If you can’t bear another cold and snowy winter, consider heading south for your retirement years. These retirement spots have mild winter temperatures as well as many amenities retirees need, according to a U.S. News analysis of 150 metropolitan areas that included data about housing affordability, happiness, desirability, retiree taxes, the job market and access to quality health care. These are the southern U.S. cities that scored the highest on the U.S. News Best Places to Retire 2022 ranking. Consider spending the winter or the entire year in one of these southern cities.
10. Asheville, North Carolina
Retirees interested in exploring the outdoors will appreciate Asheville‘s proximity to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. It’s easy to fuel your next adventure at Asheville’s unique restaurants and breweries. Asheville is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and typically experiences some snowfall in the winter. While North Carolina summers do get warm, the high elevation results in cooler summers than many other southern retirement spots.
9. Lakeland, Florida
Waterfront property is abundant is this inland Florida city named for its many lakes. Winter weather is consistently pleasant, but watch out for the humid summers. Retirees in Lakeland need to factor air conditioning bills into their retirement budget. Fortunately, housing costs are low. Retirees have median monthly housing costs of $1,251 with a mortgage and $978 if they rent.
8. Pensacola, Florida
Those who dream of spending their retirement years strolling along the beach will find a lot to love about Pensacola. The area has expansive stretches of scenic coastline to explore, including the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key. It helps that Pensacola is a relatively affordable place to retire near the beach. The median cost of homeownership with a mortgage is $1,305 per month, and rent costs a median of $1,015. Located along the Pensacola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, fishing and boating could be a regular part of your retirement lifestyle.
7. Port St. Lucie, Florida
Many people head south for retirement to avoid harsh winter weather, and you’ll never have to shovel another sidewalk in Port St. Lucie. Winters are typically mild and sometimes even warm. The New York Mets come to Port St. Lucie each year for spring training. But you’ll need air conditioning to make it through the hot and humid summers. Residents can enjoy the Atlantic Ocean beaches year-round, as well as the freshwater marshes at Savannas Preserve State Park.
6. Fort Myers, Florida
Located on the Caloosahatchee River near Florida’s Gulf Coast, Fort Myers is an ideal place to spend your retirement years fishing or boating. Fort Myers has short and mild winters. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford both built winter estates in the area to enjoy the pleasant winters. However, summers can be hot and humid, with temperatures frequently climbing into the 90s in July. Spending your winters in Fort Myers comes with a median homeownership cost of $1,461 per month.
5. Tampa, Florida
Tampa is a popular retirement destination, and over a quarter of the population is age 60 and older. The area has plenty of sandy beaches along the Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico as well as the amenities of a major metro area with over 3 million people. There are a wide variety of entertainment options ranging from theme parks to professional sports teams. Tampa is also a convenient home base from which to travel in retirement and has an international airport and a port for cruise ships.
4. Melbourne, Florida
Melbourne‘s reasonable housing costs make this coastal city an affordable beach retirement spot. Housing costs a median of $1,361 per month for homeowners with a mortgage and $1,068 monthly to rent. Those interested in retiring near the water will appreciate the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River Lagoon. This part of Florida is often called the Space Coast due to the proximity to the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Locals may be able to watch rocket launches into space.
3. Daytona Beach, Florida
The home of NASCAR and several large motorsports events, Daytona Beach is a dynamic beach retirement spot. Daytona Beach’s low housing costs make it affordable to relocate to the area. Monthly homeownership costs are a median of $1,282 among homeowners with a mortgage, and the median rent is $1,076 per month. Daytona Beach is a popular vacation destination that has mild winter weather, sandy beaches and recreation opportunities that include golf courses and water parks.
2. Naples, Florida
Naples has higher housing costs than many other parts of Florida. The median cost of homeownership is $1,869 per month, including mortgage payments, and it costs a median of $1,317 per month to rent. However, many retirees find the high quality of life in Naples to be worth the costs, and 38% of the population is age 60 or older. Naples is located along the Gulf of Mexico and has mild winter weather, white-sand beaches and a wide variety of golf courses.
1. Sarasota, Florida
The picturesque sandy beaches bring many retirees to the Sarasota area. This Gulf Coast Florida city has warm and dry winters. The average temperature seldom drops below freezing, but the area heats up and has high humidity in the summer. The median homeownership expense is $1,531 per month among those who are making mortgage payments and $1,209 for those who rent. There’s no state income tax in Florida, so retirees who continue to work get to keep more of their paychecks.
The 10 Best Places to Retire in the South:
1. Sarasota, Florida.
2. Naples, Florida.
3. Daytona Beach, Florida.
4. Melbourne, Florida.
5. Tampa, Florida.
6. Fort Myers, Florida.
7. Port St. Lucie, Florida.
8. Pensacola, Florida.
9. Lakeland, Florida.
10. Asheville, North Carolina.
Thinking about retiring in the South? Find a financial advisor in the area.
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Update 05/19/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.