15 Great U.S. Small Towns to Retire if You Want Peace and Quiet

If a quiet retirement sounds good to you, these small towns may be a good place for you.

senior woman sitting on bench at terrace enjoying coffee
Updated May 28, 2024
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As you think about your future, where do you see yourself? Do you find yourself dreaming about retiring early? Or maybe you just like to plan ahead. One thing anyone should consider is the type of community you hope to live in once you no longer have to worry about your work commute.

You may want a smaller town, perhaps someplace quiet with less traffic. At the same time, you don’t plan to sit at home watching TV, so you want the town to offer fun things to do and local experiences.

These are some of the best U.S. small towns for retirement that offer a quiet place to live with plenty to do.

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Franklin, Tennessee

John/Adobe lush green grass surrounded with trees in tennessee

Population: 83,454

Cost of living: $42,999 per year

Often cited as one of the best towns to live in, Franklin is about 30 minutes from Nashville. While you can easily travel to Music City for entertainment, this smaller town, with local golf courses and a few art galleries, will keep you busy.

It’s a more affluent community, which means saving for retirement may mean putting aside a bit more. However, the 16-block historic district, beautiful parks, and low state taxes help to make it well worth consideration.

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Coolidge, Arizona

Paul Moore/Adobe vacant ruins of casa grande on hot sunny day

Population: 13,218

Cost of living: $39,077

If the thought of warm weather throughout the year, incredible golf courses, and a quiet lifestyle sound perfect, explore Coolidge, a small town about 60 miles away from Phoenix.

It’s certainly warm here, but it’s also a good place for those who want to hike in the desert, tour a few archaeological sites at the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, and spend some time supporting the local community. There are lots of community events here, including Calvin Coolidge Days and Cotton Days.

Cedar Key, Florida

Thomas/Adobe brown pelican sitting on fence besides water at cedar keys florida

Population: 687

Cost of living: $33,061

You want the Florida retirement experience (for so many reasons), but you seek a quieter lifestyle. Consider Cedar Key, a community noted for its retirement lifestyle on the Gulf Coast.

It’s perfect when you want to be in a true small town while also being near the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge for hiking and exploring, as well as within a short drive to the waterfront for beaches and sailing. It’s also just about an hour outside of Gainesville.

Without a state income tax, your money is likely to go further here, especially if you hope to spend most of it in warm year-round weather.

Caldwell, Idaho

OLya_L/Adobe trees with orange leaves besides boise river in idaho during fall season

Population: 59,996

Cost of living: $32,995

Caldwell is a peaceful place to live outside the big city and surrounded by natural areas. It’s a growing community with a lot of new development, and boasts a planetarium, a number of wineries, and Indian Creek Park, which winds through the town.

It’s only about 28 miles from Boise, which provides easy access to the airport and other amenities.

Liberty, Missouri

DirkDMyers/Adobe birds flying around green trees during day time in missouri

Population: 30,167

Cost of living: $33,212

Liberty is a fantastic place to call home for those who want to remain very active within their community, attending sporting events and entertainment and exploring parks. The city is home to the Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary, the ideal place for a walk.

It’s easy to find good food and small shops in the downtown area of the city, too. You can take in a show at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts or head off to one of the golf courses nearby. Being just outside of Kansas City means you have access to a wide range of amenities.

Burlington, Vermont

vermontalm/Adobe man standing in sailing schooler enjoying sunset on Lake champlain in vermont

Population: 44,743

Cost of living: $44,953

Burlington is a fantastic smaller community located in the northern portion of this New England state. If you want to live in an upscale community that’s only a few hours from Boston, consider the value of this community.

As the home of the University of Vermont, there are coffee shops, art galleries, and smaller shops in the downtown area. You’ll also find plenty of hiking and biking options. Its location on Lake Champlain means fishing and sailing, and kayaking for those who want to remain active. There are also fantastic wintertime activities nearby, including downhill skiing.

Paso Robles, California

Dennis M. Swanson/Adobe green vineyards in california during day time with shadows

Population: 31,759

Cost of living: $46,187

Let’s say you love the thought of living in California and being close enough to the big cities, but want a quieter location to call home. Check out Paso Robles, a community that’s tucked in between Los Angeles and San Francisco with a fabulous farmer’s market, wine tasting rooms, art galleries, and high-end dining.

The downtown area is quite walkable for an evening stroll. There are also several bike paths nearby, golf courses, and fishing.

Sitka, Alaska

elchachos/Adobe snow over mountains in downtown sitka alaska

Population: 8,458

Cost of living: $46,259

If a remote town is the level of quiet you’re looking for, Sitka is a good choice. It’s 95 miles outside of Juneau and certainly quiet, with the mountains wherever you look.

The community is fabulous for retirement if you want to remain active. There are waterfront sailing opportunities and plenty of wildlife around every bend. It’s certainly the type of community for those who want a cabin in the snow-covered woods.

Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Christopher Sommer/Wirestock Creators/Adobe pocono mountains in stroudsburg, pennsylvania

Population: 5,927

Cost of living: $38,862

Quiet is the perfect word to describe the community of Stroudsburg, which is nestled in the Pocono Mountains. It’s the perfect place for those who want to be close enough to outdoor adventures, like hiking and skiing, but also want their own slice of peace.

The downtown area is quite charming, with several small stores, a farmer’s market, and antique shops, but it is also home to some fantastic small restaurants and coffee shops.

Hamilton, Montana

outdoorsman/Adobe male cowboy riding horse at Montana ridge

Population: 4,659

Cost of living: $38,147

Hamilton is simply beautiful, a rural town that’s tucked into the mountains with beautiful sunrises every morning. It’s the type of community where you’re far removed from the busy lifestyle and easily able to get to know your neighbors (if you want to do so).

Missoula is the biggest nearby town, and that’s about an hour’s drive. Hamilton has a few shops and restaurants, a number of historic buildings, and its home to Bitterroot College. If you want small-town living in retirement in a ranch environment, check out this area.

Luray, Va.

cindygoff/Adobe shenandoah mountains with lush green fields in luray virginia

Population: 4,831

Cost of living: $34,002

The town of Luray is the quintessential small community. It sits on Lake Arrowhead, providing lots of fun water activities, and is just a short drive from the Shenandoah National Park.

Though the summers can become a bit busier, thanks to the tourists who come to explore the Luray Caverns and Appalachian Trail, it’s still quite a small, peaceful place to live.

Mequon, Wisconsin

alenamozhjer/Adobe boat pier beach with green trees and forests at lake Michigan

Population: 25,142

Cost of living: $36,121

If cold weather doesn’t bother you, consider retiring in Mequon, a small town located just outside of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan. There are dozens of parks nearby, several golf courses, lots of fishing and boating opportunities, and a farmer’s market.

The city itself has locally owned shops and restaurants, too. There’s a strong Lions Club present and lots of smaller community organizations if you want community activity.

Dillsboro, North Carolina

David/Adobe lake in north carolina

Population: 213

Cost of living: $38,157

When you say small, how about choosing a city to retire in that is home to just a couple hundred people? Dillsboro has much to offer even as a small community, including 100-year-old buildings, small shops, and a few artisan restaurants and coffee houses.

It’s also a very artistically charming community, hosting various events throughout the year that draw tourists and nearby residents. Spend your days hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or head to Asheville for more modern shopping.

Greer, South Carolina

JBStudios/Adobe pine trees at sunset

Population: 35,308

Cost of living: $34,279

Greer has seen some growth in recent years, but still has a small-town feel, thanks to the various community events it hosts, including a farmer’s market, festivals, and lots of holiday-themed programs. Greer has dozens of local parks and is close to lakes and parks for weekend trips.

The city is a short drive to the Greenville-Spartanburg airport and an Amtrak station. Or you can drive to Charlotte in less than two hours.

Bottom line

moodboard/Adobe happy senior african american couple walking on beach

Choosing the wrong place to retire is one of the more common ways retires can get into financial trouble. But you can stop throwing money away if you spend time planning ahead.

There's no need to retire in the big city or to deal with the noise of endless suburbia. Why not plan a retirement that’s focused on a quiet, higher quality of life? Any of these locations could be a good option. Don’t forget to consider international destinations for retirement, too. 

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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.