The Best Places to Retire in Florida

Retirement in Florida

Florida’s sunny beaches and pleasant winters have long drawn retirees who spent their working years in colder climes. The low housing prices in many Florida cities make the Sunshine State an affordable place to relocate. There’s also no state income tax in Florida, which can benefit retirees with taxable income. The reasonable cost of living and proximity to the beach makes Florida a desirable place to retire, according to a U.S. News analysis of the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. The study includes data about housing affordability, happiness, desirability, retiree taxes, the job market and access to quality health care. Consider these Florida cities for retirement:

12. Jacksonville

Population: 1,503,574
Share of population age 60+: 22%
Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,461
Median monthly rent: $1,093

Florida’s most populous city is one of the fastest-growing places in the U.S. This northern Florida city added 260,252 people over the past decade, according to Census Bureau data. Jacksonville has miles of white-sand beaches along the Atlantic coast, and the St. Johns River and Jacksonville Beach Pier provide opportunities for fishing. The area is also a popular retirement destination for golfers, and some of the most scenic courses overlook the ocean and river. Jacksonville has several high-performing hospitals, according to the U.S. News Best Hospitals rankings, including Mayo Clinic-Jacksonville.

11. Orlando

Population: 2,508,970
Share of population age 60+: 20%
Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,508
Median monthly rent: $1,210

Orlando is a popular vacation destination due to the area’s theme parks, convention centers and resorts. The city is also a college town, and the massive University of Central Florida has more than 70,000 students. Health care is provided by AdventHealth Orlando. The mild winter temperatures, prolific entertainment options and low cost of living are attractive to retirees. Your grandchildren will beg to visit you if you live near Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida.

10. Ocala

Population: 353,526
Share of population age 60+: 35%
Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,099
Median monthly rent: $896

This equestrian town is best known for breeding award-winning horses. Retirees can attend horse shows and equestrian events and enjoy regular horseback rides on local nature trails. This inland Florida city is more affordable than many other parts of the state. Ocala‘s inexpensive housing makes it easy to relocate to the area. The Ocala National Forest has hundreds of lakes, rivers and springs where you can swim, fish and canoe.

9. Lakeland

Population: 686,218
Share of population age 60+: 26%
Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,251
Median monthly rent: $978

This city is aptly named for the area’s 38 scenic lakes, some of which are inhabited by swans. The humid summers are tempered by mild and sunny winters. Located between Tampa and Orlando, Lakeland is a quieter and more affordable alternative to Florida’s larger cities. Health care is provided by Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. Lakeland is also a college town and home to Florida Polytechnic University and Florida Southern College, the latter of which has the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the world.

8. Pensacola

Population: 488,246
Share of population age 60+: 23%
Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,305
Median monthly rent: $1,015

Located at the northwestern tip of Florida, Pensacola is an ideal location for an affordable beach retirement. Pensacola sits along the Pensacola Bay and near the Gulf of Mexico. Popular beaches include Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Pensacola scores high marks for desirability, according to a U.S. News survey about potential retirement spots. Florida doesn’t have a state income tax, which means those who plan to work in retirement get to keep more of their earnings.

7. Port St. Lucie

Population: 472,012
Share of population age 60+: 33%
Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,466
Median monthly rent: $1,162

A third of the population is age 60 or older in this popular retirement spot. Port St. Lucie is located along the Atlantic Ocean in southern Florida. This coastal city is an affordable place to retire near the water. If you ever tire of the beach, you can check out the wetlands at Savannas Preserve State Park or the native plants at the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens. Sports fans will enjoy the New York Mets spring training at First Data Field.

6. Fort Myers

Population: 737,468
Share of population age 60+: 35%
Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,461
Median monthly rent: $1,154

Fort Myers scored well on the desirability and happiness metrics, according to surveys by Sharecare and U.S. News. Many retirees are able to comfortably afford a home, which frees up retirement income for other essential expenses. Fort Myers is located along Florida’s Gulf Coast and the Caloosahatchee River. Seniors in Fort Myers can create a relaxing beach retirement lifestyle, even on a modest budget.

5. Tampa

Population: 3,097,859
Share of population age 60+: 26%
Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,458
Median monthly rent: $1,115

Located on the Tampa Bay near the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa is a city of skyscrapers and high rises. Tampa has a variety of entertainment options including a zoo, an aquarium, theme parks, several professional sports teams and a popular port for cruise ships. There are several health care providers, including Tampa General Hospital. The reasonable home prices make Tampa affordable to seniors who want to retire near the beach on a budget while still enjoying the amenities of a metro area.

4. Melbourne

Population: 585,507
Share of population age 60+: 31%
Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,361
Median monthly rent: $1,068

This part of Florida is often referred to as the Space Coast due to the nearby Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Locals can watch rockets as they launch into space. Many streets, schools and other places are named after the space program. Melbourne has an affordable cost of living, and health care is provided by the Health First Holmes Regional Medical Center. When you’re done pondering the cosmos, earthly pleasures include relaxing on an Atlantic Ocean beach or spotting dolphins and sea turtles at the Indian River Lagoon.

3. Daytona Beach

Population: 646,288
Share of population age 60+: 33%
Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,282
Median monthly rent: $1,076

Daytona Beach is not a quiet beach retreat. This bustling city is a haven for motorsports and the headquarters for NASCAR. Fans flock to the city for the Daytona 500, Speedweeks and many other large automobile and motorcycle events each year. The moderate home prices in Daytona Beach allow even those on a budget to live near the ocean. A popular vacation destination, this coastal city also has sandy beaches, water parks and golf courses.

2. Naples

Population: 371,453
Share of population age 60+: 38%
Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,869
Median monthly rent: $1,317

Naples scores high marks for desirability. Residents of the Naples metro area, which includes Immokalee and Marco Island, report a high sense of well-being and like where they live, according to Sharecare’s Community Well-Being Index. Located along the Gulf of Mexico, the white-sand beaches, golf courses and pleasant winter weather draw many retirees to the area. Naples is considerably more expensive than other parts of Florida, but locals often find the quality of life to be worth the cost.

1. Sarasota

Population: 803,709
Share of population age 60+: 40%
Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,531
Median monthly rent: $1,209

Retirees are often drawn to Sarasota‘s white-sand beaches, including Lido Key and Siesta Key. But it’s the high quality of life that keeps people in the area. Sarasota residents report liking where they live and feeling safe in their community, according to a Sharecare survey. Sarasota Memorial Hospital is a high-performing hospital for the region, according to U.S. News Best Hospitals data. The reasonable housing costs allow retirees on a budget to live near the water.

The best places to retire in Florida:

1. Sarasota.

2. Naples.

3. Daytona Beach.

4. Melbourne.

5. Tampa.

6. Fort Myers.

7. Port St. Lucie.

8. Pensacola.

9. Lakeland.

10. Ocala.

Thinking about retiring in Florida? Find a local financial advisor now.

More from U.S. News

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The Best Places to Retire in Florida originally appeared on

Update 11/08/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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