The East Coast is one of the best regions in the country for retirees to settle down, as there are many places to live that easily provide these perks — and more — ranging from small but vibrant rural towns to bigger and lively coastal cities. In fact, some of the best places to retire on the East Coast have had the highest numbers of annual migrations in the past few years. Florida received over 78,000 new senior residents in 2021, for example, while North and South Carolina also received around 19,000 new senior residents each.
Retiring on the East Coast vs. West Coast
The East and West Coasts come with their own unique lifestyles, and although you can find cities on both coasts that favor each other, the East Coast tends to be more densely populated. In an East Coast city like New York, for example, you will find that it’s very easy to get around, while West Coast cities like Los Angeles are more spread out. Many East Coast cities are also known for their fast-paced environments, while you may find more laid-back atmospheres around the West Coast.
Some Pros of Retiring on the East Coast Include:
- Four Seasons: Most states in the U.S. experience the four seasons to some degree; however, Los Angeles autumns aren’t going to look the same as falls in northeastern states like Maine, Virginia, and Vermont. You’ll see a lot more of a temperature range on the East Coast than you will on the West Coast.
- Population Centers: Some of the most populated cities in the entire country can be found on the East Coast, including Jacksonville, Charlotte, and New York City.
- Infrastructure To Connect Cities: The East Coast Greenway is a car-free path that stretches all the way from Maine to Florida. It runs in tandem with several major highways and interstates, giving people the opportunity to check out new communities and easily visit loved ones residing in different areas.
Best East Coast Towns To Retire — FAQs
Q: What is the best East Coast state to retire in?
A: Each of the states on the East Coast offer something special for retired life; however, Virginia offers some of the best perks for retirees, including lots of affordable areas, good healthcare, and a high quality of life.
Q: Where is the cheapest and safest place to retire to?
A: This answer depends on your definition of both “cheap” and “safe,” but we think Blacksburg, VA, is a great mix of both. With a cost of living below the national average and a total crime index of 49 (meaning it’s safer than 49 percent of U.S. neighborhoods), it’s one of the cheapest and safest places on this list.
Q: Which northeast state is the best to retire in?
A: Due to its beautiful natural scenery and low crime rates, Maine is one of the best northeast states to retire in 2024. Kiplinger even has Portland, Maine, rated as one of the best places to retire in New England.
Q: Where is the cheapest place to retire near the beach?
A: With a cost of living below the national average, along with an average home value of just $260,100, Daytona Beach, FL, is one the cheapest places to retire near the beach on this list.
Best Places To Retire on the East Coast
Here’s an in-depth look into some of the best places to retire on the East Coast, including details such as specific amenities for retirees, safety, affordability, and more.
1. Savannah, GA
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,625
- Average home value: $296,800
- Great for: Restaurants, arts, outdoor recreation, programs for seniors
Savannah is an affordable yet popular coastal city situated inland along the Savannah River. It is a modern industrial and port center, and it has historic sites that are very well preserved. The city has a variety of fine dining establishments, art galleries, and live theater. And it’s very convenient to participate in outdoor recreation activities, such as fishing, boating, and golf.
The Johnny Mercer Theatre and the Savannah Civic Center are two of the city's major entertainment venues. Johnny Mercer Theatre features symphony concerts and plays, while the Savannah Civic Center hosts various events, such as ice hockey games.
One of the area's large-scale programs for older adults is The Club at Senior Citizens, Inc. This facility offers various activities and services designed to keep individuals socially active and healthy.
2. Aiken, SC
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,225
- Average home value: $248,700
- Great for: Horse culture, golfing, historic homes
Located in South Carolina's western region, the town of Aiken is situated 19 miles from Augusta, Georgia, and is known for its beautiful weather. Development started after the Civil War, when wealthy Charlestonians learned that the area had mild winters. Prominent families such as the Vanderbilts and Astors started constructing magnificent homes in the area.
The prominent families brought their horses with them, and this led to an established equestrian culture in the area. Today, the city of Aiken is still surrounded by horse farms and beautiful historic homes. In fact, the area is home to many horse-related events, as well. One of these is the Triple Crown Road Race, which features the Aiken Trials, the Aiken Spring Steeplechase, and a Pacers and Polo event.
Aiken also features over 10 golf courses, one of which is the Palmetto Golf Course — a private 18-hole facility. There is also the historic Aiken Golf Club, which was founded in 1912 and is a semi-private establishment.
3. Asheboro, NC
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,100
- Average home value: $229,600
- Great for: Recreation activities, arts, family friendly attractions, history
The people of Asheboro are situated in a central location that allows them to enjoy all that the “Old North State” has to offer. Asheboro is not only one of the most affordable places to retire in North Carolina, but it’s also one of the most affordable places to retire on the East Coast, as its cost of living sits almost 20 percent below the national average.
In addition to a variety of recreation facilities, such as tennis courts and lakes, the City of Asheboro also has a variety of health and wellness options that include fitness centers and walking paths.
The Randolph Arts Guild is a vital part of the local community's flourishing arts scene. And Downtown Asheboro features a variety of galleries, sculptures, and murals. The Sunset Theater, which is owned and operated by the City, serves as a venue for performances and screening movies.
One of the best places for the grandkids to visit is the North Carolina Zoo. This massive natural habitat facility is also located in Asheboro, and it's a great place for families to spend time together.
(Source: Step Into Blacksburg via Facebook)
4. Blacksburg, VA
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $2,000
- Average home value: $389,100
- Great for: Lively atmosphere, sports, arts, restaurants
Located in Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, Blacksburg borders the Jefferson Forest and is surrounded by farmland and woodlands.
VT football fan? Blacksburg is also home to Virginia Tech. The university's music department and the School of Performing Arts present various concerts and dances in the community throughout the year. The Moss Arts Center also features jazz and poetry readings, among other events.
There are more than 150 restaurants, art galleries, and retailers currently operating in the downtown area of Blacksburg. And there are plenty of restaurants that cater to any palate, as well as the Blacksburg Farmers Market, located downtown.
Although Blacksburg is full of student housing, there are several quiet residential areas with beautiful homes. And with a rate of only 10 per 10,000 residents, the crime rate in Blacksburg is lower than nearly half of other communities in Virginia — and safer than nearly half the neighborhoods in the U.S.
5. Brunswick, ME
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,775
- Average home value: $466,700
- Great for: History, restaurants, farmers’ markets
The coastal town of Brunswick is known for its charm and history, but it also boasts a variety of restaurants and one of Maine's best farmers' markets. It’s minutes away from an Amtrak station and is an easy drive to nearby towns such as Harpswell and Thornton Oaks.
6. Cary, NC
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,700
- Average home value: $600,100
- Great for: Travel access, performing arts, entertainment, shopping, trails, parks
Cary is one of the safest places to live in North Carolina, as the crime rate is lower than nearly 68 percent of all other communities in the state. Cary has been growing rapidly in recent years and is known for its world-class shopping and entertainment, as well as its many outdoor and leisure activities.
Interstate 75 and other roads are easily accessible through Cary, which is situated near several highways. It also has close proximity to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Research Triangle Park (RDU). Situated between Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham, and RTP, Cary also boasts easy access to the mountains or the beach.
One of the largest amphitheaters in the area is the Koka Booth Amphitheatre, which also sits on the shore of Symphony Lake. This facility features the perfect combination of nature and performing arts.
And besides the mountains and beaches, there are also over 30 parks and natural areas within the city of Cary. These facilities are made up of over 70 miles of jogging, walking, and biking paths. Some of the prominent parks in the area include Fred G. Bond Metro Park and the William B.Umstead State Park.
Bluffton, South Carolina
7. Bluffton, SC
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $2,150
- Average home value: $494,000
- Great for: Cultural activities, river access, vibrant historic district
Located on South Carolina's coast, near Hilton Head Island and right above Savannah, GA, the town of Bluffton is known for its many retirement communities. Why “Bluffton,” you ask? It’s situated on a bluff overlooking the May River.
Within the town are various art galleries, museums, and antique stores. The best place to start is the Heyward House Historic Center. And you can always venture to nearby Beaufort and Hilton Head Island for other exciting activities.
8. Daytona Beach, FL
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,575
- Average home value: $260,100
- Great for: Quaint atmosphere, NASCAR racing, outdoor recreation
Daytona Beach is one of the best East Coast beach towns to retire. Located about an hour northeast of Orlando, it offers residents everything they could want in a big city while still maintaining a quaint, small-town atmosphere.
The Daytona Beach lifestyle revolves around entertaining tourists. It’s known for hosting various events each year, like NASCAR races, Jeep Beach, and Daytona Bike Week. And although many residents enjoy the event-filled weeks, it's important to note that the majority of the town's residents live a calmer lifestyle throughout the year.
Along with paddleboarding in the Atlantic Ocean, residents also enjoy taking hikes throughout the woods of Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve, located about 30 minutes down the coast in New Smyrna.
Bar Harbor, Maine
9. Bar Harbor, ME
- Average rent (one-bedroom): N/A
- Average home value: $645,300
- Great for: Colder climate, natural beauty, outdoor recreation, vibrant downtown scene
If you’re planning on retiring to a colder climate, New England could be the place for you. And one of the best East Coast towns in the area is Bar Harbor, Maine, which is located between Frenchman Bay and Cadillac Mountain. The city features a rocky shoreline and evergreen trees, and comes with a small population of just over 5,000.
Due to its location next to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is a popular retirement destination for nature lovers. It offers a variety of activities for everyone, like scenic drives, hiking, and lighthouse visits. You can also explore the town’s bakeries, coffee shops, and boutique establishments downtown that can cater to your every need.
10. Montpelier, VT
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,150
- Average home value: $400,300
- Great for: Natural beauty, restaurants, fresh produce, music
Located in central Vermont, Montpelier has a population of just over 8,000 and is situated along two rivers in the Green Mountains' foothills.
This region is known for its Colonial Revival architecture and tree-canopied lanes. It also has a variety of restaurants that serve farm-to-table food and traditional American dishes. The Hunger Mountain Co-op and the Capital City Farmers' Market are two prominent places where you’ll find the very best local produce.
Music lovers can enjoy the productions put on by the Vermont Philharmonic, the Vermont Opera Theatre, Capital City Concerts, and Lost Nation Theater.
11. Jacksonville, FL
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,525
- Average home value: $293,100
- Great for: Arts, festivals, local events, shopping
With a total land area of almost 750 square miles, Jacksonville is one of the largest cities on the East Coast. But the residents of Jacksonville, Florida, can enjoy the many amenities that the area has to offer at a much more affordable rate compared to other retirement communities in the state.
The city of Jacksonville is known as the “River City by the Sea” due to its many miles of beaches and the St. Johns River's scenic stretch, making it one of the best places to retire near water on the East Coast. It also has a variety of historic neighborhoods and vibrant street art scenes.
Besides its beaches and historic neighborhoods, the Jacksonville also has a variety of cultural communities. One of these is the Art in Public Places Program, which features the city's art collection.
Jacksonville is also known for its various festivals and events, like the Springing the Blues Festival and the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. The Jax Beach Town Center is also a great location for beachgoers looking for the best local shops, and there are also lots of other stores along A1A, a coastal byway that runs from Jacksonville to Flagler Beach.
PODS Can Help You Move to One of the Best Places To Retire on the East Coast
If you're looking to move somewhere on the East Coast during your golden years, look no further than PODS to help you get there. They can provide you with a portable moving and storage container that will allow you to pack and load your things at your own leisure. When you're ready for the big move, PODS will pick up and take the container to your new East Coast residence. And the best part? One month's storage is included with every move, allowing you to organize your belongings without feeling rushed!
Editor’s note: For ease of reading, monthly rental prices were rounded to the nearest $25 and home values were rounded to the nearest $100.
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