Being in the business of retirement planning, one of the topics we often talk about with clients is retirement living. As we continue our content series #RetiringWithPurpose, today we'll talk about the all-important question of where to live, or where to snowbird... in Florida!
This list is based on a few factors. Not only did we tap into the knowledge of our team, some of whom have lived or spent time in these communities, we also compiled data from several publications that have ranked retirement communities over the years based on their criteria. So this list is based on the cost of living, quality of life, crime rate, activities for retirees, climate, and just the overall beauty of the place.
If you happen to be looking to retire somewhere warm, this is the article for you. Here are a few of our favorite picks for "top retirement communities in Florida."
5. Punta Gorda
Punta Gorda is a small harbor town on the southwest side of the state. While Punta Gorda does not have a beach (about 25 miles away from the closest beach), it does have several attractive qualities. 14 public parks, a vibrant and charming downtown area, a wildlife preserve, great dining options, and a beautiful year-round mild climate are just some of the features that attract retirees.
This would be a great community if you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist-driven beach towns, and are looking for a smaller community almost totally driven by retirees. The median age is 65 and crime is almost non-existent in this quiet community. Real estate is affordable with the median home price in 2021 at $280k according to Zillow.
The historic downtown area (pictured below) has a lot of character. There is a reason why Punta Gorda has been named in the State of Florida Living “Top 5 Towns to Retire”. It is a simple, laid-back type of retirement which many retirees are looking for.
4. The Villages
When planning your retirement in Florida, many people are quick to seek out oceanside communities. However, it would be a mistake to overlook this little paradise in Central Florida about an hour northwest of Orlando.
Known for its golfing (over 500 holes of golf within The Villages), shopping, and entertainment, perhaps one of the more unique things about “Florida’s Friendliest Retirement Hometown” are the golf carts. A visit to The Villages and you will find more than 100 miles of golf cart paths throughout this 30 sq. mile community. This means that, yes, travel is most popular by golf cart. In fact, there are said to be 50,000 golf carts and only 18,000 golfers in the community. Legend has it, golf carts became a trend in this community after some of the seniors lost their driver's licenses and decided to figure out another way to get around. You will find the residents have a lot of fun with some of them designing their custom golf carts as seen pictured below. The Villages even hosts a hot rod golf cart show!
Perhaps the biggest draw to living in The Villages is the active community. The Villages always have something going on. Many seniors move to The Villages for the social aspect combined with the recreation and activity. And living in Central Florida does not mean you are giving up the beach life. In fact, many are surprised to find out that Central Florida is only about an hour from the Gulf of Mexico and an hour and a half from the Atlantic on the east side of the state. It is the best of both worlds! And if your grandkids come out for a visit, they'll be ecstatic to know Mickey Mouse is only an hour away.
When looking for a more upscale community to settle down in, you might consider Naples. Naples has become one of the most lively retirement communities, known for its beautiful beaches, fishing, golfing, and boutique shopping. Events throughout the year include large festivals, arts, the “Stone Crab” festival, an annual film festival — even the US Open Pickleball Championship takes place in Naples!
The biggest draw to Naples for most retirees is the beaches. The 17 miles of award-winning, white-sand beaches include beaches known for finding shells, beautiful beachfront condo property, and the historic and picturesque Naples Pier which draws the local fishermen and photographers from all over.
Another noteworthy piece of information, Gallup and Healthways has ranked Naples as being the top community for health and well-being in the country, four years in a row!
Naples is a community that encourages people to exercise, eat well, connect with others, and enjoy a positive outlook on life -- all of which promotes longer, healthier living.
Finally, one would be remiss not to mention the breathtaking Naples beach sunsets. One evening spent on a sandy Naples beach and you will be in awe as the beautiful Florida sun begins to descend beyond the horizon. You’ll witness the skies becoming rich with vibrant colors, glistening off the often calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. You may even see a dolphin fin or two off in the distance. As you soak it all in, the occasional sounds of seagulls nearby will be the only thing interrupting your moments of peace and tranquility. Truly a paradise.
2. Palm Beach
On the other side of the state from Naples, you’ll find another top US destination for retirees: Palm Beach. People know about Palm Beach. This upscale community is home to some of the wealthiest people in the country and many celebrities including Jimmy Buffett, Michael Jordan, Olivia Newton-John, Jack Nicklaus, Donald Trump, and Tiger Woods. In fact, 18 out of the state's 42 wealthiest people live in Palm Beach.
Palm Beach is a bit larger than some of the other cities listed as this area hosts several retirement communities, but one common theme among the many retirement communities populating the Palm Beach area is luxury. With the median single-family home price at $1.2 million, this is an area often associated with wealth, class, and prestige. If you have some money saved up and are looking to retire in luxury, this may be your place.
Forbes ranked Venice on their list of top 25 places to retire in the country, ranking it primarily on economic factors such as cost of living, tax benefits for retirees, and overall future economic outlook.
Venice is a low-crime, smaller community with a population of just 23,000 and, of course, it has beautiful weather year-round.
For retirees looking to live out their golden years in a piece of heaven on earth, Venice is highly regarded for its beautiful white sandy beaches, breathtaking sunsets, and even a robust art scene. Locals talk about how Venice seems to strike the perfect balance of having the amenities of a larger town with the community feel of a small, beach-town community.
Known for its pristine beauty and palm trees lining the roadways, living is just easy in this city. Venice has clean parks with walking trails and fine dining options. In addition to this, the community is warm, friendly, and welcoming. It is for these many reasons, Venice is ranked #1 on our list of top 5 retirement communities in Florida.
The "Sunshine State" certainly has some of the top places in the country for retirees. We'd love to hear from you! Have you lived in any of the above cities? What is your opinion? Do you agree with our list?
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