Gulf Shores 55+ Active Adult Retirement Communities

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55+ Active Adult Retirement in Gulf Shores, AL

Gulf Shores is a perfect retirement destination for 55+ homebuyers seeking a vibrant and active lifestyle. This small Gulf Coast town has miles of pristine beaches with breathtaking sunsets that create a serene and peaceful environment. With year-round warm weather, active adults can enjoy an abundance of outdoor activities, including fishing, golfing, hiking, biking, and boating. Gulf Shores hosts a variety of festivals and events that showcase the area’s history, music, and cuisine. This charming town’s proximity to Mobile and Pensacola opens up endless opportunities for day trips to explore the region’s cultural attractions. The friendly and welcoming community in Gulf Shores also offers a sense of belonging and a place to build lifelong friendships.

For more information on Gulf Shores, retirees can check out the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism website, which provides details on things to do, places to stay, and local events. The City of Gulf Shores website offers information on local government services, parks, and recreation programs, and the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber website provides information about and resources for local businesses.

Affordability and Cost of Living

Active adults interested in retiring in Gulf Shores can benefit from the region’s affordable cost of living and retirement-friendly taxes. The state of Alabama has a graduated income tax rate that ranges from 2 to 5 percent, well below the national average. To support retirees, the first $6,000 of retirement income for 65+ active adults is exempt from income taxes. Retirees do not have to pay taxes on Social Security income, retirement benefits, or traditional pensions, and there are no estate or inheritance taxes.

The sales tax in Gulf Shores averages 10 percent, which accounts for 4 percent from the state, 3 percent from the county, and 3 percent from the city. This aligns well with the average state sales tax of 9.25 percent found throughout the Yellowhammer State. When it comes to property taxes, Alabama offers the second-lowest median property tax rate in the country. 65+ homeowners are exempt from state property taxes, which greatly assists retirees on a fixed income. However, the median home cost in Gulf Shores is approximately 15 percent higher than the national average. Despite higher-than-average housing and healthcare costs, Gulf Shores remains a relatively affordable place to live, with overall costs of living close to par with the national average.

Climate and Geography

Gulf Shores has a subtropical climate, making it an ideal place to live for active adult homebuyers who love warm weather. The summers in Gulf Shores are usually hot and humid, with average midsummer highs around 90 degrees, according to Best Places. Winters are mild, with midwinter lows averaging in the low 40s. The city experiences an average annual rainfall of 64 inches, with the majority of the rainfall occurring between June and September. Gulf Shores boasts of an impressive 223 sunny days per year on average, guaranteeing that 55+ homebuyers who choose to live here will have ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.

The geography of Gulf Shores is a unique blend of stunning natural beauty and exciting recreational opportunities. The city is located on the Gulf of Mexico, with miles of pristine white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. The area also features numerous lakes, rivers, and bays that offer excellent fishing, boating, and kayaking opportunities. Inland, retirees can enjoy exploring the picturesque parks and nature preserves that feature lush forests, rolling hills, and unique wildlife. The Gulf Shores area also has a diverse range of plant and animal life, including sea turtles, migratory birds, and rare plants, all of which add to the region’s beauty and ecological significance.

Recreation, Shopping, and Entertainment

Gulf Shores, AL offers an abundance of recreational activities, cultural events, shopping, and entertainment that cater to retirees’ varied interests. Here are some of the top highlights that the city has to offer:

Golf and Racquet Sports

  • Gulf Shores Golf Club
  • Kiva Dunes Golf Course
  • Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club
  • Orange Beach Tennis Center
  • Gulf Shores Surf & Racquet Club

Hiking, Biking, and Boating

  • Gulf State Park
  • Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail
  • Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
  • Gulf Shores Public Beach
  • Orange Beach Waterfront Park

Museums and Historical Sites

  • Gulf Shores Museum
  • Fort Morgan State Historic Site
  • Foley Railroad Museum
  • Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum

Performing Arts

  • Erie Meyer Civic Center
  • South Baldwin Community Theatre
  • Gulf Coast Arts Alliance
  • Orange Beach Performing Arts Center


  • The Wharf at Orange Beach
  • Tanger Outlets Foley
  • Pelican Place at Craft Farms
  • SanRoc Cay Marina

Parks and Gardens

  • Gulf State Park
  • Little Lagoon Pass Park
  • Gulf Shores Dog Park

Festivals and Fairs

  • National Shrimp Festival
  • Hangout Music Festival
  • Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival
  • Alabama Coastal BirdFest

Health and Wellness 

Gulf Shores is home to several hospitals and medical centers that provide top-quality care for retirees in the area. The South Baldwin Regional Medical Center, located in Foley, AL, is a full-service hospital that offers emergency care, surgery, and a range of specialized services, including cardiovascular care, cancer care, and women’s health. Gulf Breeze Hospital in Florida is also a short drive away from Gulf Shores. It offers a range of specialties and services, ensuring the 55+ homebuyers choosing the Gulf Shores area maintain convenient access to quality healthcare.

For routine medical care and preventative health measures, retirees in Gulf Shores can also take advantage of local options for self-care and wellness. American Family Care Orange Beach provides urgent care and accepts walk-ins. For those looking to stay fit and mentally well, the area has several fitness centers, yoga studios, and wellness centers, such as the David L. Bodenhamer Recreation Center, the Fitness Factor, and Glow Yoga. Additionally, the Gulf Shores area offers a wealth of outdoor activities, including biking, hiking, and kayaking, which are great ways to stay active and promote overall health and wellness.

Recommended Itinerary for Visiting Area 55+ Communities

Day 1


  • Start your day off with breakfast at the Waffle House on Beach Boulevard, which is open 24-hours and offers a large selection of egg entrees, hash brown bowls, omelets, and more.
  • After breakfast, head over to Gulf State Park, where you can hike, bike, swim, or simply relax in this picturesque Gulf Coast destination.


  • For lunch, stop by Sea-N-Suds, a restaurant and oyster bar located right on the water. Try oysters on the half shell, peel-and-eat shrimp, gumbo, or their fried crab claws.
  • After lunch, go to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, where there are 118 species of animals, 22 of which are endangered or vulnerable. The zoo also provides educational opportunities for those looking to learn more about wildlife conservation in the area.


  • Enjoy a barbecue supper at Hog Wild Beach & BBQ. Try their pulled pork sandwich or their sliced brisket platter.
  • After dinner, stroll down Gulf Shores Parkway, which is home to a number of souvenir shops and boutiques.

Day 2


  • Enjoy a diner breakfast at the Sunliner Diner, which serves up a number of eggs benedict dishes, omelets, biscuits & gravy, and, of course, waffles.
  • After breakfast, drive down to Gulf Shores Public Beach and enjoy some relaxation in the sun.


  • Grab lunch at Bahama Bob’s Beach Side Cafe to enjoy some fried or grilled seafood, steamed shrimp, or a po-boy sandwich.
  • Meet with a local 55places real estate expert to discuss the area’s 55+ communities and housing options.


Getting to Gulf Shores, AL

55+ homebuyers traveling to Gulf Shores have several options. Highway 59 runs south to Gulf Shores from Interstate 10, and those driving to Gulf Shores from the east can take Highway 92 to Foley and then head south to Gulf Shores on 59. Gulf Shores International Airport is a short drive away, and Pensacola International Airport is about an hour’s drive away. Additionally, there are Amtrak stations in Pensacola and Mobile, for those who prefer to travel by rail.


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