Best places to retire in the Midwest
Published 9:15 pm Friday, January 13, 2023
Best places to retire in the Midwest
Between 2015 and 2019, roughly 3 million people aged 65 and older in the United States moved to a different residence each year, according to Census Bureau data. Retirees tend to look outside of their locales for a place to settle down, and reports show that the Midwest is becoming more attractive to those who are searching for a place to relax in their golden years.
People approaching retirement typically look at five different components when scouting for locations: culture, affordability, health care and wellness accessibility, weather, and crime rates.
While sunny Florida might immediately spring to mind as a retirement spot that meets those criteria, the Midwestern United States is becoming an increasingly popular place for retirees. A 2022 study from Bankrate ranked Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri among the top five states to retire. Out of those states, Michigan is the most affordable, which checks an important box for those living on a fixed income.
That low cost of living—which is harder to find along the coasts especially as real estate prices continue to go up—can sweeten the deal for people who don’t have much in the way of savings. Baby boomers are predicted to have fewer retirement savings compared to previous generations, with the average amount the generation has tucked away coming out to about $209,000.
Often, homes in the Midwest are cheaper than their counterparts in other American locales. In Traverse City, Michigan—one of the fastest-growing retirement destinations—retirees are often purchasing condos for less than $200,000.
Using Niche’s 2022 Best Places to Retire, Stacker developed a list of the best places to retire in the Midwest. Rankings were determined using variables such as weather, safety, housing expenses, and access to places like eateries, golf courses, recreation facilities, and health care.
Read on to find out the best places to retire in the heart of the U.S.
EA Given // Shutterstock
#50. Bridgman, Michigan
– National rank: 522nd best place to retire
– Population: 2,416
Located on Lake Michigan’s sunset coast, Bridgman was founded in the late 1800s. Nearly two centuries later, the area has maintained its small-town feel. Residents of the close-knit community spend a lot of time outdoors, enjoying Bridgman’s summer concert series and the 3 miles of coast that run from Weko Beach to Warren Dunes State Park.
Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons
#49. Energy, Illinois
– National rank: 521st best place to retire
– Population: 1,208
The village of Energy in southern Illinois is small in both size (about 1.2 square miles) and population (just over 1,200 people). While its compact nature may be a detriment for some, folks that live here love the village’s low cost of living and low crime rate as well as its strong sense of community. As for things to do, there are plenty of museums, libraries, zoos, and theaters in nearby cities like Marion, Carbondale, Mt. Vernon, and Sparta.
Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons
#48. Orange, Ohio
– National rank: 513th best place to retire
– Population: 3,269
An affluent suburb of Cleveland, Orange, Ohio, is the birthplace of President James A. Garfield. The town places a strong emphasis on community, as evidenced by its abundance of public events which range from outdoor concerts and movie nights to holiday fun fests and fireworks shows. Residents can also enjoy more than 60 acres of public parks that boast everything from putting greens to walking trails and community gardens.
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#47. Long Beach, Indiana
– National rank: 506th best place to retire
– Population: 1,024
Once a summer getaway for some of Chicago’s wealthiest residents, the main draw of Long Beach, Indiana, continues to be its easy access to Lake Michigan. A mix of seasonal and permanent residents inhabit the town, utilizing the 3 miles of public shoreline for activities like boating, swimming, and kayaking. Homeowners in the area also have free access to the Long Beach Community and Fitness Center.
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#46. Bluffton, Ohio
– National rank: 502nd best place to retire
– Population: 4,024
Life in Bluffton, Ohio centers around its historic downtown, which is anchored by a 19th-century town hall and is home to dozens of locally owned shops and restaurants. Two of the neighborhood’s biggest attractions include a seasonal farmers market and the flagship location of Ten Thousand Villages, one of the country’s oldest fair trade retailers. Folks who prefer basking in the great outdoors to shopping and dining will be excited by Bluffton’s extensive bike path system, the hiking at Motter Metro Park, and the Bluffton University Nature Preserve.
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#45. Williams Bay, Wisconsin
– National rank: 500th best place to retire
– Population: 2,607
Nestled along a particularly green section of Geneva Lake, the village of Williams Bay, Wisconsin, is a small, family-friendly community. Once a vacation destination for Chicago’s elite, the area now has a 21-mile walking path that winds around the lake and offers spectacular views of these century-old summer homes. The area’s other major draws include the Yerkes Observatory, the Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy, and acres of public beaches where residents can swim, boat, and fish.
RellMade // Shutterstock
#44. Kirkwood, Missouri
– National rank: 497th best place to retire
– Population: 27,772
St. Louis suburb Kirkwood, Missouri, is located near Shepherd’s Center, which offers programs, services, and classes for older adults. The center also hosts several clubs, like a monthly book club and Monday Scrabblers. Shepherd’s Center, which first opened in 1972, has over 200 volunteers, including people who can help seniors with things like plumbing and home repairs.
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#43. Ottawa Hills, Ohio
– National rank: 495th best place to retire
– Population: 4,485
A planned suburb outside of Toledo, Ottawa Hills is an upscale neighborhood with a family-centric focus. Residents have access to a wide selection of budget-friendly programs organized by the Village Life office that include everything from yoga to coding, meaning there’s always something new to learn and do. Folks who prefer a less structured way to spend their time can wander through the public sculpture garden or spend time on the banks of the Ottawa River.
Bryan Colley // Wikimedia Commons
#42. Leawood, Kansas
– National rank: 493rd best place to retire
– Population: 34,702
Not only is Leawood ranked as the best suburb in Kansas to raise a family, but it is also ranked as the place with the best public schools in the state. And for those looking to relocate, it is also the fourth-best suburb to buy a house in Kansas. The town, which is home to over 34,000 residents, has a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, and parks for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.
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#41. Baldwin Township, Michigan
– National rank: 481st best place to retire
– Population: 1,952
Retirees looking for a more rural experience would do well to check out Baldwin Township, Michigan. Taking up more than 31 square miles, there’s plenty of space for residents to spread out here. A lack of chain restaurants and businesses also lends the town a more old-timey feel.
Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons
#40. Wetherington, Ohio
– National rank: 479th best place to retire
– Population: 1,271
At the heart of Wetherington, Ohio, is the Wetherington Golf and Country Club. Founded in 1991, amenities including an 18-hole course, swimming pool, tennis courts, and restaurant make the club the center of social life in the gated neighborhood.
Royalbroil // Wikimedia Commons
#39. Hurley, Wisconsin
– National rank: 476th best place to retire
– Population: 1,395
Hurley, Wisconsin, describes itself as “an outdoor adventurist paradise.” The northern city has hundreds of miles of ATV and snowmobile trails, some of the Midwest’s best downhill skiing, forested snowshoeing and cross-country skiing areas, several inland lakes for fishing, and more hiking trails than you can reasonably count. If spending your golden years exploring the country’s backwoods sounds like a dream come true, you should definitely consider settling down here.
Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons
#38. Central City, Nebraska
– National rank: 472nd best place to retire
– Population: 2,906
The seat of Merrick County, Central City, Nebraska, is far and away the biggest city in the area. But just because it’s not very urban (there are, after all, fewer than 3,000 residents) doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do. Folks entertain themselves with the 8-mile Dark Island hiking and biking trail, shows at the 520-seat performing arts center, and classes at the local fitness and aquatics center. There’s also a nine-hole golf course, winery, and several historic homes and museums to tour.
Spacefem // Wikimedia Commons
#37. Eureka, Kansas
– National rank: 450th best place to retire
– Population: 2,217
A low cost of living and a laid-back lifestyle are the main draws of Eureka, Kansas. The historic town is largely populated by retirement-age folks, which means there aren’t tons of employment options. But there are tons of opportunities to build community with others who are at the same place in their lives.
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#36. The Village of Indian Hill, Ohio
– National rank: 444th best place to retire
– Population: 5,770
Though its population technically designates it as a city, The Village of Indian Hill has maintained a quiet pace of life that makes it feel as if it were much smaller. A suburb of Cincinnati, the area has 75 miles of horse trails, a nature preserve, an arboretum, a shooting club, and several public parks to keep residents busy and entertained. Folks also cite the area’s safety as a major perk of living here.
Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons
#35. Westlake, Ohio
– National rank: 437th best place to retire
– Population: 32,154
Cleveland suburb Westlake is located right along Lake Erie, giving retirees the opportunity to live right on the water. Residents often frequent Huntington Beach, where people can fish and enjoy the views of the city. Hikers will also appreciate the walking trails and wildlife at Rocky River Reservation. And lifelong learners can expand their knowledge of the natural world at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.
Ken L. // Wikimedia Commons
#34. Bloomfield Charter Township, Michigan
– National rank: 424th best place to retire
– Population: 42,031
Bloomfield Charter Township, Michigan, is home to the Bloomfield Township Senior Center, which is open Monday through Saturday to adults aged 50 or older. Members can participate in day trips, take fitness classes like Chair Yoga or pilates, and learn about driver safety or how to play bridge. There are also two other senior centers in neighboring towns less than 5 miles away: Birmingham Next and Robert Bowens Senior Center.
Notorious4life // Wikimedia Commons
#33. Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan
– National rank: 404th best place to retire
– Population: 9,142
Located 10 miles north of Detroit, Gross Pointe Farms sits on the shores of Lake St. Clair. Deemed one of the best places to live in all of Michigan, the town is safe, affordable, and walkable, and places a huge emphasis on community. The downtown area is populated with locally owned businesses and restaurants. Residents can also spend their free time hanging out in the area’s many parks, boating or kayaking on the lake, or checking out the newest releases at one of the area’s three libraries.
Ed! // Wikimedia Commons
#32. Rossmoyne, Ohio
– National rank: 395th best place to retire
– Population: 1,605
If you’re after a place where your retirement savings will really stretch, check out Rossmoyne, Ohio. A suburb of Cincinnati, the area has an incredibly low cost of living (according to Niche, the average rent is just under $900—a bargain in today’s housing market).
Freekee // Wikimedia Commons
#31. Thiensville, Wisconsin
– National rank: 379th best place to retire
– Population: 3,149
A tiny suburb of Milwaukee, Thiensville has an old-school small-town feel to it. Visiting this town feels like stepping back in time thanks to its seasonal farmers market, numerous holiday festivals, and historic downtown setting. Residents also love Thiensville’s low cost of living and its general sense of safety.
Rosemarie Mosteller // Shutterstock
#30. Kimberling City, Missouri
– National rank: 373rd best place to retire
– Population: 2,711
Set on the shores of Table Rock Lake, Kimberling City is focused on providing a safe and relaxing environment for its citizens. Like something straight out of a Hallmark movie, the town is full of local businesses, community organizations, and public events (like Fourth of July festivals and Pups and Popcorn in the Park) that promote a sense of fraternity. There are also plenty of opportunities for water recreation like swimming, fishing, kayaking, and boating.
Bill Whittaker // Wikimedia Commons
#29. Clear Lake, Iowa
– National rank: 367th best place to retire
– Population: 7,594
Clear Lake—a town named for the nearby body of water—ranks as the best place to retire in Iowa. Twenty-four percent of the town’s population is aged 65 years or older, while 16% fall between the ages of 55 and 64. In addition to the town’s water feature, Clear Lake also has a number of restaurants and parks that residents frequently enjoy.
Neva O’Laughlin // Wikimedia Commons
#28. Inverness, Illinois
– National rank: 364th best place to retire
– Population: 7,959
Inverness, Illinois, offers its residents the best of both worlds, with its proximity to Chicago and the nature preserves found within the town itself. Those looking to get in touch with the environment can enjoy the hiking trails and bike paths at Deer Grove Forest Preserve, Deer Grove East, and Baker’s Lake Nature Preserve, while people who enjoy hunting can partake at Camp Alphonse.
Notorious4life // Wikimedia Commons
#27. Charlevoix Township, Michigan
– National rank: 360th best place to retire
– Population: 1,780
A popular summer town, Charlevoix Township only has about 1,800 year-round residents but sees its population double in the warmer months. The median age of the full-time residents is 54, meaning anyone settling here is sure to meet plenty of folks at a similar point in life. Flanked on either side by a lake (Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix) there are tons of opportunities to spend time outdoors and on the water.
KTrimble // Wikimedia Commons
#26. Lake Ozark, Missouri
– National rank: 356th best place to retire
– Population: 2,317
Lake Ozark, Missouri, has long been a popular vacation destination. But its residential base has been rapidly growing over the past several years. While much of its activity still centers around the lake and the touristy strip of restaurants and souvenir shops, the area recently got a movie theater and a new shopping center. The town would be perfect for someone who doesn’t need much in the way of amenities, just somewhere quiet and affordable to settle down and enjoy the great outdoors.
Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons
#25. Sabetha, Kansas
– National rank: 349th best place to retire
– Population: 2,550
Sabetha, Kansas, is a dense suburban town, stereotypical of the Midwest. There’s not much in the way of big city attractions (you won’t find thriving art districts or towering skyscrapers here) but there are plenty of community events and local sports leagues (for both kids and adults) to keep you active. The area also has affordable housing, great schools, and a relatively low cost of living, making it an attractive destination for retirees looking to stretch their savings.
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#24. Weatherby Lake, Missouri
– National rank: 337th best place to retire
– Population: 2,510
Occupying 274 of the 836 acres in Weatherby Lake, Missouri, is the eponymous body of water. The lake, which is privately owned, is considered one of the cleanest in the country and is the soul of the quiet community, with residents enjoying everything from fishing to swimming in its gentle waters. Nine parks dotted around the area offer plenty of opportunities for dry land activities as well.
Ernest Mettendorf // Wikimedia Commons
#23. Sixteen Mile Stand, Ohio
– National rank: 334th best place to retire
– Population: 3,120
A suburb just 16 miles from the heart of Cincinnati, Sixteen Mile Stand is a fairly dense area populated primarily by big-city commuters. A low cost of living and a relatively higher level of safety make it more appealing to retirees who are content to be a bit removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
Ichabod // Wikimedia Commons
#22. Kingman, Kansas
– National rank: 332nd best place to retire
– Population: 2,859
Excited to spend all of your newfound retirement time relaxing? Consider moving to Kingman, Kansas. The rural town offers something for everyone’s taste—museums, hunting preserves, recreation-friendly lakes, wildlife sanctuaries, golf courses, an arboretum, theaters, a massive public library, and plenty of shopping and dining options.
Paul Sableman // Wikimedia Commons
#21. Ladue, Missouri
– National rank: 312th best place to retire
– Population: 8,631
Ladue, Missouri, is located in St. Louis County, which was admitted into the World Health Organization and AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities in 2013. The St. Louis County Parks Department holds “Young at Heart” activities for older adults, which include physical activities like pickleball and educational sessions on computers as well as bridge and mahjong clubs.
Lori Cerretti // Shutterstock
#20. Warson Woods, Missouri
– National rank: 305th best place to retire
– Population: 2,387
About 25 miles west of downtown St. Louis is Warson Woods—a quiet forested neighborhood with a family-friendly reputation. The area has three parks, a swim club, public tennis courts, and a host of seasonal festivals. If for some reason you tire of these small-town entertainments, big-city amusements are just a hop, skip, and jump away.
Asher Heimermann // Wikimedia Commons
#19. Kohler, Wisconsin
– National rank: 291st best place to retire
– Population: 2,016
Named after the Kohler Company (which was born here), Kohler, Wisconsin, is a picturesque town just west of Sheboygan and Lake Michigan. Home to one of the country’s only five-diamond resorts (the American Club Resort), residents have easy access to all the property has to offer: fine dining, world-class golf courses, a luxury spa, and excellent shopping. Folks who prefer a more one-with-nature type of experience can take advantage of the green areas and sand dunes at Kohler-Andrae State Park.
Iknowthegoods // Wikimedia Commons
#18. Mission Hills, Kansas
– National rank: 286th best place to retire
– Population: 3,563
Designed to be one of America’s foremost garden communities, Mission Hills is an upscale suburb dotted with elegantly landscaped gardens that blend seamlessly with the rolling hills and valleys surrounding the area. Three golf courses provide plenty of opportunity to head outside and enjoy the views, as do the dozens of annual community events, which, you guessed it, generally take place in one of the neighborhood’s numerous green spaces.
Paul Sableman // Wikimedia Commons
#17. Creve Coeur, Missouri
– National rank: 282nd best place to retire
– Population: 18,627
Creve Coeur offers several programs to help older adults maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. Seniors can take tai chi, which is well-suited for older adults because it is low-impact, self-paced, and can help improve confidence and balance. The town also offers yoga classes every week for beginners looking to learn poses, proper alignment, and breathing techniques.
BaronLarf // Wikimedia Commons
#16. King, Wisconsin
– National rank: 277th best place to retire
– Population: 1,790
An outdoor enthusiast’s version of paradise, King, Wisconsin, is a year-round playground. In the winter, folks can enjoy the miles of snowmobile trails and perfect cross-country skiing conditions. In the summer, there are state parks to check out, ATV trails to ride, and fishing to do along the area’s many rivers and small lakes.
Notorious4life // Wikimedia Commons
#15. Village of Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan
– National rank: 274th best place to retire
– Population: 2,791
A picturesque town on the shores of Lake St. Clair, the Village of Grosse Pointe Shores is known for its eye-catching views, award-winning landscaping, and breathtaking historic mansions. The thriving downtown area, replete with locally owned restaurants, shopping centers, and an easily accessible marina, means there’s always plenty to do. Residents also have access to world-class medical care.
Mark Ravenscraft // Wikimedia Commons
#14. Chesterfield, Missouri
– National rank: 264th best place to retire
– Population: 47,603
Chesterfield is ranked as the fourth-best place to retire in Missouri, and also ranks within the top 50 best suburbs to live in the country. Of the more than 47,000 people who live in the St. Louis suburb, 23% are aged 65 or older and 15% fall between the ages of 55 and 64. And for retirees whose kids are school-aged, the public schools in Chesterfield are highly rated.
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#13. Village of Four Seasons, Missouri
– National rank: 246th best place to retire
– Population: 2,103
The Village of Four Seasons boasts more lakefront and lake-view homes and condos than any other planned community in the United States. Tucked up against Lake Ozark, the area has several large resorts complete with world-class spas and restaurants, as well as beautifully designed golf courses. One of the oldest planned communities in the Lake Ozark region, Four Seasons is also considered to be an incredibly safe town.
Todd Murray // Wikimedia Commons
#12. Clarkson Valley, Missouri
– National rank: 231st best place to retire
– Population: 2,619
One of St. Louis’s many suburbs, Clarkson Valley, Missouri, is a retiree’s dream in that it feels small and quaint while still being within reach of all a major city has to offer. Comprised of 14 subdivisions—each with minimum 1-acre lots—the area feels serene and rural, especially after you factor in the surrounding hills, valleys, and forests. Locally, much of the town’s social events center around the country club and many churches.
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#11. Meridian Hills, Indiana
– National rank: 220th best place to retire
– Population: 1,712
The small, exclusive town of Meridian Hills, located just north of Indianapolis, is quiet and affluent. Social life in the area is largely centered around its country club and golf course, but those looking for more urban entertainment have easy access to it thanks to the nearby city. Property values are high here, but residents report relatively low crime rates.
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#10. Riverwoods, Illinois
– National rank: 208th best place to retire
– Population: 3,536
Yet another town that was once a vacation destination for Chicago’s elite, Riverwoods, Illinois, is located on the banks of the Des Plaines River. Unlike many of the other neighborhoods in the area that have a much more urbanized and commercial feel, Riverwoods has maintained its natural, wooded vibe, thanks in large part to its substantial forest preserve. Ordinances that limit the size of any new homes or developments work to ensure the area will stay this way for years to come.
Magicpiano // Wikimedia Commons
#9. Aledo, Illinois
– National rank: 192nd best place to retire
– Population: 3,625
Aledo, Illinois, describes itself as a perfect place to retreat from routine. Thirty minutes south of the Quad Cities, the area is rural and quiet, with a strong sense of community and local pride. Residents can also escape the hustle and bustle of big city life by engaging in any of the numerous outdoor activities located nearby.
Ed! // Wikimedia Commons
#8. Centerville, Ohio
– National rank: 172nd best place to retire
– Population: 23,766
The city of Centerville, Ohio, has an exterior home maintenance program for older residents who may need help in raking leaves, shoveling snow, and maintaining the upkeep of their home. Centerville residents can also volunteer for the program to help out their neighbors with repairs. The town’s police department also maintains a well-being call-in program for seniors who live alone, where officers check on designated adults daily.
Steve Lagreca // Shutterstock
#7. Pleasant Ridge, Michigan
– National rank: 155th best place to retire
– Population: 2,589
A suburb of Detroit, Pleasant Ridge may not have the thriving commercial district that many of the other towns on our list do. But it more than makes up for that with its focus on public recreational areas and community centers. LGBTQ+ folks should also note that the neighborhood is considered one of the top places in the country for same-sex couples. While this doesn’t factor in single queer-identifying folks, it seems to indicate a welcoming environment for people from all walks of life.
Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons
#6. Bellbrook, Ohio
– National rank: 144th best place to retire
– Population: 7,277
For those looking to retire in Bellbrook, Ohio—the top-ranked place to retire in the state—you’ll have no problem keeping busy. Those looking to stay in touch with nature and maintain an active lifestyle will enjoy the trails at Sugarcreek MetroPark, Bellbrook Park, Sackett-Wright Park, and Magee Park. The town is also home to the Bellbrook Historical Museum, which offers a special insight into the area’s history.
JonHarder // Wikimedia Commons
#5. North Newton, Kansas
– National rank: 128th best place to retire
– Population: 1,981
North Newton, Kansas, is home to the country’s oldest Mennonite college, Bethel College. The higher education institution allows senior citizens to audit any class for just $30, a huge perk for those looking to learn something new or just keep their minds sharp. A low cost of living and a focus on maintaining the area’s history are also advantages of the area.
LittleT889 // Wikimedia Commons
#4. Town and Country, Missouri
– National rank: 104th best place to retire
– Population: 11,109
As one of the top places to retire in the Midwest, Town and Country, Missouri, offers many services to its retirees to ensure a happy and healthy lifestyle. The town has a Neighbor Driving Neighbor volunteer program that older adults can use to run errands. The city also offers the Care Calls program where volunteers perform well-being checks and visit seniors to avert feelings of loneliness. Town and Country also has a program called Age Smart, Age Well, which provides classes in computers, Microsoft Word, and email.
Porterhse // Wikimedia Commons
#3. Elm Grove, Wisconsin
– National rank: 88th best place to retire
– Population: 6,156
St. Mary’s Visitation Catholic Parish in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, hosts a “Seniors Club” that meets twice a month on Mondays. The club offers several programs, including day trips, luncheons, dances, games, and speakers. The Seniors Club is open to all adults looking to expand their education and stay active in the social community in Elm Grove.
Ken Lund // Wikimedia Commons
#2. Bingham Farms, Michigan
– National rank: 30th best place to retire
– Population: 1,539
Residents of Bingham Farms, Michigan, have two equally exciting options for entertainment at their fingertips. They can drive 20 minutes south to Detroit and enjoy the city’s shopping, dining, and cultural opportunities, or they can drive 20 minutes west to the Brighton-Howell area and enjoy its thousands of acres of public parks, miles of hiking trails, and half-dozen golf courses. After a day full of fun, they can return to their safe and affordable home base to rest up and recharge for their next big adventure.
Larry D. Moore // Wikimedia Commons
#1. Leland Grove, Illinois
– National rank: 10th best place to retire
– Population: 1,237
Just outside of Springfield, Leland Grove, Illinois, is one of those wonderful places that gets all the perks of a major city (like lots of shopping, dining, and cultural opportunities) without all of the downsides (like major crime and astronomical living costs). Another potential perk for retirees looking to settle down here is the fact that the median age is 54 to 55, indicating that Leland Grove is a town full of folks also looking to make the most of their golden years. Talk about having a built-in community!