The sunshine state, aka Florida, joined the union in 1845 as the 27th state. Florida received its name from the explorer Ponce de Leon in 1513. It was initially referred to as “Pascua Florida,” for an Easter celebration in Spain.
The late 19th century was the start of the migration of northern residents seeking warmer climates. As Florida gained in popularity, its tourism industry blew up in the 20th century, and it is still their primary industry.
One of the most famous Florida attractions is Disney World, which opened in 1971 near the Orlando area. The park encompasses approximately 30,500 acres of land and receives about 46 million visitors a year.
If Disney World isn’t your thing, Florida also offers several other attractions like:
- Kennedy Space Center
- Universal Studios
- Art Deco Historic District on Miami Beach
- Everglades National Park
- Daytona International Speedway
- Dry Tortugas National Park home to Fort Jefferson
- Edison and Ford Estates in Fort Meyers
- Salvador Dali Museum
In addition to its tourism business Florida also produces about 80 percent of the citrus fruit sold in the US. That Florida is the largest supplier of citrus fruit in the US, is not shocking when you consider they average 237 days of sun per year. Plus, some cities enjoy at least 30 days more of sun per year than the state average.
After working hard all of your adult life, understandably, you want to reap the most significant benefits from their retirement funds. Also, many retirees enjoy the idea of spending their retirement years doing the things they love, such as golfing, fishing, traveling, boating, hiking, and just plain relaxing. Plus, if you reside in one of the northern chillier states, maybe your idea of retirement no longer includes shoveling and icy roads.
So, how do you maximize your retirement years? Well, the answer might just reside in Florida. Florida’s most prominent attraction to retirees is the sun and warm winter weather. But the second greatest attraction is their lack of state income tax, meaning all of that hard-earned money you saved for retirement is yours to keep.
Plus, if those two reasons aren’t enough to send you south, many of Florida’s cities have low housing costs, making Florida not only a desirable place to live but also one of the most affordable. In fact, US News rated three of Florida’s cities the most affordable places to retire.
Below we have chosen 5 top cities to retire in Florida, based upon various aspects such as population, housing, local attractions, and crime rate.
Where to Retire in Florida
- Port St. Lucie
- Punta Gorda
Basic Population Statistics for Melbourne, FL
- Percent of the Population that are seniors: 21%
- Overall City Population: 82,826
Melbourne, the Harbor City, was voted by U.S. News #19 best places to retire in the nation.
Melbourne is unique in that it originally started as two cities, Melbourne and Eau Gallie, that later, in 1969, merged into one, but retained the two historic downtown areas. Both downtown areas support specialty shops, oceanside restaurants, and a commercial district.
Melbourne is located near the Kennedy Space Center, and the residents can enjoy watching rockets as they are launched into space. Melbourne is one of the smaller urban areas to reside.
If your interests lie lower to the ground, Melbourne’s community offers an abundance of activities for everyone:
- Hiking in the Cameron wildlife preserve or at Erna Nixon Park
And their local nightlife is just as fun as their daytime activities. There is an abundance of restaurants, pubs, and breweries, but of course, you can enjoy these places during the daytime too.
Plus, the cost of living in Melbourne is $157,900, which is already reasonable, but when you consider this is an oceanside city, that’s even more impressive.
Unfortunately, the one drawback to Melbourne is that it has a higher crime rate than some of the other cities in Florida.
Basic Population Statistics for Lakeland, FL
- Percent of the Population that is seniors: 21%
- Overall City Population: 110,516
Lakeland, Florida, named for its 38 lakes, was incorporated in 1885 and started as 80 acres, which is now the site of the downtown area. It is conveniently located between Orlando and Tampa.
Though Lakeland is a large urban area, it also offers a lot of outdoor activities as well:
- Boating and Fishing
- Equestrian Trails
- Scuba and Snorkeling
Some of their more popular attractions include:
- Safari Wilderness
- Colt Creek State Park
- Polk Theatre – Historical landmark where you can enjoy musicals, live performances, and even the latest movies.
- Explorations V Children’s Museum – Your grandkids will love it
- Lakeland Center hosts an array of events including sports and music
- Polk Museum of Art
- Fantasy of Flight features historical tours regarding aviation during the first and second world wars
- Hollis Garden
Lakeland also features all levels of senior housing for those who are both independent and those who may need a bit more assistance. And the average home price for those 60 and older is $108,700.
Plus Lakeland offers five nearby major medical centers:
- Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center
- Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center
- Winter Haven Hospital
- Bartow Regional Medical Center
- Lake Wales Medical Center
Basic Population Statistics for Jacksonville, FL
- Percent of the Population that is 60+: 13%
- Overall City Population: 903,889
Jacksonville has the highest population in Florida and is the perfect retirement place for urbanite retirees. But don’t be intimidated by population, because Jacksonville is also the largest city, physically, in the US, so it isn’t as crowded as other major metropolitans.
In addition to its large population, Jacksonville also sports miles of sandy beaches along the ocean coast and St. Johns River. Plus, it is also a golfer’s haven boasting several oceanside, oceanview, and some riverside golf courses.
Due to its size and diversity, Jacksonville offers a rich cultural environment. Some of the activities and attractions you will find in Jacksonville are:
- St. John’s Town Center with more than 175 retail stores and over 20 restaurants
- 20 Senior centers hosting social events, offering volunteer opportunites, and offering classes on various topics
- The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
- Museum of Science and History
- The Florida Theatre a historical landmark, this theatre features everything from ballet to music concerts
- Riverside Arts Market
But don’t worry even the outdoor enthusiast will find more than enough outdoor adventures since Jacksonville also has:
- 450 Urban Parks
- 7 State Parks
- 2 National Parks
- Riverwalk in Downtown
- Big Talbot Island State Park great for camping and hiking
- Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary
- Eco Tours including areas such as Fort George Island and Kingsley Plantation
- Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
- Jacksonville Arboretum
- Fishing Charters
- Kayak Tours
- Surf Lesson
Another attractive point of Jacksonville is that it is home to some of the nation’s best hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic, which ranks #3 in all of Florida.
And the average cost of housing for seniors is $172,500, making it an affordable place to relocate.
Port St. Lucie
Basic Population Statistics for Port St. Lucie, FL
- Percent of the Population that is seniors: 19%
- Overall City Population: 195,248
Located between Miami and Orlando, Port St. Lucie is located along the Florida coast. Although it hosts more than 190,000 people, it is one of the most relaxed places to live in Florida.
Port St. Lucie boasts clean and quiet neighborhoods scattered along the beautiful city waterways. Port St. Lucie is an affordable place to either rent or buy since the average cost of housing is $167,200 for those 60 years and older.
Plus, Port St. Lucie is never short on fun things to do and see:
- Golf Lovers Dream Port St. Lucie is home to PGA village a golf resort featuring 54 holes of premier golfing and professional-style facilities and instructors
- MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center hosts a variety of monthly activities including concerts and festivals
- A large variety of restaurants, pubs, and breweries
- First Data Field for baseball lovers
- Treasure Coast Model Railroad Club
- Elliot Museum
And Outdoor activities and attractions like:
- Veterans Park at Rivergate
- Savannas Preserve State Park
- Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens
- Oak Hammock Park
- River Park Marina
Port St. Lucie is also home to several medical centers, including:
- St. Lucie Medical Center: Orthopedic and Spine Institute
- Tradition Surgery Center
- St. Lucie Medical Center and Emergency Room
Basic Population Statistics for Punta Gorda, FL
- Percent of the Population that is seniors: 51%
- Overall City Population: 20,057
For those of us looking for a quieter ocean town, Punta Gorda is the perfect place. Punta Gorda does not only boast a large retirement population, but it is one of the most relaxed and friendliest communities in Florida. Plus, the cost of living is 5% lower than the national average.
One of the drawbacks to smaller communities is often the lack of healthcare options. However, Punta Gorda is home to the Bayfront Health Center that features:
- Part of a regional network of 7 hospitals
- Accredited Primary Stroke Center
- Joint and Spine Center
- Accredited Chest Pain Center
- Accredited hyperbaric and wound care center
- Emergency Care Services
- All of the rooms are single occupancy for extra privacy
Some of Punta Gorda’s main attractions and activities are:
- Fishermen’s Village
- Several golf courses and clubs
- Peace River Wildlife Center
- Muscle Car City Museum
- Babcock Ranch Preserve
- Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Center
- Ponce de Leon Park
- Alligator Bay Distillers
- Center for Performing Arts
- Punta Gorda Speedway
- Military Heritage Nyseyn
- Laishley Park is a pet-friendly area that offers a concert area, memorial garden, walking paths, and a fishing pier
This small community truly has everything you need to enjoy your retirement.