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Top 10 Towns for Restless Retirees

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

By Brendan Cruickshank
Editor’s Note: Thanks to Brendan for this very helpful article. We asked him what he meant by using the word “restless”. Here is what he said: “The reason I chose ‘restless’ is because I find it ironic how many people retire only to realize it wasn’t really retirement they had been seeking their entire life. Rather it was the chance to do what they love……and many find that by continuing to work!”

Retirement is like the weather…it keeps changing all the time. Many years ago, the word evoked an image of an elderly person lying in a hammock all day sipping lemonade. But today’s retiree is by and large a completely different animal. To an increasing extent, folks today are retiring from their primary jobs only to turn right around and seek some form of full or part-time employment elsewhere. In some cases, it is out of necessity. But many others are finding that they are still active and vibrant in their “retirement” years and they get restless – they discover that by mixing in some work along with their play provides the ideal balance to their daily routines.

So where are some places where retirees can find this balance? Here is a list of towns that provide many of the quality of life amenities a typical retiree is looking for, while also offering a robust choice of full or part-time employment opportunities:

  1. State College, PA: Home to Penn State University, this lively college town attracts plenty of retirees. In fact, those 55 and older comprise the fastest growing segment of the town’s population! Penn State boasts a retirement community on campus where retirees can enroll in university classes free of charge; contribute to campus life as an instructor, mentor, or project assistant; and receive priority access to Penn State football and basketball tickets. And for those who prefer not to work at the university, there are plenty of employment choices in the town

  2. Oklahoma City, OK: Recently ranked by as one of the nation’s top cities for military retirees, Oklahoma City is uniquely positioned as a top choice for non-military retirees as well. With an unemployment rate well below the national average and a low cost of living, the city has been designated by Forbes magazine as America’s Most Affordable City. Not only that, but the city has a mild climate with year-round sunshine, very little traffic congestion, an abundance of arts, and a wide variety of recreational options.

  3. Manhattan, KS: Relatively speaking, Manhattan is one of the country’s hotbeds of employment, thanks largely to the presence of Kansas State University and Fort Riley (one of the nation’s largest military installations). Its unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the U.S. Yet the
    city is awash in beauty, as evidenced by Tuttle Creek Lake’s 15,000 acres and the Konza Prairie wildlife preserve. Manhattan also offers golf galore in addition to numerous arts, entertainment, and shopping options.

  4. Bismarck, ND: With an unemployment rate of only 2.7%, Bismarck recently ranked #1 in
    the nation on an October 2010 list of metropolitan areas with the lowest jobless rates. The city also ranked #4 in a recent Forbes magazine list of best places for business, based on a combination of reasonable business costs, a strong economic outlook, and a solid quality of life. Retirees who don’t like the chaos of big cities yet want easy access to great fishing, hunting, golfing, or dining will find Bismarck the ideal retirement spot.

  5. Las Cruces, NM: Selected a few years ago by AARP The Magazine as one of America’s “Dream Towns” for seniors, Las Cruces boasts an active elderly component in its workforce. A combination of low property taxes, affordable prices, four golf courses, nearby mountains for hiking and camping, and a host of arts, entertainment, and sports options not too far away, make the city very attractive to live in. Las Cruces has also received numerous high rankings within the past decade from the Milken Institute and others for having a stellar small metro business climate.

  6. Bellevue, WA: Boasting more jobs than residents, Bellevue easily ranks near the top of any list of cities favorable to job-seekers. But of special interest to retirees is the fact that a large
    number of these positions are in industries that tend to welcome older workers: for example, in the health care, higher education, service-industry, and government sectors. And good jobs are not the only thing that makes Bellevue attractive to retirees. The city offers a boundless supply of arts and recreational options, including a philharmonic orchestra, fine arts museum, an
    annual jazz festival, and literally dozens of parks. Adding to the city’s appeal is its location in an income-tax free state which also happens to be abundant in natural beauty.

  7. Wilmington, NC: A very large retirement community is only one of the factors that characterize this 250-year-old historic port city that has shown tremendous growth over the past 15 years and has become a popular destination for retirees. Other factors include a mild year-round climate, a relatively low cost of living, proximity to beaches, excellent cuisine, and quality health care. The city also boasts several developments ideal for retirement relocation, including
    marina-based communities and golf course developments. Wilmington also ranks #32 in the nation on Forbes Magazine’s “Best Places for Business and Careers” 2010 and #14 in the nation on Fortune Small Business Magazine’s “Best Places for a Start-Up”.

  8. Ithaca, NY: Home to the Ivy League’s Cornell University, Ithaca makes an ideal retirementcommunity for active adults age 55 and older who would like to take advantage of the activities and business opportunities that come with a bustling college town. The city is replete with museums, art galleries, book stores, antique shops, and award-winning restaurants. There are also six golf courses and several vineyards with year-round tasting events. About 43% of Cornell’s employees are age 50 or older. And retirees are allowed to sit in on most of the University’s courses for around 90% off the regular tuition price.

  9. Sarasota, FL: One of the most popular retirement destinations in the most popular retiree
    state, Sarasota has a 65-and-older population of nearly 27%, more than double the national average of 12.9 percent. Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the city boasts 35 miles of beaches and offers residents all types of recreation from boating to golfing to gourmet dining. In a state that was hit fairly hard by the recession, Sarasota County is beginning to climb its way back to pre-
    recession job levels ahead of the rest of Florida. Right now, there is an excellent choice of homes for sale, and the community is focused on economic development through an aggressive program of business incentives.

  10. Huntsville, AL: This retiree-friendly city boasts one of the lowest tax rates in the state and
    a very strong housing market. Huntsville also offers easy access to Alabama’s famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. And the job climate for retirees is equally favorable. The city support sseveral industries that tend to hold up well during tough economic times. For example, there are openings for government jobs at the Redstone Arsenal and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, healthcare opportunities within the Huntsville Hospital System, and employment
    positions at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

Brendan Cruickshank (Vice President of Client Services) – Brendan is a veteran of the online job search and recruiting industry, having spent the past 8 years in senior client services roles with major sites like and He is quoted regularly as an expert in employment and jobs trends in major media outlets like the Washington Post, US News & World Report, and Forbes and has spoken at recruiting industry events such as Onrec and Kennedy Information’s Corporate Recruiting Conference.

A Note about Brendan’s methodology:
My general approach here was to research cities considered best for retirement and then also to research most business-friendly cities. Then seeing cities that appeared high on both types of lists, I looked into them further to see if I still saw merit in the reason they were chosen.

What do you think? Did we miss some obvious choices? What are you thinking about when it comes to being restless or looking for a job? Please share your thoughts using the Comments section below.

Posted by John Brady on February 15th, 2011


  1. While fulltime and parttime work may be an alternative for some who can’t or don’t want to figure something else for their retirement it may not be in the best interest of our country as a whole. For every person of retirement age who keeps working that means one less job for our youth and younger people. When a person is old enough to get out they should be out of the world of work. Lets not be greedy think of others and what is best for the country as a whole.

    by David M. Lane — February 16, 2011

  2. An interesting thought, David. Not sure I totally agree – I don’t think it’s quite that simple. Certainly if you stay on working in your present job and are blocking a talented younger person from it, i probably agree. However if you are moving to a new area and competing for a job – let the best person win! The overall economy will do better with a more efficient worker. But particularly if you are taking a job for which no one else is qualified, or if you are doing something entrepreneurial, you are definitely aiding the overall economy by creating wealth and spending.

    by Jim — February 16, 2011

  3. Let me see if I understand what you’re saying David. When a person gets to be retirement age he/she should get out of the way so a younger person can take their job. Who decides what is retirement age? Do you assume that the younger person can do as good or better job than the older person? When I look at the work ethic of the younger workers, that’s certainly not the case. Let’s not discriminate against an older worker just so a young worker can take their job. That is definitely not best for our economy.

    by Nick Smith — February 16, 2011

  4. Fellows; please go easy on David he doesn’t mean any harm, and I believe he is also a retiree; and so discrimination against the elderly is definately not his intent. I believe Davis is suggesting that if a person has reached the normal retirement age (65) and he is in a position to retire (financially and otherwise)he or she should do so. ‘Not suggesting that you have to or must. His point is especially valid in the current economy where many college grads and other young workers are having a difficult time finding work, never mind high paying jobs; just WORK.

    by Eversly — February 16, 2011

  5. Eversly, Thank you, that’s the spirit. Here at Topretirements we strive to get comments that are useful,objective and civil. Everybody in this thread seems to be respecting that, which is what we are hoping for. We’ll leave the shouting to the TV and radio talks shows. P.S. We got a little off the track. How many people are planning on working during retirement, part-time or full-time. I know i am!

    by Admin — February 16, 2011

  6. I will be retiring at the end of March after 32 years with my company. My immediate plan is to give back to my community by volunteering. I have the option to periodically fill in at the company from which I am retiring; which I will do. However, I do not see myself going back to a steady full time or part time assignment. I need the freedom to decide when, where, how, or what I want to do.

    by Eversly — February 16, 2011

  7. Excellent! Thanks for the great list. I was thinking where to go and spend time after my retirement. Now i got an idea.

    by fractional ownership property — February 17, 2011

  8. A small note of info here…not meant to take sides… There are 76 million baby boomers, the largest group of workers ever. When we retire there will be a SHORTAGE of workers, many who are well qualified at what they do. I think there will be opportunitites for those who wish to work. And remember that as long as we work, we contribute to social security!

    by LuluM — February 17, 2011

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