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The Best Place to Retire on a Lake

Category: Active adult communities

Note: Since this article was written we have added “Part 2: On the Lake, Where Living (in Retirement) Is Easy“, with 10 more great lake towns for retirement.

February 25, 2011 — Who wouldn’t want to retire beside a lake? Just thinking about the sound of lapping waves or a distant motor boat, or of a cool breeze carrying the scent of the water, is enough to make our mind jump to pleasant scenes from “On Golden Pond”. Combine that peaceful idyll with the idea of a low-maintenance community with non-stop activities, and we’re ready to go!

Not every lake has active communities near or on it. But there are many that do. This article will give a brief sample of lake towns that have active communities on or near them. We’ll also give details on how to find more. There are 65 towns in the Topretirements database that are identified as… “lake” towns. There are about 90 active adult communities associated with those lake towns, plus a whole lot more that are located on a private or man-made lake not included in the above.

You can find more lakeside towns and communities by using the Advanced Search feature and selecting “Lake” as environment. From there it boils down to what part of the country you want to live in. Fortunately, lakes are readily available in every state of the union, including our desert states.

Here are 12 of our favorite lake towns that also have active adult or 55+ communities. To find the active communities associated with these towns, either use the link at top right of the city review (e.g.; “Mount Dora Active Communities”), or go to the State Active Adult Directory at top right under “Find a Community”. Our apologies to the many fine lakeside towns with active communities that we didn’t have room to mention (use the Advanced Search function to find them).
Discovery Bay, CA. A unique waterfront based community.
Mount Dora, FL. An old Florida town popular with U.S. Presidents.
Leesburg, FL. The town is almost completely surrounded by 2 different lakes.
Greensboro-Oconee. GA. Lake Oconee is the 2nd largest in Georgia, and is home to several active communities.
Gainesville, GA. Home to Lake Lanier and most of the boating events in the 1996 Olympics.
Lake Keowee, SC. This is a region and a lake, more than a town.
Coeur D’Alene, ID. A beautiful town right on a gorgeous lake.
Traverse City, MI. Located right on the lake, the “Cherry Capital of the World” is also a great arts town.
Lake of the Ozarks, MO. A huge lake and wonderful resort area with at least one active community.
Klamath Falls, OR. The town is right near Upper Klamath Lake, and about 30 miles from the huge Crater Lake.
Vonore, TN. This is a little town near giant Lake Tellico.
Mt. Juliet, TN. While Mt. Juliet isn’t exactly on a lake, it is near 2 big ones where there are active communities.

What do you think? Please share your ideas about the best places to retire on a lake, particularly where there are active communities to provide more fun and take care of the maintenance.

For further reading
Part 2: Great Retirement Lake Towns

Posted by John Brady on February 25th, 2011


  1. Lake Norman just outside of Charlotte, NC. Reasonable home prices, nice weather, close to a friendly, walkable city, and all the amenities a lake has to offer.

    Jan Cullinane, Co-author, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)

    by Jan Cullinane — February 26, 2011

  2. Murray, Kentucky-college town and Kentucky Lake

    by Carol Dunn McKay — February 26, 2011

  3. Thought you might be interested in the input from someone who likes to be on the water. Upper Klamath Lake is a gorgeous looking lake, but it smells and suffers from invasions of midges.
    Midge from this lake is a small bright green insect about 1/16 of an inch. When people drive past the lake on US Highway 97, windshields are just covered with bodies and hard to keep clean even with the windshield washer going. You’d have to see it, to believe it. Joggers have to wear face masks while jogging during the midge season, and you have to shovel them off your driveway. I’m glad I’m out of there.

    by Dennis — February 26, 2011

  4. For those looking for a nice lake oriented community, I would suggest Winter Haven, Florida midway between Orlando and Tampa. The city boast 50 lakes within its limits filled with fish, lots of wildlife and boating opportunities. The city has lots of housing appropriate for the retiree. Many of these properties including condos have sweeping views of the lakes. The price is right with many well under $95,000!! There is lots to do in this city of 35,000.

    by David M. Lane — February 26, 2011

  5. You make retiring on a lake sound so wonderful, but the truth is people have loud motor boats and ski boats buzzing by constantly. It spoils the whole thing! We saw this ourselves when we saw some beautiful lake property. So forgot the lake stuff.

    by Sharon — February 27, 2011

  6. Sadly, noise pollution (and you didn’t even mention jet skis!) can ruin the lake experience. Check it out yourself in season. Fortunately, some spots are protected, or it might not bother you. And then of course there are plenty of lakes where motors aren’t permitted. Thanks for the comments.

    by John Brady — February 27, 2011

  7. Lake Frederick in the Shenandoah Valley (near Winchester VA and just 1 1/2 hours from downtown Washington DC) is 120 acres of pure-blue quiet. At the Shenandoah Active Adult Community, where homes surround the lake, only electric motors are allowed. No jet skis, no windshield bugs, no harsh winter winds bearing down on the lake — just sun and lake and sky and mountains. Paradise.

    by Jan Sedaka — March 7, 2011

  8. Smith Mountain Lake is the largest reservoir in the Roanoke Region of Virginia. The lake was created in 1963 by the Smith Mountain Dam impounding the Roanoke River. Smith Mountain Lake has become a popular recreational area. Boating, water skiing, wakeboarding, riding personal watercraft, and sailing are common activities as is fishing, especially for striped bass.It a great place to retire and enjot life. The town of Bedford offers that real touch of Americanna which we are all seeking. The town of Bedford has one of the largest D-Day monuments dedicated to those killed at Omaha Beach. Its is a fantastic place to visit and vets don’t forget to donate to the D-Day monument. They need our help!

    by Gary — September 5, 2012

  9. Smith Mountain Lake is known as “high cotton” in the south. I could not afford to live there.

    by Jerry — September 6, 2012

  10. I would enjoy a place that I could get back to kayaking…but do not need a BIG lake…just a little pond (or river that has recreation facilities). Any suggestion for the SE. I saw Lake Norman mentioned above…other ideas?

    by Elaine — July 12, 2014

  11. My Aunt lives on Sweetwater lake about one hour south of Indianapolis. It is a spring fed lake and one of the four cleanest in the state of Indiana. I was there for a week and boats were pulling kids in inflatable chariots. NO jet skis–this is a private lake governed by a conservancy and white some were grandfathered in when the rule took effect–I only saw one the whole week and that was on a day when most people had gone home to their weekday homes and jobs and the lake was not crowded. Most people have boats or pontoons and it is pretty serene. Not all lakes are noisy–one must choose carefully. The most remarkable thing is waking up and seeing the lake in its full glory from the living room….a lovely panorama and good for the soul. The one thing is that lake living is not all recreation. Lake front property still may have lawns and gardens to maintain as well as decks and walkways. That being said….the quiet peacefulness at night is undescribible…

    by Jennifer — July 13, 2014

  12. Try northern Michigan if you want three beautiful seasons (especially if you can afford to spend the fourth in a warmer clime!). Beautiful, clean, colorful lakes around Traverse City, north through Charlevoix, Petoskey and even farther north. Some are breathtaking.

    by Ed LaFrniere — July 14, 2014

  13. […] 22, 2012. Note: This is Part 2 of a series. Part 1 on retiring at the lake was published in 2011. This installment lists more great lake towns for retirement. We hope you […]

    by » At The Lake – Where the (Retirement) Living is Easy Topretirements — July 22, 2014

  14. […] Great College Towns for Retirement Part 1: Should You Be Applying to a College Town for Retirement Great Retirement Towns on a Lake (2 Part […]

    by » These College Towns Make for a Great Retirement Topretirements — July 22, 2014

  15. […] Bottom Line Pretty to one person might be plain to another. That’s why we would like to get your opinions of the towns you think not only are exceptionally beautiful, but are also great places to retire. Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below – and we look forward to reading them. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle ||[]).push({}); For further reading Prettiest Town in Florida Classic Old Florida Towns College Towns Make for a Great Retirement 5 Big Reasons Why Small Towns Are Great Places to Retire 10 Great Places in the Mountains for Retirement The Best Places to Retire on a Lake […]

    by » Where Are the Prettiest Places to Retire? - Topretirements — October 28, 2014

  16. Discovery Bay is a nice community. Many many homes with boat docks in the backyard. What I don’t like is the Delta. Dirty, dirty, dirty. Way too many people on boats & jet skiis. Way too many. Most drinking so not exactly safe. I would never take my boat out there when I had it. Not sure why its #1 but if you like narrow inlets of water & lots of people, this place is for you.

    by Susan — October 28, 2014

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    by » The Best Islands for Retirement - Topretirements — November 4, 2014

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