn’t come as a shock then that nine of the top 10 vacation metros are in the South.
Though Georgetown, S.C., takes the top slot, the state of Florida contributes seven places to the top 10, including No. 2 Sebring and No. 3 The Villages. Beyond sandy beaches and lush golf courses, Florida lures retirees with its lack of inheritance, estate and state income taxes.
While the South may dominate the top of MagnifyMoney’s rankings, Payson, Ariz., at No. 6 makes a great option for folks looking to retire out West.
Of course, not everyone is looking for warm weather or beach towns when planning a vacation or a retirement. While the 10 best vacation spots to retire have a warmer average daily temperature than the average across the 107 metros — 69.8 degrees versus 56.9 — the top locales share other notable advantages.
Retirees looking for a community of similarly aged peers are more likely to find that in one of the 10 best places. Among those metros, an average of 33.6% of residents are 65 and older, compared with an average of 21.1% across all ranked sites. In fact, all but one of the top 10 vacation spots — Salisbury, Md. — rank in the top 20 for places with the largest share of residents 65 and older.
Beyond social benefits, finding a place to retire with a similar community might mean a happier retirement. Aspects like accessible public transportation can make life more comfortable and affordable for retirees, MagnifyMoney content director Ismat Mangla says.
“When you retire in an area where there are a lot of other retirees, life can be much easier and more satisfying, often thanks to infrastructure that is in place to support those people with similar lifestyles,” she says.
The top 10 spots also tend to be a little more affordable, with housing costs averaging $835 a month, $138 less than the average across the 107 metros. Though poverty rates among adults 65 and older in all the ranked places remain fairly low at an average of 8.5%, it drops even lower to 7.3% across the 10 best metros.
|Median housing costs and poverty rates in the best vacation spots|
|Rank||Metro||Median monthly housing costs||Percentage of adults 65+ living below poverty line|
|3||The Villages, FL||$687||5.2%|
|4||Punta Gorda, FL||$856||6.7%|
|5||Myrtle Beach, SC||$904||6.5%|
|9||Homosassa Springs, FL||$639||8.1%|
Less populated metros also seem to make better options for retirees. Riverside, at the bottom of the rankings, has nearly 1.6 million households, compared with top-rated Georgetown’s 35,300. Similarly, No. 2 Sebring has just about 55,800 households, compared with Burlington, Vt., which has 97,600 households and finishes second to last on our ranked list.
While the MagnifyMoney index looks for places that perform well across categories, some places may attract retirees looking for one factor in particular.
For example, Show Low, Ariz., features the lowest median monthly housing costs at $546 a month, but a fairly high percentage of older adults in poverty — 13.1% — helps bring the metro’s ranking down to No. 42.
These metros rank best for each category:
Retirees looking for the warmest weather may consider three different Hawaiian metros — Kapaa, Hilo or Kahului — which all record average temperatures of 78.7 degrees. Or those trying to beat the heat might enjoy retirement in Anchorage, Ala., with temperatures averaging 33.5 degrees.
Relocating for retirement might be a general lifestyle choice or a financially savvy one. Either way, consumers should prepare to settle into a new home while keeping their retirement on track.
To rank the best vacation spots to retire, MagnifyMoney researchers analyzed data for seven metrics:
Researchers created an index based on rankings from the seven metrics. The metros were ranked from highest to lowest based on this index score.
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