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These Picture-Perfect Towns Are What Retirement Dreams Are Made Of

Jordan Rosenfeld
·14 min read
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

A majority of retirees view the West Coast as the best place to retire, according to a GOBankingRates survey. But that’s not necessarily true — especially if you’re considering your retirement budget. After you’ve worked all of your life, you don’t want to “just get by” by living somewhere that won’t allow you to maximize your retirement status. Instead, you probably envision living out the retirement of your dreams somewhere that’s senior-friendly, safe, affordable and picturesque. The East Coast and the Midwest offer a lot of incredible retirement opportunities for rates you just can’t find on the West Coast.

Watch Out: 35 Retirement Planning Mistakes That Waste Your Money

In a recent study, GOBankingRates identified 30 picture-perfect towns based on the percentage of residents 65 and older, home affordability, safety and livability to help you find the retirement destination of your dreams.

Last updated: Jan. 11, 2021

LBSimms Photography / Shutterstock.com
LBSimms Photography / Shutterstock.com

30. Shelton, Connecticut

  • Percent of the population over 65: 21.1%

  • Livability score: 75

  • Median List Price: $371,590

Shelton, Connecticut, has a fairly high home price, but retirees will find it well worth it. The city’s livability score is 75 — higher than many of the cities on the list — due in part to its mild weather and plentiful amenities. Plus, the city has a good climate and a diverse economy. And it’s not far from New York City for people who want the best of country and city life.

Check Out: 25 Things To Sell When You’re Ready for Retirement

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Marilyn D. Lambertz / Shutterstock.com
Marilyn D. Lambertz / Shutterstock.com

29. Fountain Hills, Arizona

  • Percent of the population over 65: 38%

  • Livability score: 76

  • Median List Price: $459,029

Arizona has long been a favorite of retirees, but Fountain Hills is an especially charming location named by Phoenix Magazine as the best place to live in the Valley of the Sun, which called it “a welcome oasis on the outskirts of a metropolis.” Its high livability score and relatively affordable home prices make this small town a perfect location for retirees who like a quiet life.

Read: How Much Do I Need To Retire?

Jim Packett / Shutterstock.com
Jim Packett / Shutterstock.com

28. Mason City, Iowa

  • Percent of the population over 65: 20.9%

  • Livability score: 69

  • Median List Price: $104,146

Mason City, Iowa, is among the most affordable cities on this list. For retirees who aren’t afraid of a little winter cold weather, Mason City has a lot to offer, considered the “culture, entertainment and economic center of North Iowa.” It’s also home to several historical buildings designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

See: Key Signs You Should Sell Your Home When You Retire

Robert Linsdell / Flickr.com
Robert Linsdell / Flickr.com

27. Gloucester, Massachusetts

  • Percent of the population over 65: 23%

  • Livability score: 80

  • Median List Price: $512,693

The seaside town of Gloucester, just a 45-minute drive from downtown Boston, is the perfect place for people with a love of all things ocean. With a livability score of 80, a moderate crime index and a median home price that’s neither too high nor too low, Gloucester is the perfect retirement town for New England lovers.

peeterv / Getty Images
peeterv / Getty Images

26. New Berlin, Wisconsin

  • Percent of the population over 65: 21.7%

  • Livability score: 85

  • Median List Price: $307,630

This suburb of Milwaukee has rural-feeling charm with forested areas and a tight-knit community that celebrates many local festivities and events. Low crime, high livability and affordable housing make this the perfect location for fans of the Midwest.

Brian Plunkett / Flickr.com
Brian Plunkett / Flickr.com

25. Highland Park, Illinois

  • Percent of the population over 65: 22.7%

  • Livability score: 76

  • Median List Price: $489,304

Highland Park, Illinois, is a vibrant city in Lake County. While only a bit more than 22% of its residents are 65 and over, the city has a lot to offer people of all ages, including festivals, golf and a variety of shops and restaurants. The weather is typical for the Midwest — warm in the summer and cold in the winter.

Newtonian / Shutterstock.com
Newtonian / Shutterstock.com

24. Oro Valley, Arizona

  • Percent of the population over 65: 33.9%

  • Livability score: 84

  • Median List Price: $352,253

Oro Valley, Arizona, is an attractive place for retirees due to its high livability score and its temperate climate and affordable homes. The city boasts an average high temperature of 83.4 degrees and average low of 53.8 degrees. Oro Valley is perfect for nature lovers and outdoorsy types, but also offers something for everyone, with a lot of arts and entertainment, parks and other recreation.

Arizona vs. Florida: Which Is Best for You?

©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com
©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com

23. Sebastian, Florida

  • Percent of the population over 65: 34.6%

  • Livability score: 81

  • Median List Price: $239,562

When it comes to good weather, Sebastian, Florida, is a top contender for retirees. Here, the temperature is rarely cold — with lows in the 50s and highs in the 90s. Along with an incredibly affordable median home price, the scenic beauty of the Atlantic Coast makes this one of the most scenic and coveted towns on the list.

Nuchie / Shutterstock.com
Nuchie / Shutterstock.com

22. Mequon, Wisconsin

  • Percent of the population over 65: 23.5%

  • Livability score: 83

  • Median List Price: $371,213

Mequon, Wisconsin, offers Lake Michigan-adjacent beauty and recreation. With a high livability score and moderately priced homes, this Midwestern town is a great spot for those with a love of water. Mequon has many historical sites, as well, and is a growing locale for retirees.

zrfphoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto
zrfphoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

21. McLean, Virginia

  • Percent of the population over 65: 20.7%

  • Livability score: 85

  • Median List Price: $1,066,166

McLean, Virginia, is a suburb of Washington D.C., with an urban feel and lots of restaurants, shopping and activities. Livability is high, but so are the home prices, though having access to all that Washington D.C. has to offer make it worth the price.

samvaltenbergs / Getty Images/iStockphoto
samvaltenbergs / Getty Images/iStockphoto

20. Bainbridge Island, Washington

  • Percent of the population over 65: 25.7%

  • Livability score: 84

  • Median List Price: $892,542

Bainbridge Island, Washington, is known for it’s coastal beauty, with small harbors, rocky shoreline and densely forested hills. It also has a marine climate that is comparable to San Francisco, perfect for those who like to spend time outdoors gardening or hiking without getting heat stroke. While the home prices are on the higher end, its quaint views and friendly community make it highly coveted.

Lucky-photographer / Shutterstock.com
Lucky-photographer / Shutterstock.com

19. Rancho Palos Verdes, California

  • Percent of the population over 65: 25.5%

  • Livability score: 83

  • Median List Price: $1,388,935

People pay top dollar for real estate in this scenic city south of Los Angeles for its ocean access, proximity to the big city and temperate climate. The temperature stays mild, ranging between 54 and 84 degrees throughout the year. Rancho Palos Verdes offers a coastal view with a suburban feel.

James R. Martin / Shutterstock.com
James R. Martin / Shutterstock.com

18. Galesburg, Illinois

  • Percent of the population over 65: 20.2%

  • Livability score: 72

  • Median List Price: $71,367

The historic town of Galesburg in northwest Illinois is the most affordable city on our list when it comes to home prices — an attractive proposition to retirees. The city sits approximately 50 miles east of the Mississippi River. While the weather can drop to cold temperatures in the winter, the warmer months rarely see a high above 93 degrees.

SkyViewsPhotography / Getty Images/iStockphoto
SkyViewsPhotography / Getty Images/iStockphoto

17. Palm Harbor, Florida

  • Percent of the population over 65: 28.4%

  • Livability score: 85

  • Median List Price: $279,437

Located north of St. Petersburg, Palm Harbor is on the map due to its well known golfing at Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club. Its high livability is likely due to affordable homes and access to such natural beauty and amenities as warm mineral springs, resorts, parks and beaches. Its best weather months are May through July and September and October, when temperatures range between 77 and 84 degrees.

RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto
RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

16. Georgetown, Texas

  • Percent of the population over 65: 29.1%

  • Livability score: 86

  • Median List Price: $342,701

Located just 27 miles north of Austin, Georgetown is a smaller, quieter but still vibrant town in Texas. Georgetown’s Chamber of Commerce cites its “vibrant downtown, numerous nearby medical facilities and the city’s exceptionally low crime rate” as reasons it’s the perfect town for retirees to settle in.

dszc / iStock.com
dszc / iStock.com

15. Green Valley, Arizona

  • Percent of the population over 65: 79.8%

  • Livability score: 66

  • Median List Price: $213,126

The secret is out about Green Valley, Arizona, in the shadow of the Sonoran desert and Santa Rita Mountains, which has the highest percentage of retirees over 65 on the list. Just 20 miles south of Tucson, this small town also boasts an incredibly affordable home price, temperate climate and numerous opportunities for active adults.

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

14. Marblehead, Massachusetts

  • Percent of the population over 65: 21.8%

  • Livability score: 78

  • Median List Price: $728,127

This coastal community located 18 miles north of Boston is rich in community and history. History buffs will love knowing about its contributions to the American Revolution and Civil War and appreciate its proximity to the big city. Due to the marine layer, the weather doesn’t get as cold as neighboring cities, or too hot in summer.

Kruck20 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Kruck20 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

13. Farragut, Tennessee

  • Percent of the population over 65: 23.3%

  • Livability score: 86

  • Median List Price: $412,385

Farragut, Tennessee, is a small but growing Southern town with a population of only 22,631. Located near Knoxville, Farragut offers numerous restaurants, shopping and city parks. The summers are long and often muggy and the winters are short (and cold), but there are plenty of temperate months to enjoy this city with a high livability score.

mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com
mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com

12. Fort Lee, New Jersey

  • Percent of the population over 65: 24.9%

  • Livability score: 82

  • Median List Price: $563,785

Fort Lee is a medium-sized city in New Jersey, catering to working professionals, artists and a growing community of retirees. It has a well-used network of public transportation for those who don’t want to drive, and is safer than 72% of other cities in the U.S. The housing prices are in the middle of many on this list, but safety and scenic views make this a great place for retirees.

shuttersv / Shutterstock.com
shuttersv / Shutterstock.com

11. Bella Vista, Arkansas

  • Percent of the population over 65: 32.5%

  • Livability score: 80

  • Median List Price: $206,482

Bella Vista, Arkansas, is a family friendly town in the Ozark Mountains that’s attracting a greater number of retirees. The town borders Missouri to the north, and has easy access to the Interstate 49 corridor, where residents can take advantage of shopping, educational facilities, healthcare organizations and recreational opportunities. According to its town website, the city “boasts a primarily temperate climate, and offers four distinct seasons, an array of wildlife and beautiful scenery.”

Stephen B Calvert Clariosophic / Wikimedia Commons
Stephen B Calvert Clariosophic / Wikimedia Commons

10. Palm City, Florida

  • Percent of the population over 65: 29%

  • Livability score: 85

  • Median List Price: $434,541

Palm City, Florida, appeals to seniors with its good weather and beautiful scenery at local beaches and parks, helping to support a healthy, active lifestyle. Retirees can take advantage of golfing, tennis and boating.

Guillermo Olaizola / Shutterstock.com
Guillermo Olaizola / Shutterstock.com

9. Potomac, Maryland

  • Percent of the population over 65: 23%

  • Livability score: 77

  • Median List Price: $999,338

Potomac, Maryland, 14 miles northwest of Washington D.C., features quiet neighborhoods with big lawns and homes, giving it a peaceful feel despite its proximity to a big urban center. Out of the 45,940 people in the city, 23% are people 65 and over. For those who can afford the high home prices, there are plenty of amenities to enjoy, including mountain views, parks, coffee shops and recreational opportunities.

dvgpro / Shutterstock.com
dvgpro / Shutterstock.com

8. Centerville, Ohio

  • Percent of the population over 65: 28.1%

  • Livability score: 93

  • Median List Price: $229,021

The town of Centerville, Ohio, qualifies itself as “warm and cheerful” on its website, and offers retirees a variety of kinds of homes to choose from in tree-lined streets. Twenty-eight percent of its 23,796 residents are over the age of 65. With incredibly affordable home prices, great access to amenities and great weather June through September, there’s a lot to draw retirees to this historic town.

Lowe Llaguno / Shutterstock.com
Lowe Llaguno / Shutterstock.com

7. Saratoga, California

  • Percent of the population over 65: 23.1%

  • Livability score: 87

  • Median List Price: $2,909,853

Saratoga, California, may have the highest median home price on this list, but it makes up for that in amenities, such as access to grocery stores, coffee shops and lots of outdoor recreation. Its historic downtown boasts a thriving art scene, and California’s temperate weather makes this a town where retirees can spend much of the year outside.

Jason Mrachina / Flickr.com
Jason Mrachina / Flickr.com

6. Burlington, Iowa

  • Percent of the population over 65: 20.3%

  • Livability score: 81

  • Median List Price: $94,495

The historic town of Burlington, Iowa, is located on the Mississippi River in Southeast Iowa where 20.3% of its 24,974 residents are over the age of 65. According to the town’s website, the city is “a regional center for employment, shopping, education, healthcare and recreation.” It is also located on bluffs along the river, offering beautiful views and home prices that can’t be beat by many other towns on this list.

picmax / Getty Images/iStockphoto
picmax / Getty Images/iStockphoto

5. Eagle, Idaho

  • Percent of the population over 65: 20.5%

  • Livability score: 84

  • Median List Price: $592,462

Eagle Idaho, in the foothills of Boise, has a decent livability score, offering access to amenities that retirees want and need. Out of the 26,514 total households, around 20.5% are occupied by residents 65 and older. Amenities, such as public transit options and parks are plentiful, and the average temperature in the summer is 84 degrees.

Cascade Creatives / Shutterstock.com
Cascade Creatives / Shutterstock.com

4. Bethel Park, Pennsylvania

  • Percent of the population over 65: 23.3%

  • Livability score: 93

  • Median List Price: $234,858

Located less than 9 miles from Pittsburgh, Bethel Park is an affordable suburb with one of the highest livability scores on this list. Out of its 32,177 residents, 23.3% are people 65 and older. Retirees will have good access to amenities — ranging from grocery shopping to healthcare — and the average summer temperature in Bethel Park is around 83 degrees.

Jim Schwabel / Shutterstock.com
Jim Schwabel / Shutterstock.com

3. Venice, Florida

  • Percent of the population over 65: 62.6%

  • Livability score: 85

  • Median List Price: $283,766

A combination of natural beauty and beautiful Italian architecture makes Venice, Florida, a coveted town for retirees. It’s one of the few towns on the list where more than half of its 23,086 residents are over the age of 65. Active seniors will want to take advantage of its numerous outdoors recreational opportunities, from swimming and sunbathing to fishing and boating. With affordable homes to boot, Venice is a no-brainer for retirees looking to move to Florida.

BernieCB / Flickr.com
BernieCB / Flickr.com

2. Estero, Florida

  • Percent of the population over 65: 48.2%

  • Livability score: 84

  • Median List Price: $313,755

Estero, Florida, situated along Florida’s Gulf Coast between Naples and Fort Myers, also caters to retirees. A historically citrus-farming community, now it’s more of a destination town for vacationers, college students and retirees.

Its high livability means good access to most amenities, and outdoor opportunities such as Estero’s Mound Key Archaeological State Park. With affordable home prices and temperate weather, Estero is an excellent choice for retirees.

©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com
©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com

1. Rocky River, Ohio

  • Percent of the population over 65: 24%

  • Livability score: 90

  • Median List Price: $286,539

Located 20 minutes from downtown Cleveland via I-90, Rocky River, Ohio, offers affordable home prices in a small community with a high livability score. Its proximity to Lake Erie offers opportunities to boat, fish and swim, as well as other recreational opportunities. Twenty-four percent of its 20,198 residents are over the age of 65.

More From GOBankingRates

Photo disclaimer: Some photos are for representational purposes only, and may not reflect the exact city or location.

Methodology: GOBankingRates began by using the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey data to identify all places in the U.S. with a total population between 20,000 and 100,000 where 20% of residents or more are 65 years and older. GOBankingRates then found the crime index score in each place from NeighborhoodScout and eliminated from consideration all towns with a score below 30 (100 is best). For all remaining towns, GOBankingRates found the livability score from AreaVibes, which takes into account a variety of quality of life indicators including amenities, cost of living, school quality and more. All qualifying places were then scored against each other on (1) the percent of their total population 65 years and older, (2) their crime index score, and (3) their livability score. The places highlighted in the final ranking are those cities with the overall best score, taking into account all three criteria. The October 2020 typical home value from Zillow was provided as supplemental data for each ranked town. Communities with resident age restrictions and communities that border higher-ranking places were excluded from the final ranking. All data was collected on and up to date as of Dec. 11-14, 2020.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: These Picture-Perfect Towns Are What Retirement Dreams Are Made Of