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Here Are 12 of the Best Small Towns To Retire in 2024

Small Towns Retirement

by Matt Lyons Posted on December 11, 2023
There’s no denying it: Small towns have a certain charm that you can’t get in the big cities. And for some, small towns offer the most ideal package, from a quieter laid-back lifestyle to a lower cost of living and sometimes more home space than you would expect because of the more affordable housing markets. From areas rich in history to areas abundant in fun outdoor recreation, culture, and more, here are what we consider some of the best small towns to retire across the United States.
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Best Small Towns in Florida to Retire

The state of Florida is often thought of as one of the most tax-friendly for retirees, as there is no state income tax. Social Security retirement benefits, pension income, and income from IRA or 401(k) are all untaxed. What else does Florida offer? It’s more like what does Florida not offer. Check out a couple of our favorite retirement spots.

Q: Where do the happiest retirees live?
A:
Florida is a haven for retirees for a reason. The beautiful year-round warm weather, beaches, and plenty of other outdoor activities available are enough to put a smile on anyone’s face, right?

Aerial view of Pelican Bay in Naples, Florida. White sand beaches line the coast, and there’s a thick wooded area between the sands and the big city in the distance.
(Source: Pelican Bay via Facebook)

1. Pelican Bay, FL

Located in Naples, Florida, the master-planned community of Pelican Bay is known for its active lifestyle and dedication to preserving its surrounding environment. This includes the nearby Mangrove Forest — the town’s natural resource protection area established in 1982. Today, the community features over 40 acres of recreation areas, parks, restaurants, a community center, and Arthur Hills' signature golf courses.

Since Pelican Bay is situated so close to the nearby city of Naples, local residents get access to various attractions, like the Naples Philharmonic, along with shopping and dining experiences at the Waterside Shops. Healthcare facilities local to Pelican Bay include the NCH Healthcare System and Collier Urgent Care. Oh, and did we mention that Pelican Bay ranks No. 2 on Niche’s list of Best Places to Retire in America?

2. Highland Beach, FL

Highland Beach is a beautiful community located along State Road A-1-A in the southeastern part of Florida. An interesting fact about Highland Beach: Its name comes from the fact that it lives 13 feet above sea level (a true feat in swampy Florida).

What makes Highland Beach so appealing to retirees? Its total area is only a little over one square mile, so it’s easy to get around. And since you’re on the waterfront, outdoor recreation is popular and accessible, making it easy to stay in shape and maintain an active lifestyle. The nearby Spanish River Park allows for camping, picnicking, and swimming, and the community’s eastern shore is a great place to catch beautiful views by the water. 

Delray Beach and Boca Raton are some of the larger areas that reside on the town’s borders, offering more of a variety in restaurants and shopping, along with the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and Delray Beach Center for the Arts. And while there is no hospital found directly in Highland Beach, residents can travel to the nearby Boca Raton Regional Hospital for care.

Best Small Towns in Texas to Retire

As with Florida, there is no state income tax in Texas, so Social Security retirement benefits and any other type of retirement income is completely tax-free! With plenty of outdoor activities, arts, and culture to explore, here are some of the best small towns in Texas for retirees. 

3. Hollywood Park, TX

Located about 15 miles from downtown San Antonio, the community of Hollywood Park is just as exciting as the nearby larger cities! Hollywood Park is loved for its diverse variety of restaurants, from your favorite chains to local hotspots, like The Hoppy Monk, where you can get a great meal and whatever beer your heart desires. 

Along with great restaurants to enjoy, there are many ways for retirees to stay active in Hollywood Park, whether it’s hitting the green at SilverHorn Golf Club or getting your game on at Airtopia Adventure Park. You can also explore the stores at Northwoods Shopping Center or the greenery at Voigt Park. And the South Texas Medical Center is one of the best nearby healthcare options.

Aerial view of a residential area in DeCordova, Texas, right on a lake. It appears every bit of shoreline was built on, and many of the waterfront homes feature private docks.
(Source: Eric Wilkins via Facebook)

4. DeCordova, TX

In Hood County, DeCordova has been named the best place to buy a house in Texas by Niche and is known for its friendly community, plethora of local activities, and all of its green spaces to explore. Some of the most picturesque landscapes you’ll find in the state of Texas are near DeCordova, like Lake Granbury, which is only 20 minutes away. This town is also home to the DeCordova Bend Dam, a great spot to picnic with breathtaking views. 

Retirees living in DeCordova looking for a good spot to play golf should check out the DeCordova Bend Country Club, which offers 18 exciting holes. The Lake Granbury Medical Center also offers everything from primary care to heart care to rehabilitation and more. 

Best Small Towns in Tennessee to Retire

Income taxes are not levied in Tennessee, which means Social Security retirement benefits and income from any other retirement accounts are not taxed at the state level. Tennessee is also home to plenty of natural beauty, fun activities for the grandkids, friendly communities, and so much more. So without further ado, here are what we consider to be the best Tennessee towns to retire in.

5. Gray, TN

The small town of Gray, Tennessee, is situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and is famous for its variety of outdoor activities, like hunting, fishing, and hiking. There are many ways for retirees to get involved with the community while living in Gray. Residents especially love attending local events, like the Jonesborough Farmers Market and the Appalachian Farmers Market

Have grandkids? They’ll love visiting the Hands On! Discovery Center or the Gray Fossil Site & Museum, two of the most fun family-friendly attractions in the area. 
And if you ever have a medical emergency, the local Foundation Health Urgent Care is one of the best facilities to go to. For other appointments, Medical Care LLC is another great facility.

Q: Can I retire on $700 a month? 
A:
With some of the lowest housing and cost of living expenses in the state, Gray would be one of the best places to retire on $700 a month.

6. Lookout Mountain, TN

Named after the mountain it calls home, the small town of Lookout Mountain is home to a variety of breathtaking landscapes and rich history. In fact, Lookout Mountain served as the battle site of the Nickajack Expedition, where Cherokee natives and American frontiersmen fought in 1863. 

Point Park is one of the most popular places to visit in Lookout Mountain. It’s run by the National Park Service, and visitors can explore its trails, creeks, and other memorial sites. Ruby Falls — the tallest public underground waterfall — is another great attraction for people of all ages, as it offers walking tours and zipline adventures. 

For healthcare in Lookout Mountain, Erlanger Primary Care offers a comprehensive range of all medical services for people of all ages.

Q: What is the safest, least expensive place to retire?
A:
Lookout Mountain has been named one of the top 10 Safest Places to Live in Tennessee by Niche, and its cost of living index is around 10 percent below the national average, making it one of the safest and cheapest places to live on this list.

Best Small Towns in Georgia to Retire 

Georgia is a great place to live if you’re looking to get away from the busier hustle and bustle and enjoy the nearby natural beauty. And when it comes to taxes, Social Security retirement benefits are not taxed in Georgia, and a maximum deduction of up to $65,000 is available on all other types of retirement income for anyone who is 65 or older. Take a look at these best small towns the Peach State has to offer!

A large residential home in Dutch Island, Georgia, outside of Savannah. The home features a dual staircase leading up to a large covered porch and entrance, a two-car garage, and a white exterior.
(Source: Alair Homes Savannah via Facebook)

7. Dutch Island, GA

Along the Inter-Coastal Waterway, and southeast of nearby Savannah, is where you can find the gated waterfront community of Dutch Island. Covering over 500 acres and surrounded by salt water marsh, Skidaway River, Herb River, and Grimball Creek are ideal for outdoor recreational activities like fishing, swimming, and boating. 

Some of Dutch Island’s best amenities include a swimming pool, a beach volleyball court, tennis courts, and boat ramps. Dutch Island is also a part of Chatham County, where residents have access to renowned healthcare systems like Memorial Health and St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital

8. Avondale Estates, GA

The community of Avondale Estates has been given the No. 2 spot for Best Places to Retire in Georgia by Niche, and it’s easy to see why. The culture/arts scene is very prominent in Avondale Estates, and there are a variety of fun attractions to visit, like the Fernbank Museum and World of Coca-Cola. As far as healthcare goes, Emory University Hospital is one of the top facilities in the area, with 82 percent of patients recommending their services. 

Residents of Avondale Estates have easy access to fresh produce, as the Avondale Estates Farmers Market is in the area and the Dekalb Farmers Market is just a short drive away. Consignment and antique shops are also quite popular in the area, with Second Life and Kudzu Antiques! both nearby. 

Best Small Towns in Virginia to Retire

As with Georgia, there is no tax on Social Security retirement benefits in Virginia, and other types of retirement income are also deductible up to $12,000. With lots of opportunities to explore the nation’s history, along with great amenities for retirees, here are some of Virginia’s best small towns. 

9. Rockwood, VA

The small town of Rockwood is situated in the Shenandoah Valley region, 13 miles southwest of Richmond. With a four-season climate, Rockwood provides its retired residents with just about every amenity they could ask for, from shopping centers to parks to restaurants. The Johnston-Willis Hospital is also one of the best local healthcare facilities for retired residents.

Oxbridge Square Shopping Center and the Rockwood Square Shopping Center are the places residents go to shop, and Rockwood Park and Rockwood Nature Center are both great places to explore nature and stay active. Rockwood Park also provides spaces for sports, like basketball and tennis, and the Rockwood Nature Center is a great place to explore the trails with your grandkids.

Large colonial home in Massanetta Springs, Virginia. The home features an immense green lawn, extensive landscaping, and a simple tan and blue exterior.
(Source: Melinda Beam Shenandoah Valley Real Estate via Facebook)

10. Massanetta Springs, VA

Similar to Rockwood, the small town of Massanetta Springs is located right in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley and is home to a plethora of picturesque views, along with a charming downtown area in nearby Harrisonburg. In fact, Downtown Harrisonburg is the lively and fun center of everything the city has to offer!

Some highlights of this local downtown area include shopping, craft breweries, and museums. For the grandkids, you can check out the Explore More Discovery Museum, while The Valley Turnpike Museum is perfect for adults. And for all healthcare necessities, Valley Urgent Care and Bridging Health Clinic are some of the top options available.

Best Small Towns in South Carolina to Retire

Social Security benefits are not taxed in South Carolina, and a $15,000 deduction is available for seniors on all other types of retirement income. In addition, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in South Carolina, from the fun attractions and restaurants to outdoor activities with beautiful beach views. Take a look at our picks for South Carolina’s top small towns for retirees.

11. Murrells Inlet, SC

The charming fishing village of Murrells Inlet is definitely one of best small towns in South Carolina to retire, as it’s full of oceanfront beaches and is even referred to as the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina.” 

If you’re looking for the perfect spot to enjoy the beach, head to Huntington Beach State Park to explore the coast and its variety of walking trails. Boaters will especially love Wacca Wache Marina. Murrells Inlet is also home to a variety of fun events for seniors to enjoy, including the annual Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival

For healthcare, you can visit Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital, an award-winning facility.

12. Garden City, SC

Just 10 miles south of Myrtle Beach is where the eventful and lively small town of Garden City can be found, home to some of the best beaches in the entire state. The Pier at Garden City is a local hotspot for all walks of life and includes live music, concerts, bars, and even a full arcade. Garden City is also neighbors with Murrells Inlet, so retired residents living here also have access to the Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital

And while Garden City is home to its fair share of lively energy, leisurely outdoor activities like fishing, crabbing, and boating can all be done at the local creeks and tributaries. Large oceanfront homes and beautiful beachside condos are some of Garden City’s additional highlights. 

A PODS truck is transporting three PODS portable moving and storage containers along a remote freeway.

Small-Town America Moving Is Done Best With PODS

When you're ready to retire to a small town in America, look no further than PODS. With three different container sizes, you can easily fit everything you would need for your move. And with built-in storage, you won't have to worry about downsizing all in one go.

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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