The dream of retiring on a sunny beach in Florida is alive and kicking. Despite 45 percent of workers expecting to retire past the age of 65, Florida is still the destination that comes to mind when Americans envision their golden years. And the reason is simple: Florida crosses off many items on a retiree’s wish list, starting with cheap living costs, one of the biggest considerations for older Americans who’ve stopped working and rely on a smaller income. And while Florida’s health care needs work in some areas, it does boast high marks in direct primary care and pharmaceutical access.
Beyond practical qualities, this Southern charmer is teeming with excitement. Here, retirees are likely to avoid boredom and burnout — common problems among this group — with a wide variety of choices for indoor and outdoor activities, coupled with volunteer opportunities and part- or full-time jobs. Throw in the wraparound coastline and foodie-worthy cuisine, and there will be nothing left to crave. Best of all, no one pays income tax, so every dollar goes a long way.
Florida’s unmatched status as a retirement paradise, however, doesn’t rub off on every one of its cities. To determine where retirees can look forward to living out their best years in the Sunshine State, WalletHub’s data crunchers compared more than 100 of its largest cities across 28 key indicators of retiree-friendliness. Our data set ranges from cost of living to health care facilities per capita to number of attractions. Read on for our findings, expert retirement insight and a full description of our methodology.
Best & Worst Places to Retire in Florida
Overall Rank (1=Best)
‘Quality of Life’ Rank
‘Health Care’ Rank
|4||Boca Raton, FL||61.83||51||5||7|
|5||Key West, FL||61.80||20||51||3|
|8||Fort Myers, FL||60.00||31||4||10|
|9||West Palm Beach, FL||57.02||93||6||9|
|11||Fort Lauderdale, FL||56.52||63||31||6|
|13||Winter Park, FL||54.50||24||8||22|
|14||St. Petersburg, FL||53.58||65||39||8|
|15||Delray Beach, FL||52.07||66||11||16|
|16||Bonita Springs, FL||51.25||2||23||41|
|18||Coral Gables, FL||49.76||42||21||23|
|21||Cape Coral, FL||48.42||8||62||34|
|22||Hallandale Beach, FL||48.22||25||36||42|
|23||Boynton Beach, FL||48.22||86||12||27|
|24||Horizon West, FL||47.84||80||50||12|
|28||North Fort Myers, FL||46.73||1||64||78|
|29||North Port, FL||46.59||18||26||109|
|34||Temple Terrace, FL||45.66||46||32||61|
|37||Palm Beach Gardens, FL||45.42||50||29||53|
|38||University Park, FL||45.38||104||28||26|
|39||Miami Beach, FL||45.28||115||75||11|
|40||Lake Worth, FL||45.27||109||27||24|
|41||New Smyrna Beach, FL||45.02||38||110||14|
|43||Altamonte Springs, FL||44.83||29||22||107|
|44||Cutler Bay, FL||44.30||45||60||52|
|46||Fort Pierce, FL||44.22||49||78||33|
|47||Lauderdale Lakes, FL||44.17||73||52||39|
|49||Town 'n' Country, FL||43.70||101||30||48|
|51||Port Charlotte, FL||43.64||10||14||115|
|52||North Miami Beach, FL||43.61||79||15||89|
|54||Royal Palm Beach, FL||43.34||71||41||66|
|55||Riviera Beach, FL||43.25||108||80||17|
|56||Winter Haven, FL||43.17||7||101||82|
|60||Land O' Lakes, FL||42.74||74||37||95|
|63||Pinellas Park, FL||42.69||76||38||81|
|64||Daytona Beach, FL||42.68||84||107||15|
|65||Palm Coast, FL||42.59||15||90||87|
|66||Miami Lakes, FL||42.40||54||56||84|
|68||Plant City, FL||42.17||106||17||74|
|69||Port St. Lucie, FL||42.14||5||91||114|
|70||Pembroke Pines, FL||42.08||60||61||72|
|72||Palm Harbor, FL||41.74||91||16||96|
|73||Oakland Park, FL||41.73||85||70||43|
|75||Ormond Beach, FL||41.64||36||108||31|
|77||North Lauderdale, FL||41.44||100||65||40|
|80||Port Orange, FL||40.92||9||111||60|
|81||Lehigh Acres, FL||40.80||53||72||93|
|82||Cooper City, FL||40.80||78||98||35|
|83||Winter Springs, FL||40.73||13||104||108|
|84||Oakleaf Plantation, FL||40.68||77||86||68|
|87||Pompano Beach, FL||40.43||111||73||36|
|88||Winter Garden, FL||40.39||48||100||65|
|90||Panama City, FL||40.34||103||105||21|
|92||Spring Hill, FL||40.13||57||69||101|
|96||Merritt Island, FL||39.54||34||78||105|
|97||Miami Gardens, FL||39.52||89||93||55|
|100||North Miami, FL||39.02||92||77||85|
|101||Coconut Creek, FL||38.86||52||95||99|
|105||St. Cloud, FL||38.36||62||99||100|
|106||Deerfield Beach, FL||38.31||81||68||103|
|108||Dania Beach, FL||37.58||102||94||77|
|109||Wesley Chapel, FL||37.18||113||47||110|
|110||Coral Springs, FL||37.07||99||83||102|
|111||Palm Bay, FL||36.40||68||96||111|
|113||Fleming Island, FL||34.38||88||102||112|
|114||The Villages, FL||31.93||3||115||113|
Ask the Experts
Florida has consistently ranked as the No. 1 retirement destination in America — and for good reason. To help other states emulate Florida’s success, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:
- Are retirees a drain on state and local budgets in Florida or do they pay more in taxes than they use in state and local services?
- In choosing the best cities to retire in Florida, what are the top five indicators?
- Are there lessons other states should learn from Florida in terms of attracting retirees?
- What is the most important policy that Governor Ron DeSantis and other state and local policymakers should pursue to better meet the needs of retirees in Florida?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the most ideal places in Florida to retire, WalletHub’s analysts compared a sample of 115 cities in the state across three key dimensions: 1) Quality of Life, 2) Health and 3) Activities.
We evaluated those dimensions using 28 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for retirement. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), the square root of the population was used to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Quality of Life – Total Points: 33.33
- Adjusted Cost of Living: Full Weight (~3.33)
- Share of Population Aged 65 & Older: Full Weight (~3.33)
- Share of Households with Severe Housing Problems: Full Weight (~3.33)
Note: This composite metric measures the percentage of households with at least one or more of the following housing problems:
- Housing unit lacks complete kitchen facilities;
- Housing unit lacks complete plumbing facilities;
- Household is severely overcrowded.
- Discount Stores per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33)
- Elderly-Friendly Labor Market: Full Weight (~3.33)
Note: This composite metric measures the following:
- Share of Workers Aged 65 & Older;
- Ratio of Part-Time to Full-Time Workers Aged 65 & Older.
- Share of Commuters Who Use Public Transit: Full Weight (~3.33)
- Violent-Crime Rate: Full Weight (~3.33)
- Property-Crime Rate: Full Weight (~3.33)
- Air Quality: Full Weight (~3.33)
- Drinking-Water Violations: Full Weight (~3.33)
Health Care – Total Points: 33.33
- Health Care Facilities per Capita: Full Weight (~4.76)
- Home-Care Facilities per Capita: Full Weight (~4.76)
- Family & General Physicians per 10,000 Residents: Full Weight (~4.76)
- Dentists per 10,000 Residents: Full Weight (~4.76)
- Nurses per 1,000 Residents: Full Weight (~4.76)
- Life Expectancy: Full Weight (~4.76)
- Death Rate for Population Aged 65 & Older: Full Weight (~4.76)
Activities – Total Points: 33.33
- Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~3.03)
Note: “Attractions” include, for instance, zoos, museums and theaters.
- Senior Centers per Capita: Full Weight (~3.03)
- Fitness & Recreational Sports Centers per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03)
- Golf Courses & Country Clubs per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03)
- Fishing Facilities per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03)
- Museums per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03)
- Theaters per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03)
- Art Galleries per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03)
- Music Venues per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03)
- Availability of Adult Volunteer Activities: Full Weight (~3.03)
- Weather: Full Weight (~3.03)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Cities with the Best & Worst Weather” ranking.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Elder Affairs - State of Florida, United States Environmental Protection Agency, County Health Rankings, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Charity Navigator, AreaVibes and Wallethub research.
Image: sirtravelalot / Shutterstock.com