The 5 Best Places to Retire in Florida, Based on Taxes, Amenities, and More

By Lindsay Stefan

Posted on August 22nd, 2022

Florida Retirement Taxes | Florida Health Care | Price to Income Ratio in Florida | How to Choose a City in Florida | The 5 Best Places to Retire in Florida | Alternatives | Tips for Selling Your Current Home | Methodology

Photo of Bayfront Park in Sarasota, Florida

[object Object]

Florida has a well-earned reputation as a top destination for retirees and everyone else looking for sun, sand, and a little peace and tranquility. The state’s undergoing an overall boom right now, with four Florida cities ranking in the top ten fastest growing cities in the nation.

Why do people retire to Florida? Everything from its ideal weather, low tax burden, and huge retiree community makes the state the perfect haven for retirees.

Cities like Pensacola offer a beach view with stellar affordability, and Miami is a world-class city in its own right, no matter your age.

So how did we evaluate these Florida cities? In our study, we looked at data points including:

  • Local tax rates

  • Health care quality and accessibility

  • Home values

  • Cost of living

Then, we ranked the top five according to how good they are for retirees. Learn more about our methodology.

Whether you’re unsure which city you prefer or you’re hoping to find a good retirement community in a specific city, you’ll need some insider perspective — something hard to get if you don’t currently live nearby.

If you're looking for a local realtor who can provide on-the-ground insights into Florida's best retirement cities, our friends at Clever Real Estate help. Clever offers a free service that matches you with the best real estate agents from Keller Williams, RE/MAX, Century21, and other top-rated brokers.

In Florida, you can get up to 0.5% cash back after closing — just for finding a fantastic real estate agent through Clever! And if you need to sell your current home, Clever can introduce you to local agents who work for pre-negotiated listing fees of just 1%. The average Clever seller saves $9,000!

👋 Meet the best real estate agents in Florida's top retirement cities today!

Florida Retirement Taxes

Florida is a low-tax state in general — there’s no personal income tax, so the state gets most of its revenue from consumption-based taxes like sales and excise taxes.

A recent study by the Tax Foundation found that Florida ranked 11th in the nation in terms of low taxes, with a total state-local tax burden of only 9.1%.

And the low taxes benefit retirees specifically, since the state doesn’t tax Social Security, or 401(k), IRA, or pension distributions.

Florida Health Care

Florida’s health care system isn’t highly regarded (ranking 40th out of the 50 states in a recent study), but health care is definitely affordable for most Medicare recipients.

The average monthly Medicare Advantage Premium is only $8.54, and the lowest monthly premium for stand-alone prescription drug plans (Medicare Part D) is $7.70. There are also many Medicare certified providers — well over 26,000 to be exact, which comes to 124 per 100,000 state residents.

Price-to-Income (PTI) Ratio in Florida

Price-to-income is a formula used to determine an area’s affordability based on home prices and household income. The number represents the number of years of income it would take to have enough to buy a house.

The PTI ratio generally recommended for affordability is 2.6 or lower.

[object Object]

The average PTI in Florida is 6.9 — so the average Florida resident would have to work almost seven years in order to afford a home. That means it's very difficult for the average person to buy a house in the state.

Here's how we calculated this number:

[object Object]

How to Choose the Best Place to Retire in Florida

Every person is unique, so you might be looking for a very different atmosphere than another retiree. But whether you’re looking for decent health care or warm weather, we’ve put together a list to help you narrow down your choices.

  • 💰 On a budget? Check out Pensacola for its low housing costs and generally affordable cost of living.

  • 👭 Looking to meet people? In Sarasota, a whopping 40% of residents are 60 or older.

  • 🏥 Want the best health care? Sarasota has excellent access to grade-A hospitals.

  • 🎉 Like going out? Tampa and Sarasotaboth have tons of things to do, and Miami is a world-class city for everything from restaurants and shopping to nightlife.

  • ☀️ Want great weather? Sarasota and Tampa are remarkably temperate, but you can’t really go wrong with any city in Florida when it comes to sunny weather.

  • 🏅 Looking for the best overall city to retire to in Florida? Sarasota has a massive retiree community, excellent health care access and recreation, and decent affordability.

Buying a house in a different city or state can be tough when you aren’t familiar with the local market. A good local real estate agent will know the market front and back, and they’ll be able to help you find the perfect neighborhood and home for you.

Finding an agent you like and trust doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. Our friends at Clever Real Estate make it simple to find the best Florida real estate agents from top-rated brokers such as Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and more. Their fully licensed concierge team will learn about your preferences and goals to connect you with the right agents for your specific needs.

And in Florida, you'll even get up to 0.5% cash back after closing! For a $400,000 home sale, that puts $2,000 back in your pocket — just for finding a fantastic agent through Clever.

Get matched with local real estate agents today!

The Best Places to Retire in Florida

[object Object]

[object Object]

1. Sarasota

[object Object]

Sarasota is a retiree hotspot — over 40% of residents are 60+ years old.

With a retiree population this large, it’s no surprise that the city is built around the needs of its senior residents.

Sarasota has 15 retirement homes (average rating: 3.13) and 13 hospitals in a 50-mile radius, including 1.52 Medicare in-network hospitals per 100,000 residents. That’s nearly 200% more than average.

Sarasota’s also just a great place to live in general. It’s extremely walkable and boasts a mild climate, with an average winter temperature of 64.6 F and an average summer temperature of 83.2 F. The city also hosts state-best recreation amenities, including the most theaters, botanical gardens, senior centers, and golf options, per capita, of any retiree city in Florida.

Finally, Sarasota is much more affordable compared to other cities. Although home values here have increased quite a bit in recent years, they haven’t seen the steep spikes of other Florida cities. The property taxes are also significantly lower than average, at an estimated 0.83%.

👋 Relocating from another state? Get personally matched with the best real estate agents in Sarasota!

2. Pensacola

[object Object]

Nearly 23% of Pensacola are 60+ years old. It has a thriving retiree community with no shortage of things to do. Pensacola boasts the most museums, flea markets, and bingo halls per capita of all the cities on this list, along with the second-most music venues and golf options.

Retiree health care needs are well provided for with Pensacola’s five hospitals in a 50-mile radius with a 4 or 5 star rating — the second-most quality Medicare in-network hospitals (0.98 per 100,000 residents) of the other top retiree cities in Florida.

Pensacola is fairly affordable, with the lowest estimated property taxes (0.72%), along with the lowest average home value (just under $290,000) and the gentlest increase in home values, over the past decade, of any city on this list.

Pensacola’s only shortcoming in the affordability department is that its average utility costs are expensive, coming in at just under $270 a month.

3. Tampa

[object Object]

Tampa has the best weather of any city on this list, which means it might have the best weather of any retiree city in the U.S. The average winter temperature here is a balmy 63 F, and the average summer temperature is a moderate 81.9 F.

With a climate this ideal, it’s no surprise that retirees flock here. Over 26% of the population in Tampa is 60+ years old.

Tampa retirement homes have the highest average Yelp rating (4.8) of any city on this list, and 16 hospitals in a 50 mile radius with a 4 or 5 star rating, including 0.89 highly rated Medicare in-network hospitals per 100,000 residents.

Despite all these offerings, Tampa is pretty affordable, even while doubling the average cost of a home within a decade. The estimated property tax rate is only 0.89% here.

The average cost of a meal for two is only $60 (second-cheapest on this list), and utilities like internet access are relatively cheap.

4. Cape Coral / Fort Myers

[object Object]

Cape Coral/Fort Myers tops this list for recreation and entertainment, offering a wide spectrum of activities for every retiree. It’s home to the most active retirement communities in Florida.

The city has the most movie theaters, music venues, art classes, and hiking options per capita, and the cheapest public transportation, so getting to your painting class or afternoon matinee won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Cape Coral/Fort Myers also boasts a climate that’s close to perfect, with an average winter temperature of 66.5 F and an average summer temperature of only 82.9 F. Residents here also have great access to health care, with 7 highly rated hospitals in a 50 mile radius, including 0.49 highly rated Medicare in-network hospitals per 100,000 residents.

5. Miami / Fort Lauderdale

[object Object]

Miami is a world-class city in general — and a top choice for retirees. Just over 24% of Miami residents are 60+ years old.

The city has the highest walkability score (77) of any city on this list, so it’s extremely easy to get around and lots to do, from the many shops and restaurants, to excellent beaches, to art galleries — the most art galleries (159) of any city on this list.

Miami retirement homes are very highly rated, too, with an average Yelp rating of 4.08. Home values in Miami are pretty high, the highest of any of the cities on this list. However, costs like utilities are fairly affordable, and you get a lot for your dollar in a vibrant place like Miami.

Not Sold on Florida? Consider These Alternatives

If you’re not sold on the Sunshine State, consider these other retiree destinations that might offer more of what you’re looking for!

Asheville, North Carolina: This jewel of the mid-Atlantic has a huge retiree community and offers low property taxes, high walkability, and endless opportunities for recreation and entertainment.

Nashville, Tennessee: This booming southern city is a little on the expensive side, but you get a lot for your money, including tons of entertainment, a thriving economy, and high-quality health care.

Hickory, North Carolina: This little-known city offers top-notch health care and great golf options, with a price tag that’s unbelievably reasonable.

Need to Sell Your Current Home?

Selling a home, moving, and buying a new home involves spending a lot of your hard-earned money at once — something that can particularly affect new retirees who are just cashing in on their retirement fund.

Our friends at Clever Real Estate have already negotiated with Florida's best realtors to give you low listing fees of just 1% (a fraction of the standard 3%). In fact, the average Clever customer saves $9,000 on their home sale! That’s thousands back in your pocket to help you cover moving expenses, splurge on your grandkids, or simply save for a rainy day.

👋 Want a quick, no-hassle home sale?


Our friends at Clever Real Estate can connect you with a top agent who can help you sell for more money on a timeline that works for you.


Get matched with local real estate agents today!

Methodology

Home Bay compared five popular Florida cities across a number of metrics, listed below. Each metric was normalized and then graded on a 100-point scale. The combined weighted average of the scores determined the “retirement city” score upon which the final ranking was based.

The metrics used are as follows:

  • Percent of the metro area population that is 60+ years old (18.52%)

  • Count of 5- & 4-star Medicare in-network hospitals in 50-mile radius per 100K residents (14.81%)

  • Estimated median annual property tax rate (14.81%)

  • Walkability score (14.81%)

  • Average Yelp Star Rating of Retirement Homes in the Metro (11.11%)

  • Normalized score of recreational activities based on number of options per capita and average star rating on Yelp relative to the five other cities on this list (11.11%)

  • Seasonal weather score based on highest average winter temperatures and lowest average summer temperatures for each metro (7.41%)

  • Percent increase in typical single-family home values (2012–2022) (7.41%)

  • Monthly cost of internet (3.70%)

  • Monthly cost of basic utilities for a 915 sq. ft. apartment (3.70%)

  • Cost of a meal for two at a mid-range restaurant (3.70%)

  • Cost of a monthly public transit pass (3.70%)

Sources: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Census American Community Survey, US National Centers for Environmental Information, Tax Policy Center, AARP, Zillow, Yelp, Walkscore, & Numbeo.

About Home Bay

Where your real estate voyage begins. Since 2014, Home Bay has helped thousands of readers confidently sail through their next home sale or purchase. In 2021, Home Bay was acquired by Clever Real Estate, a free agent-matching service that has helped consumers save more than $82 million on real estate fees. Research by Home Bay's Data Center has been cited by The New York Times, CNBC, MarketWatch, NPR, Apartment Therapy, Yahoo Finance, Black Enterprise, and more.

Recommended Reading

Frequently Asked Questions About Retiring in Florida

What’s the cheapest place to live in Florida?

The Cape Coral/Fort Myers area is the cheapest place to live in Florida. Check out our list of the best places to retire in Florida.

What’s the Florida cost of living?

Florida’s cost of living is around $43,615, according to 2020 data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Check out our list of the best places to retire in Florida.

What’s the richest part of Florida?

The richest part of Florida is Palm Beach. Check out our list of the best places to retire in Florida.

What are the safest places to live in Florida from hurricanes?

The safest places to live in Florida from hurricanes are the northern, inland communities near the Georgia border. Check out our list of the best places to retire in Florida.

Interested in buying or selling?

We've improved the traditional real estate model with modern technology to cut costs, not quality.

Get started today

Posted in Buying a House, Moving, Selling a House