You have spent years saving for retirement , and now you can see the goal.

Wherever you decide to spend your golden years, it can help stretch your retirement savings and maximize your investment returns. NerdWallet crunched numbers to determine the best small cities to retire in.

We compared data from cities with less than 100,000 inhabitants and accounted for affordability, state taxes and quality of care.

The best small cities for retirement savings

1. Fort Lee, New Jersey

Fort Lee, located across the Hudson River from Manhattan, is a great option for those who want to be close to major cities. Fort Lee has a population of nearly 36,000 people who are over 65. There is a strong public transportation system that makes it easy to travel around Fort Lee and the surrounding areas including New York City. You can also enjoy fishing, hiking, or boating at Palisades Interstate Park.

2. Bethel Park, Pennsylvania

Bethel Park is a retirement community that offers affordable housing without compromising access to art, entertainment, and other activities. The average home price in the area over the past 12 month was $172,300. This compares to the average home value of the other cities in the study, which averaged over $255,200. The community center in Bethel Park offers a walking track, classes, and clubs that range from woodcarving to zumba. Bethel Park is connected to downtown Pittsburgh by a light rail, which gives residents easy access the city’s cultural district, galleries and museums, and also allows them to walk or bike to downtown.

3. Sarasota (Florida)

Sarasota is a popular destination for retirees who love the sunshine and beaches. Nearly 25% of residents in the city are over 65, and Social Security recipients pay no state income tax. Nearly 80% of the patients who were surveyed gave Sarasota Memorial Hospital a rating of 9-10/10.

4. Oro Valley, Arizona

Oro Valley is a growing tech hub and a well-established resort city. This combination has allowed the suburb of Tucson to build a strong economic base and attract a large retiree population. Nearly 30% of Oro Valley’s 42,000 residents are over 65. The city’s economy also grew by 6% between 2011 and 2013. Oro Valley offers a variety of courses and courts for retired people who want to improve their tennis or golf skills.

5. Prescott, Arizona

Prescott is located near the Bradshaw Mountains and borders the Prescott National Forest. Prescott’s natural beauty and open spaces make it a great place for retired people who want to enjoy hiking and camping. The area has a large retirement community — 34% of residents over 65 are here. In fact, the median home price in the area from June 2014 to May 2015. This is just below the average for all places in our study.

6. Walnut Creek, California

Just east of San Francisco is suburban Walnut Creek, which offers both urban amenities and rural beauty. Residents will find a large number of parks, miles of hiking trails, and Mount Diablo State Park. Walnut Creek is a great place to retire because of its temperate climate, excellent hospitals, and easy access to public transport — trains and buses —

7. Brookfield, Wisconsin

Brookfield is home to an active retirement community. This is due in part to the local senior center, which hosts movie nights, weekly meals, and bus trips to nearby attractions like wineries and Chicago Botanic Garden. Many of the city’s parks are connected to the Greenway Trail System via footpaths and bike trails. Residents also give local hospitals a thumbs up. Average rating for hospitals was 9/10 by 77.5% of those surveyed.

8. Saratoga Springs, New York

Saratoga Springs is not only a great place for young families in New York, but it can also be a place where families can flourish. Saratoga Springs is a great place for retirees because of its strong economy. The median household income increased 4% between 2011 and 2013. You can enjoy a wide range of performances at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The Adirondacks are also within easy reach. Retirees have an added benefit: Saratoga Hospital was rated a 9/10 by 75% of their patients.

9. Bloomington, Minnesota

Bloomington offers retirees strong medical facilities, cultural activities, and sports leagues. Averagely, 73.5% rated local hospitals as either 9 or 10. The Bloomington Center for the Arts hosts more than a dozen art exhibitions each year and holds several performances at its two theaters. Softball, yoga, and tennis are some of the activities offered by the city’s 50+ program.

10. Northampton, Massachusetts

Northampton, also known as “Paradise City”, is the ideal place for retired people who wish to be immersed in the arts, music, and progressive culture of New England. Northampton hosts an annual independent film festival, and the Academy of Music Theatre shows movies, operas, and other productions. Northampton’s community gardening program rents plots for residents.

The best small cities for retirement savings

Percentage for residents 65 years and older

Average house sale price June 2014- May 2015

Excellent score in Medicare hospital rating

Social Security Benefits Tax by the State

Median household Income in 2013

Median household income growth from 2011 to 2013

Average unemployment rate April 2014-March 2015

Non-car commuters

Fort Lee, New Jersey

Bethel Park, Pennsylvania

Sarasota Florida

Oro Valley, Arizona

Prescott Arizona

Walnut Creek, California

Brookfield (Wisconsin)

Saratoga Springs, New York

Bloomington, Minnesota

Northampton, Massachusetts

Roseville, Minnesota

Orland park, Illinois

Chesterfield Missouri

Northbrook, Illinois

Jupiter Florida

Wooster (Ohio)

Deerfield Beach, Florida

Park Ridge, Illinois

Westlake Ohio

Monroeville (Pennsylvania)

Highland Park (Illinois)

Watertown (Massachusetts)

Newton, Massachusetts

Downers Grove, Illinois

Harrison New York

Wheeling (West Virginia)

North Olmsted Ohio

Niles, Illinois

Hackensack, New Jersey

Arlington Heights, Illinois


To determine the best small cities to retire in, we looked at data from 971 cities with a population under 100,000. We considered the following factors when analyzing small cities: affordability, quality of senior care, taxes on Social Security benefits and strength of local economies.

Senior community. Based on the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, the percentage of people 65 years and older is 25% of a city’s score.

Affordability. Based on Zillow Research data, the average home price for March 2014 to February 2015. This is 12.5% of a city’s score.

Quality of healthcare. This is the percentage of patients who give their care a 9/10 on Medicare’s Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems. The average rating of hospitals in the city was used. To assess the availability of quality healthcare, we used the county average if there was no hospital in the area. This represents 12.5% of a city’s score.

Taxes. Does Social Security benefit be taxed by the state? This AARP data represents 12.5% of a city’s score.

Local economy. NerdWallet analyzed the median household income data from the 2013 American Community Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment data. We examined household income growth over three years from 2011 to 2013 and the average unemployment rate from February 2014 to April 2015. These factors account for 25% of a city’s score.

Transportation. We used an indirect proxy to evaluate access to public transport and walking options in a city. This was the number of commuters who use public transportation to get to work according to the American Community Survey 2013. This represented 12.5% of the city’s score.

NerdWallet staff writer Kelsey Sheehy contributed this article.