The best cities to retire in the USA
What are the best cities to live in?
Answering that question is really a journey, rather than a quick answer. Without knowing a lot about each one of you, we could not begin to identify the best retirement city for you.
Now, as you should already know, we have a bias at Great Retirement Places—we assume you are looking for a warm climate with no snow or ice. Therefore, we will explore cities that meet that criteria and hope that along the way, you will build and refine your own wish list of qualities you want in a retirement city. You should consider a number of factors when evaluating a retirement city. Some things are obvious, like access to health care, crime rate, and climate, for instance. What about transportation? What is traffic like in your chosen city? Is there access to public transportation? Is it a bicycle and pedestrian friendly town? Are there parks and recreational areas, sports venues, golf courses, cultural events, museums, senior citizen facilities, and activities? What about cost of living things like food and utilities? If any or all of these things are important, your research should help get a better picture.
Several very good sources of information are available. First, the U.S. Government knows a lot about its citizens, and it has an extensive demographic database updated every ten years. They compile and publish this information at the American FactFinder, and of course it’s free, although not easy to use. A great resource is City-Data.com. This website is a gold mine of information from the state level down to individual neighborhoods. They include hundreds of “Top 100 City Lists.”
Another useful website is ZIPskinny.com. This site finds demographics by zip code, and you can compare with neighboring zip codes. Yahoo Real Estate has very nice charts of neighborhood demographics by zip code, including names of private and charter schools.
Probably the most organized and user friendly demographics site is Bert Sperling’s BestPlaces.net. It has a variety of very handy comparison tools, and Bert’s site has conducted and published many neighborhood studies and projects, including a vast list of lists. Ever wonder which are the best and worst cities for sleep? Bert can tell you.
Choosing the right city (and neighborhood) to live in is crucial if you are selling your home in the frigid north and moving to a new city and state. It is sad to hear about people who make the big move, and a year later, wish they had never moved. Just like buying a car, you need to do the research, read reviews, and sample several cities before deciding one is “it.”
So now you’ve done your research, so you’re ready to buy, right? No; not yet. Contact current owners in the neighborhood for their opinions, then find a rental as near to your target neighborhood as possible. Consider renting for an entire year to be able to experience the whole gamut of local factors that could affect your final decision.
Southwest Florida has several cities that are worth considering for retirement. Winters are a little milder there than further north in the Orlando and Tampa Bay areas; temperatures in the Fort Myers area rarely dip below 32 degrees. Port Charlotte, less than an hour north of Fort Myers, was named the Best Place to Retire by CNN Money. The Cape Coral area is quite attractive, with abundant waterfront homes, and proximity to Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach. There are plenty of bargains to be found, as we discovered when we visited in April of 2010. Cape Coral has been known as a Florida epicenter of the foreclosure crisis. Read all about Cape Coral and Florida Foreclosures.