The 7 Best Places to Retire in New York State

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 New York to retire? Let’s discover the best places to retire in New York and learn what makes the Empire State stand out.

Big, bustling, and unerringly beautiful, New York’s been a go-to travel destination for decades. It’s one of the original 13 colonies, the 4th most populous state in America, and home to everything from the Big Apple and United Nations to Niagara Falls and the Adirondack Mountains.

Given its impressive history, reputation, and natural wonders, it’s no surprise that the Empire State now attracts a whopping 265+ million visitors each year and ranks 3rd in Wallethub’s list of the best states to live in! For similar reasons, it’s also little wonder that so many people choose to retire there…

If you’re thinking of doing the same, then you might be wondering about the best places to retire in New York! Read on to learn all about 7 of them.

1. Dunkirk

This city in Chautauqua County sits near the westernmost point of the state and has a tiny population of around 13,000 people. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in activities, attractions, and all-around appeal, though!

Not only is it located on the banks of beautiful Lake Erie, but it’s also a stone’s throw from Niagara Falls. The cost of living here is surprisingly affordable, too, offering retirees a budget-friendly way to spend their golden years on the water.

Additional benefits include the 2 hospitals you’ll find within a mile of the city and the mass of available leisure activities. Get ready to enjoy laidback lakeside strolls, endless beachfront fun, and the brilliant boardwalk market with its delightful dining opportunities.

2. Ithaca

If it’s good enough for the Dalai Lama, then it’s good enough for us. That’s right, the popular college town of Ithaca so impressed the leader of Tibetan Buddhism that he decided to open a temple there for students of the religion!

Those spiritual credentials aren’t the only reason to retire here, though.

Ithaca would be ideal for active retirees who want both serene, rural vibes and lively city life. You’ll find it on the beautiful southern shore of Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes region of NY State, with stunning waterfalls, gorges, and forest nearby. Back in town, you’ll have all the typical attractions and conveniences of the city – restaurants, shops, cultural, educational, and entertainment opportunities, and more.

Throw in the reasonable cost of living (it’s just 1% higher than the national average), and there are ample reasons to spend your golden years in Ithaca.

3. Albany

While the Big Apple may be the most famous city in the Empire State (if not the world), its capital, Albany, remains a sought-after place to both live and retire. It’s even been voted the best place to live in the state!

You’ll find Albany on the west bank of the Hudson River, approximately 150 miles from NYC. With the Adirondacks to the north, Hudson Valley to the south, and Berkshire Mountains to the east, you’d enjoy all the excitement of the big city, with endless outdoor activities within easy reach.

For green spaces nearer to home, there’s a glut of parks, golf courses, and bike-hike trails either within or just outside the city limits. For wine lovers, Albany’s close proximity to the Finger Lakes wine region would be another perk. Throw in its first-rate healthcare facilities, low crime rate, and reasonable housing costs, and Albany’s definitely one of the best places to retire in New York.

4. Saratoga Springs

Looking for a peaceful place to retire that’s within touching distance of a big city? Consider Saratoga Springs.

This quaint resort town is a mere 40-minute drive from Albany but feels a world away in terms of its atmosphere! Although tourism brings larger numbers of people to its doorstep in summer, fewer than 30,000 people live here year-round.

Retire to Saratoga Springs, and you’d have myriad restaurants and shops to sample, a music center and modern art museum to explore, and the famous horse races that happen here each summer to experience. It also boasts a vibrant downtown area, a slew of well-rated doctor’s offices, a peaceful vibe (except in summer, when tourism peaks), and exciting outdoor opportunities both in and around the city.

5. Elmira

Small-town retirement destinations don’t get much better than Elmira. The county seat of Chemung County, this popular place sits in the southern tier of New York State, with Pennsylvania just next door.

The Chemung River runs through the city’s center, and Harris Hill Park provides ample outdoor opportunities. There’s more than enough to keep you entertained on rainy days as well, including various museums, a nature center, a drive-in movie theater, and a historic downtown area complete with bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops galore. And that’s not all…

Would-be retirees will be pleased to hear that the city has several retirement communities, a low cost of living, and 6 hospitals within a mile.

6. Millbrook

Retirees with money to their name might consider a move to Millbrook. This quaint village of fewer than 1400 residents is located just 90 miles north of New York City in the Hudson Valley. It’s a stunning destination with elegant architecture, but it’s also one of the most affluent places in the state – so much so that it’s sometimes referred to as a low-key version of the Hamptons!

If you love horses and like the sound of a genteel retirement in the country, Millbrook would be ideal. The crime rate is exceptionally low, there are high-quality restaurants available, and it isn’t far from the excitement of the Big Apple.

7. Great Neck                   

Do you love NYC but want to be one step removed from its hustle and bustle when you retire? Great Neck could be, well…great. Located on the northern side of Long Island, you’d be a short 30-minute bus ride from the Big Apple’s limitless list of museums, galleries, shops, bars, restaurants, markets, and landmarks.

Great Neck’s proximity to NYC is far from its only appeal, though! It has a lot to offer in its own right.

It’s a peaceful suburb with a tight-knit yet welcoming community – a significant percentage of which are seniors. You’re never far from a fishing spot or recreation center either; the local dining scene’s thriving, too, and there are an impressive 28 medical centers in the area. For all these reasons and more, Great Neck’s undoubtedly another of the best places to retire in New York.

Get to Know the Best Places to Retire in New York

With all its history, natural beauty, and famous attractions, deciding to retire to New York State is relatively straightforward. Like trying to choose a movie from the mass of options on your favorite streaming platform, though, picking the ideal NY destination in which to spend your golden years can be a bigger challenge!

That’s why we prepared this article about the best places to retire in New York to help you begin thinking about the 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 New York with less money stress.

You’ll find financial advisors featured on Wealthtender based in New York 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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