Whether you’re actively planning retirement or just dreaming about the future, we’ve done the homework for you.
Credit Karma compiled and analyzed data on more than 800 cities, looking at 28 factors including taxes on Social Security income, home prices, weather, social and health conditions for seniors, healthcare costs, and cost of living in general to compile a list of the best and worst places to retire. Take note: Cities that did not have data available for all 28 of these factors were disqualified from ranking. (See the full methodology.)
Here are the five best places to retire (No. 1 being the best), according to our rankings.
- The Villages, Florida
- Englewood, Florida
- Venice, Florida
- Punta Gorda, Florida
- Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
And here are the five worst places to retire (No. 1 being worst).
- Saratoga, California
- Palo Alto, California
- Beverly, Massachusetts
- Newport Beach, California
- Cupertino, California
Cities in Florida ranked quite well against our specific criteria for best places to retire. But not everyone loves warm weather, or necessarily values other criteria we’ve identified in our methodology. That’s why we provide additional details below to help put into context why some cities ranked as the best places to retire and why others ranked among the worst.
Read on for a deeper dive into some of the factors that went into our rankings, and how different places to retire stack up by individual factors.
Credit Karma Stat Snapshot
Best places to retire in the U.S.
Many of the best places to retire by our criteria are in Florida, but this isn’t simply because of the state’s strong weather scores. Florida has no state income tax, which means Social Security benefits aren’t taxed. Also, many of these Florida cities have 12-month average median home prices (2021–2022) that are low compared to cities in other warm-weather states, like Hawaii and California.
This table shows the 20 best places to retire, with an overall score and data on select factors. In our scoring system for this study, a lower score means the city is better when it comes to retirement. Scores ranged from 13.4 to 27.2.
20 best places to retire, based on our scoring
|Rank||City||Overall score (13.4–27.2)||Percentage of population age 65+||12-month avg. median home sales price (2021–2022)||Livability score (100 is best)|
|1||The Villages, FL||13.40||84.3%||$359,562||79|
|4||Punta Gorda, FL||14.59||50.4%||$407,512||84|
|6||Sun City Center, FL||14.75||69.1%||$315,037||77|
|7||Bonita Springs, FL||14.81||40.6%||$554,657||79|
|9||Palm Harbor, FL||14.95||28.4%||$376,126||86|
|12||Lady Lake, FL||14.98||53.7%||$313,946||87|
|13||Coconut Creek, FL||15.02||18.0%||$262,996||87|
|20||Fond du Lac, WI||15.16||16.3%||$160,942||74|
Several cities in Wisconsin ranked among the best places to retire, by our criteria. This was due to a variety of factors, including low poverty levels among 60-year-old residents in Wauwatosa (1.7% live below the poverty line), Sheboygan (2.7% live below the poverty line), and Kenosha (1.7% live below the poverty line). Though these Wisconsin cities have low annual average temperatures, relatively low average median home sales prices, and strong scores in terms of low social-isolation risk for seniors and high rates of dedicated healthcare providers.
Many of the top-ranked Florida cities have high percentages of their populations that are 65 years and older, good livability scores, annual average temperatures in the 70s, and solid social support for seniors at the state level — with a high percentage of older adults connected to the internet and one of the highest levels of community support expenditures per person age 60 or older.
Worst places to retire in the U.S.
Cities that ranked among the worst places to retire, according to our specific criteria, were brought down by several factors: high home prices, low levels of seniors among the population, high cost of living and expensive annual senior healthcare costs.
Many of the worst places to retire, by our criteria, are in California, with Alaska and Massachusetts making the list as well. These cities share characteristics such as high cost of living, median home prices above $1 million, low community-support expenditures per adult age 60 or older, and some strikingly high senior healthcare costs.
This table details the 20 cities ranked as the worst places to retire.
20 worst places to retire, based on our scoring
|Rank||City||Overall score (13.4–27.2)||Percentage of population age 65+||12-month avg. median home sales price (2021–2022)||Livability score (100 is best)|
|2||Palo Alto, CA||26.05||19.40%||$3,397,500||81|
|4||Newport Beach, CA||25.47||24.10%||$3,092,769||71|
|7||San Ramon, CA||22.33||11.20%||$1,616,250||85|
|8||Santa Barbara, CA||22.01||19.60%||$1,767,500||66|
|9||Redwood City, CA||21.99||12.90%||$1,792,769||74|
|12||Ranchos Palos Verdes, CA||21.79||25.60%||$1,727,404||82|
|13||Santa Monica, CA||21.76||17.90%||$1,671,269||69|
|15||Santa Cruz, CA||21.73||12.40%||$1,371,154||61|
|17||Santa Clara, CA||21.39||11.20%||$1,527,705||77|
|18||San Clemente, CA||21.34||18.80%||$1,510,865||80|
|19||San Jose, CA||21.33||12.90%||$1,310,962||66|
|20||San Rafael, CA||21.29||20.70%||$1,339,923||66|
Alaska has the highest average annual cost for an assisted living facility, as well as semiprivate rooms and private rooms at nursing home facilities, which (along with other factors) landed Anchorage among the worst places to retire. Meanwhile, though California cities like Saratoga, Newport Beach and Rancho Palos Verdes are seeing roughly a quarter of their population at age 65 or older, housing costs are high.
In terms of weather, California cities are generally mild temperature wise, but too many other key factors worked against these places in the ranking. The annual average cost of senior healthcare in California is quite high across the board, from housekeeping services to private rooms at a nursing facility. Community support expenditures for adults ages 60 and older were also very low.
Best places to retire for low cost of living
Places that rank highly for cost of living (meaning cost of living is low) tend to be the overall best places to retire. Florida’s state cost of living is only 3% higher than the national level. Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s state cost of living is more than 5% below the national level. In comparison, California has an overall cost of living that’s nearly 40% higher than the national average, and Massachusetts has an overall cost of living that’s nearly 50% higher.
Estimate how much you could save by retirement with our retirement calculator.
Best places to retire for quality of life
The AreaVibes Livability Score is a measure of the quality of life in cities and towns. This score considers amenities, housing, crime rates and cost of living, among other factors. Among the 20 top-ranked best places to retire, the cities with the best livability scores are listed in the following table.
Best livability scores among our top 20 places to retire
|Overall rank||City||Livability index (out of 100)|
|12||Lady Lake, FL||87|
|13||Coconut Creek, FL||87|
|9||Palm Harbor, FL||86|
|4||Punta Gorda, FL||84|
Very few cities among the 832 analyzed in our study had a livability index of 90 or above, so these figures in the 80s are comparatively very good.
Best places to retire for weather
When it comes to warm weather, it’s tough to beat Florida. The average annual temperatures in all our top-ranking Florida cities are within the 70-degree range (Fahrenheit). Among the 20 best places to retire, Appleton, Wisconsin, has the lowest average temperature at a chilly 47.1 degrees.
This table shows the cities with the warmest temperatures among our 20 best places to retire.
Warmest average temperatures among the 20 best places to retire
|Overall rank||City||Avg. annual temp ℉ (2021)|
|13||Coconut Creek, FL||76.6|
|7||Bonita Springs, FL||75.8|
|4||Punta Gorda, FL||75.2|
|9||Palm Harbor, FL||74.8|
|6||Sun City Center, FL||74.4|
Cities in Arizona also boasted warm annual average temperatures, but they lie outside of the top-ranked 20 best places to retire. For example, Green Valley, Arizona, ranked No. 23 and had an annual average temperature of 69 degrees. And Sun City West, Arizona, ranked No. 28 and had an annual average temperature of 71.9 degrees.
Best places to retire for lower crime rates
The top-ranked cities can be split by two factors: violent crime per capita and property crime per capita. In general, property crime per capita tends to be higher than violent crime, because property crimes include a broad swathe of illegal acts, from simple vandalism to burning down a house.
Palm Harbor, Florida, leads both lists with the lowest rates of violent and property crime per capita. In general, places in Florida dominate the list of the top places to retire for low crime rates.
Lowest violent crime per capita among our top 20 places to retire
|Overall rank||City||Violent crime per capita|
|9||Palm Harbor, FL||0.06%|
|4||Punta Gorda, FL||0.07%|
|12||Lady Lake, FL||0.11%|
|6||Sun City Center, FL||0.13%|
|13||Coconut Creek, FL||0.14%|
Lowest property crime per capita among our top 20 places to retire
|Overall rank||City||Property crime per capita|
|9||Palm Harbor, FL||0.42%|
|1||The Villages, FL||0.67%|
|7||Bonita Springs, FL||0.68%|
|6||Sun City Center, FL||0.80%|
|4||Punta Gorda, FL||1.40%|
|12||Lady Lake, FL||1.44%|
Best places to retire for healthcare
Healthcare was a major factor in our study of the best places to retire. Healthcare for older adults was analyzed both in qualitative and quantitative terms, the latter by annual costs of healthcare.
West Virginia has the lowest median annual cost of housekeeping services and home health aides, but no city in the state ranked highly in the study overall. Similarly, Minnesota boasts the cheapest median annual cost of adult day healthcare, but also has no cities that rank among the top places to retire. Missouri has the cheapest median annual assisted living facility costs, yet other factors, in combination, kept Missouri cities from ranking among our best places to retire.
In terms of the annual costs of a semiprivate room at a nursing facility, Texas proved to be the most affordable. However, cities in Texas did not rank among our best places to retire in large part due to weak scores for qualitative healthcare for older adults. Texas saw above-average rates of food insecurity among adults age 60+ and above-average rates of adults 65+ who avoided care due to cost, as well as low community support expenditures for its older population.
In terms of the annual costs of a private room at a nursing facility, Oregon was the most affordable. Unfortunately, other factors kept cities in Oregon from ranking among our best places to retire, such as high annual cost of adult day healthcare, housekeeping services and home health aides, as well as the state imposing an estate tax on residents.
Frequently asked questions about the best places to retire
The best places to retire on the East Coast, by our specific criteria, are located in Florida. No other East Coast cities outside of Florida ranked among the top-50 places to retire. The top-ranked places in Florida (in order) are The Villages, Englewood, Venice and Punta Gorda.
The highest-ranking city on the West Coast in our study was Beaverton, Oregon, coming in at No. 263. But no cities in California, Oregon or Washington ranked among our best places to retire due to a combination of factors, with cost being an overriding one.
The five states with the lowest overall cost of living, in descending order, are Mississippi, Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama and Georgia. None of the top 100 cities in our study are located in these states, indicating that other factors together mattered more than a low overall cost of living.
When it comes to the best places to retire with Social Security, the answer mainly comes down to which states impose taxes on Social Security benefits.
Here are the 14 states that tax Social Security benefits on some level.
9. New Mexico
10. North Dakota
11. Rhode Island
14. West Virginia
To determine the best places to retire in the U.S., we analyzed 832 cities that had data available for all 28 factors considered the following:
- Percentage of total city population that is age 65 or older, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey 5-year estimates
- Overall cost of living in the state, based on data from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center for Q2 2022
- Whether the state has an estate and/or inheritance tax, sourced from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP)
- Whether the state taxes Social Security income, sourced from Tax Policy Center
- Percentage of households with retirement income, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey 5-year estimates
- Percentage of 60-year-old and older population that lives below the poverty line, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey 5-year estimates
- Food insecurity as percent of adults ages 60+, sourced from America’s Health Rankings 2022 Senior Report
- SNAP reach measured by participants per 100 adults ages 60+ in poverty, sourced from America’s Health Rankings 2022 Senior Report
- Community support expenditures measured in dollars per adult ages 60+, sourced from America’s Health Rankings 2022 Senior Report
- High-speed internet access as percent of households with adults ages 65+, sourced from America’s Health Rankings 2022 Senior Report
- Risk of social isolation measured as percentile of adults ages 65+, sourced from America’s Health Rankings 2022 Senior Report
- Volunteerism as percent of adults 65+, sourced from Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey
- Avoided care due to cost as percent of adults ages 65+, sourced from America’s Health Rankings 2022 Senior Report
- Dedicated healthcare provider as percent of adults ages 65+, sourced from America’s Health Rankings 2022 Senior Report
- Nursing home quality as percent of beds rates four or five stars, sourced from America’s Health Rankings 2022 Senior Report
- Annual median cost of homemaker (housekeeping) services, sourced from Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey
- Annual median cost of home health aide, sourced from Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey
- Annual median cost of adult day healthcare, sourced from Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey
- Annual median cost of assisted living facility, sourced from Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey
- Annual median cost of semiprivate room, sourced from Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey
- Annual median cost of private room at nursing home facility, all sourced from Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey
- Weather score, based on average annual temperature for the year 2021 (latest year to have full annual average temperature), sourced from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental information
- Annual property crimes reported by city or county police department (for cities that don’t have their own police department and rely on county sheriff’s department), whichever was applicable because they covered the city in question, and divided by the city’s or county’s total population to determine crime rates per capita, sourced from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting, with data pulled Oct. 13–17, 2022
- Annual violent crimes reported in 2020 and 2021 (depending on availability of data), by city or county police department (for cities that don’t have their own police department and rely on county sheriff’s department), whichever was applicable because they covered the city in question, and divided by the city’s or county’s total population to determine crime rates per capita, sourced from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting, with data pulled Oct. 13–17, 2022
- Livability index, sourced from AreaVibes, with data pulled Oct. 19–20, 2022
- Walkability, sourced from Walk Score, with data pulled Oct. 19–20, 2022
- Median sales price for all homes for Aug. 2021–Aug. 2022, sourced from Redfin
- Year-over-year change in median sale price, based on data sourced from Redfin.
Cities that did not have data available for all 28 of these factors were disqualified from ranking. All these factors were scored for each city, and then city scores were added up to arrive at a combined score that was then ranked.