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Best Places to Retire in Florida

Time to trade in your work wardrobe for sandals, bathing suits and big, floppy sun hats. That’s right—you’re retiring, baby! So treat yourself!

The only “work” you have to do now is to pick the retirement destination of your dreams. And if you’re reading this, you’ve probably already chosen the Sunshine State as your retirement paradise. But where exactly in Florida is the best place to retire?

11 Best Places to Retire in Florida

We asked some Florida friends—who are wise in years—to share which areas in the Sunshine State they think are the best for retirement. Here they are:

Northwest

Northeast

Central

Central West

Central East

Southeast

Southwest

map of Florida

Let’s take a closer look at each of these Florida cities to see how senior-friendly they are. Then you can decide for yourself if one of them sticks out as the retirement destination of your dreams!

Find expert agents to help you buy your home.

But before we start, know that ultimately the best way to learn about any of these locations is to talk to a real estate agent who actually lives in Florida. The Florida agents we trust are local experts and can guide you to make your best housing decisions in retirement.

Now let’s dive in!

Pensacola

The northwestern strip of Florida is known as the Panhandle because the further south you go, the more you start feeling like you’re in a frying pan (teasing). On the westernmost edge of the Panhandle, you’ll find Pensacola. This is a great place to retire in Florida because the cost of living there is 4.5% lower than the national average, while health care costs are 6.8% lower!—so your retirement dollars can go farther.1 Pensacola is beautiful thanks to its Gulf Coast beaches. If you didn’t know, Florida beaches along the Gulf of Mexico have sugar white sand and emerald green water—desirable qualities that make them stand out from Florida’s east coast beaches. One downside to living in Pensacola is that it tends to receive more rain (57.7" per year) than most of the other cities on this list.2

Total Population (City)

54,3123

Retiree Population (City)

18.3%4

Median Household Income (City)

$56,1995

Median Home Price (Metro)

$389,9006

Median Monthly Rent (Metro)

$1,3697

*For all data tables on this list: Retiree Population is the percentage of residents who are 65 years and over; median numbers refer to the midpoint—half of the numbers were higher, half were lower; we’ve specified in parentheses which numbers refer to the city itself, its county or its greater metro area; rent numbers represent two-bedroom apartments, unless otherwise noted.

St. Augustine

On the northeast coast of Florida, just south of Jacksonville, is the city of St. Augustine. It’s known as the oldest city in the U.S.—founded in 1565!8 That’s how St. Augustine got its charming architecture, reflecting its Spanish origins. While summer days can get piping hot, the ocean breeze offers some comforting relief. Local foodies have plenty of restaurants to explore, including Latin American, Southern comfort, seafood, and steakhouse cuisines. The area is pretty pet-friendly—allowing you to take your pooch on a beach adventure! It’s also got a great live music scene, with a ton of talent playing at local bars, eateries and especially the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.

Total Population (City)

14,3299

Retiree Population (City)

25.5%10

Median Household Income (City)

$60,45511

Median Home Price (County)*

$583,00012

Median Monthly Rent (City)

$1,11813

*The latest data we could find on Median Monthly Rent (City) for St. Augustine is a little older than the other examples in this list. Median Home Price represents St. Johns County.

Ocala

Now, if you’re set on retiring in the Sunshine State, but don’t want to lose your country roots, Ocala may be for you. Unlike most of Florida’s geography, Ocala has green pastures and rolling hills. Sure, it’s not a beach town—but it does have a cost of living that’s 5.3% lower than the national average and health care costs that are 5% lower!14 Plus, if you like horses, you’re going to love Ocala. The Marion County area is one of four major thoroughbred centers in the world with 600 thoroughbred horse farms that have produced six Kentucky Derby winners!15 And when you’re not busy riding horses, keep an eye on the sky to see John Travolta fly his plane to his mansion in Ocala—mini airport included (no joke).

Total Population (City)

63,59116

Retiree Population (City)

18.7%17

Median Household Income (City)

$42,36118

Median Home Price (Metro)

$314,90019

Median Monthly Rent (City)*

$97320

*The latest data we could find on Median Monthly Rent (City) for Ocala is a little older than the other examples in this list.

Lakeland

Lakeland is centrally located, so it’s a great launching point to reach nearly anywhere in Florida. Disney and Universal are only an hour’s drive northeast (so your grandkids will be begging to visit you!). And you’re pretty much smack-dab between the Gulf Coast beaches to the West and the Atlantic Coast beaches to the East—either are just a couple hours away by car. But if theme parks and salt water aren’t your thing, Lakeland has 38 of its own beautiful freshwater lakes for you to enjoy.21 Another fun thing about living in Lakeland is that you can stroll through the neoclassical architecture of Hollis Gardens to explore its 10,000 flowers, ornamental shrubs and native trees.22 Plus, the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo puts Lakeland on the map for hosting the second-largest airshow in the world!23 

Total Population (City)

112,64124

Retiree Population (City)

22.2%25

Median Household Income (City)

$50,13626

Median Home Price (Metro)

$354,90027

Median Monthly Rent (Metro)

$1,37828

Pinellas County (Tampa’s Beach Towns)

While Tampa is cool, its beach-town suburbs in Pinellas County are what really attract retirees. They provide yet another front-row seat to those gorgeous Gulf Coast shores. Check out places like Palm Harbor, Belleair and Indian Rocks Beach. While each of these beach areas are mostly uncrowded, choose Belleair if you want a more private-community feel. Wherever you live in Pinellas County, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to go boating, fishing, swimming and exploring. Plus, you can take the grandkids to visit Palm Harbor’s Suncoast Primate Sanctuary Foundation to see more than 130 chimps, monkeys, orangutans, tropical birds and reptiles.29

Total Population (County)

959,10730

Retiree Population (County)

25.4%31

Median Household Income (County)

$56,41932

Median Home Price (County)

$438,50033

Median Monthly Rent (County)

$1,71034

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is a beautiful place to retire located right on the Space Coast. The Space Coast is in the Central East area of Florida and gets its name from being home to the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. There you can watch NASA and SpaceX blast rockets into the sky. Cocoa Beach is surrounded by water. You have the Atlantic Ocean on the east side and the Banana River on the west side—so you can enjoy dipping your toes in the sand one day and floating on the river the next. Another cool thing about Cocoa Beach is that there are a ton of unique, local eateries that serve a wide variety of food like island cuisine, Thai food, BBQ, tacos and pizza.

Total Population (City)

11,35435

Retiree Population (City)

33.4%36

Median Household Income (City)

$66,70637

Median Home Price (County)*

$390,00038

Median Monthly Rent (County)*

$1,38339

*The numbers for home price and rent represent Brevard County.

Port St. Lucie

Another one of the best places to retire in Florida is Port St. Lucie, which is located on what’s known as the Treasure Coast. The Treasure Coast runs along the Atlantic Ocean and is made up of three counties: Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin. Port St. Lucie is a golfer’s paradise. The PGA Golf Club at PGA Village offers 54 holes of championship golf, and you can book lessons with PGA pros.40 St. Lucie County features 21 miles of uncrowded beaches and boasts more public beach access points per square mile than any other coastal community in Florida—nearly all of which offer free admission and free parking!41

Total Population (City)

204,85142

Retiree Population (City)

20.5%43

Median Household Income (City)

$62,38044

Median Home Price (Metro)

$450,00045

Median Monthly Rent (Metro)

$1,64746

Jupiter

The town of Jupiter is a little ways south of Port St. Lucie. The town’s iconic red-brick lighthouse, built in the mid-1800s (just before the Civil War), is the oldest structure in Palm Beach County.47 But if you want to skip the history lesson, Jupiter has 3.4 miles of stunning beaches to enjoy. And the great thing about Jupiter being in Southern Florida is that its waters are known for staying warm—even during winter months!48

Total Population (City)

61,04749

Retiree Population (City)

23.1%50

Median Household Income (City)

$87,16351

Median Home Price (County)*

$625,00052

Median Monthly Rent (County)*

$2,11053

*The numbers for home price and rent represent Palm Beach County.

Boca Raton

Boca Raton is Spanish for “Rat’s Mouth.”54 Wait, what? Don’t worry, the origin of the name was more about describing the shape of the land than having anything to do with actual vermin (phew). The truth is, Boca Raton is an incredible place to retire. It’s only about an hour north of Miami, so you can enjoy all the fun of a big city without being stuck with its high prices or loud and crazy lifestyle. Boca Raton itself has five miles of Atlantic coastline and 47 parks with green nature trails for you to explore.55 The city is also a hot spot for shopping with its luxury shopping malls, specialty shops and department stores—so you’ll have no trouble building up your paradise wardrobe.

Total Population (City)

97,42256

Retiree Population (City)

27.3%57

Median Household Income (City)

$84,44558

Median Home Price (County)*

$625,00059

Median Monthly Rent (County)*

$2,11060

*The numbers for home price and rent represent Palm Beach County.

Sarasota

About an hour south from Tampa, Sarasota is a hugely popular retirement destination. Unfortunately, as with any place that’s popular, Sarasota has a high cost of living—7.7% higher than the national average.61 But if you can afford to live there, Sarasota is well worth it! The city is famous for its rich culture, year-round activities, and internationally recognized beaches (check out Siesta Key). Some of Sarasota’s unique events include the sunset drum circle and sand sculpting festival in Siesta Key, and the chalk festival at Burns Square in downtown Sarasota. You also have 45 acres of bayfront sanctuaries to explore at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.62 The downtown campus on Sarasota Bay is the world’s only botanical garden dedicated to epiphytic orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads, ferns, and other (impossible to pronounce) tropical plants.

Total Population (City)

54,84263

Retiree Population (City)

28%64

Median Household Income (City)

$56,09365

Median Home Price (Metro)

$589,90066

Median Monthly Rent (Metro)

$1,91367

Naples

The southwest haven of Naples closes out our list. One reason this is a great place to spend your golden years is it’s one of the safest places for retirees in Florida. Plus, half of the entire population in Naples is made up of people ages 65 and over!68 On the downside, this is another one of the more expensive places to live in the Sunshine State. But if you’ve been following the Ramsey way—budgeting every dollar with discipline, living below your means, and building wealth like a Baby Steps Millionaire—then you’re ready to live and give like no one else! And Naples is an amazing place to do just that.

Total Population (City)

19,11569

Retiree Population (City)

50.8%70

Median Household Income (City)

$118,14171

Median Home Price (Metro)

$875,00072

Median Monthly Rent (Metro)

$2,00973

Want to explore even more cities in the Sunshine State? Check out the best places to live in Florida.

Is Florida a Good State to Retire In?

Florida is a very popular choice among retirees because so many people love the idea of skipping winters and enjoying the beach all year long. But as you know, deciding where you should retire really depends on your own personality, what you like and don’t like, and what you want to get out of your retirement adventures ahead.

You also need to consider your finances. Florida's cost of living varies depending on where you live, but the fact that there's no state income tax really helps your retirement money go farther! You should also make sure you have the right coverage in place to protect your home from unique conditions in Florida like hurricanes and sinkholes.

And don’t forget about the move itself. If you want to work with a company that has been trusted with 6 million moves, PODS is RamseyTrusted. You can fill a PODS container with all your belongings, and they’ll deliver it anywhere in Florida.

If you want to be financially prepared to spend your golden years in the Sunshine State, the best way to do that is to work with a financial advisor—someone who can help you stay on track with investing for retirement and plan for expenses you might have never even thought about.

Buying Your Florida Retirement Home

Another way to make sure your finances are set when moving to Florida is to follow the Ramsey way when it comes to buying your retirement home. That means, don’t make decisions based on what’s happening in the Florida housing market—only your personal situation and finances should influence your choices. So let’s talk about your home-buying plan next.

Obviously, your best option is to pay for your Florida home with 100% cash. To do this, save as much money as you can after selling your current home to use toward your Florida home. Chances are, now is a good time to downsize—so the money you make from your current (larger) home should be enough to cover your next (smaller) one.

If you work with top real estate agents who actually know what they’re doing, you’ll be able to buy and sell at the same time. To pull this off, you’ll want to find two types of agents:

  • Seller’s agent (or listing agent): They’ll guide you through the home-selling process by helping you decide on the right price to sell your home, arrange for a home inspection, know what to fix, identify how to stage your home, determine a marketing strategy to find buyers, pick the right offer, negotiate the best deal, and walk through the closing paperwork. 

 

  • Buyer’s agent: They’ll guide you through the home-buying process by helping you research Florida neighborhoods for best fit, attend open houses and showings, find a home for sale in your price range, make a competitive offer within your budget, negotiate the contract, handle the home inspection, and gather all the paperwork due on closing day.

Bottom line: You’ll make smarter housing decisions when working with real estate agents you can trust. Remember, the most important goal in buying your Florida retirement home is to avoid going into debt. We don’t want you to spend your retirement years enslaved to a lender! These are the years to live and give like nobody else and to build outrageous wealth so you can leave a legacy to your loved ones!

Find a Florida Real Estate Agent

If you know the city in Florida where you want to retire, the next step on your Florida moving checklist is to find a real estate agent. For a fast and easy way to find RamseyTrusted agents in Florida, try our Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program. We carefully select the leading agents in their markets and regularly coach them to serve you with excellence. That’s how they’ve earned the right to be called RamseyTrusted.

Find a Florida real estate agent we trust!

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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