May 9, 2016 — The nation’s 77 million baby boomers face a life-changing decision – finding a place to live once they retire. Making a good choice involves many considerations, but the most critical is to select a place that helps them fit in and feel welcome quickly. After all, moving is never easy, and neither is making friends and social contacts from scratch. Fortunately this new list, “10 Friendliest Places to Retire”, can help.
The ten towns on this “Friendliest” list that made the final cut have one major thing in common: they are in fast growing areas that attract a high proportion of newly retired people. The presence of so many new residents presents an ideal environment for retiring boomers, since there are fewer cliques to break into and so many people looking to make new friends. Most of these towns are in the Sunbelt, where boomers are moving to escape cold winters and high taxes. They are all in small to medium size towns, where it is usually easier to become part of a social network. And lastly, all of these friendly places to retire have a variety of active adult and 55+ communities, all brimming with activities which make it so easy to meet new people.
10 Friendly Places to Retire
All ten of these towns are great places to retire, where we are pretty confident you will get a warm welcome. They are all in some of the fastest growing Metros in the U.S. These 10 cities are numbered for convenience sake. Friendliness is subjective and best viewed from the eye of the beholder, so we hesitate to get into ranking them. Your ideas about other friendly places, and your feedback on these choices, would be appreciated in the Comments section below.
1. The Villages, Florida. This was the fastest growing area in the U.S. between 2014-15. And most of that growth came from retirees. The thing about The Villages (TV) is, with that many new residents everybody is in the same situation – they are all looking to make new friends. Best of all, TV has so many activities, clubs, and sports that you can’t help but create a new social circle!
2. Georgetown, Texas The town has an impressive collection of well preserved Victorian and pre-WW1 downtown historic districts. Georgetown, just 27 miles from bustling Austin and close to Round Rock, is a college town (Southwestern University). It claims it has the most beautiful Town Square in Texas. The city is in one of America’s fastest growing regions.
3. Punta Gorda, Florida. We chose this town because it has a small town feel (17,000 people) and isn’t quite as spread out as some of its more populous neighbors, like Fort Myers. It has a reputation for diversity and historic preservation.
4. Bluffton, South Carolina. This area near Hilton Head Island and Savannah is growing like crazy. It is one of the top 20 fastest growing Metros in the country. A lot of that growth is among retirees, so the area is filled with active adult communities. Bluffton itself is quite charming.
5. Palm Coast, Florida. From 2000 to 2010 Palm Coast was the fastest growing Metro in the U.S., up 92%. Many of the welcoming residents of this giant planned community on FL’s northeast coast are retired.
6. St. Georges, Utah. Any area that is booming with newly arrived retirees is bound to be friendly, since there are so many other folks in the same boat. Boomers retire to southern Utah for the weather, the outdoor activities, and the plentiful National Parks.
7. Cary, North Carolina. Retirees are piling in to towns like Cary, Durham, and Raleigh in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. One local tongue in cheek expression says Cary stands for “Containment Area for Relocated Yankees”.
8. Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. We selected Murrells Inlet because it is little smaller, more charming town than most of the bigger Myrtle Beach area.
This college town of 100,000 residents has Texas A & M and its many enthusiastic fans. It is a very fast growing Metro. Texas has no income tax, and that is a friendly thing, pardner.
10. Bradenton, Florida. In our experience the west coast of Florida tends to attract a fairly mellow, friendly group of retirees. Many hail from the Midwest, and they bring their friendly nature along. It is on the coast just above exciting Sarasota and interesting St. Petersburg.
How we chose these 10 friendly places to retire
We used several criteria to develop this list. The major one is that we looked at areas with many new residents. Those tend to be friendly places, since they have many people who are trying to make new friends and establish a social life.
– 20 Fastest Growing Metros in U.S., 2014-2015 (Census Bureau)
– 10 Fastest Growing Metros 2000-2010 (Census Bureau)
– Conde’ Nast Travel List of Friendliest and Unfriendliest U.S. Cities
– Smaller towns in the theory they generally tend to be friendlier
– Towns in the Sunbelt with higher 65+ populations and many active adult communities.
Please share your thoughts about this list in the Comments section below. Do you think they deserve to be on a ‘friendly to retirees’ list. Can you think of other places we should have named? How about where you live – is it retirmement friendly?