Photo: Mark Bowden via 123RF

Retirement isn’t the same for everyone. While some may dream of lounging on the beach, others may fancy the idea of playing golf, strolling through a farmer’s market, or connecting with nature during a morning hike. Some may use this time to start a new chapter in life by pursuing a new career or furthering their education. When it comes to retirement, there’s no right or wrong answer. 

Whether you’ve got your future planned or just along for the ride, here are five retiree-friendly locations worth adding to your list.

Sarasota, Florida 

According to the U.S. News and World Report’s 2021-2022 data, Sarasota, Florida, snagged the No. 1 spot for Best Places to Retire in the U.S. (Florida cities earned eight of the top 10 spots on the list!). Thanks to its many beaches, restaurants, and shops (St. Armands Circle is known for its sophisticated dining options, 130 boutiques, and mid-century modern architecture), Sarasota is a favorite amongst vacationers and retirees alike. The region is also home to the Asolo Repertory Theater and the Sarasota Opera House, both of which have ongoing events year-round.

U.S. News also awarded Sarasota the ninth Best Place to Live in the U.S., seventh Safest Place to Live in the U.S., and 19th Best Place to Live for Quality of Life. It’s no wonder the city has seen such a growth in its population. According to recent census data, Sarasota County grew by more than 54,000 new residents between 2010 and 2020. 

Wilmington, North Carolina 

Conveniently nestled between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean sits Wilmington, North Carolina—a small coastal city that offers the best of both worlds. Though small, Wilmington has everything one might need or want in a potential retirement location. The downtown area is a historic gem filled with local shops, restaurants (be sure to get breakfast at The Dixie Grille), and art galleries. And there are beaches (three, to be exact): Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach are just a short drive from downtown. 

Where to Retire ranked Wilmington as a top retirement destination. Where to Retire is a publication that covers retirement relocation exclusively. This small beach town also earned the nicknames “Hollywood East” and “Wilmywood” for its film and television background. Wilmington served as the backdrop for numerous blockbuster movies, television shows, and Netflix films, including “Dawson’s Creek,” “One Tree Hill,” “The Choice,” and “Along for the Ride.” 

Photo: Rob Marmion via 123RF

Charleston, South Carolina 

If you travel 3.5 hours south of Wilmington, you’ll hit the charming town of Charleston, South Carolina. Not only does Charleston have one of the lowest property tax rates in the country, but there are also two private island communities (Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island) located just 30 minutes from downtown Charleston. These gated communities offer tennis, golf courses, and access to exclusive restaurants. 

Retirees also love Charleston for its temperate to subtropical climate. According to the City of North Charleston website, the region sees 230 days of sunshine yearly, with an average daily temperature of 65.9 degrees Fahrenheit. Winters are usually mild, with temperatures averaging between 47 and 52 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Salem, New Hampshire 

Salem, New Hampshire, may be a small town, but it packs a punch when it comes to attractions and amenities. Salem features three golf courses, a casino (Chaser’s No Limit Poker Room and Casino), multiple parks, the New Hampshire Philharmonic Orchestra (also known as “The Phil”), and “America’s Stonehenge,” where you can see Salem’s 4,000-year-old maze of rocks and stone. 

Salem has also become a popular shopping destination thanks to its 0% sales tax rate. For example, the Mall at Rockingham Park is New England’s “premier destination” for tax-free shopping. Covering 1,024,171 square feet, The Mall at Rockingham Park is the largest in New Hampshire. It features more than 144 stores, including Michael Kors, Vera Bradley, and Coach.

Liberty, Missouri

Money Magazine named Liberty, Missouri, among its 10 Best Places to Retire in the U.S. for 2022. The town’s affordable home prices, rich history, and lively art scene (e.g. Belger Arts Center, Gallery 504, Hilliard Gallery, and Summit Art) are just a few of the reasons why Liberty made the list. Liberty is also known for its good weather and nature trails, including those found at the Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary. According to Liberty’s official website, Liberty, Missouri, has more than 500 acres of parkland and more than 10 miles of trails. 

Liberty is also known for its sense of community. In fact, the City of Liberty is one of many cities in the Kansas City area that participates in the KC Communities for All Ages Initiative, which, according to the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), is an “age-friendly initiative that helps increase awareness in local jurisdictions of the impact of a growing older population.” 

Finding the best city for retirement takes a bit of research and some serious decision-making skills. Before you begin your search, think about your budget, ideal weather conditions, and the safety of an area.