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The 10 best U.S. cities for retirement

Scottsdale, ArizonaScottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale, ArizonaPhotograph by Charles Cook—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

The millions of retirees who’ve moved to Arizona in recent years are clearly on to something. Of the top 10 U.S. cities on finance site’s newest ranking of the best places to retire, three are in the Grand Canyon State.

The Phoenix metro area, including Mesa and Scottsdale, took the No. 1 spot for its sunny climate, low crime rate, excellent health care, and a more nebulous measure of senior citizens’ overall happiness that calls “well-being.” Here is the rest of the top 10, out of a total of 172 cities:

2) Arlington/Alexandria, Va.

3) Prescott, Ariz.

4) Tucson, Ariz.

5) Des Moines

6) Denver, including Aurora

7) Austin, including Round Rock

8) Cape Coral, Fla., including Fort Myers

9) Colorado Springs

10) Franklin, Tenn.

The worst cities for retirees, according to this ranking, include Cleveland, Indianapolis, Hartford, Buffalo, and Little Rock. But the study’s authors readily acknowledge that not everybody will agree. “Just because a city ranks at the bottom doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to spend your golden years,” says research and statistics analyst Chris Kahn. “Deciding where to retire is a very personal choice.”


It may also depend on how wealthy you are. The list is weighted in favor of places where a modest fixed income can go the furthest. New York City, for instance, at No. 172, comes in dead last. Yet it’s highest-rated in the country for “walkability” (no car required — in fact, don’t bring one) and incomparable cultural attractions. The Big Apple would earn a much higher overall ranking if not for its astronomical taxes and cost of living.

Franklin, Tenn., by contrast, squeaked into the top 10 — despite its “below average” weather, “average” health care, and “poor” walkability — because its cost of living and taxes are “low” and “very low,” respectively.

“Every city has its pros and cons,” notes Kahn, adding that people planning to retire “should focus on which factors are most important to them, and then use rankings like ours to see what cities best fit their criteria.”

Arizona may rule the top 10, especially for golfers, but if you can’t stand hot weather, you might be better off in Cleveland.