The 5 Most (and Least) Retirement-Friendly Cities

WalletHub compared 182 U.S. cities based on 45 measures of affordability, quality of life, healthcare and activities.

By Rethinking65

Whether your clients are looking to stay put or move out of state for retirement, you may want to point them to some of the findings in personal-finance website WalletHub’s newly released ranking of the Best & Worst Places to Retire in 2023. Florida nabbed four of the top five slots: Tampa (1), Fort Lauderdale (3), Orlando (4) and Miami (5). Scottsdale, Ariz., came in second.

Rounding out the top 10, in order, are Casper, Wyo.; Denver; Cincinnati; Charleston, S.C.; and Atlanta.

WalletHub compared 182 U.S. cities across 45 key measures of affordability, quality of life, health care and availability of recreational activities. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the most favorable conditions for retirement. The study included the country’s 150 most populated cities and at least two of the most populated cities in each state. WalletHub only considered the findings within city limits, not surrounding metro areas.

Money matters

The affordability measure in the survey factors in adjusted cost of living (to which WalletHub assigned triple weight), taxpayer friendliness, retired taxpayer friendliness, tax friendliness on estate or inheritance tax, annual cost of in-home services and annual cost of adult daycare. Activities included recreation and senior centers, fishing facilities, municipal and public golf courses, museums and more.

San Francisco ranks as the country’s 11th best city to retire, despite tying for the highest adjusted cost of living with New York, San Jose, Calif., and two cities in Hawaii (Pearl City and Honolulu). Brownsville, Texas, has the lowest adjusted cost-of-living index for retirees, (75.39) — 2.4 times lower than in Honolulu and Pearl City (182.16.).

Although expensive, Pearl City sports the highest quality of life among U.S. cities and Honolulu is second, according to WalletHub. So perhaps it’s no wonder that Pearl City has the highest share of its population aged 65 and older (25.5%) and Honolulu is tied for fourth place, with Warwick, R.I. Scottsdale and Cape Coral, Fla., are second and third in the 65+ category.

Among the cities with the lowest share of population aged 65 and older, Austin, Texas is the largest. But just over 200 miles to its north, Plano, Texas, has the nation’s highest share of workers aged 65 and older (26.73%). Gulfport, Miss., has the lowest share of older workers, just 11.10%.

Health and recreation

Among other findings, St. Louis has the most home healthcare facilities per 100,000 residents, 79.26; New York City has the fewest, just 2.75 per 100,000 residents. Yet overall, the Big Apple ranks 135th overall among best cities for retirement — a little above middle of the road. Washington D.C. claimed the top spot for number of activities for retirees, followed by San Francisco, Miami, Cincinnati and Tampa.

The bottom five cities in the retirement ranking, in order from best to worst, are Detroit; San Bernardino, Calif.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Newark, N.J.; and Stockton, Calif.

To create its 2023’s Best & Worst Places to Retire report, WalletHub employed some of its own research and also collected data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, the Council for Community Economic Research, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Tax Foundation, Genworth Financial and other sources.

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