Sarasota, Fort Myers, Boca Raton top 3 Fla retirement options, study finds

11:12 a.m.

Sarasota, Fort Myers, Boca Raton top 3 Fla retirement options, study finds

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With Florida recently ranked by WalletHub as the best state to retire, and a cheap cost of living being important for retirees in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report identifying 2021's Best Places to Retire in Florida and expert commentary.

To determine the most ideal places for older Americans to live their golden years, WalletHub compared more than 100 cities in the Sunshine State across 29 key indicators of retiree-friendliness. The data set ranges from cost of living to health care facilities per capita to number of attractions.

Top 20 Florida Cities for Retirees
1. Sarasota 11. Bradenton
2. Fort Myers 12. Immokalee
3. Boca Raton 13. Jupiter
4. Miami 14. Winter Park
5. Orlando 15. Pensacola
6. Tampa 16. South Bradenton
7. Sebastian 17. Bonita Springs
8. Fort Lauderdale 18. Cape Coral
9. Delray Beach 19. Melbourne
10. Clearwater 20. Estero

Best vs. Worst
The Villages has the highest share of the population aged 65 and older, 81.60 percent, which is 13.4 times higher than in Horizon West, the city with the lowest at 6.10 percent.

Daytona Beach has the lowest adjusted cost-of-living index, 86.80, which is 1.9 times lower than in Coral Gables, the city with the highest at 162.42.

Weston has the highest share of workers aged 65 and older, 27.94 percent, which is 3.7 times higher than in The Villages, the city with the lowest at 7.64 percent.

Sarasota has the most home-care facilities (per 100,000 residents), 130, which is 65 times more than in Ocoee, the city with the fewest at two.

Weston has the fewest property crimes (per 1,000 residents), five, which is 15.2 times fewer than in Miami Beach, the city with the most at 76.

To view the full report and your city's rank, please visit:

Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a phone, Skype or in-studio interview with one of our experts. Full data sets for specific cities are also available upon request.

Expert Commentary

Are retirees a drain on state and local budgets in Florida or do they pay more in taxes than they use in state and local services?

"Florida is one of the 10 most tax-friendly states for retirees, as well as having no state income tax. This means that there are no state taxes on Social Security benefits, pensions, IRA's. 401 (k)' s and other retirement income. Retirees do not drain on state and local budgets or pay necessarily more in taxes than they use in state and local services, because of a 6% levied sales tax rate and an average combined tax rate of 6.8%, which is more than enough to help cover budget costs in Florida."
Andrew Burnstine, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Lynn University

In choosing the best cities to retire in Florida, what are the top 5 indicators?

"AARP provides a clear set of guidelines for cities and states to develop 'age-friendly' communities, whereby people of all ages have their needs met. Five important ones include: access to healthcare, available transportation, safe and accessible outdoor spaces where people can walk to stores and participate in social spaces, access, and availability of healthy foods, and affordable housing. To be clear, these are the same things people of all ages need. Cities that acknowledge changing needs and abilities across the life course are places that people can live and age in place well into late life."
Dawn C. Carr, Ph.D. MGS FGSA - Associate Professor, Florida State University

What is the most important policy that Governor Ron DeSantis and other state and local policymakers should pursue to better meet the needs of retirees in Florida?

"While it is important to increase the number of senior aging-in-place residencies and nursing care facilities -- to avert a shortfall crisis as Florida's Baby Boomer population swells, vigilantly enhancing oversight to combat 'elder financial abuse' is paramount. Older retirees may become 'vulnerable elders,' especially those with cognitive impairments, which can allow them to be taken advantage of by others -- sadly, even by family and friends. Florida is not alone in this challenge -- all retirees, current, and future, will need their respective state leaders to help provide and protect their safety during the sunset of their lives.
Robert W. Tiller, CFP®, CFS®, RFC® - Raymond James Financial Director of the Personal Financial Planning Program, University of South Florida

"Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, states, and local policymakers should make sure that all existing state and local policies, including: No state taxes, social security mandates, and pensions all remain the same. These are important factors that have made Florida one of the top 5 retirement destinations in the U.S. It would be an economic hardship for retirees in particular if Florida were to change or restructure these important policies."
Andrew Burnstine, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Lynn University