10 Best Cities in the West That are Perfect for Retirees

Thinking about retiring? You may want to consider some of these cities in the West that could be perfect for your post-work adventures.
Updated April 3, 2023
senior couple jumping on the beach happy in love

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Not all retirees long for the sun and sand of Florida when they retire. Some prefer the warmth of the desert or the ocean on the West Coast. They may also like winter sports in the Rocky Mountains or rain in the Northwest.

While retiring in the West may not be as expected as retiring in Florida, there are still plenty of options to settle into a post-work life closer to the Rocky Mountains and beyond. And choosing the right place to retire could help you avoid the common ways that seniors throw away money.

So which cities may be good for you to try if you want to retire in the West? Here are a few ideas to start.

Idaho Falls, Idaho

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Boise Idaho USA Downtown

Last year, the AARP named Idaho Falls one of the best cities to retire in the U.S. The city’s River Walk includes 14 miles of trail for active retirees as well as shops and restaurants downtown. And if you want to get out in nature, the city is close to plenty of outdoor activities nearby or a two-hour drive to Yellowstone National Park.

Boulder, Colorado

Jim Glab/Adobe Hikers approach the Rocky Mountain foothills near Boulder Colorado

Boulder is a great mid-size mountain town nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The home of the University of Colorado, Boulder is known for its vibrant art scene.

Retirees may also enjoy any number of outdoor activities nearby all year such as hiking and skiing. And Colorado is friendly to retirees with tax breaks on retirement income and low property taxes.

Las Vegas, Nevada

StockPhotoAstur/Adobe Paris Resort Casino

Do you like more city entertainment than outdoor activities? Then Las Vegas may be the place for you. The city boasts plenty of casinos to entertain you as well as world-class restaurants and entertainment. Nevada has no state income tax and your pension or Social Security benefits won’t be taxed either. 

And you may be surprised to find that Las Vegas has a lower cost of living compared with other cities, which may be helpful if you’re living on a fixed income.

Palm Springs, California

photogolfer/Adobe Golf course at sunset in Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs may be a great place to live if “play more golf” is on your retirement wish list. The area boasts more than 100 golf courses and plenty of sunshine, making it perfect for golfers.

But be aware that the cost of living in the area is higher than the national average. If you’re looking into smart money moves to make after age 40, then you should know that you might have to be more aggressive with your savings plan to buy a home there.

With more than 32% of the population over the age of 65, there are plenty of activities. Plus, the city’s infrastructure and benefits may cater to an older population.

Amarillo, Texas

Alisha/Adobe Palo Duro Canyon State Park Outside of Amarillo Texas

Texas is big with plenty of cities to choose from, but Amarillo may be a good compromise. It has more than 200,000 people, which makes it a good mid-size city. The cost of living is also more reasonable than in other areas with a home selling for around $180,000. That might make it more enticing for retirees who don’t want a big-city life with big-city prices.

St. George, Utah

Andrew/Adobe Saint George Utah Historic Downtown 13

St. George is another town that offers outdoor activities for active retirees. The town is next to Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and only an hour’s drive from Zion National Park, giving residents plenty of opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature.

The city is also part of the Mojave Desert, which gives it a warmer climate than the rest of the West. And residents have a higher life expectancy than the national average.

Missoula, Montana

Westley/Adobe mountain biking Missoula Montana

For those who want to get outside and explore, Missoula is considered one of the most active cities for retirees. The city is home to plenty of fly fishing in area rivers, which was celebrated in Norman Maclean’s book "A River Runs Through It."

It’s also close to several ski resorts and the University of Montana for those who want to continue academics in their retirement years.

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

Flagstaff, Arizona

Norm/Adobe Flagstaff and Grand Canyon Road Sign in the Arizona Pine Forest

Flagstaff has a great climate for retirees, mixing the warmth of the southwest with the coolness of a higher elevation than the rest of the state.

In Arizona, you can avoid throwing money away on taxes with tax breaks for retirees, including no inheritance or estate tax and no tax on your Social Security income. Instead, you may be able to spend that extra cash looking over the vibrant work from the art scene in the area.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Wirestock/Adobe beautiful sunset over a field in Santa Fe New Mexico

More than 20% of Santa Fe’s population is over the age of 65, making it an ideal place for those who may want an area that caters to an older community. Its cool, dry climate also could be appealing to retirees who like to get out in nature.

It also has a low cost of living for those on a fixed income. And you may want to check out its vibrant art scene, including the Santa Fe Opera with shows in an outdoor amphitheater.

Bend, Oregon

Hollice Looney/Danita Delimont/Adobe Black Butte Ranch in Central Oregon

Bend, like other cities on this list, has plenty of outdoor activities for retirees to enjoy. Consider everything from skiing in the winter to kayaking in the summer. The city also has a more moderate climate than other areas of the country, so you can enjoy the area without the extreme heat or cold depending on the season.

And while you may have to pay some taxes on pensions or retirement account withdrawals, the state doesn’t tax Social Security income.

Bottom line

MarekPhotoDesign.com/Adobe question handwritten on a napkin

Check your current retirement portfolio, including retirement accounts and the best savings accounts, to see what your potential budget may look like when you’re ready to quit working.

There are ways to make any city viable for you in retirement, depending on the kind of things you want for your post-work life. And you can also look into ways to boost your savings account and supplement your Social Security income so that your dream location can work for you.

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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.

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