Retiring Soon? Consider Living in These Up-And-Coming Cities

Retire in style in these vibrant and affordable cities.
Last updated May 19, 2023 | By Michelle Smith Edited By Ellen Cannon
senior couple looking at map in hand while sitting on bench

We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Whether you’re planning to retire early or continue your career through your 70s, it’s never too soon to start thinking about where you want to spend the rest of your life.

While some people have always dreamed of retiring to senior-friendly states like Florida, others prefer to avoid the crowds and the high costs that come with a hot housing market. If that describes your situation, keep reading.

The 15 cities on our list are growing but still affordable, making them perfect for soon-to-be retirees.

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

Georgetown, Texas

Cbrady310/Wirestock Creators/Adobe courthouse georgetown building with cars parked on streets at sunset

Out of any city on our list, Georgetown, Texas, experienced the most considerable growth of any small city. According to U.S. Census data, the town’s population grew by 10.5% between July 2020 and July 2021.

The town is about a half-hour north of Austin, meaning residents are close to some of the country's best food, museums, and entertainment. However, Georgetown has such a strong arts and culture scene that you may settle in for a while after moving.

Want to learn how to build wealth like the 1%? Sign up for Worthy to get ideas and advice delivered to your inbox.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe empty streets with few cars in santa fe new mexico

New Mexico’s capital city experienced the most significant growth of any city in New Mexico between 2010 and 2020. Yet, even with all that growth, it isn’t a major urban hub by any means. Per the most recent census, Santa Fe has around 88,000 residents.

So if you’re looking for a retirement city that’s warm but not too warm, occasionally snowy but rarely humid, and big but not too big, Santa Fe could hit the spot. 

The city’s fantastic Southwestern architecture makes you feel right at home in the high desert, but the elevation ensures you experience more seasons than Arizona’s endless summer.

Queen Creek, Arizona

jerzy/Adobe green landscape near mountains and queen creek bridge in daylight.

Between 2020 and 2021, Queen Creek’s population grew by 8.9%, making it one of the fastest-growing small towns during the pandemic and beyond.

Technically, Queen Creek could be called a Phoenix suburb (it’s about 35 miles to the southeast), but it offers a quieter retirement than towns closer to the city center.

Queen Creek retains its rural, agricultural roots. You can pick your own fruits and vegetables at several local farms, visit the working olive press, and enjoy parks and trails across the nearby cities, mountains, and state parks.

Bend, Oregon

Cascade Photo/Adobe old mill district besides deschutes river in oregon during day time

Are you more interested in moving to a midsize hub over a small town? Bend consistently ranks as one of the fastest-growing midsize cities in the country. 

The city government also has a comprehensive plan to accommodate the population of nearly 155,000 it expects to see by 2040.

While Bend isn’t on Oregon’s gorgeous coastline, the Deschutes River ensures the city stays lush despite its location in Central Oregon’s high desert. 

The Cascade Mountains provide plenty of skiing and hiking opportunities to the west. At the same time, the sunny, dry weather ensures you can enjoy the Ponderosa pine forests and high desert scenery year-round.

Leander, Texas

Richard/Adobe golf cart path over stream in Leander, TX.

Multiple small Texas towns experienced high population growth rates from 2020 to 2021, including Leander, which grew by 10.1%. Like Georgetown, Leander is within 25 miles of Austin. 

And for a town in Central Texas, it’s also surprisingly wet. Multiple splash pads and water parks offer hours of entertainment for grandkids, nieces, nephews, and water-loving adults alike.

Fort Myers, Florida

Gage/Adobe aerial shot of downtown fort myers

If your heart is set on retiring in Florida, you can bring that dream to life while dodging the crowds that keep housing costs high in Miami and Key West. 

In 2021, Fort Myers was the sixth fastest-growing area in the U.S., bringing the city’s population to around 92,000 in 2020. That's a quarter of the size of Miami and nine times smaller than Jacksonville.

If outdoor adventure is your scene, Fort Myers has ample sailing, diving, and kayaking opportunities. Or, if you prefer indoor activities, the city’s theater, murder mystery train ride, and citrus harvest factory should keep you occupied.

Westfield, Indiana

MQ-Illustrations/Adobe westfield sign board on road besides orange sky

The population of Westfield only recently grew to more than 50,000. As of 2021, residents numbered 50,630. Thanks to Indiana’s low cost of living, it’s a fantastic option for retirees on a budget. 

In Westfield specifically, residents and visitors enjoy the city’s rich restaurant scene, nearby nature center, and sports complex.

Meridian, Idaho

Rob/Adobe meridian streets with gardens and small homes

Meridian is one of three Boise suburbs to make the U.S. Census Bureau’s list of fastest-growing American cities, and it’s not hard to see why people are drawn to the area. 

Shops, city parks, and a racetrack keep the city lively year-round. Boise’s many attractions are just a short drive away, and Idaho’s many national and state parks are within easy access.

Lincoln, California

Matt Gush/Adobe aerial view of buildings with streets full of cars in downtown lincoln california

California probably isn’t the first state that comes to mind when you picture an affordable retirement. 

However, plenty of small towns in California are expanding, which could make them prime retirement locations in the next few years. For instance, Lincoln recently surpassed the 50,000 population mark, growing to 50,649. 

As a Sacramento suburb, life in Lincoln combines big-city perks (concert venues, fine dining, and ample entertainment districts) with small-town fun, such as the local farmers market and high school rodeos.

Frisco, Texas

Nryan5714/Wirestock Creators/Adobe aerial shot of soccer stadium and hall of fame in texas

The small town of Frisco gained nearly 8,000 new residents between 2020 and 2021. The city is just a 25-minute trip from Dallas, but there’s no need to leave the city to enjoy yourself thoroughly. 

Along with regular city parks, Frisco is home to a hidden limestone quarry with a swimming hole and waterfall.

Frisco is also the new headquarters of the PGA of America, which includes the offices, two new golf courses, and a conference center.

While property taxes can be high in Texas, the state lacks an income tax, which helps keep costs low for seniors on a fixed income.

Buckeye, Arizona

jacob/Adobe aerial view of phoenix suburb with buildings and green parks at sunset

Buckeye’s population grew to over 100,000 just a few years ago, and the city seems primed to experience more growth over the coming years. 

Like Queen Creek, Buckeye is a Phoenix suburb, but since it’s 40 minutes to the west, Buckeye has had plenty of space to cultivate its own character.

The outdoor Buckeye Aquatics Center can help you stay cool all year long, and if you’re happy hiking in the heat, you can take advantage of the city’s proximity to high desert trails at Skyline Regional Park.

New Braunfels, Texas

Reagan/Adobe cars driving around roundabout in new braunfels during day time

New Braunfels grew by 8.3% in 2020, which put its population at just under 100,000 in mid-2021. The Guadalupe and Comal Rivers flow through New Braunfels, providing endless tubing, rafting, and even SCUBA diving opportunities. 

And as the name suggests, New Braunfels was founded largely by German settlers, making it fairly unusual in Texas’s cultural landscape.

Port St. Lucie, Florida

Felix Mizioznikov/Adobe aerial shot of greenery surrounding buildings in port st. lucie in florida

With more than 217,000 residents, Port St. Lucie is the biggest city on our list. This picturesque town is located directly on the Atlantic Coast in southern Florida, giving residents easy access to beautiful beaches and islands. 

It’s also ideally situated between Orlando and Miami, so if you get tired of the city’s seascapes, golf, shopping, and fine dining, you can easily spend the day enjoying Disney World or Little Havana.

Spring Hill, Tennessee

KCULP/Adobe green scenic landscape inside city during day time

If Florida’s densely populated beaches and Arizona’s constant heat don’t appeal to you, a retirement in the South could be a good fit. In 2020, Spring Hill’s population was just over 50,000, though it’s increased by at least 5.4% since then.

Just 35 miles south of Nashville, residents living the small-town lifestyle spend time at Spring Hill’s golf club, touring historic Civil War sites, and sorting through items at the city’s antique and bookstores for their next hidden gem.

Maricopa, Arizona

jacob/Adobe arizona suburb with greenery and buildings at sunrise

With a growth rate of 6.1%, Maricopa is among the fastest-growing Arizona cities. While every other Arizona city on this list is in Maricopa County, the city of the same name is actually the biggest incorporated area in the more rural Pinal County.

Still, Maricopa is just 40 minutes away from Phoenix. Located in the Gila River Valley, it has many outdoor adventure opportunities. The city’s other quirky draws include the Dwarf Car Museum and Maha Ganapati Temple.

Bottom line

Zamrznuti tonovi/Adobe senior couple laughing while hugging each other outside new home

These cities don’t rival Miami or Orlando as major retirement hubs — at least, not yet. 

But if you want to relocate for a better climate, pursue new hobbies, or make money on the side in retirement, any of these cities can provide you with a fantastic new place to call home.

Smart Asset Benefits

  • Get matched with fiduciary financial advisors
  • Advisors are vetted and certified fiduciaries
  • Take the mystery out of retirement planning
  • Their matching tool is free

Author Details

Michelle Smith Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.