25 Best Small Towns for Retirees
The countdown to getting out of the rat race is about to hit zero. It is time to get rid of the alarm clocks, say goodbye to the 9-5, and begin to live that life of leisure.
Now that the time has arrived, what are you going to do? Where are you going to go? Deciding on a town to retire to is not an easy decision. There are numerous factors to consider before backing up the moving truck and packing everything lock, stock, and barrel.
If peace and quiet are what you desire the most, small town America has much more to offer than you may have realized. You get to start over, so make the most of it!
Town and Country, MO
Who wouldn't want to live in a place with such a lovely name? The people are friendly and welcoming to newcomers. With a population around 11,000, Town and Country is full of stunning city parks and elegant homes.
It is still possible to find open tracts of pristine land surrounding the area. When the big city craving hits, you are less than two hours from the state's capital, Jefferson City.
Mountain air that is crisp and clean is the big draw for this city of 4,000 located right at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. Flowers are everywhere you look, even in the downtown core. Being green and eco-friendly is important to the people of Gatlinburg.
Dining and shopping are right at your fingertips, but, if you are in the mood for a bit more choice, Dollywood and the outlet malls in Pigeon Forge are easy to reach.
Las Cruces, NM
More than once, Las Cruces has made the list of wonderful places to retire. The cost of living is low, and housing is affordable. The "City of Crosses" has a population just under 100,000 but still feels open and "breathable."
It has wonderful health care options, good weather all year long, and a cultural scene with something for everyone.
If culture is your desire, Portsmouth has earned the designation of "one of the most culturally rich destinations in America" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. With a population of just over 20,000, your retirement years will never lack for excitement.
Carefully nestled among 50 of New England's most picturesque towns, the slow-paced village life mixes well with nearby city convenience. With some areas over several hundred years old, retirees will feel spry and young!
This Montana capital remains small with a population of 28,000. During the Gold Rush, Helena was a miner's camp. By the late nineteenth century, it was one of the United States' wealthiest cities.
You can try your hand panning for gold in your spare time, or visit the numerous museums in the area. The winter weather provides plenty in the way of outdoor activities, and the summer produces a climate that is hot and dry.
It may come as no surprise to find that this is the home of the famous Leavenworth Penitentiary. Leavenworth was a major supply base during the settling of the American West and the American Civil War.
This city of 35,000 residents lies on the west bank of the Missouri River. Plan on visiting museums, memorials, and, of course, driving by the prison. Take a trip into nearby Kansas City for fabulous dining, shopping, and new cultural experiences.
With a population of 12,000, Beachwood became an independent village in 1915. The town's name comes from the surplus of Beech trees found everywhere.
As a suburb of Cleveland, there is plenty to see and do within short driving distance. One famous attraction is the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. Weather wise, you can expect stability for the most part, but the winters can see plenty of snow and cold.
Louisiana's sultry call is leading retirees to Shenandoah. Part of the East Baton Rouge Parish, this city of 18,400 is minutes away from Baton Rouge proper. When the urge for new experiences hit, the drive to New Orleans is slightly over an hour.
The bayous are close to Shenandoah, so you can spend your days in a pirogue, fishing for fresh ingredients to make gumbo. The culinary experiences are sure to delight, especially once you grab an authentic Po'boy.
Rock Springs, WY
Located in Sweetwater County with a population of 23,000, Rock Springs is surprisingly number four on the list of Wyoming's most populous cities.
This area made a name for itself by the mining of the coal veins supplying the Union Pacific Railroad's original steam engines. Cultural heritage is important to the city known as "the Home of 56 Nationalities." There is a festival every summer to celebrate the nationalities of the immigrants who traveled to Rock Springs to become miners.
Gardnerville Ranchos, NV
Located in Douglas County, with a small population of 11,300, Gardnerville Ranchos is far from the lights of Vegas' strip. It has plenty of personality all on its own, thanks in part to the parks and mountains.
As expected for a desert area, Gardnerville Ranchos has an arid climate with very little rain. The sun features prominently in daily life, making outdoor activities popular. Interesting shopping abounds with Native American craftspeople all over the state.
With a population of around 14,000, Hanover seems a world away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.
The quiet streets immediately remind one of why New Jersey is known as the "Garden State." If you think you may miss the lights of the city, the Big Apple's skyline is visible and impressive in the distance.
Taking less than an hour to arrive in Manhattan, you really can have it all—peace and solitude in your new home and world-class shopping and dining just a stone's throw away.
Everything is big in Texas—except for Boerne. The population of roughly 10,500 is close knit, friendly, and welcoming to all, just the way you would expect it to be.
Grab your cowboy boots and hat to take up horseback riding in the hill country if you so desire. On the other hand, maybe you want to two-step your way to wonderful dining, culture, and shopping within walking distance.
When the big city calls, San Antonio is only a mere 15 minutes away and features attractions like the River Walk, The Alamo, and Fiesta Texas.
This capital of South Dakota has a mere population of 14,000. It is the second least-populous state capital in the U.S., after Montpelier, VT.
Located on the eastern bank of the Missouri River, Pierre got its name from a major fur trader, Pierre Chouteau, Jr. Both trapping and hunting are still done there today.
Home to roughly 16,000 full-time residents, Narragansett has a fluctuating population depending on the season. It is the small town with a big heart, as it welcomes thousands of visitors every summer.
Full of natural beauty, this seaside town has plenty going for it. The beaches are gorgeous and a great way to spend the hottest days of summer. Seafood lovers can rejoice with the availability of fresh catches coming into the docks daily.
Only a half hour drive from Newport or Providence, everything you need is as close as you want it to be!
Whitpain Township, PA
Located in Montgomery County, around 20,000 residents lay claim to Whitpain Township. At only 12.9 square miles, close knit does not even begin to describe it. People who live here remark that it is more like a large family than a town.
A suburb of Philly, there is an impressive list of special events during the summer, including outdoor concerts and movie showings. Even Fido is not forgotten in Whitpain Township—they have an amazing dog park where both of you can meet new friends.
Georgia is pecans and peaches, so it is appropriate that Perry is in Peach County. Slightly over an hour from downtown Atlanta, Perry's population of 15,000 continues to grow. Golfing is a popular pastime, and many visitors come to Georgia to experience the fabulous courses.
The appeal of walking out your back door to pick fresh fruit or nuts off the trees has convinced more than one retiree to call Perry home. Southern hospitality abounds in Perry. Wherever you go, someone is willing to offer you a glass of sweet tea and a big, "Hey ya'all."
Greenwood Village, CO
With a population of approximately 15,000, Greenwood Village is near both Aurora and Denver.
Named for Greenwood Ranch, this is the perfect place for you if you are looking for stunning mountain views and some of the best horseback riding trails in America.
What locals like is that the town is not too "touristy." Even with being so close to popular tourist destinations, Greenwood Village stays off the radar and exudes small town charm.
Oak Grove, OR
Another beautiful town with a lovely name is Oak Grove. Located near to Portland and with a population of 18,000, the town got its name after a group of workers enjoyed their lunch in an oak grove.
Housing is plentiful, and the town continues to grow as city dwellers feel the pull away from noise and pollution. Dining and shopping are easily enjoyed in Oak Grove, but, when something special is required, the 15-minute drive to Portland is no hardship.
Contrary to what its name implies, Parole, a suburb of Annapolis, is an affluent area. The population of roughly 16,500 is small enough to feel homey, yet large enough for anonymity if desired.
Travel to Annapolis for big city shopping and experience some fine dining. One attraction not to be missed while in the city is the United States Naval Academy. There are also themed events throughout the year to pique your curiosity about the Navy.
South Burlington, VT
Vermont—the home of yummy maple syrup. As the second largest city in Vermont, with a population of approximately 18,000, South Burlington is also the main location for Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
The main business district is in City Center, with residential areas surrounding it to the south and the east. On the border of Lake Champlain in the southwest, there is a mix of both residential neighborhoods and commercial strips. There are shopping and dining opportunities and attractions galore.
Pleasant Grove, UT
Life in Pleasant Grove is described as ... well, pleasant. The name is much friendlier than the original—Battle Creek. Given the moniker "Utah's City of Trees," the population of 36,000 spends hot summer days in the shade of the cottonwoods.
The battle the town was originally named for happened between Ute Indians and Mormon settlers in 1849. After settlement, they decided a more uplifting name was in order. History buffs enjoy visiting Battle Creek Canyon to see the monument dedicated to the battle.
If losing yourself in the wilderness is appealing to you, then pack your bags for College.
With a population of somewhere around 14,000, the call of the wild draws new residents every year. Being close to Fairbanks, College does not feel as isolated as most Alaskan cities.
The biggest challenge for most newcomers is getting used to the strange light cycles and the extreme winter cold.
The world's most famous dog sled race, the Iditarod, takes place in Alaska every year and is a favored spectator activity. Summer is reserved for enjoying the natural splendor located all around you.
Long Beach, MS
Do you like radishes? If so, Long Beach is the perfect place for retirement. Known as "the radish capital of the world," this tiny town of around 20,000 packs a ton of punch. Part of Harrison County, the closest large town is Biloxi, a mere 20 minutes away.
With its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, your options for things to do when living in the area are limitless. Offshore fishing is extremely popular, especially for marlin.
If fishing is not your ideal relaxation, consider taking up boating—or growing radishes.
The Villages, FL
Florida is one of the ultimate destinations for retirees. The Villages is home to more than 55,000 residents, and the numbers keep growing.
The Villages literally has it all. Golfing and fishing are everywhere for the outdoor types. If you prefer a little more excitement in your life, The Villages is close to Orlando, one of Florida's premier tourist destinations.
If sun, sand, and saying "Aloha" are in your future, Wailuku is where you want to be. Found on the island of Maui, the population of 18,000 considers all to be "Ohana."
There is never a lack of ways to spend your days. Fishing, swimming, surfing, dining—you will never be bored.
- Becky McDowell