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What Are the Most Fun Places To Retire in the United States?
The most fun place to retire is going to depend on what you want out of retirement and what your interests are. The best way to pick a fun place to retire is to decide what type of city you want to be in.
The Best Beach Towns For Retirement
Many retirees would love to spend their golden years beachside. Beaches offer a relaxing atmosphere, warm weather, and a place to swim or go for walks. The key to choosing the right beach town is to steer clear of the tourist destinations and search for the hidden gems.
Ocean City, Maryland
Ocean City is a great place to retire because there is plenty for retirees to do. Ocean City offers 11 miles of beaches, as well as a boardwalk, amusement park, restaurants, frequent festivals, and museums.
Ocean City is also known for its fishing and golfing. Fishing is allowed on public piers by permit, off the Route 50 bridge, by boat, and surf fishing is permitted during certain hours. As the White Marlin Capital of the World, Ocean City also hosts the annual White Marlin Open. For golfers, Ocean City is especially appealing because it is home to 17 golf courses, including the premier course Eagle’s Landing.
Whether your family is local or from across the country, Ocean City is the kind of retirement destination that everyone will love to visit. It is a short drive from DC, Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia.
Fort Myers, Florida
Fort Myers is a well-known retirement destination with 7 miles of white sand beaches and perpetually sunny weather. U.S. News ranks it 6th for shopping options and 8th for concert venues. Fort Myers offers plenty to do both in the water and out; retirees can enjoy hot springs, parks, stand up paddle boarding, snorkeling, wildlife photography, hiking, boating, and cycling.
In addition to outdoor activities, Fort Myers is a hub for art, history, music, and theater. The downtown area is home to fascinating landmarks like the Edison Theater, The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, the Uncommon Friends Sculpture, Yacht Basin, Edison and Ford’s winter estates, Florida Repertory Theater, and more.
When you retire to Fort Myers, Florida, you can see everything, do everything, and never run out of fun activities.
Florida is especially desirable for retirees because of both the warm weather and the desirable tax benefits. Fort Myers offers the best of Florida with a significantly less busy tourist season.
Theater, Art, and Culture
Whether you enjoy the opera, ballet, modern dance, or live theater, there is a retirement city for every arts lover. Since retirement is the time to have fun, all arts loving retirees should fulfill their greatest dream of moving to a hub for performance and theater. Cities well-known for theater, like New York and Chicago, can be loud, busy, and too expensive for those on a fixed income.
Here are 4 affordable, vibrant cities that will appeal to every art lover.
Anderson, South Carolina
AARP ranks Anderson, South Carolina as one of the best places to retire because of its richness and southern charm. According to Kelly Jo Barnwell, the program director at the Jo Brown Senior Center in Anderson, many older people come to Anderson to “put down rich roots by doing what they love to do.” The senior center offers every activity imaginable, from line dancing to quilting.
The city of Anderson itself boosts a vibrant arts community. At the center of it is a beautiful converted railway building that serves as the Anderson Arts Center. No matter your favorite medium, the arts center has it all: ceramics, mixed media, painting, drawing, pottery, and modern art. The art in Anderson explodes out from the art center in the form of murals and sculptures that grace the downtown area.
While Anderson is especially appealing to art lovers, there is something there for everyone. Anderson is home to the Electric City Playhouse for theater lovers, as well as Lake Hartwell, which is known for retiree-friendly recreation. There are enough parks and outdoors spaces to go around; in Anderson, an estimated 65% of the population
Taos, New Mexico
Taos offers a different flavor of art and culture. Taos is in the style of most quaint mountain towns, but it is conveniently located within 3 hours of Santa Fe. Art historians, painters, and art collectors will love Taos because it has historically been a hot spot for artists. Famous artists and writers like Thorton Wilder and Georgia O’Keeffe once lived and worked in cozy Taos.
Compared to other popular retirement cities, Taos offers greater linguistic and racial diversity, as well as cuisines and festivals from many other cultures.
Even though Taos isn’t very big, it has not 1 but 3 art museums: the Harwood Museum of Art, Taos Art Museum, and Millicent Rogers Museum, all of which offer special senior discount passes.
Retire in a Quiet, Quaint Small Town
Who said small towns can’t be fun? The key to a fun retirement in a small town is to pick a location that has the feel of a small town without the small town population. Most retirees don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere or in a town with a hundred people. As people age, it becomes more and more important to have easy access to medical care and have a support network.
Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth is not actually that small, but it has all that small town charm and more. While Fort Worth is actually the 12th largest city in the US, it does not seem like it. Fort Worth is known for being slow and safe, with lots to do.
In 2017, Fort Worth launched the Age-Friendly Fort Worth Action Plan to improve parks, expand public transit, increase the amount of affordable housing, and provide new social activities for seniors.
AARP highlights Fort Worth as one of the safest, most fun places to retire in the United States. The city can best be described as cool and friendly. It is also affordable; the median housing cost in 2021 was $1,364 per month, which amounted to 26.3% of income spent on housing on average.
The Best Places To Retire For History Buffs
The best part of retirement is that you get to pursue all the things that you did not have time for before. Whether it is historical reenactment, building model trains, reading up on history, writing historical fiction, volunteering at historical societies, or researching genealogy, there is a city out there that will be the perfect place for you to retire.
New Braunfels, Texas
If the name is any indication, this place has a long history. New Braunfels was founded in 1845 by Prince Carl of Solms from Germany and it retains touches of rich German heritage to this day. If New Braunfels sounds familiar, that is because it is home to the annual Wurst Festival, which draws tourists from all over the United States.
In addition to rich local history, New Braunfels has everything that retirees need: excellent weather, accessible healthcare, safe neighborhoods, good restaurants, and beautiful country hills. Much like Fort Worth, New Braunfels is another charming city that reads like a classic southern small town, but has all the resources and activities of a larger metropolis.
Williamstown dates back to pre-1750. The land was originally part of the Mohican territory before it was taken and incorporated into the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Like most cities on the east coast, Williamstown has history everywhere you look. What makes this town stand out is that it is uniquely fun and affordable for retirees.
Williamstown is home to The Clark Art Institute, the Williams College Museum of Art, and the Williamstown Theater. Seniors can affordably enjoy these attractions by getting a discounted seniors pass or by checking out a museum pass for free from one of the many CWMARS libraries in the area.
The Best Retirement Communities for Nature Lovers
The key to staying alert and active in retirement is to embrace the great outdoors and to find activities that you enjoy. Even if you were never an outdoorsy person before you retired, a few years in these beautiful cities will give you a new appreciation for nature.
Idaho Falls, Idaho
There is no shortage of green space or outdoor activities in Idaho Falls. At the center of this vibrant community is the Snake River, which slithers through the downtown area. The Snake River is surrounded by a 14-mile long River Walk, which is complete with restaurants, shops, bridges, trees, green space, and parks. Branching off the River Walk is over 30 miles of paved trails that can be enjoyed for hiking, biking, strolling, and power-walking.
In the winter, retirees can enjoy snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skiing, and sipping hot cocoa in the lodge. There are two ski resorts that are only an hour’s drive away.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville has been highlighted in Forbes as one of the best retirement cities for nature lovers. Not only is the town surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, it has a moderate climate and good air quality.
Asheville is an especially fun place to retire because it also has guided tours to help retirees explore the local breweries, the comedy scene, and the historic landmarks. Asheville has it all, from the activities to easily accessible and highly ranked healthcare.
What Are the Most Diverse Places to Retire?
There are many factors that retirees look for in a city: activities, healthcare, community, ease of travel, and community character. For many retirees, diversity is also an important factor when they decide where to move. Everyone wants to live somewhere where there are plenty of people who look like them, and where they can feel comfortable walking down the street.
Jackson balances the diversity that you see in big cities with the safety and walkability of small town life. The city is affordable for everyone and the residents are very friendly. Current residents of Jackson report that they love how safe the communities are. Jackson is the kind of place where you leave your door unlocked and feel perfectly at ease.
In addition to diversity, Jackson has plenty of fun activities. There is the tranquil Cypress Grove Nature Park for going on walks, the historic Casey Jones Village, the Rock-a-Billy Hall of Fame for music lovers, and iconic Samuel T. Bryant Distillery.
Compared to Jackson, Atlanta is quite a bit more fast-paced. While the city itself can be overwhelming, there are plenty of retirement community enclaves that provide safety, calmness, and diversity for retirees.
One benefit of retiring to a larger city is that you will have many options for accessible healthcare. It is also easy to get around, so you don’t even have to drive. Atlanta has everything that a retiree could want: a vibrant art scene, foods from every culture, and sporting events. Most activities in Atlanta offer a senior discount, so it is affordable to have fun.
What Are the Most Fun Places to Retire Abroad?
There are many ways to have fun in retirement. You also don’t have to retire in the same place you’ve lived your whole life; you don’t even have to stay in the U.S. for retirement. Retiring abroad offers greater affordability and adventure than retiring stateside. While there may be difficulties like language barriers, expensive travel, not having family locally, and currency exchanges, the excitement of a new country will make it worth it.
Ottawa is an ideal retirement city because it has all the infrastructure that retirees need: public transit, nearby airports, and accessible healthcare. For retirees who only speak English, there will also not be a language barrier, but you may pick up some French while you are at it. Ottawa has a reasonable cost of living for seniors and most activities offer good senior discounts.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
CBS News ranks Buenos Aires as one of the best places for retirees because of the affordability. On average, the cost of living is only $692 per person per month. The city is beautiful, richly diverse, and full of adventure. Within blocks of the retirement community Palermo Soho are outdoor markets, boutiques, tango classes, dance clubs, and restaurants.
Panama City, Panama
Panama City offers unique benefits for retirees, including American expats. Panama’s Pensionado Visa can be utilized by anyone who qualifies for a lifetime pension of over $1,000 a month. This visa gives retirees significant discounts on medical care, flights, food, transportation, and entertainment. Due to this program and the exchange rate, Panama City is affordable for most American retirees.
Panama City also offers activities that will be fun for seniors. There are tours of the Panama Canal, the Casco Viejo ruins, preserved indigenous villages, French monuments, and plenty of museums.