Florida cities dominate ‘Best Places to Retire’ list

by Lindsey Wells

The Sunshine State is still the nation’s most desirable place to retire, according to recent data from U.S. News & World Report.

Florida metro areas secured eight of the top 10 spots on U.S. News’ 2021-2022 Best Places to Retire list. Sarasota, Naples, Daytona Beach and Melbourne captured the first four spots, followed closely by Tampa, Fort Myers, Port St. Lucie and Pensacola, according to a press release by Florida Realtors.

To identify the best places to retire, U.S. News analyzed data for the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. to assess how well they meet Americans’ retirement needs and expectations. Top criteria include the happiness of residents, housing affordability, tax rates and health care quality. 

The study’s findings were based on a public survey of U.S. individuals nearing retirement age (ages 45-59) and those who are of retirement age (60 or older).

“Sarasota and Naples residents both report a high sense of well-being, and both cities scored high marks for desirability,” said Emily Brandon, U.S. News senior editor for retirement. “Sarasota edged out Naples for the No. 1 spot largely due to Sarasota having more affordable housing than Naples.”

In 1990, the four I-75 coastal counties of Collier, Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota had a population of 876,000 combined. Today, it’s nearly a million more at 1.8 million, the release said. 

“I see the demand staying strong for a while. The one thing that’s still out there is that we have a huge baby boomer generation that’s coming up on retirement. So as many of them are approaching the retirement years, a lot of them have eyes toward Florida and Southwest Florida, in particular,” said Mike Hughes, vice president of Downing-Frye Realty Inc. “I think we’re heading into an interesting period.”

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