Best and worst places for boomers to retire in the U.S.

As many baby boomers approach retirement, one of the biggest decisions they make is where to live.

Will we be snowbirds (a name assigned to a previous generation), living part of the year in a warm climate? Will we be able to do what many retirees these days are doing — working part-time or starting new careers?

Will we have enough money to do all of the things they want? And will we have enough money to just make ends meet?

WalletHub analyzed the 150 largest cities in the U.S. using 25 key metrics. The metrics included everything from the cost of living to fishing facilities to the costs of in-home care.

Looking at affordability, jobs, activities, quality of life and health care, WalletHub came up with the best and worst places to retire.


San Francisco, #140 on the list, and a pricey place to live.
(photo by David Henderson)

San Francisco came in at 140th on the list and noted as an expensive place to live.  Washington, D.C., ranked 128th on the list.  At the very bottom of the list are Providence, Rhode Island; Newark, New Jersey; and Philadelphia.

Cities in warmer climates are at the top of the list.

Tampa ranked No. 1. Grand Prairie, Texas, came in second. Orlando, Florida, is No. 3.

Tampa came in ninth in affordability and third in the number of activities.

Grand Prairie ranked second in health care, while Plano, Texas, topped the health care ranking category.

Henderson, Nevada, holds the title for best quality of life, but overall it was 37th on the list.

Top 10 best cities

  1. Tampa
  2. Grand Prairie, Texas
  3. Orlando
  4. St. Petersburg, Florida
  5. Scottsdale, Arizona
  6. Overland Park, Kansas
  7. Port St. Lucie, Florida
  8. Cape Coral, Florida
  9. Plano, Texas
  10. Peoria, Arizona

When it comes to the lowest adjusted cost of living, Nashville and Memphis are No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. The highest adjusted cost of living is in Jersey City, New Jersey, followed by Yonkers, New York, and San Francisco.

Four Texas cities — Brownsville, El Paso, Laredo and Corpus Christ — are in the top five for the lowest annual cost of in-home services. San Jose, California, and San Francisco had the highest annual cost for in-home services.

The cities with the lowest percentage of people over 65 working are Modesto, California, and Cleveland. The cities with the highest percentage of working seniors: Plano, Texas; Anchorage, Alaska; Irvine, California; and D.C.

DC pana-3

Washington, D.C.
(photo by David Henderson)

While Washington, D.C., has a lot of seniors working, it ranks third in terms of the most recreation and senior centers per capita. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Minneapolis are No. 1 and No. 2.

Weather is often a key factor in retirement decisions. Glendale, California, gets the mildest weather ranking, while Buffalo, New York, takes the worst weather ranking.

Top 10 worst cities

10. Providence, Rhode Island
9.  Newark, New Jersey
8.  Philadelphia
7.  New York
6.  Chicago
5. Stockton, California
4. Worcester, Massachusetts
3. Fresno, California
2. Baltimore
1. Jersey City, New Jersey

A closer look at some of the cities …


An interactive map of the cities …


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  1. This is a really weird ranking, so I looked at the article from which it was drawn. Under Activities, the things considered were fishing, hiking, bowling, tennis, movies, golf, and senior centers per capita. While these are all fine, they certainly aren’t the only things seniors are interested in doing. What happened to live theater, symphonies, concert venues, non-chain restaurants, major festivals, museums and lifelong learning programs. How about availability of public transportation, and walkability? Those are considered in most “best” city lists. It’s more expensive, but I certainly wouldn’t trade Philadelphia’s vibrant city life with it’s hundreds of great restaurants, world-class hospitals and museums, walkability, educational opportunities and miles of bike paths through the largest city park in America for a fishing rod, a pizza shop and a senior center. And did they try to drive around Tampa or Orlando ?

  2. Most of my own relocating clients are with Nancy, wanting a real city. And most also want to be close to a college or university, especially one that allows anyone over some magic number age to audit classes for free. That would top my list, too.

  3. Instead of looking at what someone else lists as a desirable place to retire, make up your own list. Even though I see where many retirees want a big city environment with all the cultural amenities, others want to go the other way.
    For example, I notice that many retirees are siding with young people in places to live where a car is not necessary. I would feel trapped in a location without a car, and had to rely on mass transit.
    BTW, the largest city park in the United States is NOT in Philadelphia. Houston ranks two city parks that are both twice the size of Fairmount Park, plus several other cities have larger city parks than Philly.

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