8 Best Places to Retire in Florida

For years people have been moving to Florida to retire. It’s no secret that the beaches, warm weather, lack of snow and endless activities make it a great place to live out your golden years. It might be challenging to determine exactly where the best place to retire to is, so continue reading to learn about the top eight places that might work for you.

Some Common Factors

All of the communities described here have certain characteristics in common. Here are a few:

  • Taxes. Florida has no state income tax; compare that to the national average of 4.6%. Property taxes, too, come in low, with an average effective rate of .83% of property value. The state sales tax rate is 6.0%, and some localities add their own tax of 0.5% to 2.5%, resulting in an average combined rate of 7.05%.
  • Climate. The climate of north and central Florida is humid subtropical, and south Florida is tropical in nature. Much of the state, especially the coastal areas, experiences rain and thunderstorms from May through October.

For each community below, we assign a HOMEiA Score, which provides an overall assessment of its appeal as a place for retirees to call home.

Not every place is affordable to buy homes in, but you would expect that with some wealthy retiree communities. We have presented options that will fit different budgets and needs – there should be a choice for everyone.

The More Affordable Options

We have listed the most affordable cities first, though the ranks and index scores are assigned based on a larger set of characteristics that we have reviewed.

1. Clearwater

HOMEiA Score: 77/100

  • Population: 116,948 | Rank Last Year: #8
  • Cost of Living: 2% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $206,300/$48,691 = 4.24 (buying homes is slightly expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $48,691/$13,104 = 3.72 (renting homes is affordable)

Clearwater is a coastal town off the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. Smaller highways give access to Interstate 275, which runs through Tampa. There are a few smaller airports in the Clearwater area, but many residents choose to travel to Tampa International Airport.

a. Size and Population

Clearwater has a population of 116,946 (2019 estimate). It occupies an area just under 36 square miles. The population density is 4,488 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in Clearwater grew by 7.2% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), which is above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3%.

In Clearwater, 22.5% of the population is over 65 years of age. Seniors make up more of the population here than in the U.S. generally — the rate is 16.5% — but less than in Florida as a whole, where 26.8% of residents are seniors.

Children make up 18.4% of the Clearwater population, compared to 22.3% nationally and 16.8% in Florida.

b. Median Income, Cost of Living and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in Clearwater.

CLEARWATER MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $48,691

Clearwater Cost of Living

Clearwater Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend for Renters
(Rent & Utilities)
$206,300 $18,228 $13,104

Clearwater shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 4.24, based on the median home price of $206,300 and a median household income of $48,691. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is slightly expensive to buy homes in the area.

Clearwater shows an income to rent ratio of 3.72, based on a median household income of $48,691 and an annual spend of $13.104. Therefore, it is affordable to rent properties.

In Clearwater, 58.5% of residents own their homes.

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Top Neighborhoods in Clearwater

  • Old Clearwater Bay (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $1.5 million)
    A great community for those looking for medium-sized family homes and waterfront views.
  • Sunset Lakes Estates (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $750,000+)
    Located inland, this area has a variety of large and small homes.
  • Sunny Grove Mobile Park (Home Value Range: $75,000 to $600,000+)
    This area is great for those who need less space. With plenty of community amenities like bingo and barbeques, this community is ideal for those who love to socialize.
  • Greenbriar Club (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $400,000+)
    Just minutes from the beach, this neighborhood offers easy access to major highways.

c. Employment Prospects

As of May 2021, the unemployment rate in Clearwater was 4.6%, which was below both the U.S. national rate and the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty level in Clearwater, at 15.4%, was above the national average of 10.5% and the Florida rate of 12.7% in 2019.

There are plenty of options for employment in the Clearwater area. BayCare Health System, Tech Data and Lincare Holdings are the top employers in the area. Some residents travel out of the area to larger cities to find jobs in their fields.

Clearwater residents have an average commute time of 24.1 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

  • Beaches and sunsets. Check out the beaches and lovely sunsets at any time of the year in Clearwater. The beaches are known to have beautiful clear water, just as the name says.
  • Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Visit one of the most popular aquariums in Florida for a fun day out for the whole family. This attraction is great for those interested in wildlife and the ocean.
  • Downtown Clearwater. The downtown area welcomes over two million visitors each year. With diverse shopping and dining options, you can’t possibly get bored. If you’re itching for a night out, check out the dining and entertainment options here.
  • Moccasin Lake Nature Park. This nature area is great for those looking for a large showcase of native plant and animal species. The park also rescues and rehabilitates birds, reptiles and other animals. There are also nature trails where you can spot many different animals.

 

e. Education

St. Petersburg College Clearwater Campus is located in Clearwater and has lots of program options. The University of South Florida is located just under an hour away and is a public four-year university with undergraduate and graduate options.

There are 27 public schools and over 100 private schools in the Clearwater area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, Clearwater has a below-average educational infrastructure compared to similarly sized metro areas.

Over the 2015-19 period, the high school graduation rate in Clearwater was above the U.S. national average of 88%. The proportion of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree was slightly below the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

Morton Plant Hospital is the main medical facility serving the Clearwater area. This establishment is over 100 years old and has about 600 beds. Doctors and specialists work in more than 50 specialty areas. According to HealthGrades.com, over 82% of patients would recommend this location.

Clearwater has 4.02 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, slightly above Florida’s statewide median rate of 3.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 24.03 property crimes per 1,000 residents, above Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

 

2. Palm Coast

Palm Coast

HOMEiA Score: 85/100

  • Population: 89,800 | Rank Last Year: #5
  • Cost of Living: 4% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $209,300/$54,360 = 3.85 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $54,360 /$15,576 = 3.49 (renting homes is affordable)

Palm Coast is located about an hour south of Jacksonville on the east coast of Florida. Many travelers choose to drive to the Daytona Beach International Airport, located about 45 minutes south of Palm Coast. The city is located right off Interstate 95.

a. Size and Population

Palm Coast has a population of 89,800 (2019 estimate) and an area just over 96 square miles. The population density is 945 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in Palm Coast grew by 19.4% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), which is above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3%.

In Palm Coast 28.2% of the population is over 65 years of age. This is high compared to the U.S. (16.5%) and on par with Florida (26.8%). Meanwhile, 18.1% of the population is below 18 years of age (2010), compared to 22.3% in the U.S. and 16.8% in Florida.

b. Median Income, Cost of Living and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in Palm Coast.

PALM COAST MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $54,360

Palm Coast Cost of Living

  • 4% Below the U.S. National Average
  • 3% Higher than Jacksonville, Florida
  • 49% Lower than New York City, New York
  • 10% Lower than Chicago, Illinois

Palm Coast Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$209,300 $15,468 $15,576

Palm Coast shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 3.85, based on the median home price of $209,300 and a median household income of $54,360. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is affordable to buy homes in the area.

Palm Coast shows an income to rent ratio of 3.49, based on a median household income of $54,360 and an annual spend of $15,576. Therefore, it is affordable to rent properties.

In Palm Coast, 74.3% of residents own their homes.

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Top Neighborhoods in Palm Coast

  • Palm Harbor (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $450,000)
    This neighborhood is in a highly desirable area with a variety of homes. Most have canal views.
  • Cypress Knoll (Home Value Range: $525,000 to $700,000)
    This area is located in central Palm Coast and is near the Cypress Knoll Golf Club.
  • Lehigh Woods (Home Value Range: $225,000 to $475,000)
    This community features a park with a public playground, basketball courts and a skate park.
  • Quail Hollow (Home Value Range: $225,000 to $425,000)
    This neighborhood, located near Route 100, has been growing rapidly.
  • Matanzas Woods (Home Value Range: $225,000 to $450,000)
    This area is the closest neighborhood to St. Augustine, with tons of single-family homes.

c. Employment Prospects

As of May 2021, the unemployment rate in Palm Coast was 5.1%, which was below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% but just above the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 12.3%, was above the national average of 10.5% but below the Florida rate of 12.7% in 2019.

There are many opportunities here in the hospitality sector. Both the Hammock Beach Resort and the Hammock Dunes Club and Golf Course employ many people who live in Palm Coast. The Flagler County Chamber of Commerce is also located in Palm Coast.

Palm Coast residents have an average commute time of 26.6 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

Palm Coast is right on the water. The area was originally mostly swampland and pine trees.

  • Parks. Waterfront Park, Varn Park, Palm Coast Linear Park and James F. Holland Memorial Park all have beautiful nature trails and sights ready to be explored.
  • Golfing. The Palm Harbor Golf Club is great for those looking to practice their swing. It’s also located off the Palm Coast Marina Canals.
  • St. Augustine. This historic town is only a 45-minute drive north of Palm Coast. Founded in 1565 and the oldest continuously inhabited city in the U.S., this area is great for those interested in Florida history and amazing cuisine.
  • Beaches. There are plenty of amazing beaches up and down Palm Coast. In general, the beaches are not overrun with tourists and are typically clean and quiet.

 

e. Education

Palm Cost is very close to Daytona State College and Flagler Technical College – both great options for those looking for small programs and certification options. Flagler College is about a 30-minute drive from Palm Coast, and the University of North Florida is less than an hour away.

There are 10 public schools and 25 private schools in the Palm Coast area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, Palm Coast has an above-average educational infrastructure, similar to or better than similarly sized metro areas.

Over the 2015-19 period, the high school graduation rate in Palm Coast was above the U.S. national average of 88%. The proportion of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree was below the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

There plenty of healthcare facilities located in Palm Coast. AdventHealth Palm Coast is a great option for those looking for a variety of care options. According to HealthGrades.com, 65% of patients would recommend this location.

Palm Coast has 1.65 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, significantly below Florida’s statewide median rate of 3.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 9.53 property crimes per 1,000 residents, significantly below Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

 

3. Venice

HOMEiA Score: 90/100

  • Population: 23,985 | Rank Last Year: #2
  • Cost of Living: 1% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $252,200/$60,086 = 4.2 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $60,086/$16,260= 3.7 (renting homes is affordable)

Venice is located on the west coast of Florida, a little over an hour south of Tampa. Venice is right off of the major highway, Interstate 75. The Venice Municipal Airport is located in the town, and the Tampa International Airport, a major airline hub, is only about 80 miles away.

a. Size and Population

Venice has a population of 23,985 (2019 estimate) and an area of 16.7 square miles. The population density is 1,591 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in Venice grew by 15.3% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), which is above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3%.

Venice is home to many retirees, with 62.6% of the population being over 65 years of age. This is very high compared to the U.S. (16.5% seniors), 22.3% below 18) and even Florida (26.8% elderly, 16.8% below 18).

In comparison, only 6.2% of the population of Venice is below 18 years of age — a much lower percentage than Florida (16.8%) and the U.S. overall (22.3%).

The population in Venice has a much higher percentage of Caucasian inhabitants (95.1%), which is 25% higher than the US national average (76.3%) and 23% higher than the Florida average. (77.3%).

b. Median Income, Cost of Living and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in Venice.

VENICE MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $60,086

Venice Cost of Living

  • 1% Above the U.S. National Average
  • 1% Higher than Tampa Bay, Florida
  • 46% Lower than New York City, New York
  • 5% Lower than Chicago, Illinois

Venice Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$252,200 $19,488 $16,260

Venice shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 4.2, based on the median home price of $252,200 and a median household income of $60,086. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is slightly expensive to buy homes in the area.

Venice shows an income to rent ratio of 3.7, based on a median household income of $60,086 and an annual spend of $16,260. Therefore, it is affordable to rent properties.

In Venice, 75.8% of residents own their homes.

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Top Neighborhoods in Venice

  • The Grand Palm (Home Value Range: $300,000 to $1 million)
    This is a great area for families.
  • Venice Farms (Home Value Range: $200,000 to $3+ million)
    Great for large properties used for farmlands.
  • The Island of Venice (Home Value Range: $100,000 to $700,000+)
    A popular area where many special events take place.
  • Venice Golf and Country (Home Value Range: $175,000 to $800,000)
    This is a private neighborhood situated on a golf country club.

 

c. Employment Prospects

As of May 2021, the unemployment rate in Venice was 4.2%, which was below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 7.8%, was below the national average of 10.5% and the Florida rate of 12.7% in 2019.

There are no major employers in the Venice area, but it’s not unlikely that many can find employment at privately-owned companies in the area. Real estate is a great job to have in this area, as well as working at or managing country clubs.

Venice residents have an average commute time of 22.2 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

Venice is a hidden paradise on the west coast of Florida with tons of fun things to do. This area is known for:

  • Leisure activities. This area has a large retirement community, and its many activities include golfing, tennis and horseback riding.
  • The beaches. Venice Beach is world-famous for the abundance of shark teeth that wash up on the shore each year. It is also a certified Blue Wave Beach. This means that human health and environmental protection are a priority in the area, and the beaches will always be incredibly clean.
  • Historic downtown area. Venice also has a lovely downtown area featuring beautiful northern Italian architecture reminiscent of the Italian city of the same name.
  • Wildlife. It’s not uncommon to see plenty of different types of wildlife in the town of Venice. Nesting sea turtles are common in this area and are often spotted in large numbers between May and October. If you see a nest, don’t disturb the babies!

 

e. Education

To find a college or university, residents will have to travel out of the Venice area. Sarasota is about 45 minutes north of Venice and is home to New College of Florida, Ringling College of Art and Design and a few major public university campuses.

There are eight public schools and 23 private schools in the Venice area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, Venice has an above-average educational infrastructure compared to similarly sized metro areas.

Over the 2015-19 period, the high school graduation rate in Venice was significantly above the U.S. national average of 88%. The proportion of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree was also significantly above the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

Venice has many small medical offices and one major local hospital. Venice Regional Bayfront Health offers many different kinds of care options. According to HealthGrades.com, over 50% of patients would recommend this location.

Venice has one violent crime per 1,000 residents, significantly below Florida’s statewide median rate of 3.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 11.88 property crimes per 1,000 residents, significantly below Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

It is to be noted that while Venice seems to have a higher crime rate than some of the cities we list, the overwhelming majority of incidents are property crimes. Violent crimes are only 7.8% of the total number.

 

4. New Smyrna Beach

HOMEiA Score: 84/100

  • Population: 27,843 | Rank Last Year: #6
  • Cost of Living: 7% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $256,100/$57,043 = 4.49 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $57,043/$13,548 = 4.21 (renting homes is affordable)

New Smyrna Beach is a small town on the east coast of Florida, just south of Daytona Beach. This area is right off Interstate 95 and is a short drive from Daytona Beach International Airport.

a. Size and Population

New Smyrna Beach has a population of 27,843 (2019 estimate) and an area just over 41 square miles. The population density is 783 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in New Smyrna Beach grew by 18.8% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), which is above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3%.

In New Smyrna Beach, 38% of the population is over 65 years of age. This is very high compared to the U.S. (16.5%) and Florida (26.8%).

By contrast, only 12.4% of the population is below 18 years of age (2010). This compares to 22.3% nationally and 16.8% statewide.

The population in New Smyrna Beach has a much higher percentage of Caucasian inhabitants (92.7%), which is 21% higher than the US national average (76.3%) and 20% higher than the Florida average. (77.3%).

b. Median Income, Cost of Living and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in New Smyrna Beach.

NEW SMYRNA BEACH MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $57,043

New Smyrna Beach Cost of Living

  • 7% Above the U.S. National Average
  • 2% Lower than Orlando, Florida
  • 43% Lower than New York City, New York
  • On par with Chicago, Illinois

New Smyrna Beach Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$256,100 $18,768 $13,548

New Smyrna Beach shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 4.49, based on the median home price of $256,100 and a median household income of $57,043. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is expensive to buy homes in the area.

New Smyrna Beach shows an income to rent ratio of 4.21, based on a median household income of $57,043 and an annual spend of $13,548. Therefore, it is affordable to rent properties.

In New Smyrna Beach, 75.5% of residents own their homes.

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Top Neighborhoods in New Smyrna Beach

  • Buena Vista Shores (Home Value Range: $75,000 to $1 million+)
    This neighborhood is located on a small island area and has plenty of waterfront views.
  • Fairgreen (Home Value Range: $175,000 to $700,000)
    This community is located adjacent to the New Smyrna Beach Golf Course and has plenty of housing options.
  • Isleboro (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $450,000)
    A large community in northern New Smyrna Beach, this area is minutes from the beaches and water views.
  • Hidden Pines (Home Value Range: $75,000 to $500,000+)
    A small inland neighborhood, this community is situated around four ponds.

 

c. Employment Prospects

As of May 2021, the unemployment rate in New Smyrna Beach was 5%, which was just above the U.S. national rate of 5.8% but below the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 10.8%, is slightly above the national average of 10.5% in 2019 but below the Florida rate of 12.7% in 2019.

Vintage Props and Jets, AGER point and Epic Flight Academy are the biggest employers in this area. Because this town is on the coast, there are also many opportunities to work at resorts and recreation areas.

New Smyrna Beach residents have an average commute time of 25.7 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

  • Smyrna Dunes Park. Take a stroll near the beach and visit this beautiful park. With amazing views of the Indian River, Ponce de Leon Inlet, and the Atlantic Ocean, there’s nothing like it in the area.
  • Sugar Mills Ruins. These ruins are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are great for a day trip. Learn about local history and the mill that operated in the 1830s.
  • Marine Discovery Center. Boat tours are available, as well as a variety of interactive exhibits and activities. This area is part zoo, part aquarium, and part museum. Plan to spend a few hours exploring the vicinity.
  • New Smyrna Speedway. For those who don’t want to take the drive to Daytona, the New Smyrna Speedway is located within the city and is great for a weekend activity. This smaller facility holds many races throughout the year.

 

e. Education

New Smyrna Beach is home to Daytona State College, a public university with four campuses located in the area. About two hours north is the University of North Florida, with plenty of undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered.

There are six public schools and over 20 private schools in the New Smyrna Beach area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, New Smyrna Beach has an average educational infrastructure, similar to or better than similarly sized metro areas.

Over the 2015-19 period, the high school graduation rate in New Smyrna Beach was above the U.S. national average of 88%. The population of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree was also above the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

Advent Health New Smyrna Beach is a popular option for those in this area. With over 100 beds, this location is a great option for those needing a variety of healthcare. According to HealthGrades.com, over 60% of patients would recommend this location.

New Smyrna Beach has 2.41 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, below Florida’s statewide median rate of 3.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 20.33 property crimes per 1,000 residents, below Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

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5. The Villages

HOMEiA Score: 90/100

  • Population: 51,442 (2010) | Rank Last Year: #3
  • Cost of Living: 3.4% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $283,300/$63,841 = 4.44 (buying homes is slightly expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $63,841/$20,196 = 3.16 (renting homes is slightly expensive)

The Villages is a retirement community for ages 55 and up. It is located about an hour northwest of Orlando. With easy access to Interstate 75 and other major roads, it’s very easy to get around. There are a few small airports in the area, but many choose to drive to Orlando International or Ocala International.

a. Size and Population

The Villages had a population of 51,442 (2010) and an area just over 875 square miles. The population density is 1,670 per square mile (2010).

The population growth in The Villages from April 2010 through July 2019 has not yet been reported.

The majority of the population of The Villages falls in the retiree demographic, with 81.6% of the population being over 65 years of age (2010). This is very high compared to both the U.S. (16.5% seniors) and the state of Florida (26.8% seniors). In comparison, only 0.8% of the population is below 18 years of age, compared to 22.3% of the U.S. and 16.8% of Florida.

The population in The Villages has a much higher percentage of Caucasian inhabitants (98%), which is 28% higher than the US national average (76.3%) and 27% higher than the Florida average. (77.3%).

b. Median Income, Cost of Living and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in The Villages.

THE VILLAGES MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $63,841

The Villages Cost of Living

  • 3% Above the U.S. National Average
  • 1% Lower than Orlando, Florida
  • 45% Lower than New York City, New York
  • 3% Lower than Chicago, Illinois

The Villages Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$283,300 $16,416 $20,196

The Villages shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 4.44, based on the median home price of $283,300 and a median household income of $63,841. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is slightly expensive to buy homes in the area.

The Villages shows an income to rent ratio of 3.16, based on a median household income of $63,841 and an annual spend of $20,196. Therefore, it is slightly expensive to rent properties.

In The Villages, 95.9% of residents own their home.

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Top Neighborhoods in The Villages

  • Village of Pennecamp (Home Value Range: $225,000 to $750,000)
    Pennecamp is ideal for more active residents. This neighborhood is close to plenty of leisure activities and is also quite tranquil.
  • Village of Briar Meadow (Home Value Range: $175,000 to $600,000)
    This neighborhood is ideal for those who love to golf. Located near many ranges, this neighborhood is steps from a great hobby.
  • Village of Duval (Home Value Range: $50,000 to $500,000)
    This area is great for those looking for convenience. It features three community pools and a recreation center.
  • Village of Del Mar (Home Value Range: $100,000 to $500,000)
    This area has easy access to the Chula Vista Recreation Center as well as Spanish Springs Town Square.
  • Village of Tierra Del Sol (Home Value Range: $75,000 to $750,000+)
    This neighborhood is close to the Tierra Del Sol championship golf course and preserve. This is one of the most sought-after communities.

 

c. Employment Prospects

As of May 2021, the unemployment rate in The Villages was 5.8%, which was on par with the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and above the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 4.6%, was significantly below the national average of 10.5% and the Florida rate of 12.7% in 2019.

There are no major employers or companies inside The Villages, except for The Villages themselves. Many who work in the area travel from outside the town to ensure that the retirees in the community are taken care of.

The Villages residents have an average commute time of 25.2 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

The Villages has plenty of things to do for people of all ages.

  • The lakes. This area is almost totally surrounded by small lakes. Residents can rent boats, take a stroll along the waterfront, fish or canoe.
  • Ocala National Forest. This nature haven is a short drive away and has pine trees, huge lakes and tons of wildlife. This is great for a day trip to take a nature hike or explore the views.
  • Spanish Springs Town Square. This area boasts plenty of shopping and dining options for those looking for great weekday activities.
  • Eisenhower Regional Recreation Center. Residents visit this center to socialize and participate in group activities such as bingo and group exercise.

 

e. Education

As far as higher education in The Villages, there are no options inside the city. Those looking for higher education typically travel to nearby colleges like Taylor College or Lake-Sumter State College.

There is one public school and one private school in The Villages, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, The Villages has a below-average educational infrastructure.

Over the 2015-19 period, the high school graduation rate in The Villages was significantly above the U.S. national average of 88%. The proportion of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree was also significantly above the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

The Villages have plenty of healthcare facilities. AdventHealth The Villages Center for Health, The Villages Regional Hospital, and UF Health The Villages Hospital are all great options and offer a variety of services.

The Villages has 1.45 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, significantly below Florida’s statewide median rate of 3.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 6.81 property crimes per 1,000 residents, also significantly below Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

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6. Naples

HOMEiA Score: 96/100

  • Population: 22,088 | Rank Last Year: #1
  • Cost of Living: 12% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $988,500/$107,013 = 9.23 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $107,013/$16,284 = 6.57 (renting homes is affordable)

Naples is located in southern Florida on the west coast of the state. The closest major road is Interstate 75, and the Naples Airport is the major airline hub of the area.

a. Size and Population

Naples has a population of 22,088 (2019 estimate) and an area of just under 16.5 square miles. The population density is 1,797 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in Naples grew by 13.2% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), which is above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3%.

The population of Naples skews heavily toward the retiree demographic, with 52.5% of the population being over 65 years of age (2010). This is very high compared to both the U.S. as a whole (16.5% seniors) and even Florida (26.8% seniors).

By contrast, only 8.1% of the population of Naples is below 18 years of age, compared to 22.3% nationally and 16.8% statewide.

The population in Naples has a much higher percentage of Caucasian inhabitants (93%), which is 22% higher than the US national average (76.3%) and 21% higher than the Florida average. (77.3%).

b. Median Income, Cost of Living and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in Naples.

NAPLES MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $107,013

Naples Cost of Living

  • 12% Above the U.S. National Average
  • 12% Higher than Tampa Bay, Florida
  • 40% Lower than New York City, New York
  • 5% Lower than Chicago, Illinois

Naples Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$988,500 $41,376 $16,284

Naples shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 9.23, based on the median home price of $988,500 and a median household income of $107,013. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is very expensive to buy homes in the area.

Naples shows an income to rent ratio of 6.57, based on a median household income of $107,013 and an annual spend of $16,284. Therefore, it is affordable to rent properties.

In Naples, 78.3% of residents own their homes.

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Top Neighborhoods in Naples

  • Bear’s Paw (Home Value Range: $250,000 to $5 million)
    Bear’s Paw has a small community feel.
  • Coquina Sands (Home Value Range: $2 million to $12+ million)
    Coquina Sands is a beautiful waterfront neighborhood.
  • Park Shore (Home Value Range: $400,000 to $15 million)
    Located in North Naples, Park Shore has many bayside homes.
  • Sun Terrace (Home Value Range: $200,000 to $1.2+ million)
    This is an inland neighborhood.

 

c. Employment Prospects

As of May 2021, the unemployment rate in Naples was 3.7%, which was below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 7.9%, was below the national average of 10.5% and the Florida rate of 12.7% in 2019.

There are no major business hubs in Naples, but many find employment opportunities at the airport, country clubs and recreational areas in the town.

Naples residents have an average commute time of 19.6 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

Naples is a great town with plenty of things to do. This town is known for:

  • Beaches and sunsets. Check out the beautiful beaches and lovely sunsets year-round. The pier is a staple in the area and iconic to residents and those visiting. Many visit the pier to go fishing and watch the dolphins.
  • Nature. There are plenty of places to visit for the nature lover in your life, including the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.
  • Museums. On top of the gorgeous sandy beaches, there are also plenty of museums to visit, like the Revs Institute, the Baker Museum and the Golisano Children’s Museum.
  • Family activities. Tin City is a great area that was a clam shelling and oyster processing plant in the 1920s. Since then, it’s been repurposed as a unique shopping area with plenty of stores, restaurants and waterfront views.

The Sun-N-Fun Lagoon is a water park with plenty to do, the perfect year-round destination for thrill-lovers. With five water slides and tons of other activities, this is a great place to bring friends and family of any age.

e. Education

There are no major colleges or universities located in Naples, but in under 20 minutes you can reach a Keiser University campus as well as a Florida Southwestern State College campus.

There are 25 public schools and over 40 private schools in the Naples area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, Naples has an above-average educational infrastructure compared to similarly sized metro areas. Naples is above the national average with a 95% high school graduation rate.

Over the 2015-19 period, the high school graduation rate in Naples was significantly above the U.S. national average of 88%. The proportion of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree was also significantly above the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

Naples has plenty of small medical facilities and one major hospital in the area. The NCH Baker Hospital Downtown offers a variety of options in different areas. According to HealthGrades.com, over 65% of patients would recommend this location.

Naples has 0.54 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, significantly below Florida’s statewide median rate of 3.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 14.67 property crimes per 1,000 residents, significantly below Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

It is to be noted that while Naples seems to have a higher crime rate than some of the cities we list, the overwhelming majority of incidents are property crimes. Violent crimes are only 3.6% of the total number.

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7. St. Pete Beach

St. Pete Beach

HOMEiA Score: 84/100

  • Population: 9,587 | Rank Last Year: #7
  • Cost of Living: 30% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $462,500/$76,516 = 6.04 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $462,500/$76,516 = 6.04 (buying homes is expensive)

St. Pete Beach is located on a barrier island just off the coast of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay. Exiting the island, you’ll have access to Interstate 275, which runs through Tampa. The closest large airport is the Tampa International Airport.

a. Size and Population

St. Pete Beach has a population of 9,587 (2019 estimate) and an area just under 7 square miles. The population density is 4,509 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in St. Pete Beach grew by 2.6% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), which is below the overall U.S. rate of 6.3%.

In St. Pete Beach 36.1% of the population is over 65 years of age, compared to 16.5% nationally and 26.8% statewide. The proportion of children is much lower, at only 7.7% of the population, compared to 22.3% nationally and 16.8% statewide.

The population in St. Pete Beach has a much higher percentage of Caucasian inhabitants (93.6%), which is 23% higher than the US national average (76.3%) and 21% higher than the Florida average. (77.3%).

b. Median Income, Cost of Living and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in St. Pete Beach.

PETE BEACH MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $76,516

St. Pete Beach Cost of Living

  • 30% Above the U.S. National Average
  • 32% Higher than St. Petersburg, Florida
  • 31% Lower than New York City, New York
  • 22% Higher than Chicago, Illinois

St Pete Beach Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$462,500 $28,980 $13,236

St. Pete Beach shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 6.04, based on the median home price of $462,500 and a median household income of $76,516. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is expensive to buy homes in the area.

St. Pete Beach shows an income to rent ratio of 5.78, based on a median household income of $76,516 and an annual spend of $13,236. Therefore, it is very affordable to rent properties.

In St. Pete Beach, 75% of residents own their homes.

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Top Neighborhoods in St. Pete Beach

  • Corey Avenue (Home Value Range: $125,000 to $600,000+)
    Just outside of the main St. Pete Beach area, this neighborhood is the largest on the island.
  • Three Palms Point (Home Value Range: $650,000 to $1.6 million+)
    This community is small and almost completely surrounded by water. With great views from any home, this area is great for anyone.
  • Brightwater Beach (Home Value Range: $250,000 to $2.5 million)
    This area is a very small community on St. Pete Beach, well situated for sunset views.
  • Vina Del Mar Island (Home Value Range: $450,000 to $2.75 million)
    With water views in all directions, this neighborhood is situated on a small island outside of the heart of St. Pete Beach.

 

c. Employment Prospects

As of May 2021, the unemployment rate in St. Pete Beach was 4.6%, which was below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 7.3%, was below the national average of 10.5% and the Florida rate of 12.7% in 2019.

Because St. Pete Beach is so small, there are no major companies or employers. Many commute to St. Petersburg, a short drive from the island.

St. Pete Beach residents have an average commute time of 25.7 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

  • Beaches and sunsets. St. Pete Beach is basically one large island, full of water views and beautiful shores. Bring a picnic to the beach and watch the sun set over the gulf.
  • Gulf Beaches Historical Museum. Check out this museum that features history and facts about different gulf beaches in Florida. This is a great weekend day trip for the whole family.
  • Bar hopping. Visit the 360 Rooftop, Harry’s Beach Bar or Buoys Waterfront Bar and Grill. Check out the amazing views as you sip a delicious cocktail on the roof.
  • Dog beaches. Visit Pass-A-Grille Dog Beach with your favorite furry friends. Let them run and explore the sand and water as they meet other canine pals.

 

e. Education

St. Pete Beach is located near two Pasco-Hernando State College campuses as well as the College of Central Florida Citrus Campus. The University of South Florida is located about 65 miles south in Tampa.

Because this town is so small, there are not many schools located within the bounds of St. Pete Beach. The town is a part of the Citrus County School District and students are split between a few different public schools.

Additionally, there are a few private schools in the area run by churches.

Over the 2015-19 period, the high school graduation rate in St. Pete Beach was significantly above the U.S. national average of 88%. The proportion of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree was also significantly above the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

There are no major hospitals on the island of St. Pete Beach. Residents travel the short distance to St. Petersburg when they need medical care. St. Anthony’s Hospital is highly rated and has a variety of services available. According to HealthGrades.com, over 80% of patients would recommend this location.

St. Pete Beach has 1.56 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, significantly below Florida’s statewide median rate of 3.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 21.38 property crimes per 1,000 residents, on par with Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

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8. Boca Raton

HOMEiA Score: 88/100

  • Population: 99,805 | Rank Last Year: #4
  • Cost of Living: 21% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $458,600/$83,114 = 5.52 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $83,114/$21,120 = 3.94 (renting homes is affordable)

Boca Raton is a coastal town located between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Interstate 95 runs through Boca Raton, making it a convenient home base for travel up and down the coast. There are smaller airports in the Boca Raton area, but many residents choose to drive to the Fort Lauderdale International Airport.

a. Size and Population

Boca Raton has a population of 99,805 (2019 estimate) and an area of just below 32 square miles. The population density is 3,420 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in Boca Raton grew by 18.2% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), which is above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3%.

Boca Raton has a large proportion of seniors, with 26.8% of the population being over 65 years of age. This is high compared to the U.S. as a whole (16.5%), but average for Florida.

Conversely, only 16.8% of the population is less than 18 years old — typical for Florida, but less than in the U.S. overall, where 22.3% are minors.

b. Median Income, Cost of Living and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and the annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in Boca Raton.

BOCA RATON MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $83,114

Boca Raton Cost of Living

  • 21% Above the U.S. National Average
  • 2% Lower than Miami, Florida
  • 35% Lower than New York City, New York
  • 13% Higher than Chicago, Illinois

Boca Raton Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$458,600 $29,628 $21,120

Boca Raton shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 5.52, based on the median home price of $458,600 and a median household income of $83,114. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is expensive to buy homes in the area.

Boca Raton shows an income to rent ratio of 3.94, based on a median household income of $83,114 and an annual spend of $21,120. Therefore, it is affordable to rent properties.

In Boca Raton, 71.2% of residents own their homes.

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Top Neighborhoods in Boca Raton

  • Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club (Home Value Range: $1.5 million to $20 million+)
    An extremely luxurious community with 24/7 surveillance, this area is ideal for those looking to live in one of the top private country clubs in South Florida.
  • Boca Bridges (Home Value Range: $1 million to $2.5 million+)
    This community is very modern and features Spanish- and Mediterranean-style homes. There are plenty of private amenities for those looking for things to do.
  • Lotus Boca Raton (Home Value Range: $1 million+)
    This area is a gated community with modern floor plans and architecture. Many homes also have gourmet kitchens and pristine landscaping.
  • Coventry a Boca Grove (Home Value Range: $300,000 to $600,000+)
    This community is one of the smallest in the area with only about 30 homes. Golf and tennis courses are nearby for those looking for things to do.

 

c. Employment Prospects

As of May 2021, the unemployment rate in Boca Raton was 4.6%, which was below both the U.S. national rate and the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 9.1%, was below the national average of 10.5% and the Florida rate of 12.7% in 2019.

Tyco Integrated Security is the biggest employer in the Boca Raton area. Many residents also work in gated communities and country clubs to ensure a comfortable living experience for all.

Boca Raton residents have an average commute time of 21.5 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

  • Beaches. Visit the coastline for plenty of beaches and great views. Spanish River Park and Gumbo Limbo Nature Center are great for those looking to get some sun and sand.
  • Boca Raton Museum of Art. Take a day trip to this local museum that features artists from across the world.
  • Boomers Boca Raton. This amusement park is great fun for the whole family. With arcade games, go-karts, mini-golf, bumper boats and food, the whole family can spend hours at this hidden gem.
  • Parks. Sugar Sand Park, Spanish River Athletic Park, Pondhawk Natural Area and Sand Pine Park are all great places to visit if you need to get out of the house. With playgrounds for kids and short trails, these locations are great for anyone.

 

e. Education

Boca Raton is home to Florida Atlantic University. This is a four-year public university with a variety of programs and certification options. There are a few smaller schools in the area, such as Lynn University and Everglades University.

There are 31 public schools and over 70 private schools in the Boca Raton area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, Boca Raton has an above-average educational infrastructure, comparable to similarly sized metro areas.

Over the 2015-19 period, the high school graduation rate in Boca Raton was significantly above the U.S. national average of 88%. The proportion of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree was also significantly above the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

The Boca Raton Regional Hospital is the main hospital in this area. With around 400 beds, this location was established in 1967 and specializes in a variety of areas, such as cardiovascular health, oncology, women’s health and orthopedics. According to HealthGrades.com, over 75% of patients would recommend this location.

Boca Raton has 2.07 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, below Florida’s statewide median rate of 3.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 23.27 property crimes per 1,000 residents, above Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

CONCLUSION

As you can see, Florida has plenty to offer in terms of where you can retire. Move to a quiet beach community on the coast or one of the fastest growing retirement communities in the nation. Experience warm weather for most of the year and choose from different leisurely activities to fill your days. Don’t worry about the grandkids not coming to visit – Disney’s not going anywhere!

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103 Articles

HOMEiA is a city living guide site where visitors can find detailed information about communities of interest. HOMEiA’s City Living Guides, created in partnership with local writers, are curated lists of the best, safest, and most affordable places to live. The guides feature the HOMEiA Score, a proprietary index that rates communities on such factors as housing costs, education and employment.

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Lisa Sinatra was born in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and has lived in the state her whole life. After attending the University of Central Florida and earning her Bachelors’s degree, she decided to stay in Orlando and start working. Lisa is currently a high school mathematics teacher in the public school system and loves working with her students daily. When she’s not teaching, Lisa loves spending time at theme parks and various nature trails or springs in the Central Florida area.… Read more >>