Florida boasts eight of the 10 best places to retire in the U.S., but is it affordable for retirees on fixed incomes? We crunch the numbers.
With low tax rates, desirable weather, and generally happy residents, Florida is the top retirement destination in the U.S. Despite the 2021 run-up in home prices, Sunshine State also has relatively affordable real estate with a wide range of price points.
Florida metro areas accounted for eight of the top 10 spots in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021-2022 Best Places to Retire rankings. But in terms of home prices, not all Florida metros are created equal. The median home sale prices of metros in the top 10 range from $220,000 to $480,000 -- a spread that could impact where retirees decide to move.
The Best Places to Retire list ranks the 150 most populous U.S. metros based on six indexes, each with different weights based on a survey of people at or near retirement age. Cities are ranked on a scale of 1-10 for each index and an overall score using the same scale.
The housing affordability index carried the second-most weight, suggesting that it is one of the most important features in a retirement destination. This index is a combination of mortgage and rent costs based on the metro area’s ratio of renters to homeowners.
|Housing affordability index
|Health care quality index
|Retiree taxes index
|Job market index
Despite the emphasis on housing affordability, the two best places to retire -- Sarasota and Naples, Florida -- were among the most expensive metros in the top 10.
Sarasota defended its “Best Place to Retire” title even though its median home sale price of $400,000 is higher than the national median of $377,000, according to national real estate brokerage Redfin. This metro makes up for relatively high home prices with outstanding desirability, retiree tax, and job market scores.
Naples is the most expensive market in the top 10 and second most expensive in the top 25. But an increase in its retiree tax score pushed this metro up two spots from last year’s list.
At #3, Daytona Beach showcases Florida’s more affordable side. It’s less than 300 miles away from Naples, yet it boasts a housing affordability index score of 7 and a median home sale price of just $220,000. It jumped 12 spots from last year due to housing affordability and the addition of air quality and crime as factors to the happiness index.
Overall, Florida metros are on the affordable end of the spectrum. The Sunshine State had 11 metros in the top 25 best places to retire with an average housing affordability score of 6.6 out of 10.
San Jose, Calif. had the lowest score (0.8) due to a median home sale price of $1.3 million. Meanwhile, Youngstown, Ohio boasted the highest score (8.1) and a median home sale price of $92,992.
Housing affordability is especially important to retirees operating on a fixed income. In addition to sunshine and tax-breaks, Florida offers a full lineup of metro areas with affordable housing, cementing itself as the premier retirement destination in the U.S.