When most people think of calling it quits on a career, they immediately think of a move to Florida.
But not everyone wants to spend their golden years in Florida; some of us want to stay close to friends and family and within the great state of Florida.
But where exactly in Florida? Well, there’s only one place to go for the answer — data.
To that end, we have tried to identify the places in Florida that are safe, affordable, and have plenty of things to keep you busy well into retirement.
What did we find after pouring through all the data? Let’s just say we hope folks in Sarasota don’t mind us spreading the word.
Here are our top ten places in the Sunshine State to retire for 2018:
- Sarasota (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Tavares (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Vero Beach (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- North Palm Beach (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Bradenton (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Clearwater (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Melbourne (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Daytona Beach (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Fort Myers (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Naples (Photos | Homes For Sale)
How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Sunshine State
To create our list of the best places in Florida to retire, we first used Census data to find all places in the Sunshine State with a population of at least 5,000 that aren’t townships.
This left us with 143 places from across the state.
For these 143, we looked at the following criteria taken from the Census, the FBI’s Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights:
- Low cost of living as measured by rent
- Low crime
- Things to do (Museums, Colleges, and Libraries in town)
- Nice weather
- Distance to the closest international airport
- Other retirees (High median age)
We then ranked each of these places for each criteria from one to 143, with the lowest number being the best.
Finally, we took the average rank across these criteria. The place, in this case Sarasota, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers.
Population: 54,425Median Rent: $951
Distance to Closest Airport: 4 miles
Crime Per 100k: 4,575
More on Sarasota: Homes For Sale | Data
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.9 square miles (67 km2), of which 14.9 sq mi (38.6 km2) is land and 11.0 sq mi (28 km2) is water.
Population: 14,965Median Rent: $907
Distance to Closest Airport: 28 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,499
More on Tavares: Homes For Sale | Data
The city was founded by newspaper and railroad man Alexander St. Clair-Abrams in 1880 and named for a Portuguese ancestor. In 1883 a post office was established, which was followed by a hotel, three stores, a sawmill, and eight cottages in 1884. While St. Clair-Abrams did not achieve his dream that Tavares become the state capital of Florida (Tallahassee has held the spot since 1823), in 1887 the city was named the seat of Lake County. St. Clair-Abrams later chartered a railroad to run from Tavares to Orlando. In 1919, Tavares incorporated as a town.
3. Vero Beach
Population: 16,070Median Rent: $829
Distance to Closest Airport: 35 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,080
More on Vero Beach: Homes For Sale | Data
A neolithic skull was discovered in 1915, but it has since been misplaced. It appeared to represent a culture from 11,000 to 14,000 years ago, with 13,000 years ago as the most likely timeframe.
4. North Palm Beach
Population: 12,581Median Rent: $1,228
Distance to Closest Airport: 9 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,454
More on North Palm Beach: Homes For Sale | Data
In 1954 for $5.5 million John D. MacArthur bought 2,600 acres (11 km2) of land in northern Palm Beach County that had been owned originally by Harry Seymour Kelsey and later by Sir Harry Oakes. The land included most of today’s North Palm Beach as well as Lake Park, Palm Beach Gardens and Palm Beach Shores. MacArthur then began developing what is now North Palm Beach, which sat on former mangrove swamps and farm land. The area was punctuated only by Monet Road and Johnson Dairy Road to the north and south and US 1 and Prosperity Farms Road to the east and west.
Population: 52,985Median Rent: $963
Distance to Closest Airport: 6 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,852
More on Bradenton: Homes For Sale | Data
The area that would become Bradenton (originally spelled ‘Bradentown’) was explored in 1539 by the Spanish during the famous expedition led by Hernando De Soto. Bradenton was established in 1842. The original town of Bradentown was incorporated in 1903. The city took the name of Dr. Joseph Braden, whose nearby fort-like house was a refuge for early settlers during Seminole Indian attacks. The current city of Bradenton was formed in 1943, when the Florida legislature merged the cities of Manatee (incorporated in 1888) and Bradentown.
Population: 111,747Median Rent: $970
Distance to Closest Airport: 6 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,929
More on Clearwater: Homes For Sale | Data
Present-day Clearwater was originally the home of the Tocobaga people. Around 1835, the United States Army began construction of Fort Harrison, named after William Henry Harrison, as an outpost during the Seminole Wars. The fort was located on a bluff overlooking Clearwater Harbor, which later became part of an early 20th-century residential development called Harbor Oaks. University of South Florida archaeologists excavated the site in 1962 after Mark Wyllie discovered an under ground ammunition bunker while planting a tree in his yard.
The area’s population grew after the Federal Armed Occupation Act of 1842 offered 160 acres (0.65 km2) to anyone who would bear arms and cultivate the land. Early settlers included the Stevens, Stevenson, Sever and McMullen families, who claimed and farmed large tracts of land. Prior to 1906, the area was known as Clear Water Harbor. The name ‘Clear Water’ is thought to have come from a fresh water spring flowing from near where the City Hall building is located today. There were many other freshwater springs that dotted the bluff, many in the bay or harbor itself.
Population: 78,911Median Rent: $863
Distance to Closest Airport: 1 miles
Crime Per 100k: 5,037
More on Melbourne: Homes For Sale | Data
Evidence for the presence of Paleo-Indians in the Melbourne area during the late Pleistocene epoch was uncovered during the 1920s. C. P. Singleton, a Harvard University zoologist, discovered the bones of a mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) on his property along Crane Creek, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from Melbourne, and brought in Amherst College paleontologist Frederick B. Loomis to excavate the skeleton. Loomis found a second elephant, with a ‘large rough flint instrument’ among fragments of the elephant’s ribs. Loomis found in the same stratum mammoth, mastodon, horse, ground sloth, tapir, peccary, camel, and saber-tooth cat bones, all extinct in Florida since the end of the Pleistocene 10,000 years ago. At a nearby site a human rib and charcoal were found in association with Mylodon, Megalonyx, and Chlamytherium (ground sloth) teeth. A finely worked spear point found with these items may have been displaced from a later stratum. In 1925 attention shifted to the Melbourne golf course. A crushed human skull with finger, arm, and leg bones was found in association with a horse tooth. A piece of ivory that appeared to have been modified by humans was found at the bottom of the stratum containing bones. Other finds included a spear point near a mastodon bone and a turtle-back scraper and blade found with bear, camel, mastodon, horse, and tapir bones. Similar human remains, Pleistocene animals and Paleo-Indian artifacts were found in Vero Beach, 30 miles (48 km) south of Melbourne, and similar Paleo-Indian artifacts were found at Lake Helen Blazes, 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Melbourne.
After the Civil War, pioneer families arrived, and Melbourne was founded in 1867 by former slaves.
8. Daytona Beach
Population: 64,105Median Rent: $791
Distance to Closest Airport: 2 miles
Crime Per 100k: 7,816
More on Daytona Beach: Homes For Sale | Data
The area where Daytona Beach is located was once inhabited by the indigenous Timucuan Indians who lived in fortified villages. The Timucuas were nearly exterminated by contact with Europeans through war, enslavement and disease and became extinct as a racial entity through assimilation and attrition during the 18th century. The Seminole Indians, descendants of Creek Indians from Georgia and Alabama, frequented the area prior to the Second Seminole War.
9. Fort Myers
Population: 71,051Median Rent: $851
Distance to Closest Airport: 7 miles
Crime Per 100k: 4,377
More on Fort Myers: Homes For Sale | Data
Spain originally had colonial influence in Florida, succeeded by Great Britain and, lastly, the United States. During the American Indian Wars of the 1830s, the United States built Fort Myers as one of the first forts along the Caloosahatchee River; it was used as a base of operations against the Seminole. During the Seminole Wars and Indian Removal period, Fort Myers was a strategic location, with access to Atlantic waterways. While many Seminole were forced to remove to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River, others used their knowledge of the Everglades and Florida wilderness to resist the Americans. They were never defeated and two federally recognized Seminole tribes still control some of their historic territory.
During the American Civil War, Confederate blockade runners and cattle ranchers were based in Fort Myers. These settlers prospered through trading with the Seminole and Union soldiers.
Population: 20,980Median Rent: $1,189
Distance to Closest Airport: 26 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,035
More on Naples: Homes For Sale | Data
The city of Naples was founded during the late 1880s by former Confederate general and Kentucky U.S. Senator John Stuart Williams and his partner, Louisville businessman Walter N. Haldeman, the publisher of the Louisville Courier-Journal. Throughout the 1870s and ’80s, magazine and newspaper stories telling of the area’s mild climate and abundant fish and game likened it to the sunny Italian peninsula. The name Naples caught on when promoters described the bay as ‘surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy’. Major development was anticipated after the railroad reached Naples on January 7, 1927, and the Tamiami Trail linking Naples to Miami was completed in 1928, but did not begin until after the Great Depression and World War II. During the war the U.S. Army Air Forces built a small airfield and used it for training purposes; it is now the Naples Municipal Airport.
Maybe You’re Not Ready To Retire Yet…
So there you have it, the best place to retire in Florida goes to Sarasota.
If you’re not ready to hang up your office apparel yet, then these places might be up your alley:
For more Florida reading , check out:
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Florida
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Florida
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In Florida
Detailed List Of Best Places To Retire In Florida
|North Palm Beach||4|
|New Port Richey||16|
|New Smyrna Beach||52|
|Sunny Isles Beach||55|
|West Palm Beach||56|
|Fort Walton Beach||73|
|North Miami Beach||84|
|Palm Beach Gardens||94|
|Port St. Lucie||119|
|Royal Palm Beach||120|