OK, Florida, we get it. You rock for retirees.
Nine of the top 10 best counties for retirees in America by school and neighborhood review website Niche are in Florida, the outlier being Carteret County in North Carolina at No. 10.
To achieve its latest annual rankings, Niche gathered local and federal government data and user opinions and ran them through its state-of-the-art analysis. Niche also provides rankings for schools, colleges and places to live in general.
Many retirees are flocking to the Sunshine State, so they must be doing something right. Let’s see which counties are best for those enjoying their post-work years.
10. Carteret County, North Carolina
This county of 67,944 along the Atlantic Ocean includes scenic attractions such as Bogue Banks, a 21-mile barrier island that includes the resort beaches of Emerald Isle and Atlantic Beach, and the historic Beaufort waterfront.
Niche reports that violent crime rates here are far lower than national averages. The median home value in Carteret County is $237,800, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, slightly below the national median value of $244,900.
9. Brevard County, Florida
In addition to being a “nice place to visit for the sun, surf, and sand,” according to one reviewer, the median home value of $235,500 in Brevard County is slightly lower than the national average.
In addition, this county of just more than 600,000 residents contains attractions such as the Kennedy Space Center, the Eau Gallie Arts District and Cocoa Beach, where folks can enjoy surfing, parasailing and casino cruises.
8. Lee County, Florida
In this county of more than 750,000 people, which is located on the Gulf of Mexico, water recreationists can enjoy a 190-mile Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail for canoes and kayaks and, of course, miles of beaches at Fort Myers and Cape Coral.
7. Sumter County, Florida
Everything you could possibly want as a retiree exists in perhaps the most famous retirement community in the world — The Villages, which encompasses Sumter and Marion Counties and was the fastest-growing metro area in the U.S., according to 2020 Census data.
The more than 130,000 people in The Villages can enjoy literally any kind of entertainment and community gathering under the Florida sun, as this packed calendar attests.
6. Martin County, Florida
Cost of living in the county seat of Stuart is lower than the national average, according to the website Best Places. Meanwhile, Niche gives the county — population 158,341 — an overall “A” grade and also cites lower rates of many violent and property crimes compared with the national average.
5. Charlotte County, Florida
According to the 2020 Census, this county of 186,847 in southwest Florida had a lower median home value ($226,700) than the national average of $244,900.
Niche notes that annual crime rates per 100,000 residents in the county are significantly lower than national averages, particularly in the cases of assault (57.3 compared with 282.7) and robbery (26.1 compared with 135.5).
4. Highlands County, Florida
There’s plenty to see in this region in central Florida — huge murals and a clown school in Lake Placid, Hotel Jacaranda in Avon Park, and a soda festival and auto racing in Sebring. Housing is much more affordable than the national average, according to Niche, whether buying (median home value $131,900) or renting (median $839).
3. Pinellas County, Florida
Niche gives an overall grade of “A” and a grade of “B+” for Diversity to this county of 957,989, which is basically a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. There’s a lot to do in the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater, including beaches, Major League Baseball, the Salvador Dali museum and sunset celebrations on Pier 60.
2. Indian River County, Florida
Violent crime in this county of nearly 160,000 is much lower than the national average, according to Niche. The county’s municipalities offer a bevy of fun — Vero Beach is a gem on Florida’s Treasure Coast, Fellsmere has country charm and Sebastian is a water recreation paradise.
1. Sarasota County, Florida
This county of 429,336 residents on the Gulf Coast gets high marks from Niche: an overall grade of “A,” an “A+” for its Public Schools and “A’s” for both Nightlife and Good for Families. The county also has violent and property crime rates that are lower than the national averages. Retirees who want to spend their golden years under the sun will enjoy more than eight months per year of sunny days in Sarasota.