9 Southern Cities That are Getting Too Expensive for Retirees

You may want to retire in a warm, sunny city in the South, but check the cost of living before you pack up the moving van.
Last updated Aug. 25, 2022 | By Jenny Cohen | Edited By Ellen Cannon
human hand drawing retirement plan growth concept

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As you make retirement plans, you may consider things like your investments, medical and life insurance, and where you want to live.

But not every city is a good place to retire. Before settling on a new location, factor in the cost of living, quality of health care, and social factors for older Americans.

The key is to avoid throwing away your money in retirement by making poor choices. If you have Southern cities on your list of potential areas to move to when you retire, here are a few that you may want to cross off your list for being too expensive.

Palm Beach, Florida

lunamarina/Adobe Singer Island beach at Palm Beach Florida US

Florida may be an ideal destination for many retirees, but some places in the Sunshine State are much less affordable than others.

Take, for example, Palm Beach. The typical cost for a home in Palm Beach is more than $2 million, according to real estate website Zillow, and the value of a home there has gone up more than 46% in the past year.

Brentwood, Tennessee

Jon/Adobe Tennessee Sunrise

Brentwood’s proximity to Nashville may be appealing to retirees, particularly those who enjoy the music and other entertainment that the area can provide. But housing costs could turn down the volume of enthusiasm.

The typical home value for the city is more than $1.2 million, according to Zillow. That equates to an increase of 38% over the past year, which might make the area out of reach for retirees on a fixed income.

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Naples, Florida

Andriy Blokhin/Adobe multicolored cityscape with water fountain statue of Poseidon

Another warm retirement spot in Florida is Naples on the Gulf Coast side of the state, but it may not be a good place for retirees. The average home price is above $590,000 and has risen a dramatic 52% in the past year.

In addition, it’s important to account for funds you may need for nursing home care as you age. The average daily price for a private room in a nursing home in Naples is $490, well above the national average of $297, according to the American Council on Aging.

Greenville, Mississippi

jarvisjohnson/Adobe Mississippi Bridge at Greenville and LakePort

Greenville, situated on the Mississippi River, has a median home value of around $465,000, which could make it unaffordable for some retirees.

Then add in some other negative factors. For example, Mississippi has the least number of primary care doctors per resident, which could be an issue as you get older. The state also has the highest obesity rate in the country.

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Boca Raton, Florida

Venu/Adobe Boca Raton Florida gated community

Boca Raton is another Florida city that is home to many retirees. In fact, the median age of residents there is 48.5 years old, which is around 10 years higher than the national average.

But home prices are also a factor here, with the median price around $570,000, which Zillow says represents a 38% increase in the past year.

Isle of Palms, South Carolina

Christian Hinkle/Adobe Isle of Palms Pier at sunrise in Charleston South Carolina

Another area struggling with high home prices is Isle of Palms, South Carolina. The coastal town near Charleston saw homes sell for a median price of more than $1.5 million and had a 47% increase in prices in the past year, according to Zillow.

As a barrier island with only 11 feet in elevation, the island also may be prone to issues with storms. In fact, Hurricane Hugo, a Category 4 hurricane, caused extensive damage and flooding to the island in 1989.

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Georgetown, Texas

Woody/Adobe Court in Georgetown Texas

The good news is that you won’t get taxed on your retirement income or Social Security if you live in Georgetown. And you’ll live near Austin, which has a vibrant music and art community.

The bad news is you’ll need that money to pay for housing costs. The median home price for Georgetown is more than $551,000 and has increased more than 31% in the past year.

Hilton Head, South Carolina

eqroy/Adobe An empty sand beach in Hilton Head South Carolina United States

Almost 37% of Hilton Head’s population is over the age of 65, which may make it an appealing place to retire for older adults. But like many towns that are vacation destinations, it can also be costly to live there.

In addition to the high cost of living, Zillow estimates the average home value on the island is more than $730,000 with a more than 40% increase in the past year.

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Asheville, North Carolina

jonbilous/Adobe mountains and buildings in downtown Asheville

Housing prices could also be a factor in Asheville, which has a median home value of $431,000. That cost has risen nearly 21% in the past year, according to Zillow.

And if you plan to live there a long time, remember that the average daily cost for a private room in a nursing home is more than $300, according to the American Council on Aging.

Bottom line

winnievinzence/Adobe Sales man closing deal from business agreement contract

If you’ve worked hard to boost your retirement savings, you probably don’t want to spend all of that retirement money too quickly and end up short on funds. Instead, remember to factor in where you’re going to live when you decide it’s time to start your post-work life.

You may be surprised at what might be out of the comfort zone for retirees.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.