Best places to retire on the East Coast
Published 7:30 pm Tuesday, December 20, 2022
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Best places to retire on the East Coast
The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College reports that, as of 2022, the average man will spend almost 20 years in retirement based on a median retirement age of 64.67 and a life expectancy of 84.07 years. That’s almost a quarter of one’s life—a pretty significant figure. Given this, choosing where to retire is arguably just as important as choosing where to raise a family. You need to ensure your savings will stretch, and both your needs (affordable housing, proximity to medical care) and desires (climate, access to preferred activities) are met.
To that end, Stacker compiled a list of the best places to retire on the East Coast. Using Niche’s 2022 Best Places to Retire, we’ve highlighted 50 incredible cities to spend your golden years. Rankings were determined using variables such as weather, safety, housing expenses, and access to places like eateries, golf courses, recreation facilities, and health care. So whether you’re on the brink of retiring or merely fantasizing about your life after the rat race, check out these ideal locales. There’s sure to be something for everyone, from golf aficionados to beach bums to avid skiers to those just looking for a quiet break from it all.
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Daniel Case // Wikimedia Commons
#50. Roslyn, New York
– National rank: 60th best place to retire
– Population: 2,888
In Long Island’s Gold Coast hills, Roslyn is a vibrant village boasting lovely restored houses and buildings, historic landmarks, and a bustling downtown. Its library hosts lectures, events, and exhibits, while a 16-acre green space in the village center offers year-round activities.
#49. South Sarasota, Florida
– National rank: 59th best place to retire
– Population: 4,993
An hour south of Tampa, South Sarasota is home to some of the country’s most beautiful, white sandy beaches. A thriving art scene (the city has the state’s official art museum, The Ringling), an abundance of interesting dining options, and more golf courses than even the biggest golf aficionado would know what to do with are among the area’s biggest draws. A relatively low cost of living seals the deal.
#48. Charlotte Harbor, Florida
– National rank: 58th best place to retire
– Population: 4,619
Those looking for a more active retirement would do well to check out Charlotte Harbor, Florida. Just north of Fort Myers, the coastal city has several golf courses, the Charlotte Sports Park (the Tampa Bay Rays spring training site), the third largest state park in Florida, a 500-seat cultural center with regular programming, and a host of dining and shopping options, meaning there’s always something to do.
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#47. Gulfport, Florida
– National rank: 57th best place to retire
– Population: 12,334
A small village on Boca Ciega Bay, Gulfport offers residents a bit of old-school Florida charm: Massive oak trees covered in Spanish moss line brick streets crowded with tiny, colorful cottages. It’s a true “everyone knows your name” sort of place with a slower pace of life. Colorful art and performance scenes keep things interesting, as does the city’s large community of LGBTQIA+ folks.
#46. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
– National rank: 56th best place to retire
– Population: 40,000
Hilton Head Island, known for its beaches and golf courses, is a great place to retire. Planned developments known as “plantations” dot the area. South Carolina’s low country is a popular place to retire, thanks to its low cost of living and warm climate.
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#45. Chevy Chase, Maryland
– National rank: 55th best place to retire
– Population: 9,801
Founded as a streetcar suburb, Chevy Chase is an affluent and friendly town located in Montgomery County. The small town has great access to museums, malls, restaurants, and parks. It’s also close to Washington D.C., making it a good spot for a day trip into the city.
#44. Cocoa Beach, Florida
– National rank: 54th best place to retire
– Population: 11,663
Cocoa Beach is a quintessential surf town, with a laid-back vibe, miles of public beaches, and a thriving outdoor activities scene. Located near major theme parks like Disney World and Epcot as well as the Kennedy and Cape Canaveral Space Launch Centers, there are plenty of bigger attractions nearby that make for excellent day trips.
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#43. Belleair, Florida
– National rank: 53rd best place to retire
– Population: 4,198
A waterfront city, Belleair is meticulously maintained with breathtaking views. There’s a rich history here. For example, a local property, the Belleview-Biltmore Resort, a hotel built in the early 1800s, is one of the largest wooden structures in the world). The area also offers several public parks and trails locals can enjoy.
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#42. Miramar Beach, Florida
– National rank: 51st best place to retire
– Population: 8,815
Some of the best things about Miramar Beach, Florida are white sand beaches, turquoise water, fabulous shopping, and an exciting food scene. The city is also home to a golf course, public swimming pool, world-renowned tennis club, and a 3-mile biking and hiking trail that runs along a section of Scenic Highway 98.
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#41. Redington Shores, Florida
– National rank: 49th best place to retire
– Population: 2,115
Located on a barrier island between Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach, Redington Shores is one of the quieter and less touristy areas in this semi-tropical zone. With 360 days of sunshine each year, residents will have plenty of opportunity to get outside and enjoy all of the stunning beaches, fishing, and boating the area has to offer.
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#40. Hypoluxo, Florida
– National rank: 48th best place to retire
– Population: 2,800
Halfway between Boca Raton and West Palm Beach, Hypoluxo is beloved for its slower pace of life, abundant natural beauty, and weird history. Residents love to show off the main park, which is landscaped almost entirely with indigenous plants and regale you with the story of the barefoot mailmen (who are honored with a 14-foot statue along a local trail system).
NHRHS2010 // Wikimedia Commons
#39. Woodbury, New York
– National rank: 47th best place to retire
– Population: 8,901
Dubbed the “Gateway to Orange County,” Woodbury is a community brimming with natural beauty and lots of shopping. Schunnemunk Mountain and Woodbury Creek that weave through the valley create an ideal backdrop. It is the home of Woodbury Premium Outlets, which features 250 upscale shops.
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#38. Estero, Florida
– National rank: 46th best place to retire
– Population: 33,450
A quiet, safe community, Estero, Florida, has 35 gated neighborhoods and a median age of 62. Many of the city’s residents are seasonal, but those who live there year-round enjoy a mild climate, four public golf courses, and two of the most interesting state parks in the country, Mound Key Archeological State Park (accessible by boat only) and the Estero Bay Aquatic Reserve.
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#37. Roseland, Florida
– National rank: 45th best place to retire
– Population: 1,554
Roseland, Florida, shares a border with Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the first national wildlife refuge in the United States. Its proximity to the sanctuary makes it a great place to pick up a birdwatching hobby (15 distinct threatened and endangered species call the reserve home) and an ideal retirement location for naturalists.
NC Aquarium PKS // Wikimedia Commons
#36. Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina
– National rank: 44th best place to retire
– Population: 1,284
Pine Knoll Shores is best known for its pristine beaches and natural beauty. Those who enjoy kayaking, hiking, and exploring nature will adore this coastal town. Favorite things to do include a visit to the aquarium and Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area.
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#35. Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
– National rank: 43rd best place to retire
– Population: 9,292
Murrells Inlet is a quaint fishing village brimming with history and natural beauty located 13 miles south of Myrtle Beach. This slice of paradise awaits golfers, art enthusiasts, fishing enthusiasts, antique collectors, and naturalists.
#34. Bonita Springs, Florida
– National rank: 42nd best place to retire
– Population: 57,755
Bonita Springs’ two biggest offerings are golf and the Gulf. Located between Naples and Fort Myers, the city boasts miles of well-maintained beaches (including one of the state’s only off-leash beaches) and a handful of world-class golf courses and golf communities.
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#33. Manhasset, New York
– National rank: 41st best place to retire
– Population: 7,792
About 20 miles away from Manhattan, Manhasset is a town brimming with community spirit and home to family-friendly parades. Along with a bustling downtown, Manhasset also has boutiques and a shopping center.
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#32. Iona, Florida
– National rank: 39th best place to retire
– Population: 13,588
An undesignated census area, Iona, Florida, is defined by its exclusive communities. There are two gated, member-owned golf & country club communities, a 79-home, gated boating community, and, most famously, a 700-acre retirement community called Shell Point. Retirees looking for an exclusive, close-knit neighborhood to call home should definitely check out this South Florida gem.
#31. North Palm Beach, Florida
– National rank: 38th best place to retire
– Population: 13,090
Founded by philanthropist John D. McArthur, North Palm Beach is one of the quieter cities in the Palm Beach area. It has the region’s only state park and one of the only golf courses in the country designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
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#30. Bee Ridge, Florida
– National rank: 37th best place to retire
– Population: 10,283
A truly tiny area just outside Sarasota and Siesta Key, Bee Ridge is named after the many bees that can be spotted buzzing around the dry stretch of land. While the town has no beachfront of its own, it is home to a number of popular breweries and restaurants and is just a short drive from the water should you find yourself inclined to take a dip. Given its lack of waterfront homes, the property is much more affordable in the area than in some of the surrounding neighborhoods.
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#29. Great Neck Plaza, New York
– National rank: 36th best place to retire
– Population: 6,980
Great Neck Plaza has a lot going on for a village that is only about a third of a square mile. Easy to access via the Long Island Railroad, the village features over 260 retail stores, upscale shops, and restaurants.
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#28. North River Shores, Florida
– National rank: 35th best place to retire
– Population: 3,895
The small town of North River Shores boasts great weather and amazing value. Martin County is a great place for outdoor enthusiasts and a desirable place to retire for its year-round sunshine, beautiful beaches, and various community events.
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#27. Belle Isle, Florida
– National rank: 34th best place to retire
– Population: 7,139
A part of the Orlando metro area, Belle Isle is just removed enough from the hubbub of the city that it feels quiet but not so far that Orlando’s biggest attractions are out of reach. The neighborhood is serviced by SunRail, Orlando’s mass transit train system, meaning residents wouldn’t necessarily have to have their own vehicles if they didn’t want to.
#26. Piermont, New York
– National rank: 32nd best place to retire
– Population: 2,541
Tourists love to visit this beautiful Hudson Valley river town for its waterfront, shops, restaurants, art galleries, and more. Located under an hour from LaGuardia Airport, Piermont offers endless entertainment options and remarkable views at every turn.
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#25. Southgate, Florida
– National rank: 31st best place to retire
– Population: 6,617
A suburb of Sarasota, Southgate was primarily built in the 1950s and ’60s, and nearly all of its homes have maintained their retro exteriors. Southgate’s proximity to the beaches, shopping, and downtown district make it one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the area.
#24. St. Pete Beach, Florida
– National rank: 29th best place to retire
– Population: 9,603
In 2021, St. Pete Beach was named the best beach in the United States by Tripadvisor. Despite that accolade and the sheer number of tourists it welcomes each year, the South Florida city maintains a laid-back feel and sense of community. It also averages 361 days of sunshine a year, making it the perfect destination for folks who want to spend their retirement in an endless summer.
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#23. Englewood, Florida
– National rank: 28th best place to retire
– Population: 19,332
One of Florida’s best-kept secrets, Englewood is a quiet village on the state’s west coast. It gets a fraction of the visitors that places like Sarasota and Siesta Key (cities just north of Englewood) get, but residents like it that way. Its ability to fly under the radar allows the area to keep its golf courses, beaches, and wildlife reserves all to itself.
#22. Naples, Florida
– National rank: 27th best place to retire
– Population: 21,750
Often called the crown jewel of Southwest Florida, Naples is chock full of golf courses, premier shopping centers, and untamed outdoor areas. Sandwiched between the Everglades and the Gulf of Mexico, there’s an adventure for every type of explorer, whether you prefer a laid-back day at the beach or a trek through the wilds.
#21. Brookridge, Florida
– National rank: 26th best place to retire
– Population: 4,881
Retirees looking to settle in an affordable city populated with residents in a similar place would do well to check out Brookridge, Florida. The median age here is 68.5, meaning the vast majority of residents are either retired or nearing retirement, and the median property value is around $85,000 (significantly below the national average), which means owning a home won’t be a stretch for even the most budget conscious.
#20. Longboat Key, Florida
– National rank: 25th best place to retire
– Population: 7,299
Longboat Key is another city that’s primarily composed of retirees (the median age here is 71.3), though it’s more luxurious than Brookridge. With 12 miles of beaches, plenty of waterfront properties, and premier dining, golf, tennis, and shopping, it would make a great fit for folks looking to spend their golden years in a comfortable, affluent (the median household income is more than $100,000) place.
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#19. Garden City, South Carolina
– National rank: 23rd best place to retire
– Population: 11,193
Garden City is blooming with many reasons to retire there, including the fact it’s a tax-friendly area for South Carolina retirees. Residents can enjoy golfing, fishing, shopping, and sandy beaches.
#18. High Point, Florida
– National rank: 21st best place to retire
– Population: 3,966
High Point is a planned, over-55 retirement community on Florida’s natural coast. The gated neighborhood has 1,600 homes, a 24-hour manned security and information booth, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, an on-site library and community center, and a heated pool, among other things. It’s also just a short drive to Tampa, Orlando, and the Gulf of Mexico.
#17. Surfside, Florida
– National rank: 19th best place to retire
– Population: 5,665
Surfside may only span 1 square mile of Miami-Dade County, but it’s overflowing with charm. Steps away from the Atlantic Ocean, the area’s quaint downtown is easily walkable, filled with local shopping and dining options, and home to some of the most luxurious resorts and apartment buildings in the wider area.
#16. Villas, Florida
– National rank: 18th best place to retire
– Population: 14,421
Part of the Cape Coral-Fort Myers suburbs, Villas’ main appeal is its affordable cost of living. Residents have easy access to everything the neighboring cities offer—museums and observatories, nature reserves, or historical points of interest—without having to shell out for astronomically high property values and rents.
#15. Timber Pines, Florida
– National rank: 16th best place to retire
– Population: 5,076
Timber Pines is an over-55 retirement community that prides itself on its country club lifestyle, resort-worthy amenities, and safety. At 1,400 acres, there is plenty of room for residents to spread out while still being able to access the community’s plethora of activities, which include four golf courses, an activity center, a dining hall, a performing arts center, and various other public spaces.
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#14. Cape Canaveral, Florida
– National rank: 15th best place to retire
– Population: 10,411
Cape Canaveral, located between Jacksonville and Miami, is one of this list’s most touristy locations. Home to the Kennedy Space Center, the Brevard Zoo, and one of the country’s busiest cruise ship ports, there is always something going on here. For residents after a less commercial experience, the Canaveral National Seashore (24 miles of undeveloped beach that’s home to more than 1,000 plant species and 300 bird species) is a major draw.
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#13. Whiskey Creek, Florida
– National rank: 14th best place to retire
– Population: 5,508
Whiskey Creek, in South Fort Myers, is a deed-restricted community, which means certain restrictions come with purchasing a home. Lush landscapes and lakes grace the neighborhood, home to golf, entertainment, retail shops, and restaurants. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy boating and nature walks.
#12. Jensen Beach, Florida
– National rank: 13th best place to retire
– Population: 13,592
An annual pineapple festival is held each year in Jensen Beach, once known as “The Pineapple Capital of the World.” Located between Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach, this coastal town offers endless shopping and seafood restaurants galore.
#11. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
– National rank: 12th best place to retire
– Population: 1,588
Dolphins, birds, and beaches are just some reasons retirees flock to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Only about 1 square mile, the popular beach area has a small-town feel and was named a best place to retire by the AARP.
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#10. Cypress Lake, Florida
– National rank: 11th best place to retire
– Population: 12,766
Cypress Lake is located in the Fort Myers area of Florida. It’s a great spot for those who enjoy nature and beaches. Safe, quiet, and peaceful are often used to describe the neighborhoods in Cypress Lake. Nearby are trails, parks, wineries, and golf courses.
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#9. Siesta Key, Florida
– National rank: 9th best place to retire
– Population: 5,587
If retiring to a world-famous beach is on your bucket list, check out Siesta Key in Sarasota. Crescent Beach on Siesta Key boasts a popular sand beach. Mild weather, no income taxes, low property taxes, and 99% pure quartz sand are just a few more benefits.
#8. Gulf Stream, Florida
– National rank: 8th best place to retire
– Population: 885
Gulf Stream, Florida, may be tiny, but it’s a dream for many. An entirely residential and recreational city, no big businesses clog up the city’s main drags. Instead, a polo field and invite-only golf course are the primary time occupiers for the area’s residents (who have a median age of 59).
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#7. Hillsboro Beach, Florida
– National rank: 7th best place to retire
– Population: 1,964
Hillsboro Beach, located on a peninsula between the Intracoastal Waterway, is just 3 miles long and 900 feet wide. The mainly residential town is a paradise for beach lovers who delight in sea turtle sightings and lighthouses.
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#6. Dutch Island, Georgia
– National rank: 6th best place to retire
– Population: 1,338
For true resort living, Dutch Island is a private, gated community with no rentals and just under 500 single-family homes ranging in price from the mid $300,000s to over $1 million. The community is managed by a board of directors and includes a swimming pool, tennis courts, boat ramp, pier, and dock for residents.
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#5. South Palm Beach, Florida
– National rank: 5th best place to retire
– Population: 1,855
Located on the same barrier island as Manalapan, South Palm Beach is only five-eighths of a mile long. For those who love great weather and pristine beaches, this tiny slice of paradise is a great spot to consider.
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#4. Indian River Shores, Florida
– National rank: 4th best place to retire
– Population: 4,255
Just west of Tampa is Indian River Shores, a smaller, quieter beach locale perfect for folks searching for a slow-paced retirement. Miles of white sandy beaches, the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary, and a supremely affordable cost of living are some of the small town’s biggest draws.
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#3. Highland Beach, Florida
– National rank: 3rd best place to retire
– Population: 3,907
Retirees make up 80% of the 1-square-mile Highland Beach. The population doubles in the winter, when northern retirees travel to their southern homes along the coast. There are plenty of restaurants and parks for residents to enjoy in Boca Raton, which is 5 miles away.
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#2. Lake Success, New York
– National rank: 2nd best place to retire
– Population: 3,228
The name Lake Success is brimming with positivity. The village town in Great Neck is also a medical field hub while still being close to New York City.
#1. Pelican Bay, Florida
– National rank: 1st best place to retire
– Population: 6,257
Pelican Bay, a luxury community in Naples, is the ultimate spot to retire. Surrounded by 88 parks and leisure areas, its peerless amenities include an electric-powered tram system and exclusive access to lifestyle activities, including golf, tennis, sailing, and fine arts.