When you retire, you’ll probably want nothing more than to sit in the sun, sipping lemonade and watching time pass from the comfort of your porch. There is no better place to do that than the South. Where in Dixie, though, do you want to spend your retirement? To help you decide, we’ve assembled a list of the top 10 best places to retire in the South and laid out what makes each location so appealing. If you want to live in one of these sun-kissed locales, you should start planning now. A financial advisor can help you achieve your retirement goals, and SmartAsset can help you find a financial advisor with our free financial advisor matching service.
How We Determined the Best Places to Retire
SmartAsset looked at several factors to determine the best places to retire in the South. Retirement taxes are obviously important, so we considered each city’s tax burden. Because healthcare is also key, we looked at the number of medical centers per 1,000 residents. We also took into account the number of retirement communities per 1,000 residents and the percentage of the population made up of senior citizens to gauge how popular and accommodating the city is for retirees. Finally, we tallied the number of recreation centers per 1,000 residents to determine how much retirees will have to do. Based on these metrics, these are the 10 best places to retire in the South.
1. Naples, Florida
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that a Florida city tops this list. After all, the state is famous for being welcoming to all kinds of retirees — especially those who once lived in snowbound cities in the Northeast. In addition to ranking as the best place to retire in the South, Naples also tops our lists of the best places to retire in Florida and across the entire country.
Naples leads this list with 9.66 retirement communities per 1,000 residents and is tied for the lowest tax burden at 14.60%. It has 1.02 recreation centers per 1,000 residents and a senior population percentage of 51.00%, placing it in second for both of those metrics. Naples is located right on the western coast of Florida. It isn’t far from the Everglades National Park, so it’s perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
2. Cumming, Georgia
This Georgia town ranks second on our list of the best places to retire nationwide, and it is the only city outside of Florida to earn a spot on our list of the best places to retire in the South. Cumming also happens to hold the top spot on our list of the best places to retire in Georgia.
The Peach State town leads this list with 32.93 medical centers per 1,000 residents, though it does have the highest tax burden at 18.00%. Cumming also tops this list with 1.79 recreation centers per 1,000 residents. It has the lowest senior population percentage with just 18.30% of its total population comprised of seniors. If you don’t want to feel surrounded by other retirees, this might be a good fit. Cumming is not far from Atlanta, so you’ll be able to take advantage of all of the arts, entertainment and sports that a major city has to offer.
3. New Port Richey, Florida
Another town on Florida’s Gulf Coast, New Port Richey sits right in the middle of this list with a tax burden of 15.60%. It comes in third when it comes to medical centers, with 17.50 per 1,000 residents. New Port Richey has plenty of parks and outdoor spaces. It’s also not far from Tampa and St. Petersburg, where museums and other entertainment options abound. The town also comes in third on this list for recreation centers, with 0.92 per 1,000 residents.
4. Orange Park, Florida
Orange Park, located just south of Jacksonville, is the highest ranked city in northern Florida on this list. It places towards the middle of this list for tax burden, with a tax rate of 15.60%, and it comes in third with 19.08 medical centers per 1,000 residents. It ranks seventh for retirement communities, with 2.69 per 1,000 residents. Orange Park has a senior population percentage of 21.70%, the second lowest on this list. There are a lot of opportunities to hit the links in the areas around Orange Park, so this might be a good choice for golfers.
5. Brooksville, Florida
Brooksville is a slightly inland city in western Florida. It’s a small town with less than 10,000 residents, but there is a historic section with brick streets, old homes and a Native American trading post. Brooksville has the fourth lowest tax burden on this list at 15.10% and the fifth most medical centers per 1,000 residents with 15.35. It places seventh in terms of recreation centers with 0.64 per 1,000 residents, and sixth for retirement communities with 2.71 per 1,000 residents. Brooksville is about an hour north of Tampa and the entertainment options of that area. This includes professional sports teams like the NFL’s Buccaneers and the NHL’s Lightning.
6. Stuart, Florida
Stuart’s proximity to Port St. Lucie will make it attractive to retirees from New York, as Port St. Lucie is the New York Mets’ spring training home. Stuart itself ties for the lowest tax burden on this list at 14.60%. It doesn’t fare as well in terms of medical centers, placing sixth with 13.97 per 1,000 residents. And, unfortunately, Stuart comes in last for recreation centers with just 0.50 per 1,000 residents. However, it’s fourth for retirement communities with 3.06 per 1,000 residents. Stuart is home to a number of museums and theaters, plus a botanical garden.
7. Vero Beach, Florida
Vero Beach places towards the middle of this list with a tax burden of 15.60% and comes in eighth for medical centers with only 12.10 per 1,000 residents. It features 3.61 retirement communities per 1,000 residents, good for third on this list. It comes in fourth for recreation centers per 1,000 residents with 0.82. Though the Los Angeles Dodgers no longer hold spring training in Vero Beach, their old training facility is still open, so ol school Brooklyn fans can see where their heroes once trained. Vero Beach is also right on the coast, so there is plenty of opportunity to soak up the sun on the beach.
8. Inverness, Florida
Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Inverness is tied for the lowest tax burden on this list at 14.60%. It has 10.58 medical centers per 1,000 residents, which places it second to last on this list but is still a fairly high number comparatively speaking. It has the third highest percentage of senior citizens on this list at 35.90% and the fifth most recreation centers per 1,000 residents with 0.70. If you’re a turtle fan, Inverness hosts an annual festival dedicated to the cooter turtle, a species native to Florida.
9. Venice, Florida
Venice is another town on the Gulf Coast. It has a tax burden of 15.60%, placing it towards the middle of this list in terms of tax burden. It has the lowest number of medical centers on this list, however, with just 7.15 per 1,000 residents. However, that is still a fair number of medical centers compared to other cities in the country. Venice leads this list with a senior citizen percentage of 58.80%, so you know you’ll be able to find other retirees to befriend. Venice has a number of theaters, museums and historic buildings to visit. It also hosts an annual festival dedicated to shark teeth, which frequently wash up on the town’s shores.
10. Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota, located on Florida’s southwest coast, wraps up this list. The tax burden in the city is 15.60%, which places Sarasota towards the middle of this list in that metric. The city places towards the bottom of the list with 12.41 medical centers per 1,000 residents. It’s in fifth with 3.00 retirement communities per 1,000 residents. Sarasota is home to an aquarium, a zoo and a botanical garden, so there are plenty of places to take visiting guests or grandchildren. Sarasota also hosts an annual film festival featuring independent films from all over the world.
- Retiring in one of these cities requires a good amount of financial planning. SmartAsset can help you find a financial advisor who can help with that planning with our free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions about your financial situation and goals. Then, we’ll match you with up to three advisors in your area. We’ve vetted all of the advisors on our platform and ensured they are free of disclosures. You then get a chance to talk to each advisor to see if one of them makes sense for you.
- If you don’t see a city in the South you like, check out our other lists of the best places to retire. We also cover places like California, Virginia, Texas, North Carolina and Arizona.
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