The Best Retirement Places for Singles

Category: Singles and Retirement

yoga-regIf you are a single person looking for a best place to retire you will probably employ a few different criteria than those a couple might use.  Many of our Topretirements visitors have asked for more information about best places for singles to retire – this article is our attempt to help.

The most common, and certainly understandable, fear that single people have about retirement is that they will wind up in a community where most of the people are paired off. A place where singles are at best ignored, at worst discriminated against.  Fortunately with some careful planning and research you can find a retirement town or active adult community where single people are included and feel completely integrated in that lifestyle.



On the other hand there is a common opinion that single people have the easiest time finding their best retirement community. That’s because, unlike a couple, they don’t have to compromise. As a single person you get to pick the retirement lifestyle, kinds of activities, and the types of people you want to pursue.

In researching this article we found some experts on the best singles retirement towns or communities.  One of our favorite experts is Jan Cullinane, a frequent editorial contributor to this site and author of “The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement“. In her book she solicited input from many single women about many different areas: divorce, death of a spouse, working from home, where to live, dating, caregiving, volunteering, reinvention, travel, and staying healthy.

Our view is that there are many best places for singles – but rather than focus on specific towns or 55+ communities, it might be better to make your selection following certain principles.  Hence the recommendations below:

1. In general, bigger is better for singles. Choosing too small of a community reduces the potential pool for both friends and dates.  Smaller communities tend to have a more fixed social order, so they tend be harder to crack into  than larger ones. That means that 55+ communities like The Villages, Fair Hope, Laguna Woods, and Sun City could be good choices.

2.  Consider carefully the choice between  a town and an active adult community. The environment for singles can be quite different in a town vs. a 55+ active adults community. A city or town will probably have more possibilities in terms of things to do and the people you meet than a development.   Even if you are the kind of person who is very interested in the active adult lifestyle, you still might want to consider choosing your town before your 55+ community. By moving in stages you can put down some roots, make friends, and research local 55+ options. Then after you have evaluated the town and you know that you like it there, you can choose your active adult community based on a more informed investigation than you would make by charging in with no local knowledge.

3.  Most of your success as a single person depends on you. We just read an interesting book that pokes many holes in single stereotypes.  “Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After” by Bella DePaulo, Ph.D will make anyone feel more positive about the benefits of being single. DePaulo debunks a popular myth that single people are lonely in their old age.  In fact, she finds that women who have never married tend to be the happiest people in retirement.  The reason for this appears to be their successful strategies for making and keeping friends.  Women (and men) who seek out activities and volunteer opportunities not only feel fulfilled, they make deep friendships along the way. Those who tend to be the loneliest are those who relied on work or spouses for social engagement, and don’t have deep friendships of their own. Men in particular are not good about forming strong friendships, and that hurts them as single people.

Whatever your previous success at making friends, that doesn’t necessarily have to be your future – if you work at it. One of our friends thought his father would be a lonely old man once his wife died.  His dad had spent years taking care of our friend’s mother, and his dad didn’t seem to have any friends. Much to everyone’s pleasant surprise,  in single life the dad is transformed. Now he  volunteers at the hospital every day, travels, and has made tons of new friends.

4.  Look for retirement towns and 55+ communities where there is a lot to do. This idea applies to both towns and active adult communities. The more activities and institutions there are, the greater your opportunities for making friends.   Before you buy in an active adult community make sure there are activities that can stretch you in new directions, because taking up some new sports or crafts is a good way to make new friends.

5. Look for a 55+  community that has an activity director. We heartily endorse the recommendation to choose a community with an activity director. His or her job is to engage the residents with one another – that will make your entry into the  community that much easier.

6.  College towns and cities can be ideal for singles. Both types of towns have plenty to do, which means that you can be out meeting people through many different activities – from taking adult education classes to volunteering to attending concerts. Small cities like Sarasota or Austin or Boulder have nice downtowns and there is always something to do.

7. Stay away from the suburbs. You might live in the suburbs now. If you have a big web of friends, maybe you should stay. But cracking the suburban social scene as a new, single resident is one of the harder things to pull off.

8.  Carefully evaluate the singles scene in any active adult community – before you buy. A really good idea is to rent before you buy. Attend the various club meetings and take part in some sports or other activities. Are there other singles, or do the couples actively invite single people to participate? Award extra points if there is an active singles club. Many communities have special package deals that let you vacation their at below market rates (and even if not announced, it is worth trying to negotiate your own package). Even before you go to a place, check out Discussion Forums on this and other sites about specific communities for hints about the single life in those communities.

9. Think about moving with your friends. If you already have a solid group of close friends, think about retiring together. That could be as simple as moving to the same community or town, or it could even be shared housing.  Some architects report that designing homes meant to be shared is a growing business.  In addition to instant friends, being able to share resources as you get older is a real attraction.

What do you think? Do you already live in a community that you know is great for singles? Or one you know is not?  Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, or in our Forum.

For Further Reference:
Excellent discussion about being single in retirement at City-Data

Posted by John Brady on July 21st, 2009

41 Comments »

  1. Considering the economic vitality of an area is another suggestion – in case you may/will have to return to work or just for the vibrancy of the community or for re-sale. So, be sure to include job growth/availability in your list of priorities. A community that is growing is often a good bet for singles.

    by Jan Cullinane, co-author The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your LIfe (Rodale 2007) — July 21, 2009

  2. Meant to add an additional thought – some singles love the RV lifestyle – I interviewed a few of them for our book, and was told that people are very friendly and helpful. And, if you don’t happen to like your neighbor, you can pick up and leave! There is even a site for single RVers, http://www.rvsingles.com.

    by Jan Cullinane, co-author The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your LIfe (Rodale 2007) — July 21, 2009

  3. The Villages in Central Florida is a specific suggestion – several singles I interviewed moved to the Villages because it is single-friendly. Lots of activities targeted toward singles. Also, Del Webb’s Sweetwater in Jacksonville – vibrant single’s groups.

    by jancullinane — July 29, 2009

  4. […] Further Reference “Lunch (Again!) with Mr. Topretirements“! Best Retirement Places for Singles The Opportunity for Volunteerism in Retirement Where is the Best Place to […]

    by » Quiz: How Ready for Retirement Are You? Topretirements — April 16, 2011

  5. […] with people and participate in activities – you will get a good idea firsthand. See “Best Retirement Places for Singles” in our Blog. Our frequent contributor, the author Jan Cullinane, has written several helpful […]

    by » The 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions at Topretirements Topretirements — March 13, 2013

  6. I’m getting divorced after 28 years of marriage at the age of 58. I can’t bear the thought if sitting alone in a suburban house with no one to share life with. A senior community might be right for me, but somehow I think I should just look for clubs or other communities for now. If anyone knows about a community of active and welcoming 55+ singles, I would be interested.

    by Jon — February 4, 2014

  7. Jon: I’m sure you’ll find the next stage of life to be exciting. I was widowed last year and have no interest in dating yet, but I certainly am concerned about having a network of friends in the future too. I really liked this article, and thought it was very encouraging. I work with a man who was widowed at 60, who now has an extremely active social life. He has met wonderful women using online dating services, although he acknowledges it can also be a lot of work. Some have become friends (he had initially posted that he was just looking for someone for coffee, movies or dinners), and he’s had a few significant romances on his path to finding someone to share his retirement years with. His kids were not supportive when he started his journey, but have come around since he’s happy and busy. He also reached out to former friends from high school and college using networking sites, and has reopened some old friendships. He joined a class, stays in touch with other family members and helps neighbors out whenever possible.

    The 55+ communities are just one of many options for finding many people to share your new life. Based on my co-worker’s experience, I’m optimistic that retiring as a single doesn’t have to be lonely.

    by Sharon — February 5, 2014

  8. I have been looking at active 55 communities for over a year now and developments in general and am so let down. I feel that developers have not kept up with the times. They must think everyone plays some kind of court games, plays golfs or does crafts, all of which I have never done. I think they should build developments that include things you do in everyday life now, not a resort lifestyle and not a place to go play bingo. I’m thinking bike trails, dog parks, a beach, an outside café, a fire pit, small beachfront property. What a concept. Build it and they will come.

    by Julie — January 22, 2015

  9. @Julie: for beach and beachfront property, think LOTS of money.

    I personally have no interest in dog parks. I’d rather learn to play pickleball, which all my friends tell me is fun. I don’t know where you’re looking, but all the places I looked at had outside cafes and some had fire pits. If you wouldn’t enjoy a resort lifestyle, an active 55 community may not be for you.

    by Linda — January 23, 2015

  10. Julie, Curious where have you been looking? The beachfront (if you mean ocean would be hard to find…at least in my price range. I have seen communities with most of the other things you mention…except expensive beach front property and enough property to have the biking trials on the beach.

    If waterfront is okay, look at some of these
    http://carolinaoceanliving.com/active_adult_communities.htm

    If the beach can be a lake, look at some of the other top retirements blogs on retiring at lakes
    would something like cresswind on lake Lanier…not a bathing beach, but you have your outdoor fireplace and perhaps can rent a kayak to find a bathing beach. Here are some of the amenities
    Outdoor Kitchen & Fireplace
    Outdoor Terrace
    Outdoor Lagoon-Style Pool
    Pickleball Court
    Sport Court
    Walking & Biking Trails
    Outdoor Amphitheater
    Overlook Pavilion with Cabana Bar
    70 Slip Marina & Private Dock on Lake Lanier
    Marina Gazebo & Grill

    by Elaine — January 23, 2015

  11. […] The Best Places for Retirement for Single Women Women and Retirement (Topretirements Forum topic) Retirement Your Way – When Cohousing Might be the Answer […]

    by » Are You Single? Tell Us Where You Plan to Retire – and Why - Topretirements — March 15, 2015

  12. I’m very much outside the box so not sure where I fit in. I’ve been single for many years. I was burnt out struggling to support my family and as soon as they qualified they moved away and I became sick for many years with chronic fatigue. I genuinely thought I was waiting to die and 3 years ago my daughter suggested I move here to the U.S. to be near her. In the last year my health has improved to the extent that I have now given myself another ten years. So, the point I am making is….here I am in an over 55s condo, 20 miles from my daughter. She has gone back to college for 3 years taking an MA and she has an 11 year old child. She is so busy and my grandson plays many sports so is being run around all weekend. It is so difficult to make real friends at my age. I have joined many activities but everyone seems to have a routine. It doesn’t help that the people where I live are mostly couples or they work. This winter has been
    brutal and I watched so much TV. I’m not sure what to do next. I’m financially secure while I
    have my family’s backing to help me understand the systems. I must have made a lot of mistakes along the way.

    by Janice — March 29, 2015

  13. The Villages is a fabulous community with tons of activities – but the down side of that is that it is expensive to live there. With bonds and other fees adding up, it can get out of hand. I have read on other blogs about folks enjoying living there however, it is quite expensive. Anyone with any information about expenses at The Villages?

    by Jaye — March 30, 2015

  14. Been to the Villages twice to evaluate the possibility of living there. Over 70,000 people (?) with all kinds of activities. Just about anything in the area you could want including medical facilities.

    More gulf carts than cars (main mode of transportation within) BUT as Seniors WE cannot afford it and in hindsight do not really know if we would want to live in a community THAT LARGE. VERY VERY EXPENSIVE.

    Other than that – nice homes, and quite upbeat.

    by Robert — March 31, 2015

  15. To Jaye– My experience, confirmed by local realtors, is that utilities, taxes, etc. amount to $1000 a month in addition to your mortgage. Most people shop in or very near The Villages and pay more for food, clothing, etc. than they would in other parts of Florida. So it is in many ways more expensive to live in The Villages than in comparable places.

    by JR — March 31, 2015

  16. It is true, it will cost more to live in The Villages than many other places. What is not true is that other places are comparable, either in Florida or the world. Other places have a club house with a pool table and ping pong.. The Villages is opening a complete new Broadway theater along with Broadway entertainers. There are over 2,400 clubs, offering everything from Irish step dancing to dragon boat racing, scores of pools and golf courses and recreation centers that could pass for those in Ivy League campuses.
    There is nothing comparable, the question then becomes can you afford to spend the rest of my life in what those who live there refer to as Disneyland for adults.

    by Freddy — April 1, 2015

  17. Janice,
    I hope that spring brings more activity and joy into your life. I think that being in an over 55 condo should have helped, but I suggest that you continue to join in any activities that you enjoy. It is probably harder to intergrate into the community if it is established already…but being out and about is better than watching TV.

    What did you move from? What area of the country are you living in?

    by elaine — April 1, 2015

  18. This comment came in from Bart:

    The Villages in Florida is a great place for most folks. You can find numerous homes in the $125-200K range. The monthly amenity fee of $147 covers free golf on 33 executive courses; 365 night a year of free, live entertainment at three different town squares; 2400 different clubs and activities; 32 recreation centers; 11 softball fields; and 75 swimming pools. There is literally “something for everyone” to enjoy. It is a particularly good place for singles with so many activities.

    by Admin — April 1, 2015

  19. This just in:

    The Village was the fastest growing census-designated statistical are in the country in 2014 – 5.4 percent, compared with 0.7 percent for the nation as a whole. Many of the other fastest growing areas were also in Florida, including Florida http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/27/upshot/the-giant-retirement-community-that-explains-where-americans-are-moving.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

    by Admin — April 1, 2015

  20. With 70,000 people living in the Villiages why is it so hard to find a short term rental ? I want to buy within a year but would like to spend enough time first to see if it is a place I feel is a good fit. I have been on every website including craigslist, open to house sitting while a home is on the market ( I am licensed in Mi although not active. I do know how to stage a home to sell quickly, plus, a home that is not vacant sells faster and at a higher sales price.
    Any ideas on how to find a affordable place for mid- end on Jan- March???
    Thank you!
    Joy
    Joysell@aol.com

    by Joy — December 5, 2016

  21. Looking to move from the Atlanta suburbs…just too busy. I am a widowed, 71 year old. Would like to move either closer to the mountains or closer to the ocean. Looking at: Fairhope, Ala, possibly the Wilmington, NC area…..possibly the Beaufort area and also St. Mary’s , GA. Have looked some in the GA mountains…but most of the communities seem more suitable for couples…and I am not seeing those single story, low maintenance homes that I would prefer.

    I must admit I am a bit apprehensive about moving to a place where I know no one. I am looking for tranquility…but also opportunity for things to do…and the opportunity to make new friends is very important. Does not need to be an over 55 community….but does need to be a tranquil, low crime,area with social opportunities for seniors.

    Any suggestions?

    by Roberta — April 6, 2017

  22. Hey Roberta,

    Here in the Triangle NC (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) there is a lot to offer boomer gen’s and other age groups places to connect socially as singles. Here is one great option, http://www.silverconnections.org/ Silver Connections is only for singles and it is not a dating service, it is designed to help widows and/or singles above age 55 have a group to hang out with and do things together. Everything they do is optional, but they do activities regularly like eat out monthly, take tours and trips together, purposely providing a lot of activities to provide social gatherings to build friendships, foster relationships to support one another. Check it out. In addition, the Triangle region of NC has a very diverse demographics, culture, available activities, whether sports, arts, life long learning education opportunities, outdoor activities, festivals, great restaurants, the list goes on and on. I specialize in helping people downsizing to right size and/or helping people who are interested in moving to the Triangle to retire. If you have questions about this area, let me know I will do my best to answer.

    There may be other groups in other cities or areas around the country like Silver Connections, but I don’t think there are many, especially as successful as this one here in the Triangle. Of course I may be bias 🙂

    Hope this helps.
    Hunt

    by huntley — April 7, 2017

  23. I’m an active single person with many interests …..favorite places must be a town/small city with diverse fitness activities (rec centers, pools, running and walking trains, must be pet-friendly, has to have a great library system, changeable seasons, close proximity to my favorite food sources (i.e. Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Wegman’s and Fresh Market + Gelson’s and Bristol Farms) …. I haven’t found my ‘perfect’ place as yet, but high on my list of places I love to spend time in (i.e. short time rentals) are Virginia Beach VA, Palm Springs CA, Charlottesville, VA and Tarpon Springs FL. I love the climate(s) in each of these places in specific times of the year and I find that each place has special features that are very energizing as well as close proximity to colleges and universities which provide continuous lecture series and life-long learning opportunities………I also love New York State (especially the Hudson Valley/Dutchess County along the Hudson River) as well as the Poconos in Pennsylvania around Lake Wallenpaupak/Hawley/Milford PA areas………….. Also recommend you read Melody Warnick’s book titled ‘This Is Where You Belong’ …. this book has been selected to be one of the BEST BOOKS FOR A BETTER LIFE AWARDS in 2016 and I have found it to be a valuable resource……be well —- from Fay

    by Fay Kennedy — April 7, 2017

  24. Roberta, have you checked out Athens, GA? That’s where I’ll be headed eventually. You have the University of GA that has the OSHA program for seniors. A university town always has many options. If you live a few miles from the University, the environment should be more tranquil. The downtown is sweet with small shops and good restaurants. You are not that far so checking the place out should be fairly easy for you.

    by Stacey — April 7, 2017

  25. Stacey,
    I have just started checking out potential spots, and Athens sounds interesting…
    BUT it has a “F” in crime on Areavibes.
    I haven’t been there yet, but am wondering if the crime really rates an “F”???

    Sue

    by Sue — April 8, 2017

  26. Stacey…quite familiar with Athens..it is only two hours away…very much a UGA town…crime is quite prevalent……lots of traffic when there is a UGA game….all in all not to my liking….I want to get closer to the mountains or beaches.

    I have some friends from here ( Lilburn) who moved to Athens..but they are very much into the football culture…like the college environment……etc. Not for me….but thanks for the suggestion.

    Looking for that quiet seaside or mountain town with the right kind of housing for me…little crime…..little traffic…that would still be stimulating enough. Fairhope , Ala is very impressive..but not sure I want all that humidity in summer…..I MIGHT prefer the climate closer to Wilmington, NC……..decisions, decisions….just a question of spending some time….just needs to FEEL RIGHT.

    by Roberta — April 8, 2017

  27. Huntley…thanks for the tip on Silver Connections

    by Roberta — April 8, 2017

  28. Hi Stacey
    Have you read my article on North Carolina? It mentions several small towns on the coast not too far from Wilmington.
    It might be helpful. Happy searching!!!’ It’s a scary but exciting time.

    by Moderator Flo — April 8, 2017

  29. Thanks Roberta…

    Fay, the Triangle NC (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) has everyone of those attributes on your list and more, UNC and NC State have an awesome OSHA program as well. Comfortably located in the middle of the state with a little over 1.5 hrs to the beach and about 3 hrs to the mountains 🙂 8 hours drive to the Big Apple with much to tour in between and beyond and 7 hours to the Florida boarder so if you are seeking balance and as much to do in order to have a well rounded active lifestyle, the Triangle is the place, again :-). RDU is an international airport with very good rates from here to wherever. Can you tell I LOVE this place!

    There are four very distinct seasons with about 2 weeks or freezing or around freezing temps in winter and 3-4 weeks of 90’s+ heat in the summer, other than those times spring and fall are probably as good as it gets!

    Please come visit.

    Best to all, Hunt

    by huntley — April 8, 2017

  30. Also, Fay, I am going to order Melody Warnick’s book titled ‘This Is Where You Belong’ now and Flo, I am going to dig up your input about NC, and YES, scary but very exciting times, the boomer gen’s are going to revolutionize retirement years 🙂

    Hunt

    by huntley — April 8, 2017

  31. Roberta, I think you will find Wilmington, NC to be quite humid in the summer. Just about any place in the south will be, unless you’re in the mountains. Shoot–Minnesota was humid in the summer! If you require low or no humidity, you should probably look at the western half of the country.

    by Linda — April 8, 2017

  32. Sue, I come from NYC and I doubt the crime rate in Athens would be higher than here. However, I’ve been there a few times and haven’t felt any danger around me. I think some areas are probably safer than others. But honestly I haven’t felt any fear while walking around.

    by Stacey — April 8, 2017

  33. from FayK to Huntley ……. THANK YOU for your valid comments – I worked in Raleigh for a few years and loved everything about it but the TRAFFIC congestion around RTP – I also loved Durham and Greensboro and the close proximity to the beaches in NC – so your beloved state of North Carolina is still on my list. I also explored a TINY HOUSE Community in Flat Rock NC which had an appeal to me and also totally loved attending a conference at the KANUGA Conference Center in Hendersonville NC which I thought was also a special place …. There is no question that NC has a lot going for it……I have been staying up-to-date with some of the political challenges going on in NC – but every state seems to have issues of some sort or other ….. My focus is on ensuring the place that I ‘land’ is ethnically diverse and offers lots of farmers markets and a great climate and clean environment ……. I agree with you that the colleges and universities in the NC and the RTP area as well as the medical centers cannot be beat. Thanks again for your comments……I value them……Blessings from Fay .

    by FayK — April 9, 2017

  34. Sue….Athens crime…nothing like NYC……nothing like Atlanta …I do not feel threatened walking around town……however , there is more than a fair amount of crime. I am sure there is some way you can check the numbers.

    When I first moved to GA….I believe Athens was #1 or #2 in the state for rape…….fair number of murders, burglaries and break ins. While there are a number of old historic homes….there is also a very poor and high crime part of town….projects etc…..remember UGA is a very big party school…this spills over to most if not all the establishments in town …and at time contributes to the crime rate.

    One of the main reasons I would like to leave Atlanta is the crime…which has now spilled out to the suburbs…so I am looking to move somewhere that is almost crime free…but I do know those that have moved to Athens and like it very much…so just depends on the environment you are looking for.

    by Roberta — April 10, 2017

  35. Thanks Roberta for your comments. There are several sites that you can check crime rates for an area. One I like to use is http://www.areavibes.com . They rate Athens an “F” on crime, so that is not a good indicator….that is one of the most important factors to me.

    I live in a far northern suburb of Chicago where the crime is virtually non existent. Of course our taxes are HUGE, and looking for that perfect spot where the cost of living is much lower, but crime is also low….and winter isn’t 6 months of the year!!! 🙂

    by Sue — April 11, 2017

  36. I know Trulia has the crime for the area, with the individual crimes listed, down in the listing as a graphic. I don’t know where they get the info. Maybe someone else does.

    by Shumidog — April 11, 2017

  37. The overall crime rate for a city ouf area can sometimes be misleading. There may be some parts of a city with significant rates of crime, while other areas are much more limited. It can sometimes help to talk with local law enforcement authorities.

    by Clyde — April 11, 2017

  38. Within the vicinity of any very large university such as UGA in Athens; you will have a lot of property crime. There are the fraternities and sororities providing plenty of partying, a lot of noise, and overall general disturbances. And then late Friday and Saturday nights you have all the drunken fights breaking out. Hell, those were the good old days. Nothing but great memories. LOL!!!

    by Bubbajog — April 11, 2017

  39. Great points in the article and not just for singles. Another hint is to check meetup.com for the area you are moving. people set up meetups for a variety of interests and demographic groups. And if there is t a meetup you find interesting, start one! In the area i live there are meetups for single senior, single golfers, crafters, walkers, transplants from different areas, vegetarians, the lists is extensive!

    by Jean — April 12, 2017

  40. Huntley, Thanks for the information about the Raleigh, Durham area. I am looking to retire this summer and am looking for where to move. With children on both coasts and no desire to tolerate Minnesota winters anymore, I, as a widow, need an active, engaging, accepting of singles and transplants community. I will definitely check out the Research Triangle.

    by Jeanne — April 12, 2017

  41. Ms Sue: From yours on Mr Brady’s site, you posted on April 11, 2017 … excellent link. Compliments. A very informative tool. Regards

    by Rich — April 17, 2017

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