If you’re looking for a quiet life and slower pace, a small town could be a great fit in retirement. In recent years, some communities in the U.S. with a population between 50,000 and 100,000 have been attracting new residents at a steady clip, according to Census Bureau data. These places are often close to metro areas but still retain the stores, services, entertainment and health care options that make retirement routines easier. You might find that a growing small town has the beauty, community vibe and convenient access to a larger city you are looking for as you begin this next stage of life.
Here are 10 small towns to consider for retirement:
10. Lehi, Utah 9. Maricopa, Arizona 8. North Port, Florida 7. Queen Creek, Arizona 6. Westfield, Indiana 5. Little Elm, Texas 4. Leander, Texas 3. Kyle, Texas 2. Santa Cruz, California 1. Georgetown, Texas
10. Lehi, Utah
Home to a large variety of retail stores and restaurants, Lehi is a suburb of Salt Lake City and offers many options for those who love to shop and dine. It’s also within easy reach of the mountains and plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, camping and skiing. This city increased by 5.6% from 2021 to 2022 to 84,373 residents. Retirees can enjoy plenty of museums, gardens, a butterfly biosphere and golf options in the area.
9. Maricopa, Arizona
Maricopa is a Sonoran Desert city surrounded by mountain ranges including the Sierra Estrellas, Palo Verde and Saddleback Mountains. The city provides an ideal vantage point to watch colorful desert sunsets. Maricopa is bordered by two Native American communities and has a museum and heritage center that display and preserve cultural artifacts. The city had 66,290 residents in 2022, up 6.2% from 2021. Maricopa is a small city that is about a 45-minute drive from Phoenix.
8. North Port, Florida
This city has miles of freshwater canals, natural springs, a creek, a river and is located near the Gulf of Mexico. There’s also a forest within the city limits, Myakka State Forest, which has over 40 miles of trails. North Port saw its population expand by 6.6% from 2021 to 2022 to become home to 85,099 people. One unique landmark is an underwater archeological and ecological preserve, Little Salt Spring, which is owned by the University of Miami. The mild winter weather allows for golfing, fishing, boating and horseback riding year-round.
7. Queen Creek, Arizona
Queen Creek is a destination for foodies where locally grown olives are pressed into high-quality extra virgin olive oil, heritage and ancient grains are milled into flour, and you can pick your own organic produce. The population grew by 6.7% from 2021 to 2022 to reach 70,734 people. This suburb of Phoenix is located in the southeast part of the metro area. The weather is hot and sunny for much of the year, and you’ll need air conditioning to get through the often sweltering summers. But you’ll be close to beautiful natural settings, including the San Tan Mountains and Sonoran Desert.
6. Westfield, Indiana
This city grew by 7.7% from 2021 to 2022, reaching a population of 54,605. Those who like to hike and cycle can hit the Monon Trail, which was built over a railroad route and stretches for 25 miles. In 2017, Urban Vines Winery & Brewery opened in Westfield, and it includes a tasting room and vineyard nestled in a scenic landscape. There’s also MacGregor Park, which spans 96 acres and has areas for birdwatching, and the Wood Wind Golf Club for those who want to get out on a course. You can take visitors to explore historic sites and travel to nearby Indianapolis for other excursions.
5. Little Elm, Texas
While it is inside the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, Little Elm contains the most miles of shoreline in the region, making it a top attraction for newcomers. The population of Little Elm grew by 8% from 2021 to 2022, hitting 55,357 residents. You can visit Lake Lewisville to go boating, swimming and fishing, along with other recreational activities. There are also places to have a picnic and explore hiking trails nearby as well as enjoy other close attractions like the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.
4. Leander, Texas
Leander’s population increased by 10.9% from 2021 to 2022, reaching a size of 74,375. If you retire here, you’ll be close to Austin, where you can play a round of golf at the Crystal Falls Golf Club or explore the surrounding Hill Country at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. The city organizes events and trips for residents age 55 and older, including hikes, wine tastings, museum visits and river cruises.
3. Kyle, Texas
Quickly becoming a popular place in Texas, Kyle grew 10.9% from 2021 to 2022, reaching 57,470 residents. The city calls itself the Pie Capital of Texas and is home to the Texas Pie Company, which draws plenty of visitors for its signature desserts. From April to October, on the second Saturday of the month, you can shop the Kyle Market Days to buy fresh-cut flowers along with produce, baked goods, and locally made items. Kyle is within driving distance of plenty of wineries in the Hill Country, and it’s conveniently located less than 30 miles from Austin.
2. Santa Cruz, California
If you’re drawn to the waterfront and want a small-town feel, Santa Cruz could be an ideal location to settle. New residents continue to flock to this coastal city with ocean views. Santa Cruz’s population increased by 12.5% from 2021 to 2022, rising to 61,800. Its century-old wharf is the longest wooden structure on the West Coast, spanning 2,701 feet in length. In addition to strolling the boardwalk, you can check out lighthouses in the area and look for animals such as sea lions. There are plenty of boating, kayaking, paddleboarding and fishing opportunities. Its downtown features art galleries, healthy dining options and a weekly farmers market. The Wine Walk is held annually in November and includes tasting stations inside local shops.
1. Georgetown, Texas
Georgetown is a haven for the old and the young. This college town is the home of Southwestern University, the oldest higher education institution in Texas. There’s also a massive retirement community for those age 55 and older called Sun City Texas, which has over 15,000 residents. Georgetown’s population increased 14.4% from 2021 to 2022, hitting 86,507. You might love to stroll through its charming town square, which is frequently bustling with festivals and events. You’ll also be able to easily access the scenic rivers and lakes of the Texas Hill Country. Plus, the live music, barbecue and other amenities of Austin are only 30 miles away.
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Update 08/18/23: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.