The 10 Best Places to Retire in Florida

Danny Newman
Danny Newman is a nationally syndicated freelance writer with a focus on travel. MSN feed and Associated Press bylines. Danny is a digital nomad from the UK who’s been traveling full-time since 2018.

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Why do people choose Florida to retire? Let’s discover the best places to retire in Florida and learn what makes the Sunshine State stand out.

The Sunshine State simply has everything you could ever ask for in a place to spend your golden years. There are 237 days of sunshine each year, 1350 miles of coastline, over 1100 golf courses, a surprisingly reasonable cost of living, and zero tax on retirement income – among a slew of other impressive perks.

There’s only one problem: With so many amazing Floridian destinations to choose from, picking the one that’s right for you can feel impossible.

If you’re looking for help with that particular task, you’re in the right place. Keep reading for a curated list of the 10 best places to retire in Florida. In no particular order, let’s dive in!

1. Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is Florida at its finest. Expansive stretches of white-sand beaches, turquoise waters at every turn, palm trees swaying in the ocean breeze, a never-ending list of activities and entertainment options…Fort Lauderdale offers a quality of life that makes both tourists and retirees swoon.

Retire here, and you’d have numerous hospitals to choose from, such as the much-esteemed Holy Cross Health. Accommodation options vary from gated communities to high-rise condos. Top golf courses, resorts, and restaurants are around every corner.

The only downside? Money.

With a cost of living that’s significantly higher than the national average, Fort Lauderdale certainly isn’t the cheapest place to retire in Florida.

2. Sarasota

Voted the #1 best place to live in Florida for 2022-2023, Sarasota boasts a unique charm that attracts swathes of eager visitors and retirees alike.

A quick look at the origin of the city’s name provides a clue to its popularity. “Sarasota” is said to come from the Spanish word for “a place of dancing”. Those happy vibes are evident everywhere, with beautiful beaches, a flourishing arts scene, and delightful dining opportunities for you to enjoy.

Your health would be in good hands as well, thanks to a network of medical centers and the renowned Sarasota Memorial Hospital on your doorstep.

David Berns, a financial planner with Sarasota-based Truadvice Wealth Management, recommends the area:

“The Sunshine State is attracting more retirees than ever, with its beautiful weather and no state income tax. The top 3 places are Sarasota, Naples, and St. Petersburg. All three are known for their gorgeous beaches, arts scene, and theaters.” 

3. Lakeland

Polk County’s Lakeland may lack the ocean-side appeal of other places on this list, yet there remain copious reasons to consider it for your retirement.

Firstly, as the name suggests, lakes litter the area! You’ll find 38 of them within City limits as well as a multitude of smaller ones. You can fish, swim, paddle, and soak until your heart’s content.

Thanks in part to its inland location between Orland and Tampa, Lakeland’s also a quieter and more affordable Floridian destination than you’ll find elsewhere. You’d have access to an array of the state’s leading healthcare facilities too. And Florida Southern College is here as well, which blesses the city with all the buzz and amenities you’d expect from a college town.

Lakeland is a quieter and more affordable city than you’ll likely find elsewhere in Florida. However, for those seeking access to Lakeland’s natural beauty combined with the vibrance of a bigger city, Chris Shoup, founder of retirement-focused Southshore Financial Planning, recommends settling in nearby Tampa:

“Tampa [is] a top town for retirement. There are great outdoor activities like golf, pickleball, fishing, and boating that can be enjoyed year-round. For those that prefer indoors, we have incredible restaurants, shopping, and championship ice hockey to enjoy!” 

4. Jacksonville

Jacksonville’s clearly doing something right. Its 1.5 million-strong population makes it the most populous city in the Sunshine State, and it’s also one of the fastest-growing cities in America, with legions of new residents moving there every year!

And, trust us, there’s plenty of incentive for you to do the same in your retirement. The numerous medical facilities available are top-notch, golf courses abound, fishing opportunities are everywhere, and the scenery’s stunning. Get ready for mile after mile of picturesque coastline as well as the vast St. Johns River that runs right through the city.

5. Fort Myers and Venice

Fort Myers isn’t just one of the best places to retire in Florida. It’s one of the most popular retirement destinations in the entire country! While younger generations love it too, almost 25% of residents are aged 65 or older.

It’s no surprise either. Fort Myers has everything you need to pass your time with a contented smile on your face. Expect world-class golf courses and restaurants, glorious white sand beaches, and more shopping opportunities than you can shake a stick at. Housing comes in slightly higher than the national average, but the quality of life may justify the added expense.

If the bustle and crowds of Fort Myers aren’t for you, then Christine Luken, Certified Divorce Specialist and Financial Dignity Coach since 2008, recommends nearby Venice as a perfect alternative:

“I’m a fan of Venice, Florida, for several reasons. Many of the homes are newer construction and, therefore, less likely to incur major hurricane damage. Venice is upscale yet affordable for the Gulf Coast. It’s not as touristy as Tampa or Ft. Myers, despite having eight beaches. Downtown Venice is quaint, with amazing restaurants and interesting shops. Not to mention almost 20 golf courses within a 15-minute drive!”

6. Cape Coral

Downriver from Fort Myers, you’ll find another Floridian retirement hotspot called Cape Coral. Renowned for its beaches and canals, it could be the ideal place for anybody hoping for a relaxed waterside retirement.

Cape Coral’s also a paradise for nature lovers. Not only are there nearby mangroves to explore, but you can see manatees swimming through the azure waters and witness a huge array of bird life at the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve. If that wasn’t enough, the seafood’s second to none, the weather’s outstanding, and it’s a city known for being safe, diverse, and full of quality healthcare facilities.

7. Gainesville

The college town of Gainesville could be ideal for retirees who don’t feel compelled to live in one of the more costly coastal cities. Home to the University of Florida, this lively inland city of 140,000 people has a lot to offer!

Aside from its budget-friendly cost of living, you’d have all the amenities and activities you’d need to enjoy an active retirement. Excellent museums, cafes, shops, and restaurants are all available; the public transport network and healthcare are first-rate, and you’d be able to access free classes at the university. Oh, and if that weren’t enough, you’d have Ichetucknee Springs State Park close by, plus nearby lakes, natural springs, and other outdoor activities.

8. Orlando and DeLand

For many people, Orlando typifies what Florida’s all about. While it isn’t a coastal city, this big, lively, and fun-loving place blends an endless array of unforgettable activities with beautiful green spaces. Heck, it’s even known as “The City Beautiful”!

Anyone planning an active retirement is sure to love it here. You’ll never run out of things to do (even if theme parks aren’t your idea of fun!), the weather’s temperate all year around, and there’s easy access to nearby beaches. The cost of living’s also relatively low, and there are quality healthcare facilities available that all add up to make Orlando one of the best places to retire in Florida.

To capitalize on the delights of Orlando from a quieter vantage, Alexis Hongamen, Certified Financial Planner with Total Financial Planning, suggests shifting your gaze to DeLand:

“I recommend DeLand as a great place to retire. You are right between Daytona Beach and Orlando, so a great location to get to the beach or the cultural events of a bigger city. You are 45 minutes away from a major international airport. At the same time, you are tucked away in a place that has a small-town feel with a quaint downtown. Lots of retirement villages around, so there are plenty of others in the same stage of life as you.”

9. Port St. Lucie

Another go-to retirement destination in Florida, Port St. Lucie has everything you could ever need. It’s safe and has 21 miles of brilliant beaches, amazing subtropical weather, outstanding outdoor opportunities, and limitless leisure activities!

Another noteworthy benefit of being in Port St. Lucie is its winning location. Nestled just north of West Palm Beach, between Orlando and Miami along the Atlantic Ocean, it’s a waterfront city without the exorbitant price tag. All things considered, it’s no surprise at all that over a quarter of its residents are in their golden years.

10. Naples

Regularly voted the best place to retire in Florida (if not the country!), we’d be remiss not to include Naples on this list. From its faultless weather and white-sand beaches to its world-class golf courses, restaurants, and cultural and shopping opportunities, this southwestern city’s an intensely desirable place to live.

Everything about Naples screams “luxury”. It’s an opulent destination where you can expect a sky-high quality of life – but with a price tag to match! The cost of living is one of the highest in the state. Assuming money isn’t an issue, though, people with a taste for the finer things in life will struggle to find a better place to retire in Florida.

From its faultless weather and white-sand beaches to its world-class golf courses, restaurants, and cultural and shopping opportunities, Naples is an intensely desirable place to live. Jorey Bernstein, CEO and Founder of Bernstein Investment Consultants, elaborates on the city’s many draws:

“If you’re looking for a top town in Florida to retire, I would definitely recommend Naples. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Naples boasts beautiful beaches, abundant golf courses, and a thriving arts and culture scene. The city also offers access to quality healthcare and a relatively low cost of living compared to other popular retirement destinations in Florida. Overall, Naples provides a luxurious and relaxing retirement lifestyle with plenty of natural beauty and entertainment options.”

Remember the Best Places to Retire in Florida

If ever there was a dream retirement destination, Florida would be it. The Sunshine State offers an unparalleled life of leisure, characterized by ocean views, warm weather, and, of course, minimal tax! With any luck, this discussion of the best places to retire in Florida has shed light on where exactly you should live out your golden years in this glorious part of the country.

That’s why we prepared this article about the best places to retire in Florida to help you begin thinking about the cities and towns which may be right for you.

Of course, making the transition from earning a paycheck to living off your savings and resources like Social Security can be a major adjustment impacting your budget and quality of life. Hiring a financial advisor can help you navigate the journey so you can enjoy decades in retirement in Florida with less money stress.

You’ll find financial advisors featured on Wealthtender based in Florida and others who can meet with you online no matter where you live today or tomorrow. Be sure to ask the right questions and understand the costs of hiring a financial advisor before deciding on the right financial advisor for you.

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