Many people dream about retirement in a beach town. But a remote beach area isn’t always the right fit for retirees, who also need access to amenities and services, such as quality health care and transportation options. A recent U.S. News analysis compared the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the United States as potential retirement spots, including data on housing affordability, happiness, desirability, retiree taxes, the job market and access to quality health care. Here’s a look at the highest-rated coastal towns to retire.
10. Tampa, Florida
Located along the Gulf Coast and the Tampa Bay, Tampa has the powdery sand and swaying palm trees of a beach destination as well as the skyscrapers and high rises of a major metro area. The combination can work well for retirees who are looking for a place to retire near the beach on a budget, but don’t want to give up the amenities and services of living in a city. Tampa’s entertainment options include a port for cruise ships, theme parks and professional sports teams. Homeowners pay a median of $1,419 per month to live in Tampa, including mortgage payments, and the median rent is $1,070 monthly. Just over a quarter (26%) of the population is age 60 or older.
9. Daytona Beach, Florida
If you’re looking for a cheap place to retire near the beach, consider Daytona Beach. The median home price is just $188,000. Homeowners age 60 and older pay a median of $1,258 per month with a mortgage, and the median rent is $1,029 per month. Daytona Beach is a popular retirement spot, and almost a third of the population (32%) is age 60 or older. But this is not a sleepy seaside community. The headquarters for NASCAR is home to several large motorsports events each year. Health care services are provided by Halifax Health Medical Center of Daytona Beach and AdventHealth Daytona Beach. Located on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, cars can be driven onto some of the hard-packed sandy beaches.
8. Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville boasts 22 miles of white-sand beaches along the Atlantic coast. Movie nights and musical events are frequently hosted at the Seawalk Pavilion in Jacksonville Beach during the spring and summer months. The Jacksonville Beach Pier provides opportunities for deep-water fishing and strolling nearly a quarter mile past the shore. Less-crowded Neptune Beach often attracts surfers. This northern Florida city near the Georgia state line is bisected by the St. Johns River, which provides additional opportunities for boating and fishing. The median housing expense is $1,427 per month among homeowners with a mortgage, and it costs a median of $1,059 per month to rent an apartment near the beach in Jax, as the locals call it.
7. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach attracts plenty of tourists with its SkyWheel, boardwalk and Atlantic Ocean beaches. The low cost of living makes it affordable for retirees to live near the beach permanently. It costs a median of $1,267 per month to own a home with a mortgage in Myrtle Beach, and just $913 monthly to rent. You’re likely to find plenty of other retirees for company, since a third of the population is 60 or older. Myrtle Beach scores high marks for desirability, according to a U.S. News survey about where people age 45 and older most want to live in retirement. Myrtle Beach has a wide variety of golf courses, including designs by Robert Trent Jones and Jack Nicklaus.
6. Melbourne, Florida
Melbourne is an affordable beach town for retirement. The median home price among people age 60 and older is $191,600. The Indian River Lagoon separates the mainland from a barrier island, which is a popular spot to catch glimpses of passing dolphins and sea turtles. You can visit the beach where Juan Ponce de León first landed in North America in 1513 near Melbourne Beach or observe and help protect sea turtles at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, which stretches 20.5 miles between Melbourne Beach and Wabasso Beach. Residents of Melbourne enjoy a beach retirement along the Atlantic Ocean at reasonable prices.
This tropical city is located at the southern tip of Florida. Miami combines the sunny weather and sandy toes of a beach retirement spot with the amenities only a large metro area can provide. Miami retirees have a variety of quality health care options, including the Cleveland Clinic Florida, and are eligible to ride the public transit system for free. Beachgoers can choose to see and be seen in flashy South Beach or find some peace at an undeveloped beach at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne. Monthly housing costs for those age 60 and older are $1,774 for homeowners with a mortgage and $1,295 among renters.
4. Naples, Florida
Naples is more expensive than many other parts of Florida. The median home price is $382,300. Retirees pay a median of $1,787 per month for a house with a mortgage or a median of $1,228 monthly to rent. But many people find the high quality of life in Naples to be worth the cost. Naples residents have the highest sense of well-being in the country, according to an annual Gallup survey. Naples also scores high marks for desirability, with many people age 45 and older expressing an interest in moving to the area, according to a U.S. News survey. Located along the Gulf of Mexico, the Naples and Marco Island area is an ideal spot to enjoy golf, sunshine and white-sand beaches.
3. Port St. Lucie, Florida
Located about halfway between Miami and Orlando, Port St. Lucie is more laid back and affordable than these larger cities. Port St. Lucie scored highly on the desirability metric, and many people age 45 and older are interested in retiring in the area, according to a U.S. News survey. A third of the population is age 60 or older. It costs a median of $1,436 per month to own a home with a mortgage in Port St. Lucie, and a median of $1,126 monthly to rent. Port St. Lucie is located on Florida’s Atlantic coast and has freshwater marshes in addition to ocean beaches.
2. Fort Myers, Florida
The Fort Myers metro area is located along the Caloosahatchee River near Florida’s Gulf Coast. The mild winter weather makes Fort Myers a popular beach retirement destination, and Thomas Edison and Henry Ford both built winter estates in the area. The low cost of living makes it easy to relocate to Fort Myers. Living in the Fort Myers metro area, which also includes Cape Coral, costs retirees a median of $1,416 per month with a mortgage. Renters get to spend their retirement years boating, fishing or strolling along the beach in Fort Myers for a median of $1,093 per month.
1. Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota’s picturesque beaches, including Lido Key and Siesta Key, draw many visitors and retirees to the area. The unusual quartz sand at Siesta Beach is soft, white and powdery and stays cool to the touch, even on sunny days. The reasonable housing costs make it easy to retire near the water. The median home value among people age 60 and older is $245,000. Retirees with a mortgage pay a median of $1,481 per month for housing. The median rent is $1,152 per month. Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and Doctors Hospital of Sarasota are major health care providers for the community. Several barrier islands separate the Sarasota Bay from the Gulf of Mexico.
The best beach towns to retire in the U.S. include:
- Sarasota, Florida.
- Fort Myers, Florida.
- Port St. Lucie, Florida.
- Naples, Florida.
- Melbourne, Florida.
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
- Jacksonville, Florida.
- Daytona Beach, Florida.
- Tampa, Florida.
Updated on Feb. 17, 2021: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.