Best small towns for retirees in America

Published 6:30 pm Thursday, March 16, 2023

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Best small towns for retirees in America

Many American retirees are looking to age in place, while others who have bid adieu to the workplace are seeking new locales. With no shortage of choices, how do they decide?

Some ways to narrow down the list include moving closer to grandkids or settling in a vacation spot that has generated family memories over the years. Folks who get the blues from high taxes and cold weather can find plenty of tax-friendly, warmer places to establish new roots. Those who want to stay active with outdoor recreation or playing golf have their pick of communities near manicured club courses and the great outdoors.

Big cities have advantages, as do small towns with safe streets and quiet neighborhoods. Some of the best choices are idyllic suburbs—like Piermont, New York, and Shenandoah, Texas—just minutes away from the business bustle and cultural attractions of big cities. As always, Florida tends to dominate retirement hotspot lists with its year-round warm weather and pristine beaches.

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To help retirees considering a move, Stacker referenced Niche’s 2022 Best Places to Retire study to find 30 American small towns with the best retirement options. To be included, each town on this list had to have 5,000 residents or fewer.

Read on to see where you might want to go.

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A neighborhood view of Hollywood Park, Texas.

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#30. Hollywood Park, Texas

Population: 3,130

Hollywood Park is a San Antonio suburb founded in 1955 to build the community into “a great, peaceful and friendly place to live.” The Hollywood Park Community Association works toward that goal by hosting community events.

An aerial view of Bal Harbour, Florida.

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#29. Bal Harbour, Florida

Population: 3,037

Everything about the Miami suburb of Bal Harbour embodies luxury, from its fine dining to its upscale shopping and oceanfront resorts. For those who plan on having an active social life, there are plenty of activities in the area. But residents also have easy access to medical care, including at Miami Beach Community Health Center.

An aerial view of a sandy beach in Ridge Wood Heights, Florida.

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#28. Ridge Wood Heights, Florida

Population: 4,875

Located in Sarasota County, full of beaches and attractions, Ridge Wood Heights scored particularly high with Niche on health and fitness. The community is only a 15-minute drive to Siesta Key, a Gulf of Mexico barrier island abounding with sandy beaches, tidal pools, and coral reefs.

A beach in Tierra Verde, Florida, at nighttime.


#27. Tierra Verde, Florida

Population: 3,847

Tierra Verde is a wealthy boating community located partly on an artificial island created by filling spaces between several smaller islands. It lies south of St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach, off a spur of the Pinellas Bayway, and is known for its marinas and restaurants. Fort De Soto Park, part of the Pinellas County park system, boasts beautiful beaches and a famous dog beach.

A row of houses in Roslyn, New York.

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#26. Roslyn, New York

Population: 2,971

Originally called Hempstead Harbor, the village of Roslyn dates from the mid-1600s and although only 0.6 square miles, it has two historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places. There’s a variety of housing, including rentals in two developments for older adults, Horizon at Roslyn and Atria on Roslyn Harbor. And it is only a little over 25 miles to Manhattan, easily reached by the Long Island Rail Road.

A lone bench near a beach in South Sarasota, Florida.

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#25. South Sarasota, Florida

Population: 4,700

South Sarasota offers a “sparse suburban feel,” according to Niche, but with plenty of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and parks to make it an attractive spot for retirees. Sarasota County has parks and beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, golf, shopping, nightlife, and festivals.

Aerial view of a beach in Charlotte Harbor, Florida.

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#24. Charlotte Harbor, Florida

Population: 4,644

Charlotte Harbor is a town on the Peace River, opposite the larger community of Punta Gorda, and features the Charlotte County Historical Center, a fishing pier park, and a miniature golf course. The harbor itself is the second-largest estuary in the state after Tampa Bay. Nearby are the Peace River Wildlife Center and the Ponce de Leon Springs State Park, where explorer Juan Ponce de León may have been fatally shot with a poisoned arrow, though the exact location is disputed.

Aerial, beach view of Belleair, Florida.

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#23. Belleair, Florida

Population: 4,266

Belleair traces its founding to the 1890s when a railroad magnate named Henry B. Plant built a hotel on a bluff south of Clearwater and accommodated the private railroad cars of his wealthy winter visitors on a railroad siding. Today, the community has built condominiums while creating a system of parks and paths and protecting its historic homes through a local registry.

A quaint house with an open, grassy range in Windy Hills, Kentucky.

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#22. Windy Hills, Kentucky

Population: 2,381

Windy Hills calls itself the “City of Historic Homes,” tracing itself back to deeds issued during colonial times to families that moved into the area from Virginia and Pennsylvania. Stores and restaurants are a short walk or drive away from the modern-day community’s single-family homes, townhouses, and condominiums.

A stork enjoying the waves of a beach in Redington Shores, Florida.

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#21. Redington Shores, Florida

Population: 2,043

Redington Shores offers plenty of parks that may attract retirees. Constitution Park, for example, is an ideal setting for picnics or events, and Del Bello Park is a nature refuge with a dock for fishing as well as exercise equipment for those who wish to work out outdoors. Most of the residents in this laid-back Florida town are homeowners, with the average home worth $499,600 as of early 2023.

A photographer shooting an image of trees in Hypoluxo, Florida.

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#20. Hypoluxo, Florida

Population: 2,703

Hypoluxo calls itself the “Home of the Barefoot Mailman,” a reminder of the days when the U.S. mail in South Florida traveled by boat and by foot along miles of beaches. The community is close to West Palm Beach and the beaches along the Atlantic. The “Hypoluxo Hammock” is an area set aside on the grounds of the Town Hall for only indigenous plants. Two other parks offer trails, natural scrub, benches, and landscaping.

A group of people gathered on an pier at a beach in Roseland, Florida.

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#19. Roseland, Florida

Population: 1,552

Like many Florida towns, Roseland is an ideal place for retirement thanks to its year-round warm weather and retirement communities. Retirees may also appreciate the town’s affordability, as most of the residents in Roseland own their own homes, which have an average value of $240,700.

A close-up view of the sandy dunes at a beach in Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina.

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#18. Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina

Population: 1,288

This community sits on the 25.4-mile barrier island of Bogue Banks, which is part of an area known for its white beaches and clear water called the Crystal Coast. With numerous water trails and a temperate climate, the coast is a paddler’s paradise. The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores offers a different kind of fun, as well as volunteer opportunities.

A view of a lake at a park in Shenandoah, Texas.

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#17. Shenandoah, Texas

Population: 3,350

Situated in the northern corridor of Houston, Shenandoah has many great amenities like the Aveda Institute, which offers a wide range of spa services. An indoor swimming and Olympic training facility holds national competitions and is also open to the public. And a 10,000-seat artificial turf stadium hosts football and soccer games. About 3 in 5 residents own their homes; the remainder rent, with rental costs close to the national average.

An aerial view overlooking the trees and waters of North River Shores, Florida. // Shutterstock

#16. North River Shores, Florida

Population: 3,739

North River Shores sits on the banks of the North Fork St. Lucie River in Martin County. Among the attractions for residents are four waterfront neighborhood parks and a private boat ramp, all readily accessible in this low-population town.

An aerial view overlooking a neighborhood in West Lake Hills, Texas.

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#15. West Lake Hills, Texas

Population: 3,373

This hilly, 4-square-mile patch of Texas is conveniently located near Austin’s downtown region and two Austin gems: Zilker Metropolitan Park and Lady Bird Lake. West Lake Hills has also repeatedly received a Scenic City Certification, which recognizes cities that are “building sustainable communities and designing greenspaces that are accessible to all residents.”

An aerial view of Piermont, New York.


#14. Piermont, New York

Population: 2,525

Piermont, originally called Tappan Slote, sits on the Hudson River at the Sparkill tributary about 25 miles north of New York City. When the Erie Railroad began service from New York City to Lake Erie, it built a long pier that extended almost a mile into the river to transfer freight to and from river barges. Today, there are boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants along that pier and on the village’s Main Street. Woody Allen’s 1985 movie “The Purple Rose of Cairo” was filmed in Piermont.

An empty white chair resting in a yard.


#13. Bingham Farms, Michigan

Population: 1,521

This community created its Design Review Board “to preserve, protect and enhance the ecologically and historically unique environment and aesthetic charm of the village.” Residents are just minutes from Detroit and 30 miles from the Brighton Howell area, which has 123 miles of trails and 20 golf courses.

A close-up view of a golfer hitting a golf ball into a hole.

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#12. Brookridge, Florida

Population: 4,741

Brookridge may be less well known than other Floridian cities, but this low-crime, tight-knit Tampa suburb boasts high-ranking public schools and is one of the most affordable places for retirees in the state.

A view of a lake near a wooden bridge in High Point, Florida.

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#11. High Point, Florida

Population: 3,845

High Point sits just inland from Florida’s Gulf Coast, not far north of Tampa Bay’s pulsing metropolis. Seniors love the warm weather and quaint downtown. Plus it’s one of the most affordable places in the nation, with home costs far below the national median.

An aerial view of golf course in Timber Pines, Florida.

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#10. Timber Pines, Florida

Population: 4,935

The Timber Pines Community Association, dedicated to offering premier “country club living for active adults,” calls Timber Pines the “best-kept secret in Florida.” Residents can swim in two geothermal heated pools, golf on four courses, play tennis on eight courts, and join over 100 clubs, classes, and organizations.

A white sandy beach in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

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#9. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Population: 1,392

For a town of just 1 square mile, there’s much to enjoy, including pristine beaches and a mile-long boardwalk filled with attractions, shops, and restaurants. In the summer, Rehoboth Beach hosts a free concert series.

A person biking on a street in Leland Grove, Illinois.

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#8. Leland Grove, Illinois

Population: 1,336

Leland Grove is just minutes away from Springfield and all the restaurants, attractions, and shopping the state capital offers. The community’s comprehensive planning document declares that Leland Grove’s “high-quality residential character represents its greatest strength” and that its “community spirit is a valuable asset.”

People driving boats on a lake in Gulf Stream, Florida.

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#7. Gulf Stream, Florida

Population: 893

Gulf Stream in Palm Beach County has an active lifestyle community with parks and recreational activities. The affluent area has a thriving economy with high household incomes and most residents owning their homes. Among its unique features is the historic canopy of Australian Pines along North Ocean Boulevard.

An aerial view of a beach in Hillsboro Beach, Florida.

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#6. Hillsboro Beach, Florida

Population: 2,011

Hillsboro Beach, a Fort Lauderdale suburb an hour outside Miami, has an urban feel with residents making an above-average income and owning their homes. The public school system is above average, and as with many other Floridian cities, there’s always the option of taking a beach day.

A bridge leading to a sandy beach in Dutch Island, Georgia.

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#5. Dutch Island, Georgia

Population: 1,247

Dutch Island, on the outskirts of Savannah, is like stepping into another world. The tight-knit island community was built among 500 acres of pristine natural beauty and prides itself as a perfect place for retirees thanks to its quiet and serene atmosphere. Dutch Island is small, with just 480 homes, and offers plenty of activities, including tennis, beach volleyball, boating, hiking, and a community pool.

An aerial view of the waters of South Palm Beach, Florida.

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#4. South Palm Beach, Florida

Population: 1,875

An affluent and safe city, South Palm Beach is a haven for retirees. Its attractions include museums, golfing, dining, shopping, proximity to airports, and of course, beaches. There are plenty of retirement communities and easy access to reputable health services.

A man fishing in Indian River Shores, Florida.

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#3. Indian River Shores, Florida

Population: 4,217

As of early 2023, the median cost for a home in the resort town of Indian River Shores was $774,700. Residents, however, get value from an affluent, low-key neighborhood that has a suburban feel and a strong public school system to keep property values high.

An aerial view of a neighborhood in Highland Beach, Florida.

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#2. Highland Beach, Florida

Population: 4,244

Highland Beach, located in Palm Beach County, is an ideal location for retirees with its laid-back, relaxing beaches and scenic views. Highland Beach is situated between the more popular cities of Delray Beach and Boca Raton. The Palm Beach area has a huge golfing scene for those who are interested in the sport.

A lone golf cart on a golf course in Lake Success, New York.

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#1. Lake Success, New York

Population: 2,856

This village on Long Island, just outside New York City, offers fitness center memberships and planned game and movie nights. There’s plenty of opportunity for golfing at Lake Success Golf Club or the Fresh Meadow Country Club, which has been a historic destination for celebrities including baseball legend Babe Ruth.