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10 Small Cities Perfect for Retirement

by Stefanie Acevedo on 36 Comments

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Mesquite used to be one of the best-kept secrets for retirement destinations in the Southwest

Mesquite used to be one of the best-kept secrets for retirement destinations in the Southwest.

Retirement is all about relaxation and rejuvenation. Those who want to get away from the commotion of big-city living should consider retiring in a smaller city. Here’s a list of ten small cities to consider:

1. Mesquite, NV

Those who are looking to retire in Nevada but want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of “Sin City” should consider Mesquite. Popular builders like Del Webb have realized the advantages of retiring in Mesquite. It’s situated 80 miles from Las Vegas, yet is conveniently located on the Nevada-Arizona border as well as 40 miles from St. George, Utah. There are less than 20,000 people who call Mesquite home but the city is growing fast.

2. Bluffton, SC

Bluffton is a picturesque town along the South Carolina coast. It’s a charming town filled with mossy tree-lined streets minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and Hilton Head Island. This welcoming southern town enjoys a breezy lifestyle with top-notch golf courses, acres of nature preserves and wildlife, and awarding-winning restaurants. With mild weather and a strong sense of community, Bluffton is becoming a popular retirement destination for active adults. Builders have noticed this trend and are offering new construction homes for 55+ homebuyers at Hampton Lake, Sun City Hilton Head, and The Haven.

3. Winchester, VA

Set in the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley, the city of Winchester is filled with historic appeal and outdoor recreation. Home to many important events of the Civil War, Winchester includes several museums and historic landmarks. There are about a dozen theaters and event spaces for concerts, art, and more. They have a popular apple industry that boasts attractions like fruit markets and orchards as well as vineyards and farms. Looking to retire in a lovely historic region? Here are a few active adult communities throughout the Winchester, Virginia area.

4. Riverhead, NY

Riverhead is a delightful town located on Long Island in New York. Those looking to retire in a beach town on the East Coast will enjoy all the outdoor recreational opportunities. It’s also home to Polish Town USA, a small neighborhood rich in culture.  Age-restricted communities in Riverhead offer new and resale homes in a variety of styles and sizes. Glenwood Village, Saddle Lakes, Sunken Pond Estates, and Stoneleigh Woods are all found within Riverhead.

5. Warrington, PA

Though it was founded in 1734, Warrington is a township filled with more than historic attractions. There are over 375 businesses and nearly 300 acres dedicated to parks and recreation. Golf enthusiasts will be pleased to know that there are plenty of courses scattered throughout Bucks County. This suburb of Philadelphia hosts public events throughout the year and is filled with friendly residents. Check out all of the wonderful 55+ communities found in or near Warrington, Pennsylvania.

Heritage Village in Southbury is in the heart of all Connecticut has to offer, including the state's best medical care, shopping, dining, performing arts and state parks.

Heritage Village in Southbury is in the heart of all Connecticut has to offer, including the state’s best medical care, shopping, dining, performing arts and state parks.

6. Southbury, CT

Southbury is home to New England’s largest retirement community, Heritage Village. This beautiful city contains rolling countryside but it is close enough to drive to both Boston and New York. With more than 30% of the population being over 60 years old, there are numerous attractions, events, and services dedicated to retirees. Active adults will relish living in an area with like-minded neighbors.

7. Middletown, DE

Middletown, Delaware combines the best of both worlds: small-town appeal that’s close to big-city attractions. Situated about an hour from Philadelphia, Middletown is a lovely town with arts and entertainment, events, and dining options. A quaint downtown area offers beautiful walkways and historic charm. Active adult communities like Spring Arbor, Four Seasons at Silver Maple, and Springmill are just a few 55+ communities in Middletown, DE.

8. Cumming, GA

Rich with tradition and southern hospitality, Cumming is a laid-back city located in Georgia. Cumming is home to annual events like antique car shows, the Cumming Country Fair & Festival, concerts, rodeos, and more. This small town is home to Lake Sidney Lanier, a popular attraction for boating and soaking up the sun. The city’s proud of their longest tradition, the annual 4th of July Steam Engine Parade, which draws crowds from all over. If you’re looking to retire in a southern city with character check out 55+ communities like The Orchards of Habersham Grove, Piedmont Corners, and Brannon Oak Farm, to name a few.

9. Sonoma, CA

When looking to retire in the Bay Area, Sonoma is a lovely city that’s reputable for their excellent wine and food. There are 13,000 acres of state and regional parks spread throughout the Sonoma Valley providing stunning views of rolling wineries and rich farmlands. This green-minded city encourages sustainable practices with local organic cafés and markets, solar-powered wineries, compost programs, and eco-tourism. Wine enthusiasts should consider a 55+ Sonoma neighborhood like Chantarelle, Temelec, or Creekside Village.

10. Pinehurst, NC

Located in Central North Carolina, the Village of Pinehurst is known for its historic charm and Southern hospitality. It is also the home of Pinehurst Resort and other popular golf retreats, as well as home to both the Men’s and Women’s 2014 U.S. Open. The area features several active adult communities, as well, making it a lovely place for an active retirement. Located in the Sandhills region, Pinehurst’s residents enjoy a four-season climate, plenty of lakes, and acres of gardens and preserve areas.

“Small city” can be a subjective term depending on the size of a state or the region’s population as well as general location. Our list is based on population size and we tried to keep to cities with fewer than 30,000 residents. Some people would consider a city small if it has a population of 40,000, while others would put that number at 25,000 or even fewer than 7,000. What do you consider a small city or town?

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  1. There’s nothing ‘affordable’ about Cumming, Ga. Getting more cosmopolitan and upscale so housing is reflective of that.

    1. And the same thing goes for Sonoma, CA. NOT cheap to live in and I know this all too well since my aunt and uncle lived there years ago. It was expensive back then and now, it is even less affordable for many people.

      1. The above is so very, very true. We can afford Newport Beach or Orange County, CA but by no means Sonoma!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I’m afraid when the range in every location starts at over 100k, there is nothing there for most retieries…..??? sorry but it’s just o expensive for most everyone I know.

      1. We bought a place in Mesquite a couple years ago for when we can retire (thinking ahead) ..we absolutely love Mesquite! We do get down there 2-3 times a year right now from Montana.

  3. Commets About Riverhead NY.
    This Is Not One Of Those Places That Would Be Good To Retire Too. Riverhead Is Located At Exit 73 On The Long Island Expressway On Long Island New York.

    TaxeS Are Very High And There Are Alot Of Homes Vacant. Yes There Is Alot Of ThingsTo Due But Most Of It Is In the Daytime. The Winters Here ThisTown Becomes A Ghost Town And You Are Lucky if You See The Mailman.

    1. Riverhead? Seriously? Small City? Who came up with this. Riverhead is just beginning to pull itself out of a slum condition. Maybe in ten years. Now? No….ugh.

      1. Being from the East Coast, what would you consider a small city ideal for Baby Boomers and retirees? We have many readers who would like to stay on the East Coast to remain close to family.

        Stefanie, 55Places.com

  4. based on not only Riverhead which is one of the LAST places I would want to live as someone who lives on LI and has been to Riverhead many many times (usually for dr visits), and then with uber expensive places (Sonoma cal? are you kidding?), makes me ignore this list entirely. I’m heading south to be done with winter and high taxes so I can enjoy the entire year and stop giving my money to teachers and cops on LI who are sucking the life out of the rest of us. Not only is ALL of LI expensive, there is a overt anger issue going on here (you think people are sick of the expense and visits all the time from obnoxious citiots). Unless you’re worth is well into the millions, no to LI – not ANYwhere on LI and certainly not Riverhead (on top of all that, none of the east-end communities are open to new comers….none of them – think 3, 4, 5 generations of famlies intermarried and an unwillingness to open up their social lives to other. ugh…..

  5. Did the writers of this article talk to any retires? None of those places are affordable and safe to live in and certainly can’t leave your home unguarded while on a trip. Dumb article!!!!

    1. Hi Ben, the list above is based on population size and number of active adult communities in the area. What are some smaller cities that you would recommend for retirement?

      Stefanie, 55Places.com

    2. Ben, I can only speak for Mesquite, NV. We are a very SAFE community and many snowbirds feel very comfortable when heading back North and East. Mesquite is very tax friendly, our utility bills are extremely reasonable, and we have lots of “cheap eats”.

  6. Mesquite is VERY affordable. Great, dry weather, tons of golfing. Close to Zion National Park, Valley of Fire, etc for hiking. Bike friendly community & very safe. Lots of new homes & starting to grow. We love Mesquite!

  7. We live in Mesquite and find it to be very affordable and a wonderful place to live. We plan on never moving again!

    1. We moved to Mesquite almost 10 years ago. We love the people, the sun and no traffic. Close enough to great shopping in St. George, Utah and Las Vegas.

  8. We also live in Mesquite and it is an affordable place to live with terrific weather. Love how close we are to St. George, UT and all the national parks in the area, plus only 80 miles from Las Vegas with all the fun things to do there. No state income taxes is also a great plus for those working and retirees.

  9. I am so glad to see my town #1 on your list. Mesquite, NV is the BEST place to retire – clean, quiet, affordable, safe, no traffic to speak of and so many things to keep you busy.

  10. Mesquite is Home Sweet Home. Been here 15 years and have NEVER been happier anywhere. As I’ve stated many times. They will take me outa here in a box.

  11. After moving to Mesquite NV nearly 2 years ago My wife and i just love it. The weather is lovely with the exception s of July and August when it is extremely warm! Lots to do with serveral National parks close by and Las Vegas only an hours drive. Mesquite is very affordable with housing available in most price ranges. Lots of golf courses too! A great place to live.

  12. Mesquite might be a great place to live but its a casino town out in the middle of nowhere. If you want good restaurants where you don’t have to walk through a smoky casino or good shopping you need to drive a 80 mile round trip to St George Utah. Not for me, no income tax or not!

    1. “Now retired” both casino restaurants have entrances close to the restaurant. I visit quite often and my clothes never smell smoky and I do mean never. They have done a great job filtering the air.

      We find that the shopping excursions to St. George are a beautiful drive through the canyon. Blending shopping trips with dining is an easy and fun getaway. Plus, the traffic in Mesquite is so light you can get everything you need done within a 10-15 minute drive. I love the slow pace.

  13. Yesterday, I found your article on Facebook and shared it on my two Facebook business pages. I live and work in Mesquite NV and can tell you this is a wonderful small city to retire in.

  14. Mesquite as number one lol that’s laughable for sure and to all the people who say it’s affordable clean and safe need to read the newspaper about the murders and drug busts that happen there mainly meth and those who want to deny it are either blind or just don’t want to admit that town has so many issues it’s not even funny now is it an ok town ya it is but has more issues then most would want to deal with or even admit are there and I see comments saying good weather not bad if you like high Temps (i do) and don’t mind the sand storms and extreme winds and occasional mountain fire I lived there for a long time

  15. I have lived in Del Webb Sun City Mesquite for 8 years! Our calendar has been filled with “stuff” the last 8 years! Trips to Vegas to see shows, bingo/pizza, hikes, pub crawls, Bocce Ball, Tennis, potlucks, Zumba, Pilates, card games, pottery, stained glass, bowling, shopping trips to St George, Believe it or not, we have some of the best restaurants around: Gregory’s in the Eureka, Katherine’s in the Casa Blanca, Sushi Masa, Los Lupes and La Fonda Mexican restaurants, Oasis Red Room, and on and on. It has been an unbelievable experience living here. And no traffic to speak of! The best part are the panoramic views of the Virgin Mtns and Flat Top Mesa!

  16. Pat it sounds like you haven’t lived here in a while. Mesquite consistently comes out high for safe towns. We dine out at least 5 nights a week and have had wonderful dining experiences throughout town. No need to go to St. George to eat. Mesquite does have occasional winds that bring in weather changes but I will take those winds over the 130″ of snow my former home town had this past winter. You would have to travel outside of town, more in the St George area, for mountain fires. I agree with AS. Lots to do and very little traffic!

  17. “The Great Desert Island Of Mesquite NV”
    I have lived in 30 different country’s around the world
    for 2 to 6 months at a time then I found this little town in the middle
    of the desert with some of the nicest golf courses in the western united States
    Mesquite has blossomed into this amazing community
    with some of the nicest people you can meet. This little
    town has something for everybody and there’s not to many places
    that you can say (I’m Going To Take a Vacation at Home).

  18. Yes, it’s hot in the summer. We know exactly what our weather is going to be. You never have to shovel it and it never prevents me from being out and about. In the summer we do get-aways and visit our friends and family, but we’re always ready to come home to our crystal clear skies and dry weather. We are surrounded by some of the most beautiful national parks in the world, we’re within an hour of the entertainment capital of the world, and have the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. If I try to come up with somewhere else I’d like to live, there is always traffic, crime, terrible weather patterns just about any time of the year, and a cost of living that’s out of my budget. Our motto: “Come for a day, stay for a lifetime.” It’s true.

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