9 Popular Retirement Spots You Might Want to Rethink

MANAGE MONEY - BUDGETING
Popular retirement spots are becoming expensive retirement spots, so it may be time to rethink where you want to live your post-work life.
Last updated Feb. 13, 2023 | By Jenny Cohen Edited By Ellen Cannon
happy senior couple having each other back and enjoying at beach

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As more Americans retire, many are seeking new places to live and spend their post-work years.

Perhaps you want to go somewhere that’s warm and close to nature. Or you may like a bigger city with plenty of activities and public transportation. The problem is you might not be the only one with the idea to retire in these places, and it could be especially hard to land a home if you haven’t been saving money for retirement.

Before you start shopping for your retirement residence, you may want to consider taking these super popular retirement spots off your list.

Las Vegas, Nevada

lucky-photo/Adobe busy las vegas strip at night full of lightning

Las Vegas can be a good place if you want somewhere dry and warm. It also has plenty of entertainment, delicious food, golf and pickleball, and lots of gambling.

But now may not be the best time to get a place in Sin City. The median home price was $375,000 in December, which is lower than its five-year high of $432,000 in June 2022, according to real estate website Redfin. But that cost reflects a run-up in housing prices in the past few years that is only starting to slow down.

Tampa, Florida

Daniel/Adobe florida sky lines with lightning from tampa bay with bridge over water

At 21%, Florida has the highest percentage of retired residents. They are attracted by the warm weather and outdoor life that so many retired Floridians enjoy.

But places like Tampa have potentially become too popular in recent years, pushing prices higher. Inventory is also declining, which could make it harder for you to find a desirable home that’s also affordable. There were 549 homes sold in Tampa in December, marking a 46.6% decline in homes sold compared with a year earlier. November, only a month earlier, was the first time less than 600 homes were sold in a month in the Tampa market in five years of Redfin records.

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Portland, Oregon

Josemaria Toscano/Adobe beautiful vista of portland, oregon

Portland may be a great place to retire on the West Coast, but it comes with a big price tag too. The median sale price for homes sold in December was $500,000, with 20.8% of homes selling above their list prices.

It may be a good idea to consider other cities in the area like Boise or Eugene, which may allow you to find a more affordable house with a similar Northwest feel.

Phoenix, Arizona

Dreamframer/Adobe aerial view of houses and buildings in phoenix, arizona

Phoenix is a growing city in the Sun Belt whose population has been on the rise in recent years. But the increase in residents may be having a negative effect on the housing market for potential buyers.

The median sale price of a home in the area has been above $400,000 for more than a year. The median price has come down a bit since a peak in the summer of 2022, but it was still at $410,000 in December 2022.

San Diego, California

f11photo/Adobe san diego skylines in front of water and palm trees

Sunny San Diego may seem like a great alternative to other cities in California. After all, the median sale price of a home in San Francisco, for example, is almost $1.3 million.

But it can still be pretty pricey to pick up a place in southern California. San Diego had a median sale price of $785,000 in December 2022 and 26.8% of homes sold above their list prices.

New York, New York

TTstudio/Adobe new york city skylines with cloudy sky

It’s the city that never sleeps, so you may never be at a loss to find something to do. Retiring in the Big Apple may sound appealing and exciting, but that excitement can come at a cost.

The median price for a home in Manhattan came in at $1.325 million in December, putting it above the budgets for some retirees. While fewer homes were sold in December 2022 than in 2021, the prices continue to rise in this expensive city.

Charleston, South Carolina

f11photo/Adobe palm trees and traffic lights in charleston street

Charleston could be considered a good southern alternative to a place like Florida, but you aren’t the only one who has thought of that. Charleston has seen a dramatic increase in its population in recent years, which means more competition if you’re looking for a new home.

Housing prices in the city reached a five-year high in November 2022 at $533,750. December saw only a slight decrease to $520,000. So while it may be more affordable than other cities in that region, you may want to hold off and let the market cool down a little more before considering it a place to retire.

Key West, Florida

ByDroneVideos/Adobe car driving on the road on caribbean sea island

Key West is another popular destination in Florida for retirees, but it’s an expensive one as well.

In the Conch Republic on the southern tip of Florida, the median sale price of a home was $1 million in December 2022. This price was 11% lower than a year before and, as with most cities, fewer homes were sold in 2022. Even if prices are decreasing, Key West is still an expensive choice for retirement.

Honolulu, Hawaii

jdross75/Adobe honolulu skylines in front of white sandy beach with green trees

Honolulu can be considered a tropical oasis, but it may be more gloomy than sunny if you’re a senior who might be throwing away money.

The median sale price for a home in Honolulu was $535,000 in December 2022. In fact, the housing market has been sitting in a band between $500,000 and $600,000 since June 2020.

Housing prices coupled with an overall cost of living 95% above the national average make Honolulu a nice place to visit, but you may not want to live there.

Bottom line

BillionPhotos.com/Adobe senior couple holding each others back walking down the sea coast

You may still want to live in a popular retirement spot, but you may have to find ways to supplement your Social Security income in order to afford it. Housing prices are decreasing in most markets, and the average mortgage rate may decline as inflation eases, which may make a retirement home more affordable.

And if you haven’t retired yet but are beginning to consider where you’ll live, create several retirement scenarios so you know how much you’ll have to save to afford the retirement home you want.

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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.