For those nearing the “Big R,” one of the most pressing questions is this: Where should you consider buying your forever home?
Retirement is a time for relaxation, for revitalization, for being around friends and loved ones, and for filling your days with the things you love most—typically on a fixed income. But with home prices near historic peaks—about 1.8% below last June’s peak—and mortgage interest rates pushing monthly housing payments up, even a downsized home is coming with a hefty price tag.
But there are still plenty of budget-friendly options for your golden years—if you know where to look. So Realtor.com® set out to find some of America’s best retiree destinations at affordable prices.
Some of them you already know, but others are likely less familiar: From the powdered-sugar beaches of Florida to the expansive deserts of Arizona, and even stretching to the lush Pacific Northwest, these places offer plenty of amenities for seniors at prices that won’t deplete their nest eggs.
Many of these locations are close to health care facilities, offer a variety of recreational activities (beyond pickleball courts), and foster a strong sense of community. And most of them offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation.
“Yes, people are retiring,” says Amanda Cranfill, a real estate expert in Advance, NC, “but they’re still looking for ways to stay active.”
These communities, some of which have minimum age requirements, often come with added amenities, like pools and golf courses amid pristinely maintained neighborhood grounds.
“It can be like living in a fraternity or sorority again,” says Kathe van Hoften, a Realtor® in Orange County, CA. “Everyone knows everyone.”
To find these new retirement hot spots, we pulled together the median list prices for all U.S. cities over the past year, as well as the U.S. Census Bureau’s median age data for each. Then we scrutinized all of the single-family, condo, and townhouse listings on Realtor.com over the past year, to find the percentage of those listings that used keywords in the description that indicate a retirement-focused community.
We used all of this data to identify places with an above-average median age, below-average home prices, and a significant portion of homes that included our senior-friendly keywords. All of the places ranked had a median list price below the national median of $435,450 in August. We included only places near enough to a large population center in order to offer access to decent health care facilities.
Here are the most affordable places for retirees in 2023:
Percentage of retiree-friendly listings: 49%
Median age: 57
Median list price for the past 12 months (ending in August): $179,000
Nestled just outside the southwestern edge of the Winston-Salem area, Bermuda Run is a small community oozing Southern charm and natural beauty. With a median list price of $179,000, it’s our most affordable retiree-friendly locale.
Worth noting: There is a significant price gap between most condos and single-family homes in the area. The median condo list price is about $169,000, whereas the median single-family home is around $387,000. While that’s significantly more, it’s still well below what retirees would pay in other parts of the country.
On top of the great price ranges for homes in Bermuda Run, local real estate agent Cranfill says the town offers a variety of amenities that attract older adults.
“There are community events, like live concerts in the town square. There are volunteering opportunities at the public schools and local charitable groups,” she says. And yeah, there’s plenty of golf, tennis, and pickleball, too.
Cranfill says Bermuda Run draws retirees especially from the Northeast—largely for one notable reason: low property taxes. The state also doesn’t tax Social Security benefits.
“In 25 years of doing this, I hear from folks from New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, when they call and ask what the taxes are, and I tell them,” Cranfill says. “And they think I’m giving them a quarterly tax bill, and I have to tell them, ‘no, that’s for the whole year.’”
Percentage of retiree-friendly listings: 51%
Median age: 72
Median list price: $309,000
The next city on the list is nearly synonymous with retirement: Sun City.
This 55-plus community—dubbed “The Original Fun City!”—was founded in 1960 by famed developer Del Webb. It came to pioneer what a senior-centric city can be, from its dry, warm climate (calling out to those looking to escape the snow) to the recreation centers and golf courses that anchor each neighborhood. There are even lax laws about driving golf carts on the roads.
Although Sun City was designed when the surrounding area was filled with cattle and orchards, it’s now been engulfed by the sprawling Phoenix metro area. That allows residents to easily enjoy all the trappings of a major city, including world-class hospitals, an international airport, and a diverse array of dining, arts, and entertainment.
Percentage of retiree-friendly listings: 83%
Median age: 71
Median list price: $341,090
Is there an echo in here? Nope—this is Sun City Center, about 30 minutes south of Tampa, FL.
With a median list price below $350,000, this 55-plus community also built by Webb, is priced about 20% below the national average. But there are plenty of homes going for even less.
“You can get a one-bedroom condo here for $110,000,” says Flo Vachon, the team leader of the Flo Vachon Team at Keller Williams South Shore. “It’s probably one of the most reasonable places to live in Florida.”
One of the main attractions, of course, is the local beaches.
“You can get to the water in about seven or eight minutes,” Vachon says. But a little farther, about an hour south, residents can get to world-renowned oceanside locations like Sarasota or Siesta Key.
“The sand there is pure white,” Vachon says. “Some of the best beaches in the world.”
Percentage of retiree-friendly listings: 85%
Median age: 73
Median list price: $347,500
About 30 minutes south of Tucson, AZ, in the Sonoran Desert near the U.S.-Mexico border, is the retirement community of Green Valley. For those yearning for the beauty found only in the arid, cactus-filled scrub, this affordable retirement community might be just the ticket. It’s surrounded by towering desert mountains and saguaro cactus preserves.
At night, coyotes can be heard singing their song in the distance. And for bird lovers, the nearby Madera Canyon is a world-famous spot for bird-watching.
Green Valley offers a range of amenities geared for an older demographic, from golf courses to social clubs. With Tucson nearby, residents also have easy access to larger-city conveniences like shopping centers, health care facilities, and cultural events.
Percentage of retiree-friendly listings: 83%
Median age: 64
Median list price: $350,000
Who says there aren’t retiree-friendly locales in the North? The weather may be colder and the taxes higher than other places on our list, but this medium-sized township in Ocean County offers a blend of coastal living and suburban comfort.
The town, about 50 miles east of Philadelphia, offers both affordability and a high quality of life. With a median list price of $350,000, Manchester is an attractive option for those looking to retire on the East Coast.
If there’s an epicenter to this retiree-friendly area, it’s the unincorporated area of Whiting, NJ, in the center of Manchester. This region has even more home listings that advertise retirement-friendly attributes, a higher median age, and lower prices than in the surrounding Manchester area.
A bit of trivia: Manchester is also the home of the Naval Air Station Lakehurst, where the deadly Hindenburg airship disaster occurred in 1937.
Percentage of retiree-friendly listings: 64%
Median age: 62
Median list price: $385,000
King City offers retirees suburban living, easy access to Portland‘s urban amenities, and the cultural flavor that defines the Pacific Northwest.
Located on the southwestern outskirts of Portland, in the Tualatin Valley, King City has a golf course at its center. It’s surrounded by natural beauty, including the Tualatin River and the 230-acre Cooper Mountain Nature Park, which has multiple wildlife habitats, hiking trails, and nature programs.
Setting King City apart from other cities on our list is its focus on sustainability and community well-being. Residents can enjoy a range of programs aimed at seniors, from community gardens where residents can grow their own vegetables to volunteer opportunities at local schools and charities.
The city’s proximity to Portland also means that world-class health care facilities, shopping centers, and cultural events are just a short drive away.
Percentage of retiree-friendly listings: 51%
Median age: 68
Median list price: $395,000
This hidden gem on the Gulf Coast is adjacent to St. Pete Beach, a region of the state known as a more relaxed cousin to Florida’s more bustling beach towns.
But it still comes with all of the coastal attractions, from boating to fishing, beach lounging to boardwalk strolling. With St. Petersburg just a short drive away, residents have easy access to larger-city amenities, including shopping centers and a wider range of health care services.
Percentage of retiree-friendly listings: 99%
Median age: 75
Median list price: $405,000
We were just as surprised as you are to hear the word “affordable” used for any city in Southern California.
With a median list price of $405,000, homes in the seniors-only community of Laguna Woods aren’t just more affordable than the national median—they’re dramatically more affordable than the surrounding area. The median list price in Orange County was about $1.3 million in August.
This extraordinarily low price range is a major lure, says Realtor van Hoften.
But buying in Laguna Woods can be tricky. In addition to the minimum age requirement, there are often significant financial hurdles to clear in the area.
“Even if a buyer and seller come to an agreement on buying a property, it’s not a for-sure done deal,” van Hoften says of the many homes and the associations that oversee them. “The boards have to approve every resident.”
Percentage of retiree-friendly listings: 95%
Median age: 73
Median list price: $425,000
Known for its rapid population growth and active adult communities, The Villages is a retirement community of about 80,000 residents. Make no mistake, The Villages is designed, from top to bottom, exclusively for active seniors. It’s essentially a growing city built with the needs and wants of retirees in mind.
This mega-retirement community spans three counties in Central Florida and offers a wide array of amenities that go beyond the typical golf courses and clubhouses—though it has those in abundance, too. The community has more than 50 golf courses, numerous fitness centers, and even its own shopping and entertainment districts, like Lake Sumter Landing, a waterfront town square with a variety of shops, restaurants, and nightly live entertainment.
One standout feature of The Villages is the extensive internal transportation network. Like other cities on our list, The Villages is designed to be navigable by golf cart, and it advertises more miles of golf cart-legal streets than any other U.S. city. This makes it incredibly convenient for residents who might not want to drive a car anymore.
It almost goes without saying that health care is a core service in the area. The Villages Health System offers comprehensive medical services, including specialized care and emergency services, and has multiple care centers throughout the community.