10 Best Places for Retirement Jobs

10 Best Places for Retirement JobsRetirement means not working, right? Not necessarily.

Increasingly, today’s retirees are choosing to remain in the workforce. For many, this is simply a financial necessity — disappearing pensions, smaller nest eggs and increasing healthcare costs make earning income essential. For others, it’s a decision based on the fact that they love what they do.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that all retirees continue to stay in the exact same job. Many scale back their hours, switch positions, or even take on completely new careers.

However, what it does mean is that the traditional definition of what makes a good retirement spot is quickly changing. These days a good local job market is an essential requirement for many retirees looking to relocate.

Given that, here’s our list of the 10 best places in the U.S. for retirement jobs. Our criteria in selecting spots for the list was a mix of art and science.

On the data side, we examined unemployment rates for metropolitan areas across the country and measured those numbers against the indexed local cost of living (after all, what use is additional income if it’s going to pay basic bills?). We then narrowed things down by taking into account more subjective factors like good weather and a vibrant community of fellow retirees.

1. Austin, TX
Why: There’s a reason why Austin had the highest percentage growth rate for retirees in the 2000s. Actually, there’s a number of reasons: a relatively low cost of living, vibrant arts and music scene, ample retiree activities and a mild climate. On top of all that, the job market is booming — with growth across a broad range of industries including tech, tourism, government, healthcare and, of course, education (Austin is home to the University of Texas as well as eight other colleges). Read more about Austin, TX

Austin by the numbers:

  • May 2013 unemployment rate: 5.3% (national average = 7.6%)
  • 2012 Cost of Living Index: 4% lower than the national average

2. Phoenix, AZ
Why: With its abundant sunshine, numerous communities, and wealth of leisure activities, Phoenix has long been known as a retiree haven. What’s less well known is that it has had one of the highest rates of job growth for any metropolitan area since the last recession. Top performing industries include manufacturing, tourism and financial services.

Phoenix by the numbers:

  • May 2013 Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (national average = 7.6%)
  • 2012 Cost of Living Index: 8% lower than the national average

3. Jacksonville, FL
Why: Florida is iconic as a retiree destination — but people usually head to the southern, central, or western parts of the state. For jobs, they may want to instead consider looking north to the state’s largest city. Jacksonville has a diverse economic base with a mix of manufacturing, military, and transportation related jobs. Plus, the local naval air station and deep water ports have led to a relatively stable job market compared to other metro areas. To top it all off, there’s also plenty of sunshine and easy beach access. Read more about Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville by the numbers:

  • May 2013 Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (national average = 7.6%)
  • 2012 Cost of Living Index: 3% lower than the national average

4. Corpus Christi, TX

Why: Corpus Christi is another military and port town on the water with warm weather. The city is also home to a number of oil and petrochemical business that consistently keep locals employed. The beautiful nearby beaches attract visitors, and tourism dollars, for much of the year. Read more about Corpus Christi, TX

Corpus Christi by the numbers:

  • May 2013 Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (national average = 7.6%)
  • 2012 Cost of Living Index: 8% lower than the national average

5. Greenville, SC

Why: This northern South Carolina city, located halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte, has become a big home for foreign corporations — including Hubbell Lighting, Michelin, and BMW. Caterpillar and GE also have manufacturing plants in the area. Combine this with a revamped downtown and you have a great hub for working retirees. Read more about Greenville, SC

Greenville By the numbers:

  • May 2013 unemployment rate: 6.4% (national average = 7.6%)
  • 2012 Cost of Living Index: 5% lower than the national average

6. Billings, MT

Why: Yes, Billing is cold. But it’s also beautiful, with big sky views and outdoor activities galore. The mix of local industries is also impressive, with significant employers in the energy, agriculture, retail, healthcare and educational industries. On top of all that, you have a cost of living significantly lower than the national average.

Billings by the numbers:

  • May 2013 Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (national average = 7.6%)
  • 2012 Cost of Living Index: 11% lower than the national average

7. Gainesville, FL

Why: This city in central Florida is home to the University of Florida — a massive public university that drives employment across a number of areas. It’s also a great spot for retirees, with good weather, affordable housing, and culture options galore. Read more about Gainesville, FL

Gainesville by the numbers:

  • May 2013 unemployment rate: 5.2% (national average 7.6%)
  • 2012 cost of living index: 1% lower than the national average

8. Ames, IA

Why: For those looking for a relatively inexpensive Midwest town with a good job market, Ames is a great choice. There’s a good mix of jobs in the manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare and educational industries. Also, the friendly people and relatively affordable cost of living regularly land it on various Best Places to Live lists. Read more about Ames, IA

Ames by the numbers:

  • May 2013 unemployment rate: 3.6% (national average 7.6%)
  • 2012 cost of living index: 1% lower than the national average

9. Ann Arbor, MI

Why: Ann Arbor is another town whose job market is powered by a big public university — in this case the University of Michigan. With the university come jobs in the education, health and tech industries — as well as lots of great food and culture. Read more about Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor by the numbers:

  • May 2013 unemployment rate: 5.1% (national average 7.6%)
  • 2012 cost of living index: 3% higher than the national average

10. Charlottesville, VA

Why: Charlottesville would be higher on our list if it had a lower cost of living. Still, it’s worth a look for retirees. The city has a great mix of outdoor and cultural activities, and the University of Virginia drives employment across a range of industries, including tech, tourism and healthcare. Read more about Charlottesville, VA

Charlottesville by the numbers:

  • May 2013 unemployment rate: 4.5% (national average 7.6%)
  • 2012 cost of living index: 7% higher than the national average

 

Photo of Austin, TX by PrimeImageMedia.com via Flickr. All statistics were up to date as of publication. See these sources for the most current data.