10 Best US Retirement Cities

10 Best US Retirement CitiesSure, small towns and suburbs have their charms, but sometimes there’s nothing like a city.

Over the past few decades, an increasing number of retirees have been moving back into cities — and with good reason. Major metropolitan areas offer cultural, learning and dining options that can’t be found in smaller places. Plus they often have excellent hospitals and extensive public transportation systems.

Below are our 10 favorite cities for retirees in the US. One thing you’ll notice is that the biggest cities in the nation — places like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston — are noticeably missing. Why? Two reasons. First, these cities often have a high cost of living and a relatively high crime rate, which can make them difficult for retirees. Second, and more importantly, we’re assuming you already know all about them. There’s probably not much we can tell you about New York that you haven’t learned already from the media or personal visits.

Instead, we’ve focused on smaller cities for this list — places that offer the benefits of city life, but which may not immediately spring to mind as you’re thinking of where to move. We picked these ten in particular by looking at data — examining things like cost of living, crime rates and home prices — and then incorporating subjective factors like climate and cultural offerings.

1. Austin, TX

Why: Austin rocks. Literally. It’s got one of the best live music scenes in the nation, plus plenty of other cultural opportunities — including numerous galleries, museums and theaters. The nearby University of Texas gives the city a young, vibrant feel, and provides retirees with plenty of opportunities for lifelong learning. There’s also a large number of retirement communities, excellent hospitals, golf courses galore, and a mild climate. Plus, the cost of living is below the national average and there’s no state income tax. Read more about Austin, TX

Austin by the numbers:

  • Population: 820,611
  • Cost of Living Index: 95 (US average = 100)

2. Tucson, AZ

Why: If you’re looking for no more cloudy days, you may want to take a good look at Tucson. The city boasts more than 300 sunny days annually and consistently warm temperatures. There are currently nearly 25 active retirement communities, and the 55+ population continues to grow rapidly. Unlike other retiree havens in the Southwest, it also remains relatively affordable — with a below average cost of living and median home price. Read more about Tucson, AZ

Tucson by the numbers:

  • Population: 525,796
  • Cost of Living Index: 89.8 (US average = 100)

3. Jacksonville, FL

Why: Jacksonville probably isn’t the first Florida town most people think of when it comes to retirement. However, this Atlantic Coast city has a lot going for it. There’s a low cost of living, easy ocean access, and a strong local job market for retirees looking to continue working. Plus plenty of museums, restaurants and local parks. On top of all that, there’s the famous Florida sunshine and no state income tax. Read more Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville by the numbers:

  • Population: 827,908
  • Cost of Living Index: 89.3 (US average = 100)

4. Ann Arbor, MI

Why: Ann Arbor is the quintessential college town. The huge University of Michigan powers much of the local scene — from the numerous bars, restaurants and cafes, to the excellent hospitals and lifelong learning centers. It’s also called “tree town” for a reason: there’s a veritable forest lining the streets and inside the many beautiful parks. Read more about Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor by the numbers:

  • Population: 114,925
  • Cost of Living Index: 95.8

5. Portland, OR

Why: If you’re looking for a retirement filled with plenty of outdoor activities, Portland may be the place for you. It is situated near excellent skiing and hiking, plus the city itself has 227 parks and 270 miles of bike lanes. The climate is generally mild, if wet, and perfect for gardening. The local culture is interesting, eco-friendly and eclectic, with an ample assortment of microbreweries, microdistilleries, farm-to-table restaurants, and cafes. Read more about Portland, OR

Portland by the numbers:

  • Population: 593,820
  • Cost of Living Index: 102.9 (US average = 100)

6. Colorado Springs, CO

Why: Nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs is another great choice for outdoor enthusiasts. There are more than 100 miles of biking trails in town, plus ample opportunities for hiking and skiing in the hills. No wonder it’s home to the US Olympic Training Facility. For those looking for less strenuous entertainment, there’s a good selection of restaurants, bars, and breweries. Read more about Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Springs by the numbers:

  • Population: 426,388
  • Cost of Living Index: 98.1

7. Charleston, SC

Why: Charleston is truly charming. It has a beautiful historic downtown on the water, world-renowned restaurants, and some of the friendliest people in the US. The weather is relatively mild, and there is easy access to many nearby beaches and golf courses. There is also a large, well-established community of retirees, providing plenty of opportunities for socializing. Read more about Charleston, SC

Charleston by the numbers:

  • Population: 124,632
  • Cost of Living Index: 95.7 (US average = 100)

8. San Antonio, TX 

Why: San Antonio is a great choice for retirees looking to stretch their dollar. It has a strong local economy, low unemployment, low cost of living and no state income tax. There’s also a mild climate, history galore, and the famous River Walk — a scenic 5-mile stretch along the San Antonio River lined with trendy restaurants and colorful shops. Read more about San Antonio, TX

San Antonio by the numbers:

  • Population: 1,360,000
  • Cost of Living Index: 88.2

9. Gainesville, FL 

Why: Gainesville, home to the University of Florida, is chock-full of music venues, restaurants, bars and cultural opportunities. There are also 60 miles of biking trails and many nearby golf courses. The weather is mild, though a bit cool in winter compared with South Florida, and the sunshine is abundant. Plus the cost of living is well below the national average. Read more about Gainesville, FL

Gainesville by the numbers:

  • Population: 125,326
  • Cost of Living Index: 90.5 (US average = 100)

10. San Diego, CA

Why: San Diego is almost perfect. It has great weather, amazing beaches, and plenty of opportunities for biking, hiking, surfing and bird watching. There’s also the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park and SeaWorld San Diego, all within close proximity. The downtown is brimming with restaurants and bars, plus there are dozens of nearby towns with plenty more options. So what makes it only “almost perfect”? The price. San Diego has a cost of living well above the national average, as well a relatively high median home price. Read more about San Diego, CA

San Diego by the numbers:

  • Population: 1,326,000
  • Cost of Living Index: 130.5

Photo of Austin, TX by milpool79 via Flickr. All statistics were up to date as of publication. See these sources for the most current data.