Everyone looks forward to the day when they can leave their job for good and spend the rest of their lives living for themselves and their family while enjoying the activities that they love. However, retirement isn’t some switch that gets flipped when a person hits a certain age, there are a lot of variables to be considered before saying goodbye to the 9-to-5 and entering the next phase of life.
Before you retire, you must consider whether your social security and savings will cover your living expenses after working, where you want to spend the rest of your days, and if you are truly ready to say goodbye to work.
In order to assist readers with this weighty decision, we’ve compiled helpful statistics and facts about retirement, along with a list of the best cities in the U.S. to retire to in order to ensure that you make the most of your golden years and spend them in a place that you love.
When do people usually retire?
65 used to be the de facto age that people retired in the United States, however that number is being pushed back every year. In 2019, the retirement age hit 66.5 years, and it will increase in two-month increments each year until 2027 when it becomes 67 for everyone born after 1960 (source). While people can begin collecting Social Security at age 62, checks are reduced if one opts to collect benefits at this early age.
However, this is just the age set by the Social Security Administration for when people are allowed to collect full benefits, many opt to retire much earlier, or much later. If one is in a position where they can live comfortably without Social Security to cover living expenses, then they are free to do so. Alternately, many feel healthy and comfortable enough to continue working beyond the obligatory age set by the government. Let’s look at some statistics for the clearer picture:
- The average age most currently employed people project that they will retire is 66.
- However, most people consider 61 to be the ideal age in which to retire.
- In the U.S., the average retirement age is 63.
- For Americans, the average period of retirement is 18 years.
Check out our roundup of the Best Senior Discounts
What is the cost of retirement?
For most people, the decision to retire is based principally on whether they believe they can afford the cost of living without working. How much will Social Security cover? Will their pension & 401(k) checks be adequate? In many cases, a side job after retirement is in order. Let’s see some of the statistics detailing the cost(s) of retirement:
- The average amount a retiree spends on living expenses per year is $46,000.
- Financial advisers typically suggest saving around $1-1.5 million dollars ahead of retirement.
- Americans aged 55-64 have only 12% saved of the money necessary to securely fund retirement.
- The average Social Security check is $1,413 per month.
- Around 50% of retirees rely on Social Security benefit payments for 50% or more of their yearly income, while 20% use Social Security benefits for 90% or more of their income.
- If they retired today, the average couple should expect to pay $280,000 in post-retirement healthcare costs.
- Retirees spend $4300 on average for out-of-pocket health care costs each year.
Where should people retire to?
Deciding on a place to live during retirement is another important decision. According to the U.S. census, just 3.1% of those 65 or older are living in a nursing home or assisted living facility, meaning that the overwhelming majority are living on their own terms in a place of their choosing (source).
In order to point you in the direction of the best cities to retire in, we ranked all U.S. cities with a population of 10,000 or higher on eight important variables using data from the U.S. Census, the FBI, and the American Association of Medical Colleges. They are:
- Percentage of the population above 65
- Percentage of retirees in the 65+ population
- Overall Poverty rate
- Percentage of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher
- Median monthly housing costs
- Physicians per 100K population
- Violent crime per 100K population
- Police Officers per 100K population
The results were surprising. Of the top ten, 4 are located in Massachusetts and 2 are Rhode Island cities, meaning that New England region cities account for 60%. Michigan was another winner, with two of its cities placing in the top ten. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the ten best U.S. cities to retire in.
The top ten best cities to retire in the US
1. New Bedford, Massachusetts
New Bedford is a charming coastal city in Massachusetts with a long history as one of the region’s busiest fishing ports. Although the city has a population of 95,000, New Bedford has a decidedly relaxed, small-town feel compared to other cities of its size. Retirees should enjoy New Bedford’s mild, ocean moderated climate boasting mild winters, and comfortably balmy summers.
Retirees with extra time on their hands should find plenty to do in New Bedford. The city is home to several fascinating museums, including the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the largest whaling museum in the country featuring a number of impressive whale specimens, in addition to exhibits examining the development of the New England whaling industry, and the New Bedford Museum of Glass, which celebrates the city’s centuries-old glass industry with an extensive collection of pieces and a research library topping 8,000 volumes.
The city earns its status as the best city to retire in the country through its low median housing cost of $853, high rate of physicians per capita (432.4 per 100K), and low poverty rate. New Bedford also boasts a low crime rate for a city its size and a high density of police officers. Retirees can live comfortably for less in New Bedford and enjoy the peace of mind of knowing they are safe and well-protected.
2. Quincy, Massachusetts
Quincy is a large suburb south of Boston with a population of 94,580. As the birthplace of not one, but two U.S. presidents–John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams, the city is a noted destination for history buffs. Settled in 1625, Quincy has always enjoyed a strong economy propelled by its shipping and granite industries.
Nowadays, Quincy is a great place to retire. The city is broken up into over a dozen unique neighborhoods each with its own history and character. The seaside neighborhoods of Adams Shore, once a summer resort hotspot, and Squantum, with its public beaches and cozy Cape Cod-style homes, are of particular interest to retirees.
Seniors should find much to do in Quincy: the city is home to a number of museums, most notably the Naval Shipbuilding Museum, as well as numerous public parks with hiking and cycling trails for the more physically active retirees.
Statistically, Quincy proves enticing for retirees on account of its high percentage of residents over 65 (18.3%), meaning they’ll have plenty of peers to socialize with. The city also boasts a low poverty rate, low violent crime rate, and a high ratio of physicians to residents.
3. Warwick, Rhode Island
Warwick, Rhode Island is a quintessential New England city located just south of state capital Providence with a population of around 80,000. Retirees are drawn to the city for its mild climate (never too hot or too cold), traditional New England architecture, and storied history as the center of major events during the American Revolution.
While Warwick’s large population may seem intimidating for retirees, the number is misleading, as the city is divided into over 30 small villages such as Warwick Neck, Oakland Beach and Pawtuxet Village with tree-lined streets, cozy cottages, and commercial areas offering the peaceful, self-contained lifestyle that seniors enjoy. Come late September, the autumnal foliage in Warwick is truly a marvel to behold.
Looking at the numbers, Warwick presents statistics very favorable for retirees, with an affordable $1283 median housing cost, high 22.7% share of residents 65 or older, and a very low 5.11% poverty rate. The city also boasts a very high 346.5 physicians per 100,000 residents and violent crime is very rare. Retirees will be hard-pressed to find a more advantageous community than Warwick in which to relax and enjoy the next stage of their lives.
4. New York, New York
With a population of nearly 8.4 million, New York City is a booming metropolis and the largest city in the United States. While this may not seem like the kind of quiet, relaxed place retirees might be looking to settle down in, the city’s reputation is misleading. The boroughs of Queens, Staten Island, and parts of Brooklyn offer a relaxed environment far removed from big city life, with nice middle-class homes featuring spacious lawns, quiet tree-lined streets and a neighborly vibe more akin to a suburb than crowded, hectic Manhattan.
Those that choose to retire in New York are guaranteed never to be bored, as the city boasts the most diverse, culturally-rich neighborhoods in the United States. In fact, travel guidebook publisher named the Queens borough the top destination in the country in 2015 owing to its culinary and cultural riches. Whether you are looking for a Latin American, Chinese, or Greek restaurant, Queens has some of the best, most authentic restaurants of any type, around.
Nature-loving and physically active retirees take note: New York City is greener and more full of parks than you may have imagined. With 28,000 acres of municipal parkland scattered through its five boroughs, including 7 that are over 3 square kilometers of area, residents have a wide range of choices in which to take walks, or simply relax and have a picnic with friends.
Overall, New York City proves to be an excellent choice for more urbane, adventurous retirees, brimming with cultural, recreational opportunity, and sprawling parkland.
5. Fall River, Massachusetts
Fall River, MA is a city of just under 90,000 located on the eastern shore of Mount Hope Bay at the base of the Taunton River. With its mild seaside climate, picturesque waterfront area, and a slew of unique neighborhoods to choose from, Fall River is an attractive destination for retirees.
As the area that would become Fall River was settled way back in the early 17th century, the city boasts a rich and varied history and ethnically diverse populace. Waves of Irish, French Canadian, and Portuguese immigrants drawn by the economic opportunity afforded by Fall River’s textile, granite, and marine industries have settled in the city through the centuries, granting it a unique, colorful character. In fact, 37% of residents claim Portuguese ancestry, the largest share in the United States, and this heritage is celebrated with Portuguese bands playing numerous public festivals throughout the year.
In addition to its unique cultural makeup, Fall River also a number of points of interest that prove attractive to retirees. History buffs will love Battleship Cove, which is the largest naval ship exhibit in the world and features the USS Massachusetts, while Fall River Heritage State Park, located on the waterfront, provides hiking opportunities for physically active seniors.
With a median monthly housing cost of just $804, a nearly 20% share of senior citizens, low crime, and a high density of physicians, the hard numbers further reinforce Fall River’s reputation as an excellent retirement destination.
6. Troy, Michigan
Located in affluent Oakland County, Troy is a large suburb of Detroit with a population of 84,272. Owing to its low crime, great residential neighborhoods, and quirky local character, Troy is one of the ten best U.S. cities to retire in the United States, and the top retirement destination in the Great Lakes region.
The city was first settled in the early 19th century though officially incorporated recently in 1955, and takes its name from Troy, New York, where many of the original settlers hailed from. Troy has much to offer retirees, including many public parks, large shopping districts, and a variety of housing, from to two-story houses to upscale condominiums to fit any needs.
Retirees with a history jones will be drawn to the Troy Historic Village, an interactive museum with structures detailing the history of settlement in the city. Included in the museum’s exhibits are a blacksmith’s shop, an 18th-century schoolhouse, and a gazebo that serves as the location of annual festivals and events in Troy.
From a statistics standpoint, Troy is a very welcoming environment for retirees with very low violent crime, a 19.6% share of the population 65 or older, and a very low 2.87% poverty rate. With a ratio of 271.9 physicians per 100,000 residents, retirees in Troy will have no problem choosing a doctor that’s right for them.
7. Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts is a city in Middlesex County with a population of 118,977. Located across the Charles River, just north of Boston, Cambridge is best known as one of the most prestigious academic communities in the United States as home to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, and a slew of other higher learning institutions. Yet, the city is also a wonderful community to retire in.
The many museums and public art collections located in Cambridge make it rich in culture and of particular interest to retirees with an engagement in the arts or with an interest in history. For physically active retirees, Cambridge offers a varied selection of parkland and open spaces, much of which is part of the city’s university campuses.
Statistics indicate that Cambridge is an excellent retirement destination: the city boasts a high ratio of physicians to residents, low poverty and violent crime rates, and a high density of law enforcement personnel.
Though Cambridge may not be for every retiree, those looking to stay engaged in art and cultural scenes while enjoying a relaxed residential vibe will find it wholly suitable for their purposes.
8. Livonia, Michigan
Livonia is a city in Michigan about 15 miles northwest of Detroit with a population of 93,971. While the city is rather large, Livonia is divided into a number of self-sufficient, immensely livable traditional neighborhoods making it an excellent city to retire in.
Settled in the first half of the 19th century, Livonia is the quintessential Michigan suburb with churches, parks, a public library, a local newspaper printed twice weekly. Retirees have no problem making themselves comfortable in the city. With a Walmart, Target, and other big-box stores, shopping proves to be very convenient in Livonia.
With nearly a quarter of Livonia’s population being 65 or older, retirees in the city never feel out of place, and a large number of recreational activities in the city are specifically geared towards older folks. Furthermore, the median monthly housing cost is a very reasonable $1074, ensuring that retirees won’t burn through their savings in a short matter of time.
9. Cranston, Rhode Island
Cranston is a city in Rhode Island with a population of around 80,000. Part of the Providence metropolitan area, Cranston is perennially listed among the safest and best cities to live in the United States, making it an ideal community to retire in. With a history of settlement dating back to the early 17th century, Cranston boasts a lot of local pride and an authentic New England feel that retirees will love.
The city is divided into over 30 neighborhoods and villages for retirees to choose from, each featuring their own distinct character, architecture, and points of interest. In particular, the neighborhood of Edgewood, with its picturesque Victorian homes, historic districts and buildings, and border along Washington Park in neighboring Providence, should prove attractive to retirees.
Examining the statistics further cements Cranston’s status as an ideal retirement community: the city’s population is older, with 22.1% being 65 or older, poverty and crime are very low, and there’s a remarkably high density of physicians to residents in the community. Those looking to retire in a pleasant New England community with much to offer will find Cranston very suitable.
10. Largo, Florida
Florida has a long-held reputation as one of the top states to retire in, and Largo is a perfect example of how it earned that reputation. The city of around 85,000 is located in Pinellas County along the Intracoastal Waterway and borders the large city of Tampa Bay to the northeast.
Warm weather lovers will feel very comfortable in Largo as the city gets plenty of sunshine throughout the year, and winters are very mild, with the temperature rarely dipping below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, even during December and January. The city is very affordable, too, with a median monthly housing cost of just $866.
Unlike its neighbor Tampa Bay, crime and poverty in Largo are comparatively low, making it very attractive to retirees that place safety as a top priority. The statistics tell the tale: 30% of Largo’s population is 65 or older, and 84.1% of them are retired. That high ratio is proof that Largo is one of the top cities to retire in the country.
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