10 Best Cities for Retirees in the Midwest (Where Your Money Could Stretch Far)

Whether you're looking for tax benefits or a vibrant community, there are great options for retirees across the Midwest.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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When most Americans think of retirement, they often imagine places like Florida or Arizona. Some may even have dreams of leaving the country or moving out to a nice, secluded island.

But not everyone is interested in warmer weather. The Midwest has plenty of cities that are great options for spending your golden years in ways that help you avoid wasting money.

From secluded small towns to vibrant metro areas where retirees can live well below the national cost-of-living average, here are 10 great Midwestern towns to consider for your retirement.

Akron, Ohio

SixthCity/Adobe lush green gardens in Akron Ohio

Akron makes our list because of its relatively low cost of living for retirees. Whether you are planning to buy a home or apartment or are looking for a great place to rent, the Ohio city offers some great deals.

About 15% of the population of Akron is 65 or older, and the city has a vibrant and thriving downtown arts scene. Akron provides plenty of opportunities to socialize and get involved in the community as well.

Population: 189,347 (according to 2021 U.S. Census estimates)

Population 65+: 15.1%

Median monthly costs (owners with a mortgage): $976

Median monthly rent: $795

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Jacob/Adobe large State University in Ann Arbor, Michigan

While Ann Arbor is one of the pricier options on the list, it has many other great benefits for retirees, including proximity to great health centers and public transportation options for those looking to stop driving, or at least to cut back on their time behind the wheel.

The city is also home to the University of Michigan, which runs a Geriatrics Center and Institute of Gerontology that focuses on health care issues that tend to develop with aging.

Population: 121,536 (according to 2021 U.S. Census estimates)

Population 65+: 11.9%

Median monthly costs (owners with a mortgage): $1,990

Median monthly rent: $1,299

Columbus, Ohio

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Columbus Ohio USA skyline on the river

Columbus is another great option for retirees in Ohio. Not only are living costs low, but the state’s largest city also has plenty to offer residents of all ages.

It is home to Ohio State University, so there are always activities going on around the campus. Plus, Columbus boasts a downtown area with an eclectic mix of restaurants, galleries, and shops.

Population: 906,528 (according to 2021 U.S. Census estimates)

Population 65+: 10.4%

Median monthly costs (owners with a mortgage): $1,345

Median monthly rent: $989

Des Moines, Iowa

f11photo/Adobe Des Moines Iowa skyline in USA

Moving to Des Moines will give retirees the opportunity to enjoy big-city living on a relatively small budget. There are plenty of health centers in the area that offer services related to issues that may arise due to aging.

There is also a vibrant art scene, with plenty of local museums and galleries. You will even find a nearby casino and racetrack.

Population: 212,031 (according to 2021 U.S. Census estimate)

Population 65+: 12%

Median monthly costs (owners with a mortgage): $1,249

Median monthly rent: $881

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Southport Images/Adobe Aerial view of Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Eau Claire prides itself on being a great locale for everything “indie,” so artsy retirees who would enjoy community events like a chainsaw sculpture championship or live music at the local pub should consider this Wisconsin gem.

Cost-of-living is pretty middle of the road, and with more than 16% of the population 65 and older, retirees should have no problem making friends in Eau Claire.

Population: 106,452 (according to 2021 U.S. Census estimate)

Population 65+: 16.4%

Median monthly costs (owners with a mortgage): $1,346

Median monthly rent: $818

Fargo, North Dakota

Wirestock/Adobe downtown Fargo North Dakota

When it comes to affordability, Fargo, North Dakota, is a great and tax-friendly option for retirees. The city is also home to North Dakota State University, so there is plenty to do around the campus when it comes to athletics and entertainment.

But anyone considering a move to Fargo should also take the weather into account. Be prepared for particularly frigid winters: In January, the average low hovers in the single digits Fahrenheit.

Population: 126,748 (according to 2021 U.S. Census estimate)

Population 65+: 12.8%

Median monthly costs (owners with a mortgage): $1,496

Median monthly rent: $821

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Dmitry/Adobe Fort Wayne city flag city of Indiana

Fort Wayne is another great option with a low cost of living for retirees. The area also has a lively arts scene and is home to several festivals throughout the year.

Plus, it’s a good option for those who enjoy the great outdoors, with proximity to three rivers — the St. Marys, the St. Joseph, and the Maumee — as well as miles of hiking and biking trails.

Population: 265,974

Population 65+: 14.2%

Median monthly costs (owners with a mortgage): $1,010

Median monthly rent: $777

Kansas City, Missouri

Sean/Adobe Kansas City Skyline at sunset

The Kansas City metro area has a lot to offer, so it’s no wonder so many retirees choose to spend their time there.

It has an eclectic music and arts scene and offers incredible attractions like the American Jazz Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kansas City Art Institute, and more. It also has quite the foodie culture.

Population: 508,394 (according to 2021 U.S. Census estimate)

Population 65+: 13.3%

Median monthly costs (owners with a mortgage): $1,391

Median monthly rent: $979

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Susan/Adobe lovely park in Sioux City South Dakota

Sioux Falls recently made the top five in the Milken Institute’s list of best small metro areas to retire.

The city has been lauded for its resources for older folks, including hospitals specializing in services needed by older Americans. From museums to theaters to breweries, there's plenty to keep you busy in the city.

Population: 196,528 (according to 2021 U.S. Census estimate)

Population 65+: 12.9%

Median monthly costs (owners with a mortgage): $1,411

Median monthly rent: $838

Troy, Michigan

SNEHIT PHOTO/Adobe bright autumn trees by scenic walking trail in Michigan state park

Troy makes the list for a few reasons: There are a large number of health services available in the area, it has a low crime rate, and it has a big population of residents over the age of 65 (more than 17%).

There is also plenty to do in the city — located just 20 miles north of Detroit — including visiting the city’s Historic Village, taking delightful nature walks, or grabbing a meal at one of an eclectic mix of dining options.

Population: 86,836

Population 65+: 17.3%

Median monthly costs (owners with a mortgage): $1,911

Median monthly rent: $1,239

Bottom line

Monkey Business/Adobe senior couple standing at top of hill on hike

While plenty of people decide to head down South after they retire — either because of the tax benefits or because they simply can’t bear to think of another winter of shoveling snow — there are benefits to settling down in the Midwest as well.

Overall cost and proximity to top medical facilities are two big factors to consider, but several of the options on this list also offer retirees the opportunity to stay active, engaged, and entertained.

If you hope to save money and eliminate unnecessary money stress, the Midwest can be a great place to spend your golden years.

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Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.