If retirement is on your mind, you might be wondering which places offer the most benefits for retirees. Apart from moving closer to family, you have loads of factors to consider. But with so many options available, how do you choose?
Using data from PayScale.com, Numbeo, Zillow, and other sources to account for cost of living, health care, and home values, here are 10 southern U.S. cities that could provide an ideal retirement destination.
If you’re saving for retirement, your cost of living is likely top of mind when considering where to live. PayScale.com measures cost of living by U.S. state with factors such as housing, utilities, groceries, and transportation. Amarillo’s overall cost of living was 14% lower than the national average.
According to Zillow, the typical value of U.S. homes as of March 31, 2022, was $337,560. In the same time frame, Amarillo home values were at $186,069, or well below the national average.
Amarillo is within close proximity to Palo Duro Canyon State Park and lies within the midway point of U.S. historic Route 66. There’s also no state income tax, which could be a consideration if you’re planning to work during retirement.
Population: 200,393 (according to 2020 U.S. Census)
Cost of living: 14% lower than the national average
Health care rank: 69.07 (the closer you are to 100, the better)
Home values: $186,069
If you’re interested in Georgia, but want to avoid Atlanta, consider Augusta instead. Cost of living and home values are lower than the national averages, but you still get the amenities of a big city.
Augusta is located on the Savannah River along the border of South Carolina. It’s home to the Masters golf tournament and is a few hours’ drive from the coast.
Cost of living: 13% lower than the national average
Health care rank: 70
Home values: $163,397
An easy way to save in retirement is to find inexpensive housing. Since this upfront cost could immediately cut into your retirement funds, you might not want to put a lot of your savings toward an expensive home.
Birmingham has affordable housing, a low cost of living, and is famous for its civil rights history, Alabama barbecue, and its proximity to outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking, and more.
Cost of living: 9% lower than the national average
Health care rank: 70.13
Home values: $103,431
If you want a retirement filled with outdoor activities, look no further than Chattanooga. Located across the northern border of Georgia, this Tennessee city is surrounded by mountains, parks, rivers, and forests — making it easy to enjoy all the benefits of nature.
But it’s still a fairly large city with house values lower than the national average and a high health care score. Even better, Tennessee has no taxes on income wages, retirement income, Social Security income, or pension income.
Cost of living: 3% lower than the national average
Health care score: 75.62
Home values: $263,373
Home to Duke University and situated close to the University of North Carolina, Durham is a popular college town that could be an excellent city for retirement. Home values are above the national average, but the cost of living is lower and the health care ranking is high.
Since homes are slightly more expensive here on average, you might want to research the best jobs for working during retirement. The proximity to multiple large universities could be helpful in finding employment.
Cost of living: 11% lower than the national average
Health care rank: 75.67
Home values: $398,339
The Carolinas offer some remarkable opportunities to settle down, including in Greenville. While not exactly a college town, Greenville is close enough to Clemson that it could be considered such. For any retirees seeking a college atmosphere with loads of local events, this could be an option for you.
Home values are below the national average, as is the cost of living. The population here isn’t too small to lack amenities, but it’s small enough to not feel like a huge city.
Cost of living: 5% lower than the national average
Health care rank: 77.13
Home values: $281,007
If retirement to you means plenty of good food, don’t overlook Lafayette. New Orleans likely has more eating options, but heading somewhere nearby like Lafayette could make more sense for your wallet.
You’ll still have good famous Louisiana dishes and your overall cost of living, including housing affordability, is likely to be lower. If you want to explore some of the larger, nearby cities, Baton Rouge and New Orleans are easily within driving distance.
Cost of living: 10% lower than the national average
Health care rank: 77.78
Home values: $203,788
Close to Durham, but with a much larger population, Raleigh is a happening place for many different reasons. This could include its proximity to Duke and the University of North Carolina, but you’re also close to a variety of parks, lakes, and recreation areas.
The cost of living here is lower than the national average and the health care rank is high, but you have higher home values. Home prices are still likely lower than many major U.S. cities and the increased cost could be worth living here.
Cost of living: 5% lower than the national average
Health care rank: 75.64
Home values: $436,641
Just up the road from Greenville, Spartanburg is a less-populated city with potentially more affordability. If you want a bit more distance from the college atmosphere and more of a small-town feel, this could be an ideal location for you.
The home values are well south of the national average and the cost of living is lower. The health care rank is lower compared with other cities on this list, but you’re reasonably close to many large cities if needed, including Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta.
Cost of living: 12.3% lower than the national average (according to Salary.com)
Health care rank: 59.44
Home values: $194,105
Vero Beach, Fla.
A list of southern retirement cities wouldn’t be complete without an addition from Florida. The Sunshine State has seen a large population growth in recent years as people flock to warmer climes, but there’s still room for more.
Vero Beach, located on the Atlantic coast between Miami and Orlando, is a small city with beautiful beaches and weather. The housing prices are higher than the national average, but that’s to be expected for houses close to the beach.
Cost of living: 2% lower than the national average
Health care rank: 66.44
Home values: $349,691
Choosing a place to live during retirement isn’t always as easy as moving close to family. There are loads of factors to consider, including how much it’s going to cost, what amenities are available nearby, and what type of lifestyle you want to lead.
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