Best county to retire in every state
The golden years are a time to sit back and relax after decades of hard work. But before getting too comfortable, there are some things to consider. Savings, health-care costs, and retirement income are just a few. That’s why Stacker compiled a list of the best county to retire in every state using Niche’s 2019 list of best counties for retirees. Niche ranks counties based on several weighted factors, including the number of residents 65 and older, the cost of living, crime rates, nearby amenities, doctor’s offices, restaurants, and weather.
With consideration to how widely the cost of living varies from state to state, 24/7 Wall Street reports that while some families can settle on just $36,000 a year, “the same standard of living costs as much as $56,000” in other areas. Take Hawaii for example: While the excellent health care and outstanding weather of Honolulu County make it a top spot on the island, the price tag associated with such a retirement leaves many frozen out.
Florida’s Citrus County gives retirees an affordable alternative, providing the warmth and sunshine of Hawaii at a quarter of the cost. That may explain why 35% of the county’s population is over the age of 65, the highest such percentage on the list. Slightly up I-95, the top counties in the Carolinas boast some of the best golf and sailing in the country, making them a popular retirement spot for seniors from the Northeast.
In the Midwest, low costs of living and housing prices are predominant factors retirees consider when settling down, while adventurous seniors further west seek the mountains of Colorado and Oregon. Stacker found that retirees are seemingly drawn to smaller counties, with 15 having a population under 10,000 and only 10 over 100,000. Incidentally, the more populated counties are from the U.S.’s four smallest states: Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, and Hawaii.
Read on to see Stacker’s list of the best county to retire in every state.
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Alabama: Baldwin County
- Population: 203,360 (55-64: 14% and 65+: 19%)
- Median home value: $182,000 (73% own their homes)
- Median rent: $904 (27% rent their homes)
- Median household income: $52,562
Retiring on the Gulf of Mexico’s shores is as relaxing as it sounds, which is why thousands of seniors flock to Baldwin County and its 14 incorporated municipalities to settle down for good. Boasting itself as one of the fastest-growing 67 Alabama counties, Baldwin County touts top golf course communities for those who want to retire on the green. For seniors who want to spend their golden years on the sand, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are also ideal places to call home.
Alaska: Valdez-Cordova Borough
- Population: 9,439 (55-64: 16% and 65+: 12%)
- Median home value: $252,200 (73% own their homes)
- Median rent: $974 (27% rent their homes)
- Median household income: $86,019
Located near the notorious 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, this region remains home to prominent ports that sustain a strong local economy for those who settle here. Valdez, the former Gold Rush town, which averages just under 30 feet of snow annually, is home to many festivals—including seafood, musical, rock climbing, and ice climbing.
Arizona: Pinal County
- Population: 405,537 (55-64: 12% and 65+: 19%)
- Median home value: $157,200 (73% own their homes)
- Median rent: $1,014 (27% rent their homes)
- Median household income: $52,628
The Pinal County slogan is “Wide Open Opportunity,” which could also apply to the hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, and watersport activities readily available for retirees here and in the surrounding areas. Hiking enthusiasts can head to Picketpost Mountain (pictured), located just outside Superior in the southern desert region of Tonto National Forest.
Arkansas: Izard County
- Population: 13,521 (55-64: 16% and 65+: 25%)
- Median home value: $79,400 (79% own their homes)
- Median rent: $576 (21% rent their homes)
- Median household income: $39,135
Named after the second governor of Arkansas, the 577-mile county comprises mountains and rivers that cover eight municipalities. The Izard County Senior Life Center provides inexpensive meals to the elder community, even delivering dinners to homebound residents. Seniors also enjoy many amenities and activities at the center, which has a library, pool and card tables, plus activities such as line dancing, bingo, and Wii Sports.
California: Amador County
- Population: 37,306 (55-64: 17% and 65+: 26%)
- Median home value: $278,600 (77% own their homes)
- Median rent: $1,056 (23% rent their homes)
- Median household income: $60,636
Home to part of one of California’s most significant wine regions in Shenandoah Valley, Amador County comprises incorporated cities and upcountry communities huddled in the northern hills of the Golden State. Senior living apartment complexes and communities throughout the 607-mile county are close to many available indoor and outdoor activities—residents can enjoy Preston Castle (a California State Historical Landmark), attend year-round wine tastings, ski Kirkwood Mountain, explore Black Chasm Cavern, and camp at Indian Grinding Rock State Park.
Colorado: Huerfano County
- Population: 6,498 (55-64: 20% and 65+: 30%)
- Median home value: $137,400 (72% own their homes)
- Median rent: $634 (28% rent their homes)
- Median household income: $35,801
The Spanish Peaks in southwestern Huerfano is one reason active retirees may choose to settle in this Colorado county. The cost of living here is 10.3% lower than the U.S. average, according to BestPlaces.net, making it a financially responsible choice for retirees on a fixed income. Though Huerfano County sees up to 92.6 inches of snow annually, it has 271 sunny days a year compared to the U.S. average of 205. The Best Places Comfort Index of 7/10 proves the weather, with a summer high of 82 degrees and a winter low of 19, is neither too warm nor too cold for long periods.
Connecticut: Middlesex County
- Population: 164,110 (55-64: 16% and 65+: 18%)
- Median home value: $283,700 (74% own their homes)
- Median rent: $1,132 (26% rent their homes)
- Median household income: $81,673
Middlesex County—just 30 miles northeast of New Haven—sits on the Connecticut River and is comprised of 25 municipalities offering a range of options for rural and suburban living options for residents. Stretching from the city of Middletown in the north to the coastal enclaves of Clinton, Westbrook, and Old Saybrook, Middlesex County combines a rich history with access to larger cities like New York and Boston via the Shoreline East and Amtrak trains. The Middlesex County Area Transit program, part of the statewide agency Aging & Disability Resource Connection, provides transportation for those over the age of 60, as well as disabled persons.
Delaware: Sussex County
- Population: 215,551 (55-64: 16% and 65+: 25%)
- Median home value: $242,900 (79% own their homes)
- Median rent: $992 (21% rent their homes)
- Median household income: $57,901
Sussex County has been cited by publications such as The Wall Street Journal as an ideal place to retire; there is a range of factors that contribute to its appeal. It boasts a serene saltwater-bay shoreline (shared with seagulls and snow geese) along with miles of nearby farmland. Location is another likely draw—Sussex County is about a two-hour drive to Baltimore, a practical day trip for many.
Florida: Citrus County
- Population: 141,373 (55-64: 16% and 65+: 35%)
- Median home value: $117,400 (81% own their homes)
- Median rent: $778 (19% rent their homes)
- Median household income: $40,574
Branded “The Water Lover’s Florida,” Citrus County has 192 square miles of water spread throughout seven different waterways that offer retirees an array of recreational water activities. On land, its 582 square miles of rolling hills—equipped with golf courses, tennis centers, state parks, and hiking and equestrian trails—are just as leisure-friendly. Additionally, the Curtis Peterson Auditorium in Lecanto and the Art Center of Citrus County, accompanied by a popular restaurant scene, provide seniors with opportunities for a cultured social life.
Georgia: Union County
- Population: 22,262 (55-64: 16% and 65+: 32%)
- Median home value: $191,800 (80% own their homes)
- Median rent: $685 (20% rent their homes)
- Median household income: $42,767
Union County promises both adventure and solitude within its mountain community borders, which contain Georgia’s highest peak, Brasstown Bald. The crisp and clean high-altitude air is enjoyable all year through, signified by a 7.6/10 Comfort Index Rating on Best Places and only four inches of snow annually. Union County’s Blairsville, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and less than two hours from Atlanta, is a popular retirement spot, with low crime and affordability rates that make it safe and financially sensible for retirees. [Pictured: Vogel State Park]2018 All rights reserved.