Best Florida cities for retirees | Best retirement communities in Florida | Methodology
Florida is undeniably the nation’s retirement hot spot. The pristine beaches, mild winters, and low taxes make it a paradise for folks 55 and over.
The most difficult part about retiring to Florida is choosing the best community for your lifestyle. To make this easier, we’ve identified the top ten Florida cities for retirees and the highest-rated retirement communities in each city.
When you’re ready to make the move, we recommend working with our friends at Clever Real Estate. Clever matches you with experienced real estate agents from brokerages like Keller Williams and Century 21. The best local agents will know the pros and cons of different retirement communities and can help you find the perfect one for your lifestyle.
Interview as many agents as you want until you find the right one — or walk away at any time with no obligation. Find a top agent near you today and start searching for the right retirement community!
Our top picks
- The Palace Group in Miami and On Top of the World in Ocala are our top retirement community picks for creatives or art enthusiasts.
- Naples is the best destination for a relaxing beachfront home.
- Orlando is the prime spot for family-friendly entertainment and activities.
Why retire to Florida?
Florida attracts retirees across the U.S. for four key reasons:
- Low taxes. Florida has no state income, estate, or inheritance taxes. Social Security benefits, pension income, and income from IRAs are all untaxed as well.
- Large population of adults aged 55+. Folks aged 60 and over make up more than 25% of the total population in many of Florida’s most popular cities.
- Pleasant year-round climate. Active retirees can enjoy the outdoors almost every day in the Sunshine State. The mild winters appeal to snowbirds, and the hot summer months are great for lazy days on the beach.
- Countless attractions and events. Florida truly offers something for everyone. In addition to its numerous beaches and state parks, Florida has art and history museums with free admission and hosts special events throughout the year. Outdoor concerts, festivals, farmers markets, and art fairs can also be found in most metro areas.
The best cities in Florida for senior living
According to the U.S. News & World Report Best Places to Retire in 2020-2021 survey, 13 of the top 25 cities to retire in are in Florida. Sarasota earned the No. 1 title in the nation. Other noteworthy Florida cities on the list included:
- Daytona Beach
- Fort Myers
- Port St. Lucie
The best retirement communities in Florida
- Westminster Towers in Orlando
- Bear Creek in Daytona Beach
- Cypress Village in Jacksonville
- Discovery Village in Melbourne
- The Palace Group in Miami
- On Top of the World in Ocala
- The Glenview at Pelican Bay in Naples
- Valencia Cay at Riverland in Port St. Lucie
- Pelican Reserve in Fort Myers
- Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota
For our list of top retirement communities, first, we considered the total population of each city on the U.S. News & World Report list and then calculated the percentage of people aged 65 and over.
When searching for the top communities in each city, we considered:
- The location of each community
- The community’s access to high-quality healthcare
- Whether communities were age-restricted (strictly 55+) or multi-generational
- The type of retirement community
Some retirees may want to live in age-targeted communities, which are marketed towards retirees but welcome people of all ages, or in strictly 55+ communities. Seniors in both types of communities can purchase their own homes instead of renting an apartment. Age-restricted and age-targeted communities are best for active adults who need little to no daily assistance.
Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are popular in Florida because they include several types of housing options. On the same property, a CCRC may have senior apartments, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes so residents can easily move if their needs change.
If you’re ready to buy in Florida, Clever can help! Clever matches you with top agents from well-known brokerages across the U.S., such as RE/MAX and Century 21. You can interview as many agents as you want until you find the right one — or walk away at any time with no obligation.
As an added bonus, eligible buyers who work with Clever can receive up to 0.5% cash back after their home purchase. That money goes directly into your pocket when you close, so you can use it to decorate your new place or snag some tickets to a theme park.
10. Westminster Towers in Orlando
|Column A||Column B|
|🏠 Average home price||$300,275|
|👨👩👧👦 Orlando population||287,442|
|🏖 65+ population||10.2%|
|🏆 Best for||Family-friendly entertainment|
Orlando’s metro area offers numerous options for fun and entertainment. Whether you want to explore the city solo or spend the day with your grandchildren, you’ll have a plethora of theme parks, museums, and seasonal events in your own backyard. The main attractions include:
- Walt Disney World
- SeaWorld Orlando
- Universal Orlando Resort
- The Museum of American Art
- The Kennedy Space Center
- The Orlando Science Center
The best retirement community in Orlando is Westminster Towers, which is a continuing care retirement community. Active adults can enjoy amenities like the modern fitness center, pool, group activities, classes, transportation, housekeeping services, and well-being programs.
If residents’ healthcare needs change, Westminster makes it easy to transition from independent to assisted living. On-site, community members can find skilled nurses, complete rehabilitation or physical therapy, and use the pharmacy services.
9. Bear Creek in Daytona Beach
|Column A||Column B|
|🏠 Average home price||$197,168|
|👨👩👧👦 Daytona Beach population||69,186|
|🏖 65+ population||20.8%|
|🏆 Best for||Motorsports fans|
Daytona Beach draws in thousands of motorsports fans every year for events like the Daytona 500 and Speedweeks. As the headquarters for NASCAR, Daytona is rife with racing excitement and entertainment.
When Daytona Beach isn’t hosting a motorcycle or car show, its Peabody Auditorium attracts nationally recognized performers and speakers. For a more laid-back experience, the beachfront Daytona Beach Oceanfront Bandshell amphitheater is the best place in Daytona for live concerts and shows.
The Bear Creek retirement community is located just a few minutes away from shopping centers, restaurants, medical centers, and places of worship. On-site, residents will find three different clubhouses, which feature amenities like:
- Aerobics rooms
- Dance floors
- Fitness centers
- Pools and whirlwind spas
- Tennis and pickleball courts
Bear Creek’s full-time lifestyle consultants ensure that the community calendar is full of social clubs, group activities, game nights, craft sessions, and anything else members suggest. The community also has its own library and several miles of wooded walking trails if you’re craving some peace and quiet.
Bear Creek is limited to adults 55 and older, but the community doesn’t offer assisted living services. Each resident lives in their own home and has full access to Bear Creek’s amenities.
8. Cypress Village in Jacksonville
|Column A||Column B|
|🏠 Average home price||$236,615|
|👨👩👧👦 Jacksonville population||911,507|
|🏖 65+ population||13.4%|
|🏆 Best for||Outdoor enthusiasts|
Located on Florida’s Atlantic coast, Jacksonville has gorgeous beaches, nature reserves, and golf courses (especially Amelia Island and Ponte Vedra). Residents can enjoy camping, hiking, and biking at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park and the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.
Sports fans will love being near the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. This is home to the National Arena League Sharks football team, as well as college and minor league basketball teams.
If you’re interested in the fine arts, you can visit:
- Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
- Florida Theatre
- Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville
- Ritz Theatre and Museum
Cypress Village is a flexible continuing care retirement community where residents can live in apartment homes or private homes. On-site healthcare is provided through Life Care Services, which received the top score for overall satisfaction in J.D. Power’s 2020 Senior Living Satisfaction Survey. If residents’ needs change, the community offers independent living, assisted living, long-term care, memory care, and rehab services.
Cypress Village is dedicated to giving community members a “maintenance-free lifestyle.” It’s designed to feel more like a luxurious resort than a traditional retirement community. On-site amenities include:
- A fitness center and gym
- A movie theater
- A nine-hole putting green
- Access to Lake Cypress
- An arts and crafts studio
- Bocce and croquet courts
- Resident flower and vegetable gardens
- Walking trails and a dog park
- Wood and metal workshops
Nearby, the University of North Florida offers lifelong learning classes for community members. However, you don’t need to go far to learn new skills, meet friends, and enjoy your favorite hobbies. Cypress Village residents have created more than 45 interest groups and clubs for musicians, yogis, artists, and everything in between.
7. Discovery Village in Melbourne
|Column A||Column B|
|🏠 Average home price||$284,196|
|👨👩👧👦 Melbourne population||83,029|
|🏖 65+ population||21.2%|
|🏆 Best for||Lifelong learning|
Melbourne is located on the “Space Coast,” near the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The unique location allows residents to watch spacecraft and satellite launches from local beaches!
Melbourne residents can also enjoy the outdoors by:
- Exploring the Indian River Lagoon, an estuary that separates the Space Coast from the Atlantic Ocean
- Surfing, watching manatees, boating, or fishing at one of Melbourne’s many beaches
- Golfing at Baytree National Golf Links and Mallards Landing Golf Course
- Hiking at the Viera Wetlands and the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge
In the heart of Melbourne lies the Eau Gallie Arts District. On the 1st Friday of every month, the local shops, art galleries, and museums stay open late. The popular First Friday events also feature the works of local artists and musicians.
Melbourne’s Discovery Village retirement community guarantees a maintenance-free lifestyle for all residents. Every individual can enjoy housekeeping services, dining plans, wellness options, and transportation services. As a continuing care retirement community, Discovery Village offers supervised independent living, assisted living, and memory care.
The activities director keeps the community calendar updated with events, clubs, social gatherings, and group outings. You can choose from an array of planned activities or hang out at the on-site Grande Clubhouse, which has:
- A beauty salon
- A club and bar
- A fitness center
- A movie theater
- A wellness center
- An outdoor heated pool
- Bailey’s Bistro
- Craft and game rooms
6. The Palace Group in Miami
|Column A||Column B|
|🏠 Average home price||$407,242|
|👨👩👧👦 Miami population||467,963|
|🏖 65+ population||16.9%|
|🏆 Best for||Art aficionados|
Natural attractions and diverse artistic districts make Miami a beautiful place to live. Active residents can choose to spend their days at one of Miami’s numerous beaches, visit Biscayne National Park, or explore the Everglades.
The Wynwood and Design districts of Miami have an array of antique stores, craft beer bars, vintage sports car dealers, and other unique local finds. The annual Art Basel Miami Beach fair is also highly anticipated among artists in the area.
A special perk of Miami is that residents 65 and over can ride public transit for free!
The Miami Palace Group retirement community has independent living options, assisted living, memory care, a nursing center, and catered residences. The Palace Group also offers comprehensive at-home care for independent seniors. Retirees can continue living in their own homes while utilizing services like:
- Meal prep
- Medication administration
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
The gated community provides peace of mind and security for Palace Group members. The luxury-style amenities inside the community include:
- A fitness center
- A heated pool
- A library
- Community activities and clubs
- On-site rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Restaurant-style dining facilities
- Special events
5. On Top of the World in Ocala
|Column A||Column B|
|🏠 Average home price||$189,049|
|👨👩👧👦 Ocala population||60,786|
|🏖 65+ population||18.1%|
|🏆 Best for||Creative individuals|
Ocala, aka the “Horse Capital of the World,” has a rich history, a vibrant art scene, and stunning natural beauty. If you enjoy music and theater, you’ll love that Ocala is home to a theater company, a ballet company, and a symphony orchestra.
The downtown area attracts all types of creatives, ranging from sculptors to musicians to filmmakers. You’ll also find the Appleton Museum of Art, which features hundreds of ancient artifacts from around the world. The museum hosts a number of traveling exhibits every year, so you’ll usually have something new to experience!
In addition to plenty of golf courses and tennis courts, Ocala also has unique environmental features. Silver Springs State Park, for instance, is a natural spring that pumps out millions of gallons of freshwater every day. Additionally, a large section of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway intersects with Ocala. This greenway stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to St. Johns River and provides several miles of walking trails, horse trails, and biking paths to enjoy.
On Top of the World is recognized as an innovator amongst active 55+ communities. There are over 175 resident clubs at the Ocala location, in addition to a rich activity schedule created by a full-time event planner and a continuing education program. Just a few minutes away from the community, entertainment options include the:
- Circle Square Cultural Center
- Hollywood 16 Regal Cinema
- Marion Theatre
- Ocala Civic Theatre
- Ocala Symphony Orchestra
If healthcare is your main concern, you’re covered in Ocala. It’s in Marion County, which has four area hospitals, two of which are only minutes from On Top of the World. On-site, residents can participate in fitness classes and well-being programs to improve their quality of life.
On Top of the World consists of four different neighborhoods. Two of these neighborhoods offer maintenance-free lifestyle plans. In the center of the community, the Town Square serves as a social hub for parties, festivals, and other events.
On Top of the World aims to be environmentally friendly. Every home in the community is built to be energy-efficient.
Ready to buy a house in Ocala (or anywhere else in one of our favorite Florida cities)? A Clever Partner Agent can help you find the perfect home and save you money on your purchase! Eligible buyers will receive 0.5% cash back after they close. On a $300,000 home, that’s $1,500!
4. The Glenview at Pelican Bay in Naples
|Column A||Column B|
|🏠 Average home price||$398,369|
|👨👩👧👦 Naples population||22,088|
|🏖 65+ population||52%|
|🏆 Best for||Beachfront living|
Naples ranks as the fourth-best city to retire in, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Places to Retire survey. Naples is a popular beachfront destination for “snowbirds,” but it also has a lively, modernized metro area with restaurants, shopping centers, clubs, and concert venues.
Within Collier County (home to Naples), residents can visit five different museums for free. Annual events around Naples include a seafood festival and the Naples Winter Wine Festival.
Naples residents can also access local beaches for free. They simply have to show their proof of address to waive any beach parking fees. Other local natural attractions include parks and nature preserves, including Big Cypress National Preserve. This sprawling park spans 729,000 acres, offering hiking trails, biking paths, and waterways for canoeing and kayaking.
If you choose The Glenview at Pelican Bay retirement community, you’ll share a three-mile private beach with your community members, along with on-site security, wellness clinics, heated pools, and a library. The Glenview is a continuing care retirement community, and it’s the only nonprofit, equity-owned community in Florida.
When someone moves into the community, they become a controlling member and shareholder. Every individual can contribute to the decision-making process, enjoy special healthcare benefits, and live in homes that may appreciate in value over time.
Whether an individual lives in their own home or the assisted living facility, the on-site staff manages all utilities and household chores to promote a maintenance-free lifestyle. Community activities, events, and outings are offered most days of the week. And if Glenview’s art studio, hobby studio, auditorium, or private beach don’t appeal to someone, the Waterside Shops and historic 3rd Street are just a few miles away.
3. Valencia Cay at Riverland in Port St. Lucie
|Column A||Column B|
|🏠 Average home price||$288,450|
|👨👩👧👦 Port St. Lucie population||201,846|
|🏖 65+ population||20.5%|
|🏆 Best for||Adventurous folks|
Located about halfway between Orlando and Miami, Port St. Lucie offers the best of both cities for adventurous types. Exploring the outdoors in Port St. Lucie is a common pastime for residents. Along with the Port St. Lucie River and beaches on the Atlantic coast, people can visit:
- Oxbow Eco-Center
- Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens
- Savannas Preserve State Park
Sports fans can see the New York Mets play spring training games at Clover Park. There’s always something exciting happening in the metro area, including annual festivals the city hosts:
- The Festival of Lights
- The New Year’s Eve celebration and fireworks show
- The semi-monthly Food Truck Invasion
- The Taste of Little Italy festival
After visiting the city, you may understand why U.S. News & World Report ranked Port St. Lucie the third-best place to retire in 2021.
Valencia Cay at Riverland is an age-restricted and gated planned retirement community. The 4,000-acre pedestrian-friendly neighborhood features houses with five different home floor plans for community members to choose from.
Valencia Cay’s lifestyle director plans community-wide activities, and its sports director teaches fitness classes. The entire neighborhood can gather at the 34,000-square-foot clubhouse or the Grand Social Hall for major events and festivities.
Valencia Cay’s other on-site features include:
- A cafe
- A community garden
- A fully equipped gym
- Outdoor tennis and pickleball courts
- Riverland’s Arts & Culture Center
Along with the community features and amenities, residents will find top medical facilities, restaurants, and shopping centers just a mile away.
2. Pelican Preserve in Fort Myers
|Column A||Column B|
|🏠 Average home price||$267,469|
|👨👩👧👦 Fort Myers population||87,103|
|🏖 65+ population||22%|
|🏆 Best for||Age-targeted events|
As the second-best place to retire in the U.S., according to U.S. News & World Report, Fort Myers has managed to maintain its small-town charm while expanding into a mid-sized metro population. Museums and historical sites dot the downtown area, sharing the history of Fort Myers and contributing to local events and festivities.
Nearly 40% of Fort Myers residents are 60 or older, and the city calendar is full of age-targeted social clubs, activities, and group outings. Retirees in Fort Myers can also enjoy the city’s array of theaters, parks, and art galleries.
Cape Coral is one of Fort Myers’ most beloved attractions. Natural canal waterways crisscross the area, which houses two nature preserves. Visitors to Cape Coral often kayak through Sirenia Vista Park and watch for manatees, or go birdwatching at Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve.
Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach are popular among tourists and local residents. Both areas have beautiful sandy beaches suitable for all types of watersports, along with nature preserves, local events (such as farmers markets), museums, and shops.
The Pelican Preserve community offers resort-style amenities, expansive golf courses, on-site restaurants, and several acres of walking trails. Residents can live completely independently in one of four different home models, or they can opt for a condo or villa. No matter where the community member lives, the neighborhood HOAs manage and maintain common areas, grounds, security, trash removal, and internet services.
Plaza del Sol is one of Pelican Preserve’s main attractions. The recently expanded social hub includes:
- A butterfly garden
- A ceramics and art studio
- A library
- A movie theater
- An indoor restaurant
- An outdoor amphitheater
- An outdoor bar and grill
- Indoor and outdoor pools
Pelican Preserve offers excellent infrastructure for maintaining your physical and mental health. The on-site fitness center provides exercise classes, spa treatments, and modern exercise equipment. Additionally, Pelican Preserve is near three prestigious healthcare centers:
- Cape Coral Hospital
- Gulf Coast Medical Center
- Lee Memorial Hospital
1. Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota
|Column A||Column B|
|🏠 Average home price||$339,506|
|👨👩👧👦 Sarasota population||58,285|
|🏖 65+ population||27.3%|
|🏆 Best for||Outdoor recreation|
Sarasota currently ranks as the best U.S. city to retire to, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report. The quirky waterfront city blends modern amenities, artistic attractions, and luxury golf courses alongside pristine beaches and nature preserves. Sarasota has pleasant weather year-round, encouraging residents to explore:
- Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary
- Lido Beach
- Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
- Myakka River State Park
- The Sarasota Farmers Market
- Siesta Beach
Art enthusiasts, collectors, creators, and performers are naturally attracted to Sarasota’s art scene. The city hosts a variety of festivals and craft shows every year. It’s also home to The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Art Center Sarasota, ballet companies, and theaters.
Sarasota’s large population of 60+ adults has created a wonderful area for retirees to find social support, new friends, and interest groups. Sarasota became the best retirement city in part due to high rankings in happiness and desirability indexes. This indicates a strong sense of community among retirees and soon-to-be retirees.
The best retirement community in Sarasota is the master-planned Lakewood Ranch. It offers several villages to choose from, with some offering multi-generational housing and others reserved for adults 55 and over. Housing options include single-family homes, townhomes, and assisted living apartments.
Lakewood Ranch was recently selected as the pilot community for the Brain Health Initiative, a collaborative neuroscience project launched by Harvard medical professionals. When asked why they chose Lakewood Ranch, researchers responded, “With its large, multi-generational community and diverse on-site resources to support the health and well-being of its residents, Lakewood Ranch is the ideal setting for a ground-breaking study of brain health and performance.”
Furthermore, ideal-LIVING named Lakewood Ranch as the Best Health and Fitness Community in 2021. Its review states, “There’s no better place than Lakewood Ranch to live the Florida lifestyle you’ve dreamed of.”
The full-time lifestyle director creates activity and event schedules to match residents’ diverse interests. From water aerobics classes to tennis competitions to pickleball tournaments, there are multiple fun ways to stay active at Lakewood Ranch. Within the Sarasota area, residents can also find:
- Greenbrook Adventure Park
- Heron’s Nest Nature Park
- Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club
- Premier Sports Campus
- Sarasota Polo Club
Additionally, the Lakewood Ranch community is located just a few minutes away from Siesta Key beach and the shopping and dining attractions on Main Street.
Find the best Florida retirement community for your needs
One of the best ways to find the right retirement community is by working with an experienced local realtor. A high-quality real estate agent will have the inside scoop on a particular city, and they can help you navigate the process of purchasing in a retirement community.
To find a realtor, we recommend interviewing several different agents from various brokerages. Our friends at Clever provide a free service that matches you with the best Florida realtors from brokerages like Berkshire Hathaway and Keller Williams. Talk to as many agents as you want until you find the right fit, or walk away at any time — there’s no obligation.
U.S. News & World Report surveyed 3,052 citizens aged 45 and older in 150 different cities across the country to determine the Best Places to Retire in 2020-2021. For each of the highest-ranking Florida cities in this report, we noted each area’s total population and calculated the percentage of residents aged 65 and over.
From there, we selected the most highly rated retirement communities by considering the following factors:
- The location of each community (distance to attractions, dining, etc.)
- Access to healthcare (nursing staff on-site, nearby hospitals, etc.)
- The type of retirement community (multigenerational, 50+, continuing care retirement community, etc.)
- The number and type of amenities and services offered
- Housing options (single-family home, condo, apartment, etc.)
What are the best Florida retirement communities?
The best retirement communities offer rich activity programs, on-site healthcare providers, easy access to local attractions, and a variety of housing options. Our top three picks include: Valencia Cay at Riverland in Port St. Lucie, Pelican Preserve in Fort Myers, and Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota.
Where can I retire in Florida on a budget?
Daytona Beach and Ocala have some of the most affordable homes in Florida. The average home in Daytona Beach costs about $197,168, and an Ocala home costs roughly $189,049. In contrast, Florida’s median home value is $297,390.
How to Buy a Home in Florida (The Ultimate Guide): Check out our step-by-step guide for a seamless transition to the Sunshine State.
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Mrs. Brenda Robinson says
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Orin Maher says
I moved to Sun City Center, FL 3 years ago from Plantation, FL (suburb of Ft. Lauderdale). Although Mira Bay is an exceptional community and the homes are reasonably priced there are CDD fees tied to one’s tax bill and they become quite the burden for many. I just wanted to share this with you as you are recommending Mira Bay and I don’t believe you are aware of CDD fees.