Top 10 Best Places to Retire Includes Lots of Florida Locales

U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of best places to retire shows the continuing allure of the Sunshine State.

By Dorothy Hinchcliff

Despite hurricanes and climate change, Florida dominates the top spots of best places to retire, according to a 2021-2022 ranking by U.S. News & World Report.

Its annual Best Places to Retire list is one of the most well-known and longest-running rankings on retirement locations. For the 2021-2022 ranking, the publication looked at the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the United States.

Among the ranking’s top 10 places to retire, eight are in Florida (seven were in last year’s ranking), one is in Pennsylvania and one in Michigan. Of the bottom 10 places to retire, eight were in California, with Bakersfield at 149. The worst place to retire of the 150 areas considered is San Juan, Puerto Rico, the ranking says.

The overall score of each area is based on a weighted average of six indexes that respondents ranked in order of importance to them. Based on responses from 3,087 people 45 and older polled in August 2021, the publication assigned weights to the indexes: happiness (22.3%), housing affordability (20.2%), healthcare quality (19.1%), retiree taxes (15.5%), desirability (13.6%), and job market (9.3%).

However, how each index was constructed includes other measures. For example, the happiness index for any particular area is based on crime rates, air quality and a measure of well-being. The job market index considered the area’s unemployment rate and average salaries.

Here is the ranking’s top 10:

1. Sarasota, FL

On Florida’s west coast, Sarasota offers miles of beaches. It contain many keys, with the longest being Longboat Key. It has many cultural venues, including the Sarasota Ballet, Florida Studio Theatre, Sarasota Orchestra and many more, plus aquariums, zoos and botanical gardens. According to the U.S. Census, the population of Sarasota City in 2020 was 54,842, up 5.6% since 2010.

Photo by unsplash/michellediamond
2. Naples, FL

Naples is on the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida and is home to many land reserves, including Everglades National Park. Pickleball has become very popular in Naples, and it is home to the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships. It also has a semi-pro soccer team and more than 80 championship gold courses. The population of Naples City in 2020 was 19,115, down 2.1% from 2010.

Photo by unsplash/alexperez
3. Daytona Beach, FL

Daytona Beach, on Florida’s east coast, is probably most well known for the Daytona 500 NASCAR race, held at the Daytona International Speedway. Its hard-packed sand allows for visitors to drive cars and other motorized vehicles on the beach. The population of Daytona Beach city reached 72,647 in 2020, up 19.1% from 2010.

Photo by unsplash/adityavyas
4. Melbourne, FL

Melbourne is on the Atlantic Ocean and is part of Florida’s Space Coast — it’s less than 25 miles from Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. The population of the city of Melbourne in 2020 was 84,678, up 11.3% from 2010.

Photo by Leonard J. DeFrancisci
5. Lancaster, PA

Lancaster is best known for being the hub of Pennsylvania’s Amish Country and is one of the oldest inland towns in the United States. Lancaster City is more diverse than one might expect, with many nationalities represented, including large Puerto Rican and German populations. Its population in 2020 was 58,039, down 2.1% from 2010.

Photo by unsplash/krystenlapp
6. Tampa, FL

Tampa, also on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is a major business center with a more diverse economy, including many Fortune 1000 companies, than many other areas in the state. Raymond James Financial is one of the many businesses headquartered there. The city has many neighborhoods with distinctive architecture and cultural attractions. Tampa’s population in 2020 was 384,959, up 14.7% since 2010.

Photo by unsplash/julietupas
7. Fort Myers, FL

Fort Myers is considered a major gateway to Florida’s southwest coast. Southwest Florida International Airport is close to the city and served more than 10 million passengers in 2019. The winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford draw many visitors. The city had a population of 86,395 in 2020, up 38.7% since 2010.

Photo by unsplash/nicknolan
8. Port St. Lucie, FL

Port St. Lucie is the spring training home of the New York Mets and two minor league baseball teams. Its PGA Golf Village has a nationally ranked golf club with 54 holes. The city has more than 30 neighborhoods. Its population in 2020 was 204,851, up 24.5% since 2010.

Photo by unsplash/joshsorenson
9. Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor, west of Detroit, is well known as the home of the University of Michigan. The school is a large part of the city’s economy and includes a highly ranked medical center. Ann Arbor has also become a technology center, in part because of the university’s research facilities. Its population in 2020 reached 123,851, up 8.7% from 2010.

Photo by unsplash/bradwest
10. Pensacola, FL

Pensacola, in Florida’s Panhandle, is known for hurricanes but also for scuba diving and deep sea fishing. Several hospitals are in the area and it has many festivals, events, sporting events, parks and historic tours. The city’s population was 54,312 in 2020, up 4.6% from 2010.

Photo by unsplash/joeciciarelli

To see more on the ranking, visit U.S. News & World Report.


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