Florida may not be the ideal place for retirees at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising cases. Once the pandemic is under control, though, it should continue to rank as the best state for Americans to spend their golden years. 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 29 key indicators of retiree-friendliness. Our data set ranges from cost of living to health care facilities per capita to number of attractions.
Best & Worst Places to Retire in Florida
Quality of Life
|2||Fort Myers, FL||63.17||12||2||9|
|3||Boca Raton, FL||62.69||54||4||4|
|8||Fort Lauderdale, FL||55.02||76||29||6|
|9||Delray Beach, FL||54.92||66||7||13|
|14||Winter Park, FL||53.51||26||9||24|
|16||South Bradenton, FL||52.06||7||92||19|
|17||Bonita Springs, FL||52.01||8||16||38|
|18||Cape Coral, FL||51.83||4||33||34|
|22||West Palm Beach, FL||50.48||110||11||12|
|23||North Fort Myers, FL||50.17||3||32||53|
|24||Boynton Beach, FL||49.82||98||6||27|
|25||Tarpon Springs, FL||49.82||39||49||22|
|26||Hallandale Beach, FL||49.67||13||30||64|
|28||Palm Beach Gardens, FL||49.02||47||12||48|
|29||Riviera Beach, FL||48.89||108||26||7|
|30||New Smyrna Beach, FL||48.81||18||118||11|
|31||Panama City, FL||47.85||97||43||17|
|33||St. Petersburg, FL||47.56||60||73||23|
|35||Horizon West, FL||47.30||83||71||14|
|36||North Port, FL||47.19||10||50||93|
|37||Lake Worth, FL||46.90||104||13||28|
|38||Lehigh Acres, FL||46.60||56||42||39|
|40||Oakleaf Plantation, FL||46.38||90||21||61|
|41||Coral Gables, FL||46.36||46||27||56|
|44||Daytona Beach, FL||46.08||50||115||16|
|45||Fort Pierce, FL||45.96||79||51||30|
|47||Lauderdale Lakes, FL||45.05||64||48||63|
|48||Ormond Beach, FL||45.00||16||112||32|
|49||Pompano Beach, FL||44.99||91||60||33|
|50||Royal Palm Beach, FL||44.94||67||23||72|
|51||Coral Terrace, FL||44.79||92||35||52|
|54||Miami Beach, FL||44.34||107||83||20|
|55||University Park, FL||44.26||105||35||29|
|56||Oakland Park, FL||44.23||65||62||55|
|60||Cooper City, FL||43.84||40||100||58|
|61||North Lauderdale, FL||43.82||70||72||62|
|62||Winter Springs, FL||43.62||19||79||101|
|64||Altamonte Springs, FL||43.54||85||14||104|
|65||Pembroke Pines, FL||43.32||45||66||81|
|69||Spring Hill, FL||43.00||95||70||40|
|74||Miami Lakes, FL||42.77||80||31||109|
|75||Pinellas Park, FL||42.68||84||59||67|
|76||North Miami Beach, FL||42.63||88||18||102|
|78||Winter Garden, FL||41.98||63||105||49|
|81||Port St. Lucie, FL||41.72||24||98||115|
|82||Palm Harbor, FL||41.66||74||37||84|
|83||Winter Haven, FL||41.63||34||85||103|
|84||Port Orange, FL||41.61||15||117||60|
|85||Deerfield Beach, FL||41.41||69||64||85|
|86||Cutler Bay, FL||41.14||42||101||97|
|88||Palm Bay, FL||40.96||59||76||108|
|91||Temple Terrace, FL||40.77||52||107||77|
|92||Port Charlotte, FL||40.70||71||63||95|
|93||Dania Beach, FL||40.54||81||95||68|
|95||Palm Coast, FL||40.47||43||65||105|
|99||Coral Springs, FL||39.88||68||82||99|
|102||Coconut Creek, FL||39.69||51||93||110|
|104||Merritt Island, FL||39.17||75||57||111|
|105||Fleming Island, FL||38.55||101||58||118|
|107||North Miami, FL||37.69||99||74||113|
|109||Miami Gardens, FL||37.28||96||96||112|
|111||Plant City, FL||36.43||117||89||69|
|112||The Villages, FL||36.18||78||108||116|
|113||Land O' Lakes, FL||36.14||113||84||100|
|116||Wesley Chapel, FL||34.81||115||77||114|
|117||Town 'n' Country, FL||34.69||119||109||59|
|119||St. Cloud, FL||34.32||33||119||120|
Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that city, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.
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 120 cities in the state across three key dimensions: 1) Quality of Life, 2) Health and 3) Activities.
We evaluated those dimensions using 29 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 Points)
- Share of Population Aged 65 & Older: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Share of Households with Severe Housing Problems: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
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 Points)
- Elderly-Friendly Labor Market: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
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 Points)
- Violent-Crime Rate: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Property-Crime Rate: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Air Quality: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Water Quality: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of drinking water violations from Community Water Systems per 100,000 Residents.
Health Care – Total Points: 33.33
- Average Daily COVID-19 Cases in the Past Week per Capita: Double Weight (~7.41 Points)
- Health Care Facilities per Capita: Full Weight (~3.70 Points)
- Home-Care Facilities per Capita: Full Weight (~3.70 Points)
- Family Medicine Physicians per 10,000 Residents: Full Weight (~3.70 Points)
- Dentists per 10,000 Residents: Full Weight (~3.70 Points)
- Nurses per 1,000 Residents: Full Weight (~3.70 Points)
- Life Expectancy: Full Weight (~3.70 Points)
- Death Rate for Population Aged 65 & Older: Full Weight (~3.70 Points)
Activities – Total Points: 33.33
- Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
Note: “Attractions” include, for instance, zoos, museums and theaters.
- Senior Centers per Capita: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
- Fitness & Recreational Sports Centers per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
- Golf Courses & Country Clubs per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
- Fishing Facilities per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
- Museums per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
- Theaters per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
- Art Galleries per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
- Music Venues per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
- Availability of Adult Volunteer Activities: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
- Weather: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
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, The New York Times and Wallethub research.