This Sunny City Is the Best Place to Retire in America

Florida cities swept the top four spots — but only one could be the winner.

If spending your retirement in a warm and sunny locale sounds good to you—and if you’re planning ahead for those days of leisure—you’ll be interested to know that a city in the Sunshine State was just named the best place to retire in America. In fact, in the recently released U.S. News and World Report’s 2020-2021 list of “Best Places to Retire in the U.S.,” Florida metro areas took 13 of the top 25 rankings.

Sarasota came in first place, followed by Fort Myers, Port St. Lucie, and Naples, sweeping the top four spots. Sarasota and Fort Myers dominated the list last year as well, just swapping first and second places in the latest survey. The wide appeal of Sarasota and Naples ranked them in the top 25 in “Best Places to Live in the U.S.” as well as Best Places to Retire.

Sarasota’s beaches, parks, cultural attractions, shops, and restaurants make it popular with visitors as well as residents. The area attracted circus impresario John Ringling in the early 1900’s, and in 1924 he began building an elegant seaside winter residence, Ca’ d'Zan, which he modeled after the Doges Palace in Venice. Today, the estate is a stunning museum, art collection, and circus exhibit that delights guests.

Marina Jack restaurant and yachts with city skyline in Sarasota, Florida
John Greim/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

This year, both “Best Places” reports might be of particular interest. With the COVID-19 quarantine and, for many, working and schooling from home, we’ve all had more opportunity to think about our surroundings. Spending on home improvement projects, repairs, and renovations has increased significantly, according to several measures.

“After a prolonged period of staying at home, people are taking a critical look at where they live, and many are looking to find a place they can feel happier, afford more or pursue new opportunities,” according to Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S.News. “The Best Places rankings can help people examine the details they consider important in a larger community as they seek a house with a bigger yard or a spot that makes it easier for the whole family to quarantine safely together.”

The methodology used in the study factors in health care quality, retiree taxes, desirability, job market ratings, and a happiness measure, based on a public survey of individuals of retirement age and those nearing retirement age. Florida’s affordable homes, low taxes, and high ratings for happiness and desirability placed the state at the top of the list. Sarasota’s increases in desirability and job market scores enabled the city to edge out Fort Myers for the first place spot for 2020-2021.After the four Florida cities, the rest of the top ten “Best Places to Retire” are Lancaster PA, Ocala FL, Ann Arbor MI, Asheville NC, Miami FL, and Melbourne FL. Check out the entire report here.

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