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Best small towns for retirees in America

  • Tony Cyphert // Flickr
    1/ Tony Cyphert // Flickr

    Best small towns for retirees in America

    Americans work more than any other nation in the world, and for many, it’s the dream of retirement - the light at the end of the tunnel - that keeps morale high. Though the majority of jobs are increasingly located in America’s cities, working day-in and day-out in a large metropolitan area can prove to be incredibly stressful on its own. Senior citizens seem especially eager to abandon this lifestyle, as 75% of baby boomers want the next home they purchase to be one-story tall and 55 percent of retirees prefer a suburban environment when it eventually comes time for retirement. Since smaller, tighter-knit communities offer less mobility and fewer immediately accessible resources and amenities, deciding on a suburban retirement location can require a fine-tuned analysis.

    In seeking to help prospective retirees, Stacker referenced Niche’s Best Places to Retire study in order to list America’s 50 small towns that offer the best retirement. Only towns with a population of less than 40,000 were considered for the ranking, which Niche calculated according to retiree representation, weather quality, cost and safety, access to healthy living, and a handful of other factors explained in detail here. For each town, Stacker has included the town’s resident population as well as Niche-calculated grades for the overall quality of the town, the cost of living—along with figures for median home value and median rent—diversity, and quality of outdoor activities.

    Read on to see which small towns are among the best spots to retire in America.

    ALSO: Best small towns for retirees in every state

  • Paul Sabelman // Flickr
    2/ Paul Sabelman // Flickr

    #50. Town and Country, MO

    Population: 11,001
    Overall grade: A+
    Cost of living grade: B- (Median home value: $659,700; Median rent: $1,045)
    Diversity grade: C+
    Outdoor activities grade: A- 

    This affluent St. Louis suburb is home of the Bellerive Country Club, host of the 2018 PGA Championship. In 2017, they began creating a New-England-style town square in order to foster a more tightly-knit community.

  • Jim Sorbie // Flickr
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    #49. South Venice, FL

    Population: 14,696
    Overall grade: B+
    Cost of living grade: B (Median home value: $152,600; Median rent: $1,143)
    Diversity grade: B-
    Outdoor activities grade: B

    This small Sarasota County town boasts warm weather year-round. It’s also just minutes from slightly larger Venice, FL which was voted one of the happiest seaside towns in America and has attractions including the Venice Fishing Pier, where you can fish daily, no license required.

  • Tony Cyphert // Flickr
    4/ Tony Cyphert // Flickr

    #48. Sun City, AZ

    Population: 39,363
    Overall grade: B-
    Cost of living grade: B- (Median home value: $119,400; Median rent: $986)
    Diversity grade: C
    Outdoor activities grade: B

    Billed as “The Original Fun City,” Sun City is entirely dedicated to creating a fun, relaxing place for active retired adults. Residents can join over 130 recognized clubs (including political organizations, performing arts groups and fitness groups), spend their days on the putting green, or attend classes at nearby colleges and senior education centers.

  • Georgia Guercio // Wikimedia Commons
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    #47. Brookridge, FL

    Population: 4,477
    Overall grade: B-
    Cost of living grade: A- (Median home value: $64,700; Median rent: $979)
    Diversity grade: B-
    Outdoor activities grade: B+

    Residents of Brookridge can join the Brookridge Country Club Golf Association, Inc., a member-owned private golf course tucked right into the community. It caters to those of every skill level and has a clubhouse that provides a convenient place to meet with friends and fellow community members.

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    #46. Longboat Key, FL

    Population: 7,158
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: C (Median home value: $660,300; Median rent: $1,428)
    Diversity grade: C
    Outdoor activities grade: B+

    A 10 mile long island off Florida’s west coast, Longboat Key lacks a large public beach, but it makes up for it with the parks on the island’s northern and southern tips. Joan M. Durante Park in the north offers 32-acres of boardwalks that provide a view of Florida’s natural beauty during any evening stroll.

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    #45. South Patrick Shores, FL

    Population: 6,398
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: B- (Median home value: $229,100; Median rent: $1,371)
    Diversity grade: B
    Outdoor activities grade: B+

    South Patrick Shores is part of Brevard County, which works to foster a tight knit community with tons of community events on their public calendar to keep everyone busy.

  • Rick Shu // Wikimedia Commons
    8/ Rick Shu // Wikimedia Commons

    #44. Indian River Shores, FL

    Population: 4,082
    Overall grade: A-
    Cost of living grade: C+ (Median home value: $725,500; Median rent: $1,108)
    Diversity grade: C
    Outdoor activities grade: B-

    Indian River Shores is made up largely of low-density, gated residential communities with access to beaches, as well as several public beaches on the north and south edges of the town’s coast. It also provides triple-certified public safety officers that serve as law enforcement, fire protection and emergency medical services.

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    #43. Naples, FL

    Population: 20,980
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: C+ (Median home value: $770,000; Median rent: $1,189)
    Diversity grade: C+
    Outdoor activities grade: A

    This small city, known for amazing weather and public beaches, has some hidden gems for residents to enjoy: a tennis center, a recently constructed riverside park perfect for afternoon walks, and Naples City Dock, which includes a fishing fleet and tours to watch dolphins and manatees swimming off the coast.

  • Jeffrey Beall // Wikimedia Commons
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    #42. Holly Hills, CO

    Population: 2,684
    Overall grade: A+
    Cost of living grade: C (Median home value: $342,100; Median rent: $1,784)
    Diversity grade: B
    Outdoor activities grade: A

    Holly Hills is a small Denver suburb, which gives residents the advantage of experiencing the excitement of the city while being able to go home to a small, friendly community at the end of the day. It’s perfect for those who enjoy winter weather; it gets an average of 23 inches of snow a year and its average high temperature doesn’t quite hit 70°.

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    #41. Juno Beach, FL

    Population: 3,384
    Overall grade: A-
    Cost of living grade: C (Median home value: $369,300; Median rent: $1,923)
    Diversity grade: C+
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    This small town is currently building a Town Hall Park to join the many other outdoor spaces around the city. The first phase of the project included building “a gazebo, a paver walkway, lighting, benches, bicycle rack, receptacles and native landscape” for residents to enjoy.

  • Roger W // Flickr
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    #40. Gulf Gate Estates, FL

    Population: 10,676
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: B (Median home value: $159,500; Median rent: $1,087)
    Diversity grade: B
    Outdoor activities grade: B+

    Residents of Gulf Gate Estates can visit nearby Gulf Gate Village. With over 150 small business, including restaurants, speciality retail shops, and international markets, there’s no need to travel far to get anything you might desire.

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    #39. Vamo, FL

    Population: 4,824
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: B- (Median home value: $181,400; Median rent: $1,133)
    Diversity grade: C+
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    Located in Sarasota County, Vamo is just a short drive away from the Turtle Beach Campground, one of the few beachfront campgrounds in the state. The beach gets its name from the loggerhead and green turtle nests visitors can view on its shores.

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    #38. Pine Ridge, FL

    Population: 1,833
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: C (Median home value: $929,700; Median rent: $1,367)
    Diversity grade: B-
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    An unincorporated community in Citrus County, Florida, Pine Ridge is full of rolling hills and natural vegetation as well as a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, Florida panthers, and black bears. The Pine Ridge Community Center includes horse stables and pastures, including 28 miles of trails for equestrians.

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    #37. Iona, FL

    Population: 14,287
    Overall grade: B+
    Cost of living grade: B (Median home value: $200,000; Median rent: $1,129)
    Diversity grade: C+
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    The Club at Shell Point is open to members and non-members alike. Enjoy an 18-hole professional golf course as well as two dining options and a salon.

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    #36. Siesta Key, FL

    Population: 5,782
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: C (Median home value: $612,100; Median rent: $1,345)
    Diversity grade: C+
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    A barrier island off the coast of Sarasota, FL, Siesta Key is known for its white-sand beaches. More musically inclined new residents might be interested in the community drum circle that begins on one of these beaches one hour before sunset every Sunday.

  • Roger W // Flickr
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    #35. Bee Ridge, FL

    Population: 9,998
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: B- (Median home value: $230,800; Median rent: $1,254)
    Diversity grade: B-
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    For those looking to get involved in community activities during their retirement, look no further than Bee Ridge Park. Co-ed adult softball, co-ed adult kickball, Kung Fu, dance and bluegrass concerts are just some of the programs found in this 10-acre park.

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    #34. Englewood, FL

    Population: 14,786
    Overall grade: A-
    Cost of living grade: B+ (Median home value: $145,200; Median rent: $835)
    Diversity grade: C+
    Outdoor activities grade: A

    Englewood Beach is a community hub in this bustling suburb, complete with a boardwalk for watching the ocean sunset for years to come.

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    #33. Olmos Park, TX

    Population: 1,964
    Overall grade: A+
    Cost of living grade: B- (Median home value: $643,000; Median rent: $782)
    Diversity grade: B+
    Outdoor activities grade: C+

    Olmos Park is completely surrounded by the city of San Antonio, offering the community quick access to all the attractions found in the larger city. It also lays claim to warm weather year round.

  • Arjun Sharma // Wikimedia Commons
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    #32. Aventura, FL

    Population: 37,515
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: C- (Median home value: $310,300; Median rent: $1,681)
    Diversity grade: A
    Outdoor activities grade: A

    Aventura is the Spanish word for adventure, and the city has enough attractions to live up to the name. Several community building initiatives, like the Community Recreation Center and the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center provide plenty to keep retirees busy.

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    #31. Osprey, FL

    Population: 6,561
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: B- (Median home value: $361,800; Median rent: $1,200)
    Diversity grade: B-
    Outdoor activities grade: A

    For those with an interest in history, Osprey is a great choice for retirement as it’s home to Historic Spanish Point. This outdoor museum and gardens are open daily and offer art classes with a resident artist and archeology lectures to ensure you never stop learning.

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    #30. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, FL

    Population: 6,375
    Overall grade: B+
    Cost of living grade: C- (Median home value: $417,300; Median rent: $1,185)
    Diversity grade: B
    Outdoor activities grade: B+

    Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is known as Florida’s Beach Diving Capital. Snorkelers and scuba divers can explore reefs off the coast and participate in the town’s annual BugFest-By-The-Sea, in celebration of Florida’s lobster mini-season.

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    #29. Timber Pines, FL

    Population: 5,563
    Overall grade: B-
    Cost of living grade: A- (Median home value: $132,100; Median rent: $895)
    Diversity grade: C
    Outdoor activities grade: B+

    The Timber Pines Community Association, who says they are dedicated to offering premier “country club living for active adults,” calls Timber Pines the “best kept secret in Florida.” Residents can swim in two geothermally heated pools, golf on four courses, play tennis on eight courts, and join more than 100 clubs, classes, and organizations.

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    #28. Belleair, FL

    Population: 3,958
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: C+ (Median home value: $351,000; Median rent: $1,398)
    Diversity grade: B-
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    Belleair, Florida, actually began with construction of the Belleview Hotel by a railroad magnate, but tourism expanded the area and in 1925, the town of Belleair was incorporated. Residents can join the Belleair Garden Club or the Rotary Club of Belleair, and the Dimmitt Community Center offers plenty of regular programs for seniors, including pickleball and jazzercise.

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    #27. Charlotte Harbor, FL

    Population: 3,786
    Overall grade: B+
    Cost of living grade: B+ (Median home value: $119,000; Median rent: $744)
    Diversity grade: B
    Outdoor activities grade: B

    Sitting between Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda along the state’s southwest coast, Charlotte Harbor is bordered by miles of natural shoreline. Residents can choose from many recreational activities, including golf, tennis, yacht clubs, and swimming.

  • Tim Hickernell // Flickr
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    #26. McGregor, FL

    Population: 7,755
    Overall grade: A-
    Cost of living grade: B- (Median home value: $276,400; Median rent: $1,097)
    Diversity grade: B
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    Part of the Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, McGregor runs along the coast of the Caloosahatchee River. McGregor is well-connected to Cape Coral with easy access to the Cape Coral Bridge and Midpoint Bridge, and McGregor Boulevard takes drivers straight to Fort Myers.

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    #25. Cleveland, FL

    Population: 3,029
    Overall grade: B
    Cost of living grade: A (Median home value: $74,200; Median rent: $623)
    Diversity grade: B-
    Outdoor activities grade: A

    Existing within Florida’s Charlotte County, Cleveland is part of the Punta Gorda Metropolitan Statistical Area. Residents can enjoy the proximity to the Peace River, which it runs along, and spend days out at the Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens, where visitors can view 27 acres of preserved native habitats.

  • Ebyabe // Wikimedia Commons
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    #24. Jensen Beach, FL

    Population: 12,178
    Overall grade: A-
    Cost of living grade: B (Median home value: $181,900; Median rent: $901)
    Diversity grade: B-
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    Between Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach in Florida, Jensen Beach was known as the “Pineapple Capital of the World,” at some point in history, which it still celebrates today with an annual pineapple festival. The area also attracts various endangered sea turtle species during nesting seasons.

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    #23. Nokomis, FL

    Population: 3,431
    Overall grade: A-
    Cost of living grade: B+ (Median home value: $124,600; Median rent: $772)
    Diversity grade: B
    Outdoor activities grade: A

    Nokomis is an unincorporated town along the Gulf Coast bordered by Sarasota and Venice in Florida. Community members can spend time fishing, boating, and relaxing at Nokomis Beach without the crowds of larger cities around it.

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    #22. North Palm Beach, FL

    Population: 12,581
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: C+ (Median home value: $258,900; Median rent: $1,228)
    Diversity grade: B
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    The North Palm Beach Country Club is currently undergoing an $18 million renovation to build a new 37,000-square-foot clubhouse and restaurant set to open in the summer of 2019. The community’s recreation department organizes a variety of trips, including day and multi-day trips to nearby and far locations, and boat-owning residents of North Palm Beach have exclusive access to the Anchorage Park Marina.

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    #21. Indian Hills, KY

    Population: 2,953
    Overall grade: A+
    Cost of living grade: B (Median home value: $468,900; Median rent: null)
    Diversity grade: C
    Outdoor activities grade: B+

    Indian Hills, a part of Jefferson County, was originally four cities that merged to become one in 1999. Located along the Ohio River, Indian Hills is less than seven miles to Downtown Louisville.

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    #20. Warm Mineral Springs, FL

    Population: 5,038
    Overall grade: B+
    Cost of living grade: A- (Median home value: $89,400; Median rent: $1,099)
    Diversity grade: C
    Outdoor activities grade: B

    Warm Mineral Springs lies within Florida’s North Port city in Sarasota County and is the only natural warm mineral spring in the state, maintaining a year-round temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. With up to 51 minerals, Warm Mineral Springs attracts people from around the world, as natural mineral springs are believed to contribute to good health.

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    #19. Great Neck Plaza, NY

    Population: 6,924
    Overall grade: A+
    Cost of living grade: C- (Median home value: $331,500; Median rent: $1,819)
    Diversity grade: A-
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    Great Neck Plaza, a small village in Long Island only measuring one-third of a square mile, has three parks, plenty of retail shops, and a railroad station connecting the community to New York City. The village was designated as a “Preserve America” community by the White House and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in 2004.

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    #18. Surfside, FL

    Population: 5,810
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: C- (Median home value: $561,900; Median rent: $1,995)
    Diversity grade: A
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    The pedestrian-friendly Surfside, Florida, is known as Miami’s Uptown beachtown and offers residents a clean public beach, a modern community center, and an aquatics facility. Surfside, founded in 1935, is also filled with art such as murals and sculptures, including the public art initiative “Surfside Turtles.”

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    #17. Harbor Bluffs, FL

    Population: 2,931
    Overall grade: B+
    Cost of living grade: B- (Median home value: $296,200; Median rent: $1,458)
    Diversity grade: B-
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    Harbor Bluffs is located in Pinellas County in Florida west of Tampa. Residents can reach Belleair Beach with a five-minute drive over the Belleair Beach Causeway.

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    #16. North River Shores, FL

    Population: 4,084
    Overall grade: A-
    Cost of living grade: B (Median home value: $184,800; Median rent: $883)
    Diversity grade: B+
    Outdoor activities grade: B+

    Located within Martin County, the North River Shores sits on the banks of the North Fork St. Lucie River. Residents can appreciate the four waterfront neighborhood parks and a private boat ramp.

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    #15. Cape Canaveral, FL

    Population: 10,116
    Overall grade: A-
    Cost of living grade: B (Median home value: $181,100; Median rent: $830)
    Diversity grade: B-
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    Cape Canaveral is home to the Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse located on the Air Force Station. Residents of Cape Canaveral can take part in a plethora of activities, including the community garden, which provides community members opportunities for all-level gardeners to work with their neighbors to harvest crops.

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    #14. Charlotte Park, FL

    Population: 2,373
    Overall grade: B
    Cost of living grade: B+ (Median home value: $153,500; Median rent: $890)
    Diversity grade: B-
    Outdoor activities grade: A

    Alligator Creek runs alongside Charlotte Park, part of Charlotte County. The county keeps residents busy with parks and recreation, sports and athletics, and entertainment and culture, including the Fit for Life Senior Games. The event coordinates athletic contests and recreational activities suitable for seniors of all ages.

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    #13. Highland Beach, FL

    Population: 3,689
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: C (Median home value: $475,200; Median rent: $2,469)
    Diversity grade: C+
    Outdoor activities grade: B+

    The Highland Beach Library puts on a variety of events and activities, including chair massages, a philosophical discussion group, meditation and yoga, and even an adult coloring club. Residents can enjoy life in a coastal beach town located on the eastern coast of Florida.

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    #12. Southgate, FL

    Population: 7,114
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: B- (Median home value: $200,400; Median rent: $993)
    Diversity grade: B+
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    Residents can still enjoy some of the original citrus trees from the groves that were planted in the early 1900s by a Chicago socialite. The South Gate Community Center houses a swimming pool and hall on a five-acre piece of land designated by Sarasota County as historic.

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    #11. Lake Success, NY

    Population: 3,084
    Overall grade: A+
    Cost of living grade: C- (Median home value: $1,150,500; Median rent: $3,501)
    Diversity grade: A-
    Outdoor activities grade: A

    The village of Lake Success offers residents fitness center memberships, as well as park activities including bingo, tennis, bocce ball, and movie nights, among other pastimes. Residents can play golf at Lake Success Golf Club or join the Fresh Meadow Country Club, which has attracted celebrities in the past, including Babe Ruth in 1941.

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    #10. Garden City, SC

    Population: 9,456
    Overall grade: B+
    Cost of living grade: B+ (Median home value: $120,500; Median rent: $900)
    Diversity grade: C+
    Outdoor activities grade: B+

    Garden City is a prime spot for crabbing and fishing because of its access to the Atlantic Ocean and Murrells Inlet. The community’s 668-foot long fishing pier provides an ideal spot for anglers during the day and acts as a live music venue during summer evenings. For anyone considering a move to Garden City Beach, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce offers a relocation guide.

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    #9. Ridge Wood Heights, FL

    Population: 4,410
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: B+ (Median home value: $156,100; Median rent: $918)
    Diversity grade: B+
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    Located in Sarasota County, which is full of beaches and attractions, Niche scored Ridge Wood Heights particularly high on health and fitness. The community is only a 15-minute drive to Siesta Key, a Gulf of Mexico barrier island with sandy beaches, tidal pools, and coral reefs.

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    #8. South Palm Beach, FL

    Population: 1,309
    Overall grade: B+
    Cost of living grade: C (Median home value: $223,600; Median rent: $1,777)
    Diversity grade: C
    Outdoor activities grade: B+

    Less than a mile long, South Palm Beach is located on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. The community offers a lecture and music series every year, and regular fitness classes, including yoga, Zumba, and Tai chi.

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    #7. Pelican Bay, FL

    Population: 5,572
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: C (Median home value: $829,100; Median rent: $1,844)
    Diversity grade: C-
    Outdoor activities grade: A

    Pelican Bay, located within the Naples–Marco Island Metropolitan Statistical Area, is full of private white-sand beaches as well as a wide variety of fitness and wellness amenities, including personal training, beach fitness classes, and massage. Community members can join one of the multiple member organizations such as the Pelican Bay Women’s League or the Mangrove Action Group.

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    #6. Villas, FL

    Population: 10,871
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: B+ (Median home value: $121,100; Median rent: $1,023)
    Diversity grade: B+
    Outdoor activities grade: A

    A part of the Cape Coral-Fort Myers Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, Villas is located in Lee County. Residents of the area may choose to live in The Hideaway, a country club with five  residential villages, an award-winning golf course, and four tennis courts.

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    #5. Cypress Lake, FL

    Population: 11,656
    Overall grade: B+
    Cost of living grade: B+ (Median home value: $127,300; Median rent: $1,014)
    Diversity grade: C+
    Outdoor activities grade: A

    Cypress Lake is a community for people 55 and older, specifically designed to provide retirees with a safe and active lifestyle. A multimillion dollar clubhouse contains everything from a full-service restaurant to a craft and ceramics room, and golfers can play 36 holes of PGA championship golf.

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    #4. Windy Hills, KY

    Population: 2,203
    Overall grade: A+
    Cost of living grade: B+ (Median home value: $241,300; Median rent: $1,967)
    Diversity grade: C+
    Outdoor activities grade: B

    The home to early pioneer families, Windy Hills has a 3.5-mile paved loop for walking enthusiasts and offers community events throughout the year. Known as a “City of Historic Homes,” visitors can view the exteriors of houses built as early as 1790.

  • Roger W // Flickr
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    #3. South Sarasota, FL

    Population: 5,032
    Overall grade: A+
    Cost of living grade: B- (Median home value: $293,500; Median rent: $961)
    Diversity grade: B
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    South Sarasota in Sarasota County is near Roberts Bay, home to Edwards Islands Park, a pair of islands perfect for beach days, boating, and fishing. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the Field Club was originally the winter home of Stanley and Sara Carroll Brown Field of Marshall Field’s department stores.

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    #2. Hillsboro Beach, FL

    Population: 1,467
    Overall grade: A-
    Cost of living grade: C (Median home value: $359,700; Median rent: $1,713)
    Diversity grade: B-
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    Hillsboro Beach sits northeast of Fort Lauderdale on the eastern coast of the state. The Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse—which was installed in 1907—runs tours regularly and also offers membership. Members of the lighthouse have free admission to tours, lectures, and programs run by the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society.

  • Condor 5635 // Wikimedia Commons
    51/ Condor 5635 // Wikimedia Commons

    #1. Whiskey Creek, FL

    Population: 5,011
    Overall grade: A
    Cost of living grade: B+ (Median home value: $203,300; Median rent: $1,090)
    Diversity grade: C+
    Outdoor activities grade: A-

    Located within the Fort Myers and Cape Coral areas, the Whiskey Creek neighborhood sits near the Caloosahatchee River, which connects to the Gulf of Mexico. The community can join the semi-private Whiskey Creek Country Club for access to an 18-hole golf course and a bar and restaurant, as well as social activities such as bridge games and dancing.

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