10 Fun U.S. Cities Where You Can Still Live Large in Retirement

MAKE MONEY - MONEY GOALS
If you want to remain busy during retirement and stretch your savings as far as possible, these top 10 retirement cities may fit your needs.
Last updated April 3, 2023 | By Sandy Baker Edited By Ellen Cannon
senior couple stopped after ride to have a conversation

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For those thinking about retirement, it’s often essential to consider two core things. First, having a location that’s affordable tends to be a priority, and second, there’s a need to choose a city that’s fun with lots of things to do.

It is important to look for ways to avoid wasting money to stretch your retirement savings further. With lower costs, these are cities in which you may keep more money in your pocket.

Charleston, South Carolina

jdross75/Adobe Charleston fountain from above

Cost of living: 6.4% below national average
Median home price: $170,100
Taxes: 7% state income tax
Health care access: 90% have health insurance

Charleston offers a blend of historically charming architecture and beaches perfect for swimming, boating, and sunbathing. 

In retirement, plan to spend time kayaking along Shem Creek, enjoying museums like the Gibbes Museum of Art, walking in Hampton Park, and exploring the historic district’s restaurants, artisan shops, and bars.

From the Lowcountry’s waterways to the exploration of historic sites like Fort Sumter, there’s much to enjoy here. For those who hope to find ways to supplement Social Security, the tourism industry could provide opportunities for that here.

Orlando, Florida

Kevin Ruck/Adobe Orlando Florida USA Downtown

Cost of living: 0.3% above national average
Median home price: $232,000
Taxes: 0% state income tax
Health care access: 87.9% have health insurance

Orlando may be noted for its theme parks, but there’s plenty to do in and around the city to interest older active adults. Activities include exploring the Kennedy Space Center that’s nearby or visiting the Lake Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve, with over 430 acres of beauty. 

Wekiva Island offers lots of hiking, canoeing, and paddle-boarding activities. For those who enjoy the outdoors, Lukas Nursery & Butterfly Encounter and Harry P. Leu Gardens are all fantastic options.

With numerous restaurants, parks, and shops throughout the city, Orlando may be a great place to call home.

Cincinnati, Ohio

jonbilous/Adobe Cincinnati skyline and Ohio River

Cost of living: 8.7% below national average
Median home price: $151,400
Taxes: 0 to 0.5% state income tax
Health care access: 93.5% have health insurance

The headquarters of Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati is a welcoming community that’s very affordable with plenty to do to stay active. 

That includes visits to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Carew Tower Observation Deck, and taking in a few professional sports, including the NFL’s Bengals and the MLB’s Reds.

There are numerous parks in the area, including Krohn Conservatory and Smale Riverfront Park, with its carousel. For fishing, Burnet Woods is an excellent choice.

Scottsdale, Arizona

desertsolitaire/Adobe downtown Scottsdale Arizona in the waterfront district

Cost of living: 3.2% above national average
Median home price: $242,000
Taxes: 0 to 2.59% state income tax
Health care access: 89.3% have health insurance

Scottsdale is noted for its retirement communities and higher quality of living. It's also one of the best places for those looking for luxury living in an area with exceptional weather throughout the year.

It has a strong art and cultural history as home to the Phoenix Symphony, Ballet Arizona, and Kerr Cultural Center. There are more than 13 parks that offer activities ranging from aquatics to tennis and senior programs.

The quality of life is good with several hospitals with stellar care and senior programs through various community centers. It’s also home to the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for seniors planning to travel.

Wilmington, Delaware

Christopher Boswell/Adobe Delaware River flows smoothly by Wilmington at dawn

Cost of living: 7.9% above national average
Median home price: $258,300
Taxes: 2.2 to 6.6% state income tax
Health care access: 94.3% have health insurance

Wilmington’s location is a big selling point: It’s two hours from New York City and Washington, D.C., but it’s a small town with a lot to offer on its own.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers a wealth of activities for seniors, from playing in an orchestra to classes in history. The Grand Opera House covers the professional performing arts with music, opera, and ballet.

On the Riverfront, you can walk or bike along the Christina River and visit the DuPont Environmental Education Center. There are numerous waterfront restaurants and activities like mini-golf here too.

Wilmington boasts many museums including the Delaware Art Museum, the historic Nemours Estate, the Hagley Museum on the site of the original DuPont gunpowder mills, the Winterthur Museum, and the gardens at Mount Cuba Center.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dansker Digital/Adobe Salt lake City drone profile with mountains

Cost of living: 1% below national average
Median home price: $305,400
Taxes: 4.95% state income tax
Health care access: 91% have health insurance

Salt Lake City offers some fantastic activities for retirees including locations like the Clark Planetarium, Red Butte Garden, and the Tracy Aviary.

For those who love museums, the Springville Museum of Art is spectacular, as is the Alf Engen Ski Museum. There’s also the Hogle Zoo, numerous outdoor events around music and food, and some of the best parks, such as Wasatch Mountains State Park.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Fort Lauderdale

Cost of living: 0.3% above national average
Median home price: $232,000
Taxes: 0% state income tax
Health care access: 87.9% have health insurance

Choosing Fort Lauderdale for retirement is quite common as the area is known for its warm weather throughout the year and numerous activities. The area is known for its high-rise condos and downtown amenities.

It’s on the Atlantic Ocean, which makes it an exceptional opportunity for those who enjoy boating and fishing. Cultural hotspots and lots of restaurants also make this area attractive.

San Francisco, California

Can Balcioglu/Adobe San Francisco California

Cost of living: 42.2% above national average
Median home price: $538,500
Taxes: 1 to 13.3% state income tax
Health care access: 93% have health insurance

Perhaps one of the largest cities on the list, San Francisco has much to offer those looking for an active retirement in the Bay Area. 

Its vibrant lifestyle offers benefits like attending the Berkeley Kite Festival, enjoying a coastal drive along the Bay, and finding the freshest food at the numerous farmers' markets. 

You can also learn the history of the area with destinations like the Hamon Observation Tower and Filoli Historic House and Garden. Walkable city streets, lots of outdoor parks, and great weather make it a good, although expensive, option for many.

Do you dream of retiring early? Take this quiz to see if it's possible.

Cedar Falls, Iowa

Christopher Boswell/Adobe Cedar Rapids Iowa Urban Waterfront

Cost of living: 10.9% below national average
Median home price: $153,900
Taxes: 0.36 to 8.98% state income tax
Health care access: 95.2% have health insurance

For those looking for a charming Midwest city, Cedar Falls has much to offer. It’s dotted with numerous parks and trails, including the Cedar Valley Trails system, which offers more than 100 miles of walking and biking trails. 

George Wyth Memorial State Park is an excellent location for fishing, birdwatching, and camping right on the beaches. The Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center offers a wonderful cultural experience, too.

Jackson, Tennessee

Christopher Boswell/Adobe Cedar Rapids Iowa Urban Waterfront

Cost of living: 11% below national average
Median home price: $177,600
Taxes: 1% state income tax
Health care access: 90% have health insurance

Another affordable option is Jackson, Tenn., the home of the historic Parkers Crossroads Battlefield, which you can visit via a self-guided driving tour or walking trails. There’s also history and fun restaurants at Casey Jones Village and N.C. & St. L. Depot and Railroad Museum.

The city is only an hour’s drive to the Memphis Zoo and other attractions in the city, including the Riverboat Tours. It’s a very affordable place to live, with lots of amenities, restaurants, parks, and shopping areas.

Bottom line

deagreez/Adobe old couple shopper hold bags car outside outdoors in urban city

These cities offer a range of luxury retirement living to affordable, relaxing lifestyles across the country. What’s more, many of these attractions offer discounts for seniors who want to have fun and take in all that a city has to offer.

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Author Details

Sandy Baker Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.