Key takeaways:

  • Half of the US’s best retirement destinations are in the Northeast, with New York’s NYC and Albany plus Connecticut’s Bridgeport among the highest-ranking places
  • Florida boasts two of the top three metropolitan areas for retirees — in Cape Coral-Fort Myers and North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton they have safe environments and long life expectancies
  • Ohio’s Cleveland-Elyria is the US’s second-placed large metro for retirees, offering good value for money and leisure options
  • The Wisconsin metros of Milwaukee-Waukesha and Madison have a generous provision of health care employees for retirees

Retirement is a beautiful dream where you finally get to explore and enjoy full-time what life has to offer. Not least, it presents the chance of a lifetime to settle down in an entirely new place, not determined by work commitments or family ties. But the question is “where?”

Retirees are generally enticed by golden beaches, recreational opportunities and good weather, and popular seaside snowbird locations never disappoint in this respect. However, with seniors’ current concerns about healthcare and other expenses, there are further factors to consider when assessing a location’s potential for offering the best retirement experience.

With more than 10,000 people who turn 65 every day,  we wanted to find out where the best retirement destinations are right now. We considered a broad range of factors relevant to seniors’ needs across the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. To determine how good a fit any location would be for a retirement-age person, and the chances of their easily integrating into the local community, we looked at what proportion of its residents are aged over 65 and at life expectancy there.

Equally important, we’ve considered average incomes as well as several health factors and local crime statistics in order to determine safety levels. As retirees receive fixed incomes and monthly budgets can make or break the living experience, we factored in costs for housing and groceries plus the local tax burden. We also looked at local leisure options in the form of parks and golf courses. Finally, we analyzed how good metros are at providing age-restricted accommodation in 50+ unit communities — an indication of a city’s preparedness for senior living — and also self storage, which can greatly assist with both moving into a new home and keeping it clutter-free as seniors mostly downsize for retirement.

While it comes as no surprise that seniors enjoy Florida’s beachside hotspots, with Cape Coral-Fort Myers and North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton both medaling, places to the north and east fill most of the top 20 positions: the metros centered on New York, Albany, Bridgeport and Providence — not to mention several in Ohio and Wisconsin — all offer retirees a great array of advantages. The West of the country is represented by California’s Oxnard and Texas’s most retiree-friendly metropolitan area is El Paso.

The Top 20 Retirement Hotspots in the US
The Top 20 Retirement Hotspots in the US

Florida retirees enjoy low taxes and great conditions — Cape Coral & Sarasota top the list

Every list of places for retirees should feature The Sunshine State. The Cape Coral-Fort Myers and North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton metropolitan areas, both towards the south of Florida on the Gulf Coast, prove to be particularly attractive for them, scoring first and third places in the ranking. Both are clearly set up superbly for older residents, as they make up more of the populations there than in any other large metros — 53.0% and 62.7%, respectively, compared to the numbers of younger adults — and they receive high average incomes in excess of $35K.

In addition, Cape Coral-Fort Myers has the best safety score out of the 100 metros in our ranking and residents have a very high average life expectancy at 82.4 years — the figure in the Sarasota metro is not far behind at 81.4. Seniors in Florida also benefit from a pleasant tax climate, with their incomes, benefits and inheritances untaxed, although there is both a sales tax and a property tax.

Cape Coral, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater scores 8th place with a lower cost of living than the higher-ranking locations just up the coast. Of course, there are beaches and golf clubs aplenty and some of the very best weather in this part of the nation. Not to be outdone, Florida’s Atlantic seaboard brings Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach to the party, in 17th and 18th positions and with a similar range of virtues for retirees.

Ohio offers healthcare and cost-effective housing with Cleveland leading the way

The Buckeye State often scores well in calculations about value for money, and seniors are certainly not shortchanged here as two Ohio metropolitan areas make the top five for seniors. The nation’s second-place metro for retirees is Cleveland-Elyria, which has good levels of safety, cost of living and provision of healthcare workers and social assistance. It’s no wonder the ratio of people over 65 years old to other adults is more than 30% here.

Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio

Dayton-Kettering, in fifth place overall, brings to the table much of what Cleveland offers but has even better costs of living. House prices here approach $192K, while in Cleveland they are $220K, and the median rent is also slightly less at $861 — these figures make the Birthplace of Aviation one the best value destinations for retirees in the country.

Both these Ohio metros have above-average provision of age-restricted accommodation, but Akron, in 27th position overall and just south of Cleveland and its Lake Erie recreational opportunities, proportionally provides the most. Over the state’s eastern border in Pennsylvania, Harrisburg-Carlisle wins a 16th place spot, also having more age-restricted accommodation than most metros plus a good safety score.

New York State has great all-round deals for seniors — try Albany, Rochester or even NYC itself

New York City scores a fourth-place ranking for retirees, with a high provision of healthcare workers, a good number of parks and golf courses, plus an average income of over $32K. The Big Apple may not be renowned for stretching your dollar, but more affordable places further out in the NYC metro area keep housing costs there manageable, and no state tax is levied on social security income.

Going upstate, Albany-Schenectady-Troy gets sixth place in the ranking of the best US metros for retirees, scoring well for safety. And while retirement incomes are almost at the same high level as in the New York City metro, house prices are around half the amount, the median home value being about $280K, and monthly rents average less than $1,100.

Albany, New York
Albany, New York

Further out toward Lake Ontario, Rochester and Syracuse score 14th and 19th places in the ranking, respectively. They score well for safety and housing costs tend to be reasonable. In addition to great boating and fishing options, other recreational options in Upstate New York include the famous early fall experience when the leaves in the forests change color.

Wisconsin offers good cost of living and healthcare in Milwaukee and Madison

Some retirees from the Midwest are going to want to stay there, and others may be drawn to America’s heartland by its quieter, often friendlier way of life. Wisconsin’s Milwaukee-Waukesha scores a very creditable seventh place overall on account of its high provision of healthcare workers and social assistance plus reasonable housing prices and cost of living.

The metropolitan area centered on Madison, Wisconsin’s capital, is not far behind, getting twelfth place in the ranking of senior-friendly metros. Retirees here receive an average income of over $31K, which is $4K more than they would in Greater Milwaukee, and have a similar life expectancy of round 80 years, though the costs are a little higher.

Madison, Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin

The Chicago-Naperville-Elgin and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metropolitan areas both shade into Wisconsin, offering big-city leisure options, though the costs of living tend to be higher. Meanwhile, retirees who are fans of the great outdoors might like to know that the Badger State still retains its great traditions of fishing, on Lake Michigan and more than 5,000 other lakes.

Connecticut retirees have safe communities and good healthcare provision in Bridgeport & Hartford

Connecticut’s coastal Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan area scores 10th place in the list of great places for retirees. They have a long average life expectancy of 82.1 years and appreciate the high level of safety in the metro. In addition, they receive a generous average income of more than $36K, which offsets the somewhat higher-than-average cost of living here.

In the center of Connecticut, Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown gets 20th position in the ranking of the best metropolitan areas for retirees. It offers an even higher provision of healthcare workers and social assistance than Bridgeport’s. Average life expectancy is also high here at 80.5 years, and there is a generous allocation of age-restricted accommodation.

Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford, Connecticut

Retirees also might like to take a look at New Haven-Milford — the “Cultural Capital of Connecticut” — which scores 24th place overall with similar advantages to the other Constitution State metros. In neighboring Rhode Island, the Providence-Warwick metro lands an even better 13th place, with a higher provision of both age-restricted accommodation and golf courses per square mile than any other large US metro.

Californian and Texan retirees enjoy long lives — Oxnard and El Paso are out in front

The Golden State always attracts seniors, with great beaches and weather plus a highly developed attitude toward healthcare. The Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura metropolitan area — on the coast just 60 miles west of Los Angeles — scores ninth place on the list. Retirees here receive a high average annual income of over $35K — which rather parallels the metro’s housing costs — and they can look forward to an average life expectancy of no less than 82.3 years.

Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard, California
Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard, California

Texas is another warm place to settle down in after retirement, and its highest ranking metro for seniors is El Paso. They would also enjoy an average life expectancy here in excess of 80 years, but the costs are at the lighter end of the spectrum. In addition, there is also a significantly higher allocation of healthcare workers and social assistance than Californian metros tend to have.

Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom and San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, in 26th and 30th positions, respectively, are California’s next-highest-placed metros, offering retirees benefits similar to Oxnard’s. Texas also brings McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, in 29th place, which has the distinction of having not only the lowest cost of living but also the highest provision of healthcare workers and social assistance among all the nation’s large metros. Choose your sunshine retirement destination according to your pocketbook!

Self storage helps retirees move and live in a smaller space

Many retirees are empty-nesters who downsize, either staying put or moving to a whole new location, which can be a smart move from both financial and organizational perspectives — less square footage, less work. However, one thing that can help with home organization is self storage, a relatively inexpensive service that allows people to maximize their new lives. A standard 10’x10’ storage unit, which costs $129 on average nationally, can hold seasonal items, tools and sports gear so they don’t clutter up the home. It can also help smooth the process of moving to the new residence.

Living large in a small apartment in the capital of New York State, for example, is made very possible by renting some space nearby, with a regular 10’x10’ Albany storage unit costing a reasonable average of $116/month across the the metropolitan area. In the Connecticut metropolitan areas, for the same size unit, prices for Hartford self storage are similar at $118 while in nearby Bridgeport self storage they average out at $173.

The best value storage among the top 20 metros, allowing retirees to keep items away from home economically, are Milwaukee self storage and Dayton self storage, where the average monthly rate for a regular 10’x10’ unit is just $96 and $98, respectively, across the metropolitan areas. Other top-20 metros with very reasonable street rates include Madison self storage and El Paso self storage, where the costs are $101 and $102 per month.

Self Storage Street Rates in 100 Largest US Metros

RankMetro AreaSelf Storage Street Rate*
1Oklahoma City, OK$78
2Tulsa, OK$80
3Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR$81
4Greenville-Anderson, SC$82
5Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA$85
6Toledo, OH$86
7Wichita, KS$86
8Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA$88
9Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN$90
10McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX$90
11Akron, OH$92
12Louisville, KY-IN$92
13Provo-Orem, UT$92
14Chattanooga, TN-GA$92
15Jackson, MS$93
16Columbia, SC$93
17Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC$94
18Bakersfield, CA$94
19Columbus, OH$96
20Greensboro-High Point, NC$96
21St. Louis, MO-IL$96
22Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI$96
23Winston-Salem, NC$96
24Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX$96
25Memphis, TN-MS-AR$96
26Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN$97
27Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI$97
28Birmingham-Hoover, AL$97
29Baton Rouge, LA$97
30Dayton-Kettering, OH$98
31Kansas City, MO-KS$98
32Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC$100
33Albuquerque, NM$101
34Raleigh-Cary, NC$101
35Ogden-Clearfield, UT$101
36Madison, WI$101
37El Paso, TX$102
38Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX$104
39Boise City, ID$105
40Richmond, VA$105
41Durham-Chapel Hill, NC$106
42Knoxville, TN$107
43Charleston-North Charleston, SC$107
44Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI$108
45Pittsburgh, PA$109
46Cleveland-Elyria, OH$110
47Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL$110
48Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC$110
49Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA$111
50Colorado Springs, CO$111
51Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA$111
52Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT$112
53Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX$112
54Salt Lake City, UT$112
55Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN$113
56Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA$113
57Rochester, NY$113
58San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX$113
59Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY$113
60Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI$114
61Fresno, CA$117
62Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI$118
63Jacksonville, FL$118
64Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL$118
65Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY$119
66Syracuse, NY$119
67New Orleans-Metairie, LA$123
68Tucson, AZ$123
69Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV$124
70Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ$124
71Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL$125
72Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL$126
73Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL$128
74Worcester, MA-CT$128
75Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ$129
76Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO$130
77Springfield, MA$131
78Stockton, CA$131
79Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD$133
80Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA$136
81North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL$136
82Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD$137
83Providence-Warwick, RI-MA$140
84New Haven-Milford, CT$141
85Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA$141
86Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL$141
87Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA$145
88Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV$148
89Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH$154
90Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY$157
91Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA$167
92Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL$167
93Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT$168
94San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA$181
95San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$185
96New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA$191
97Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA$192
98Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA$209
99San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA$216
100Honolulu, HI$266
* Non-climate-controlled 10'x10' units, November 2022 data, across the metropolitan area.
Source: StorageCafe analysis of Yardi Matrix data

Retirement can certainly be a wonderful prospect, especially if it involves moving somewhere new. And whether it features strolling on a beach, fishing at local lakes or simply relaxing in a safe and friendly community, a range of great destinations beckons across the US. Where budgeting is key, states such as Ohio, Wisconsin and even New York can provide great-value housing and healthcare — and to further economize, downsizing is now easier with the increased availability of self storage to provide extra space. Following the retirees with the highest incomes and life expectancies might lead to Florida or California, or perhaps to the safety-conscious metropolitan areas of Connecticut. Anyone approaching retirement may be looking afresh at their plans, so a wide range of options is very welcome, especially new potential destinations that have known advantages for seniors and can make a fixed-income dollar stretch further.

The 100 Largest Metro Areas Ranked by Retirement Friendliness

RankMetro AreaLife ExpectationOld-Age Dependency RatioCrimes / 100K PeopleRetirement Income / CapitaCost of Living IndexFinancial Index (Tax Burdens)House PricesMedian Gross RentHealthcare Workers & Soc. Assist. / 1,000 PeopleAir Quality IndexWeather Index (Annual Averages)Parks per 10,000 residentsGolf Courses per square mileAge-Restricted AccommodationSelf Storage Street Rate
1Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL82.4531415.7$35,388104.250$427,045$1,3261784132#N/A0.01599%$125
2Cleveland-Elyria, OH78.630.62254.7$26,56693.765$219,942$887493474550.01717%$110
3North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL81.462.72002.4$36,157110.950$498,570$1,3621724334#N/A0.015910%$136
4New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA80.725.32136$32,583194.9652$619,306$1,600575504150.015313%$191
5Dayton-Kettering, OH76.829.62587.3$29,49390.465$191,532$8614744444#N/A0.01715%$98
6Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY79.627.82004$31,676108.252$279,584$1,0914673959#N/A0.015322%$113
7Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI79.925.42501.8$27,58898.265$268,653$977549446040.007721%$96
8Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL78.032.71977.7$27,28794.650$390,811$1,286331463860.01599%$128
9Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA82.325.31707.5$35,644138.467$845,020$2,0323154846#N/A0.005712%$192
10Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT82.125.82316$36,543137.989$567,234$1,6444954453#N/A0.032323%$168
11El Paso, TX80.120.11749.1$24,60089.882$200,581$905482565050.00316%$102
12Madison, WI80.222.41932.5$31,53810665$374,736$1,1576163961110.00779%$101
13Providence-Warwick, RI-MA80.027.21692.5$26,844117.289$450,387$1,0994664245#N/A0.036242%$140
14Rochester, NY78.9291923.2$25,253101.852$218,418$9704703960#N/A0.015320%$113
15Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH80.424.41992$32,236153.371$651,730$1,718586445560.035621%$154
16Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA78.729.21675$28,194106.2670$261,264$1,0615153858#N/A0.015116%$111
17Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL77.944.82124.6$27,86894.650$364,239$1,1611874335#N/A0.015912%$141
18Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL81.629.73108.2$31,558117.150$475,300$1,519309453330.015911%$167
19Syracuse, NY79.227.61956.8$25,774124.8652$202,490$8984703762#N/A0.015319%$119
20Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT80.527.83058$31,451109.389$322,201$1,2305244250#N/A0.032322%$112
21Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL78.135.21922.4$25,749102.1450$322,653$1,1102174137#N/A0.015912%$110
22Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN76.224.92214.3$27,85492.265$264,110$923446515490.01711%$97
23Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY77.729.52222.7$25,37694.552$246,218$888442405880.015329%$119
24New Haven-Milford, CT79.227.92383.4$29,248117.889$331,531$1,2355214249#N/A0.032324%$141
25Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA81.2252548$37,35812067$597,181$1,556361545050.00579%$141
26Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY79.825.22533$34,749124.8652$350,000$1,3694613953#N/A0.015335%$157
27Akron, OH77.328.42424.2$26,43191.9565$209,604$8614104354#N/A0.01721%$92
28Urban Honolulu, HI82.429.13272.2$33,639193.43$934,660$1,88431729140.007128%$266
29McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX79.519.72480.6$21,75376.882$175,906$8207624537#N/A0.00318%$90
30San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA81.821.91992.1$34,760147.367$883,981$1,908411494630.005711%$181
31Toledo, OH77.127.42924.6$25,78191.9565$172,544$802437424950.01718%$86
32Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ78.529.61806$25,422105.570$307,138$1,1474773952#N/A0.015127%$129
33Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA82.121.62618.2$35,161149.467$908,160$1,786426702620.005712%$209
34Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL77.440.92417.5$30,174102.1450$368,702$1,1972264230#N/A0.01598%$126
35Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI77.726.72199.3$25,129103.164$239,519$1,051421545950.008517%$118
36Boise City, ID79.224.21933$25,376102.139$494,182$1,222466447060.001312%$105
37Springfield, MA79.127.82220.4$27,927153.371$320,700$1,0524474160#N/A0.035627%$131
38Columbus, OH77.4212676.8$29,55391.565$305,225$1,078602444450.0178%$96
39Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA79.722.32378$24,43586.468$269,422$971480396140.007310%$85
40Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD78.324.93057.2$32,747106.640$376,853$1,390496455350.01515%$133
41Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI80.622.42605.3$28,290102.978$371,438$1,246607446450.005611%$108
42Jacksonville, FL77.625.52980.1$29,90194.350$379,425$1,238378464050.01598%$118
43Tucson, AZ78.533.33328.8$30,873103.937$344,547$1,008320484530.00295%$123
44Provo-Orem, UT79.013.11623$27,73110014$583,047$1,2535884766#N/A0.00142%$92
45Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI79.023.21767$22,36095.264$308,045$1,0234594263#N/A0.008513%$97
46Raleigh-Cary, NC78.919.12413$27,1209338$452,077$1,2664514347#N/A0.010112%$101
47Ogden-Clearfield, UT79.518.72710$29,81697.114$521,622$1,1233604945#N/A0.001410%$101
48Richmond, VA76.324.82388.9$34,61596.139$342,146$1,202434395080.00798%$105
49Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV80.520.42400$45,030158.239$550,237$1,76243545547#N/A8%$148
50Durham-Chapel Hill, NC79.223.93020.8$29,275107.738$431,248$1,147556414930.01015%$106
51St. Louis, MO-IL77.4273516$26,37987.140$243,975$940417525240.004815%$96
52Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC77.723.32759.5$32,73997.439$333,511$1,232389374460.007910%$110
53Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC76.026.12839.9$26,83383.635$228,478$9154064243#N/A0.00698%$94
54Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL79.723.42829.9$26,37499.350$401,894$1,420370443440.01597%$118
55Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX79.716.42697.1$33,475101.282$557,239$1,427482454030.00315%$112
56Pittsburgh, PA77.132.83595$22,896103.570$209,887$895454464750.015126%$109
57Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ80.725.94025$28,748103.937$459,441$1,384354773920.00296%$124
58Colorado Springs, CO79.820.83313.4$34,075108.214$485,566$1,465435486150.00248%$111
59Knoxville, TN74.829.82480.3$26,78882.361$319,827$9583454553#N/A0.0078%$107
60San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA83.8243994.4$37,903194.267$1,388,998$2,156402443230.005715%$216
61San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA83.320.92725.6$35,724138.467$1,535,077$2,454450445620.005710%$185
62Oklahoma City, OK77.022.73530.9$26,90186.641$221,437$929434504730.00319%$78
63Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA78.821.42701$31,734138.467$573,711$1,552320844220.005714%$136
64Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI78.623.33464$32,092123.387$311,001$1,225451505120.011618%$114
65San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX78.921.23796.6$30,10691.682$340,674$1,147445514020.00316%$113
66Wichita, KS76.725.12690.7$21,42289.678$196,929$856437455640.003113%$86
67Kansas City, MO-KS77.524.43531$26,31893.840$287,870$1,075458485550.004812%$98
68Charleston-North Charleston, SC78.324.13076.8$29,87199.835$422,841$1,3083044037#N/A0.01096%$107
69Chattanooga, TN-GA76.029.43416.6$24,95292.261$282,067$9593614644#N/A0.00711%$92
70Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA78.722.63059.7$25,20895.972$275,320$1,007540446150.00299%$88
71Winston-Salem, NC76.828.63460$22,95895.738$245,486$835450445230.0101#N/A$96
72Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV78.423.93089.8$30,328104.354$439,751$1,325308634230.000911%$124
73Worcester, MA-CT78.624.92631$27,084153.371$415,596$1,1685054261#N/A0.035625%$128
74Birmingham-Hoover, AL75.226.24219$26,69594.213$249,754$9724935142#N/A0.00479%$97
75Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA80.723.43049.5$29,728130.129$566,264$1,443437345050.0025%$145
76Tulsa, OK75.925.83757.4$22,92686.241$217,054$903402484630.003111%$80
77Albuquerque, NM77.227.46356$29,80893.139$316,513$961395546750.00078%$101
78Baton Rouge, LA75.722.83871$30,34994.520$238,065$1,013382464140.00315%$97
79Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO81.820.14492.4$32,437113.514$622,544$1,605458616240.002410%$130
80Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN76.525.93300.8$24,49595.952$243,654$954459445320.006911%$92
81Greensboro-High Point, NC75.726.43226.1$23,30397.838$237,409$9363324347180.01017%$96
82New Orleans-Metairie, LA76.025.63701.4$26,841112.320$271,024$1,069398452560.00319%$123
83Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD77.725.73930$28,022109.870$338,183$1,258572485430.015116%$137
84Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN77.622.26163$22,4799168$273,896$9895454842#N/A0.012312%$90
85Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX78.417.94197$28,26894.182$313,257$1,190468573720.00316%$96
86Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX78.417.93101$27,635103.582$390,152$1,304506514130.00315%$104
87Jackson, MS74.023.73925$25,34279.664$187,162$9305864341#N/A0.003411%$93
88Salt Lake City, UT78.917.43700.3$28,194102.114$587,013$1,3105255172#N/A0.001412%$112
89Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA76.919.43681$28,97810535$382,531$1,370415484180.00699%$111
90Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA78.927.44227.2$26,465104.976$440,550$1,044479407950.00413%$113
91Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR76.1256605$24,34596.644$199,771$9215394345#N/A0.003611%$81
92Greenville-Anderson, SC75.727.13897$22,42290.535$308,962$9783254448#N/A0.01096%$82
93Columbia, SC75.823.73955.7$25,99294.435$241,368$9863994241#N/A0.01096%$93
94Bakersfield, CA76.518.23923.8$30,422102.467$341,356$1,103336574620.005711%$94
95Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC76.621.83654$25,68494.838$389,160$1,202407474730.01017%$100
96Memphis, TN-MS-AR73.622.75173.9$25,91284.961$235,789$1,028474434630.0078%$96
97Fresno, CA78.020.65522$30,514138.467$389,233$1,164421644820.00576%$117
98Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA80.520.54349$30,325152.776$761,699$1,730474446270.0048%$167
99Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN75.820.93020$24,20695.461$456,192$1,2605714550#N/A0.0076%$113
100Stockton, CA77.721.23624.7$32,108117.167$551,332$1,484318435020.00578%$131
Source: StorageCafe analysis of data from County Health Rankings, FBI, U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic research (C2ER), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Weather Source, Retirement Living, Zillow, Trust for Public Land, World Population Review and Yardi Matrix.

What the experts are saying

To find out more about what US retirees are thinking right now, in terms of retirement destinations, finances and other options, we spoke to several experts.

Doug Ressler, Business Intelligence Manager - Yardi Matrix

Doug Ressler, Business Intelligence Manager at Yardi Matrix
Doug Ressler, Business Intelligence Manager at Yardi Matrix

What are the top priorities for retirees these days?

For many people, retirement may well be summarized in a few words: downsizing your home while upgrading your lifestyle. It's often a chance to do more of the things you love in a place you like, not conditioned by job-related restrictions. If you're switching to less square footage, chances are you'll be paying less for utilities and will have some extra cash from the sale to put towards enjoying your golden years. The "fitting all your things in a smaller house" part can be easily dealt with as self storage has developed so much that you'll have no trouble finding a storage facility close to your new home. And the service is rather inexpensive, now at a national average of around $128/month for a regular 10'x10' storage unit.

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What is age-restricted housing and where is it most commonly found?

Age-restricted housing is an aspect of any potential retirement destination that understandably interests many seniors. These communities impose a minimum age — frequently 55 years, but this can vary — and they are often master-planned. As the age restriction is the only factor involved, they are not necessarily the same as ‘senior housing’ or ‘independent living’ options. Senior-friendly Mid-Florida is a Mecca for such communities: for example, The Villages counted 130,000 residents in 2020, having grown 39% since 2010, making it the US’s fastest growing metropolitan area during that period.

Yardi Matrix data further confirms that 55+ rental communities have a significant presence in many US metros that can enhance the overall living environment for seniors. In particular, Northeastern states often have high percentages of 55+ communities. For example, it makes up 22%-23% of rental units in the Connecticut metros centered on Bridgeport and Hartford, while the figure in nearby Providence, Rhode Island, is 42%, the highest among the country’s largest metros.

Professor James F. Refalo, California State University, Los Angeles

Professor James F. Refalo, California State University, Los Angeles
Professor James F. Refalo, California State University, Los Angeles

Have you observed new trends concerning preferred retirement locations?

Trends – there are reports that the cost of retiring overseas has been rising in popular areas.  Notably Costa Rica is no-longer the cheapest place to retire to in Central/South America. Likewise, the influx of expats has been driving housing prices up in countries like Portugal, and Mexico is becoming more challenging to get residence in.  So you will have to do your research before making a move abroad. Within the US, I don’t think there is a distinct change in retirement locations.

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Have you noticed changes in retirees’ spending habits recently?

With the stark increase in inflation, the budget is going to be getting tighter.  Food prices are up 20% across the board, which will ultimately reduce discretionary spending, particularly for those on a fixed income.  One phenomena that inflation is driving is that many retirees are returning to work.

Do retirees prefer the same leisure options they did in the past?

Everything has become more expensive. As opposed to very modest 1-2 percent price increases of the previous decade, living costs have risen sharply.  This will reduce discretionary spending by retirees – e.g. more time in front of the TV, less time on vacations or doing fun things.  And again, finding a way to bring in an income again if they can.

Prof. Steven Lee of George James & Associates and lecturer in the Department of Finance, Real Estate and Law at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Prof. Steven Lee of George James & Associates and lecturer in the Department of Finance, Real Estate and Law at California State Polytechnic University, PomonaHave you observed new trends concerning preferred retirement locations?

Unfortunately, you can't really determine this by observation. What you may observe as people leaving one city or state for another city or state may have nothing to do with retirement. One thing we as a society should move away from is our expectations that traditional age-related life milestones hold true for the vast majority of the American population. While it is probably still true today, with increases in technology, remote work opportunities, disappearing pensions, and middle class shrinkage, I think we will see more and more disruption of these trends (school until 25, work until 65, retire until death).

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Have you noticed changes in retirees’ spending habits recently?

This is going to be true regardless of location because inflation affects us all no matter the location. Sure, the magnitude is more intense in some places over others, but nearly 10% inflation earlier this year is going to be noticed in every household budget except at the very top. For Main Street Americans, spending more money on non-discretionary expenses (again due to inflation) is rough because that means less of everything else: less entertainment and other discretionary expenses, less retirement savings, etc. As one moves up the income ladder, the perceived difference between living paycheck to paycheck and being able to save and afford wants and not just needs becomes evident. Retirement is the realization of that difference where many Americans subsist on Social Security benefits alone while others have pensions, defined contribution plans, cash value life insurance, and real estate to supplement their retirement. Those who are especially affluent can "go infinite," meaning that if they were immortal, they would never have to work again because they live off of interest/dividends, rental income, residuals and other passive income streams. For the have-nots, this amounts to cutting back spending or working more because there is no other option. Even if one staves off the inevitable with credit, the bill comes due eventually.

Prof. Heather J. Gibson, Department of Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management, University of Florida

Prof. Heather J. Gibson, Department of Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management, University of Florida
Prof. Heather J. Gibson, Department of Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management, University of Florida

Have you observed new trends concerning preferred retirement locations?

I haven’t studied this in my own research. I do know that there has been a general trend related to the pandemic of moving out of the cities and into more rural locations. The demand for some outside space has also been noticeable. In the UK there has been a noticeable trend for retirees to relocate out of London to the more rural south coast which has pushed up property prices over the past few years. The recession is moderating some of this price gain currently.

In the US I know we have also seen the move from the cities. I think there is still interest in college towns; we see this in Gainesville around the University of Florida.  Cities such as Ocala, Florida, are also expanding rapidly and this is also due to retirees. I think it’s too early to tell what the effects of the hurricanes will be this year on retirees. Many of them were affected by both storms this last season.

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Have you noticed changes in retirees’ spending habits recently?

Again, this isn’t part of my research.  For travel as an expenditure category, I think the pandemic has had more of an influence.

Do retirees prefer the same leisure options they did in the past?

I think the image of the older passive retiree has long gone and this has been accompanied by a more physically active retirement for many. This change was apparent over 20 years ago with more participation among the retired population in different forms of physical activity, from gym related activities, to cycling tours, to competitive level sport participation at events such as the Senior Games.  More recently pickle ball has blossomed, not only among retirees but many different age groups.  It has moved beyond a niche activity among Floridian retirees.

Many of the hobbies are the same as in the past – crafts, fishing, boating, etc., but we now have retirees who are much more comfortable integrating technology and ICT into their lives. The oldest elderly and minority populations may still not be so computer literate, but many of the others have lived with technology in their pre-retirement years and have now integrated it into retirement.  Through the pandemic, socializing and maintaining social contact was commonly achieved by retirees.

I’m not sure that it is activity change necessarily that has occurred but rather a change in attitude as to what it means to be 60, 70, 80, 90.  While biological aging is still a reality, the psychological identity as to what it means to be part of the older generation has changed and social expectations about the aged have gradually changed. This then translates to how they live their lives and what they do. I don’t think activity choice alone reflects this change in mind set.

Methodology

This analysis was done by StorageCafe, an online platform that provides storage unit listings across the nation.

We analyzed the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the US in terms of population, with only San Juan, PR, being excluded.

Data on self storage (rates for a 10’x10’ unit and inventory) came from our sister division Yardi Matrix, a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self-storage sectors.

Weather Source provided the data for our Weather Index metric. Weather Source is a leading provider of weather and climate technologies for business intelligence. Weather Source make hyper-local weather and climate data accessible around the globe and across industries. Weather Source work with companies to leverage weather and climate data to reduce waste, increase ROI, fine-tune logistics, optimize marketing strategy, and improve resource planning.

Fair use and distribution

This study serves as a resource for the general public on issues of common interest and should not be regarded as investment advice. The data is true to the best of our knowledge but may change if amendments to it are made. We agree to the distribution of this content but we do require a mention in return for attribution purposes.

Author

Francis Chantree is a writer for StorageCafe and other divisions of Yardi. He is a former programmer and researcher who has exchanged computer language for his greatest passion, human language! When not writing and proofreading text, he spends his time gardening and reading.

1 Comment

  1. Yup. Wisconsin is actually a neat option for retirement., Only the weather is a negative. But for the cost of living, health care and flight proximity midway to the rest of the country (including Florida), WI is a great place to be.

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