If warm weather, easy access to the beach and an affordable price tag sound like your dream retirement, this town might be for you.
U.S. News & World Report recently released its list of the best places to retire, and Fort Myers — a midsize riverfront city in southwest Florida just a stone’s throw from Gulf of Mexico beaches — topped the list. What’s more, Kiplinger’s called out Fort Myers on its list of 50 best places to retire this year, noting that it was “yet another great place to consider for your retirement.”)
So what makes Fort Myers special? U.S. News writes that the city has “retained its small-town heritage … with a charming downtown lined with shops and restaurants, many of which are dog-friendly” adding that “museums, parades, festivals, theaters, parks, historical sites and art galleries pepper the metro area and its social calendar.” And for those who love the beach, “just a few miles away, Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral and Sanibel Island are popular among boaters, kayakers, sailors and anglers.”
Perhaps best of all, it’s pretty affordable, with a cost of living that’s just a bit above average and a median home priced at just a little over $200,000, according to Sperling’s Best Places. Plus, Florida doesn’t have a state income tax, so your 401(k), IRA or pension withdrawals won’t be taxed by the state, nor will your Social Security.
Of course, Fort Myers has some big downsides, which include muggy, hot summers and the fact that the area can sometimes feel overrun with tourists.
The towns that rounded out the top five on the U.S. News list were Sarasota, Fla.; Lancaster, Pa.; Asheville, N.C.; and Port St. Lucie, Fla. U.S. News looked at the 125 largest metro areas and graded them on happiness, housing affordability, health-care quality, desirability, retiree taxes and job-market ratings.
Should Fort Myers not be your thing, and you’re still looking for an affordable spot to retire near the beach, you’re in luck: MarketWatch recently created its own list of the best beach towns where you can retire comfortably on about $40,000 a year. These include Pensacola, Fla.; Bay St. Louis, Miss.; and Corpus Christi, Texas.