The Top 10 Worst Cities in the Southeast for Retirees

From humidity horrors to budgetary blues, explore the Southern cities retirees wish they'd avoided.
Updated May 8, 2024
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Are you thinking about retiring in the Southeast? While there are certainly fantastic places to call home, some cities might not be best for retirees.

The following places can pose major challenges for retirees. Some cities are expensive, making them a bad choice if you want to keep more money in your wallet. Others have additional drawbacks, such as stormy weather.

Here are the worst cities for retirement in the Southeast — and why you might want to consider other options.

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Palm Beach, Florida

jovannig/Adobe water color of palm beach

There’s certainly a beach chair with your name on it in Palm Beach. And if you have an endless budget to enjoy the luxury resorts, you will find the pampering you desire.

While vacationing in Palm Beach is great, retirement here isn’t ideal — especially if you plan to retire early and want your savings to last long-term. The cost of living in Palm Beach is much higher than the average in Florida.

Augusta, Georgia

Courtesy of Augusta National Golf Club A shot of the fairway at Augusta National Golf Club

If you’re hoping to work into retirement, you might want to avoid Augusta. Although the city is rich in history and offers ample golf courses, there's plenty of job competition.

Although unemployment is relatively low here — just 3.8%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — finding a job can still be challenging.


PixieMe/Adobe waterfront in miami city

Endless fun in the sun may sound good, especially if you enjoy lavish meals and sunsets on a yacht. But if your retirement account isn’t flush enough to support those desires, you may not find Miami an excellent place to retire.

According to Zillow, the typical home sells for $558,856. And if you want a condo with a treasured oceanfront view, you'll have to dig deep to pay for it.

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New Orleans

Alberto Lama/Adobe new orleans in a sunny beautiful day

New Orleans may seem to have ample culture and history, exceptional food and nightlife, and even mild weather most of the year.

However, the risk of bad weather from storms and hurricanes, along with the intolerable humidity, makes it less pleasant than you might think.

In addition, taxes are relatively high here. The combined sales tax rate for Louisiana and Orleans Parish is 9.45%.

Jacksonville, North Carolina

sauseyphotos/Adobe Outer Banks, NC

While Jacksonville offers some great beaches and a moderate cost of living, the weather here is a concern for those who want year-round outdoor fun.

Particularly problematic is the combination of a high risk of hurricanes and storms with humidity. That humidity also brings numerous pests into your backyard.

Still, if you are trying to escape snow, Jacksonville might work for you.

Spartanburg, South Carolina

Kevin Ruck/Adobe Main Street Drone Panorama of Spartanburg

Spartanburg has warm weather, but the cost of living can be relatively high. According to Zillow data, the median rent is $1,445.

In addition, some parts of the city have high crime rates, and the area has been criticized for being insufficiently walkable and lacking bike lanes.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

rodphotography/Adobe aerial view panorama of Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is a beautiful location noted for its beaches and shopping. However, it’s also a pricey place to live, making it less desirable for retirees.

Specifically, the city is known for having a higher cost of living than many places in Florida.

Nashville, Tennessee

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Nashville Tennessee USA city skyline

Music lovers, especially those who enjoy country music, may be drawn to Nashville. However, this noted tech center and tourism destination is not a cheap place to live.

According to RentCafe, housing costs are about 32% higher than the state average and 6% higher than the national average.

Charlotte, North Carolina

David/Adobe Charlotte north carolina skyline

Although Charlotte often receives positive reviews — especially for those looking for a good job market and a moderate cost of living — there are a few drawbacks to retiring here.

Notably, this community is on its way up, raising the cost of living and increasing competition for quality housing. There's also growing traffic congestion, especially in the Uptown area.

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SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe atlanta skyline featuring skyscrapers and a ferris wheel.

Atlanta is one of the biggest cities in the Southeast, which certainly offers big-city charm and entertainment. However, costs can be higher here.

According to PayScale, the median rental cost of a 1 bedroom apartment is $1,750, and transportation costs are also high.

Health care is accessible, and some notable quality hospitals and medical centers are present. However, according to PayScale, the cost of care is about 7% higher than the national average.

Bottom line

InsideCreativeHouse/Adobe senior couple reviewing bills at home

The Southeast is noted for its high quality of life, good weather, and charming amenities geared toward retirees. But not all cities here are created the same.

As you compare options for where to live in the region, look beyond the main cities and the consistent draw of locations such as Florida to find smaller communities with more to offer.

Looking beyond the cities on this list might help you find the right community at a price that allows you to keep more money in the bank.

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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, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.

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