A warm breeze blowing in the palm trees on the golf course, watching the sun set over the white-sand Florida beaches with a piña colada in hand –– this kind of image comes to mind when you envision retiring in Florida. Florida has long been a hotspot for people of retiring age, and for good reason. The beautiful climate, nature, beaches, golfing, and tax benefits are enough to attract almost anyone
If you or a relative are interested in retiring in Florida, now is a great time to start your search. If you’re just starting to explore your options, take a look at these picks for the best places to retire in Florida.
Inland of North Florida you can find plenty of nature trails and rivers, ideal for kayaking, canoeing, and hiking. If you head a bit west, you can find sugar white gypsum sand dunes and fewer crowds than in other parts of the state. Areas around Jacksonville are attractive both to military retirees and sports fans alike. If you’re looking to retire in this area, make sure you have a closet stocked with a variety of unique, colorful swim bottoms and tops to mix and match.
Gainesville is a wonderful small town, a relaxed community that stresses easy living for the young and old alike. Reliable public transportation and shopping centers already make this a good place to live –– pedestrian-friendly trails and parks are another major plus.
Being a college town and a beach town, Gainesville has lots of benefits. For one, the cost of living is relatively low. It’s home to the large University of Florida, where courses are even available to older people still eager to learn. The University of Florida also includes the Shands Hospital, one of the foremost cancer facilities in Florida.
Gainesville is full of arts and culture, and there are lots of charming, small boutiques to explore. It also boasts some beautiful natural sights, including the famous Ichetucknee Springs and Ginnie Springs. You are a bit farther from the Atlantic ocean than towns on the coast, but you can easily get there for a weekend getaway.
Central Florida is host to a wild array of sprawling attractions for families, notably theme parks in Orlando and surfing by Daytona Beach. Fans of science and science fiction will also enjoy being near the Space Coast, home to the Kennedy Space Center. Thrills and relaxation make a great place for retirees and their families.
Major city Orlando is attractive to many retirees for several reasons. Affordability is just one; the cost of living and the average home price is lower than in areas along the coast, and there are tons of things to do with the grandkids, including metal detecting or shell collecting. The risk of hurricanes is also relatively low.
Just north of Orlando, you can find plenty of wonderful outdoor activities, such as the Ocala National Forest. Camp, hike, or hunt near these sprawling campgrounds, or visit the beautiful Juniper Springs. If you’re looking for arts and culture, popular venues like the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center present traveling Broadway shows, musicals, and concerts throughout the year. The annual Winter Park Fine Arts Festival is also a big draw.
However, as with any huge city, traffic, crime, and expensive shopping can be a turnoff for others. In recent years, Orlando residents have also become increasingly bothered by growing traffic, costs, and crowds. If you would still like to be near Orlando during your golden years, consider looking to suburban areas instead.
Sitting around an hour north of Orlando, this steadily growing city is quickly becoming one of the most popular places for Florida retirement. The Villages maintains a population of residents who are mostly 55 and above, making it an ideal place for older people to find new friends and meet folks their own age.
The Villages is also home to the second-largest concentration of veterans in any community in the country –– more than 20,000 people are regularly honored throughout the year at the Villages Veterans’ Memorial Park. Plenty of groups and organizations are set up for former members of the armed forces to join.
Featuring over 100 miles of golf cart paths, three beautiful town squares, over 100 swanky restaurants, and recreation centers, over 2,400 organized clubs, tennis courts, pickleball courts, dog parks, and its very own polo stadium, there is no shortage of things to do in The Villages.
Sports-loving residents can look forward to the annual Senior Games, which they can participate in with their grandkids. In terms of health and safety, this is also a great place for seniors: with The Villages Regional Hospital and the vigilant Villages Community Watch, you can feel like you’re in good hands.
Tampa Bay and West Central Florida
The booming Tampa Bay area is home to successful pro sports teams, attractive cities, and plenty of attractions –– from fine dining to cultural events like the Gasparilla Art Festival. This is a wonderful place to begin your retirement search.
Despite being a major hub, the cost of living in Tampa is actually around 26% less than in New York City; for a city as rich in culture, lifestyle, and entertainment as Tampa, that’s a steal.
It’s hard to be bored in this happening metropolis; cheer on Tampa’s famous pro sports teams, get lost in libraries, or learn something at the Tampa Bay History Center. Engage in beautiful art and performances at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts or the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. And, of course, get your thrills in with the grandkids at the Busch Gardens amusement park.
Practical health considerations are also met with the Tampa General Hospital as well as age-restricted retirement communities just outside of Tampa. There are plenty of popular retirement communities in or around Tampa, including New Port Richey and StrawBerry Ridge.
St. Petersburg, formerly a rather sleepy city, becomes more exciting by the year. Art thrives in every corner of this area, not least in its several museums, such as the world-renowned Dali Museum. The wonderful simplicity of this town can be seen both in its amenities as well as its mild, consistently warm climate.
Boating and water sports enthusiasts can enjoy the proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay, and Intracoastal waterways. A walkable downtown area and Tyrone Square Mall are great places to shop or take a stroll.
St. Petersburg may not be as sprawling as cities like Tampa, but it still features plenty of sites to see, such as Sawgrass Lake Park, the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, or Honeymoon Island. It’s also an affordable place for retirees on a budget; housing prices and the cost of living are relatively low.
If you’re longing to lounge on a towel in your button down beach cover-up or swimsuit, the subtropical climate of Southwest Florida is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. You’re sure to fall in love with the landscapes and culture of this region. Relaxation combined with a host of activities makes this part of Florida attractive to retirees.
Naples’ reputation for golf and pearly white beaches has long made it a beloved place for retirees. Being the golf capital of the world makes it a great spot for pros and hobbyists; however, fishing and kayaking are also some of the favorite pastimes in this area. The historic downtown area is a chic and high-end hub for tourists and residents alike.
Situated just next to the Gulf of Mexico, there is no shortage of beaches and fabulous outdoor landscapes to bask in. Proximity to the Everglades and Big Cypress Preserve will make getaways for camping and hiking trips a cinch. Naples Pier and Cambier Park are wonderful spots to spend an afternoon.
One downside of Naples –– as with several popular spots in Florida, including the Florida Keys –– is the threat of hurricanes, which can be difficult to avoid. It is also on the more expensive side of spots to retire in Florida, given its high-end living arrangements, restaurants, and shopping
Those who are looking for relaxation and rejuvenation will find a pleasant home in Fort Myers. A relatively affordable cost of living is also not to be ignored.
Get ready to wear that new tiered tankini top. As with any part of Florida, you will find no shortage of beaches in Fort Myers. On top of this, thousands of acres of wetlands, Manatee Park, and Wa-Ke-Hatchee are lovely places to bask in nature, by yourself, or with your family.
Health food stores and farmers' markets are a great way to keep up a healthy standard of living, especially for those of higher age.
Sarasota’s standout feature is its breathtaking, sprawling beaches. You will find yourself close to the Sanibel-Captiva islands, with their world-famous shelling beaches. Nearby state parks are a further draw for nature-lovers, as are the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
This fantastic access to nature is balanced out by a relaxed city, excellent for laid-back folks who nevertheless enjoy a bit of culture. Artists and art admirers will get plenty out of living there. You can enjoy ballet, opera, and Broadway shows at the Van Wezel. Both the Ringling Museum of Art and the Ringling Arts College are located in Sarasota, along with plenty of independent artists. Restaurants and upscale stores line the bustling downtown area.
Sarasota boasts plenty of large retirement communities, including Lakewood Ranch and Harbor Acres. One drawback of Sarasota is the high cost of living and real estate –– unfortunately, it is among the highest on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
Floridians refer to this region as the Gold Coast, home to some of the more upscale cities and high-end living areas in the state. Though it can be on the more expensive side, South Florida is a very popular retirement destination.
One of the most prominent cities along the Gold Coast, Fort Lauderdale features swanky beachfront condos along the coast, with more affordable living options further inland. Upscale shopping, restaurants, and hotels are just some of the features this city has to offer.
Dozens of miles of Blue-Wave certified beaches provide great spots for swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, and much, much more. The Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum, Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, and the nearby Everglades are just some of the wonderful attractions of this city.
Multi-unit housing, as well as healthcare and social assistance programs, make this a good spot for seniors. In fact, about 15% of Fort Lauderdale’s residents are aged over 65.
Dubbed the “Venice of America,” Cape Coral is home to over 400 miles of canals. Here you can enjoy access to the Gulf of Mexico and beautiful waterfront living that is generally cheaper than it is in other parts of Florida.
Farmers' markets, art galleries, festivals, and more will keep you busy in this town. Enjoying the great outdoors by coasting down the water or exploring lagoons is also a given. Cape Coral is also known for its tasty seafood, so make sure to save your appetite if you plan on going anytime soon!
The downside to Cape Coral is that it does come with a price tag –– while real estate can often be more affordable than other Floridian coastal towns, renters do have to expect some higher costs than the national average. Those who decide to reside here also have to make do with some hefty heat in the summertime.
What To Keep in Mind
The places we named on this list are known to be some of the best places for retirees in Florida –– in terms of beauty, amenities, attractions, and quality of life. However, it is by no means an expansive list. Other notable places include:
- Palm Beach
- Siesta Key
- Key West
- St. Cloud
- New Smyrna Beach
- Port St. Lucie
- Palm Coast
- And many more!
As you look for a place to lay your roots after retirement, carefully weigh your options. Cost of housing and living, safety, hospitals, things to do, and community feel should all play a role in your decision. We hope that this list has given you some great places to start on your journey through the Sunshine State!