The Best Beach Towns for Retirement

Coast of Gulf of Mexico from Venice Public Pier in Venice, Florida
Photo: Schwabel Photography/Getty Images

These beach towns are prime spots for living out your golden years by the sea. Whether you're looking for a spot to relocate to during the next few years or you are dreaming about places to put down roots decades from now, it's always the right time to explore retirement destinations, especially when those places come with surf, sand, and sea breezes. These spots are livable, picturesque, and inviting. With characteristics that appeal to both your lively and laid-back sides, there's a place to call home on this list for any and every beach-bound retiree.

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Lewes, Delaware

Beach at Cape Henlopen State Park
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As a retirement town, Lewes has lots of draws, including no sales tax and the third lowest real estate tax area in the country. Great golf courses, medical facilities, beaches, state parks, and places to fish, kayak, and hike lure retirees from across the country.

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Cape Charles, Virginia

Shops in Mason Avenue in Cape Charles, VA
Robbie Caponetto

Located on Virginia's eastern shore, Cape Charles is an inviting small town with picturesque piers and sidewalks for strolling and biking. Visits to the town's bookstore, ice cream shop, bakery, and cafes make it easy to meet your neighbors and feel like a local.

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Sarasota, Florida


It probably won't come as a surprise to hear that Florida does exceptionally well in the retirement rankings across the board. Sarasota, with its pristine Gulf beaches, cracked its way into the top towns thanks to its high number of doctors' offices (12.4) and recreation centers (3) per 1,000 people.

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Venice, Florida

Coast of Gulf of Mexico from Venice Public Pier in Venice, Florida
Schwabel Photography/Getty Images

Just south of Sarasota, quiet and charming Venice is the ideal retirement spot for those looking for a slower pace of life. Residents (nearly 60 percent of whom are seniors) can stroll through the Old Florida downtown, hunt for shells on the pearly white beaches, or take their furry friends to the city's local dog-friendly beach.

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Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina
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This affordable beach town just south of Myrtle Beach has a laid-back feel—it began as a fishing village—complete with a wooden boardwalk along the estuary and a state park great for bird-watching. There are lots of great golf courses too, and plenty of fresh seafood to enjoy in area restaurants.

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Vero Beach, Florida

Aerial view of bridge crossing Indian River in Vero Beach, Florida

Over on the Sunshine State's Atlantic coast, Vero Beach is a nature lover's paradise with miles of hiking and biking trails, plus wildlife refuges along the coast. It's also great for retirees, with lots of recreation areas and a high ratio of doctors' offices to people.

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Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Bay St. Louis Mississippi
Robbe Caponetto

This Mississippi Gulf coast town is a haven for retirees because it has a relatively low cost of living paired with a laid-back atmosphere. Bay St. Louis lures visitors and new residents with its inviting downtown and easy access to community gathering spots, like local art galleries and restaurants.

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Stuart, Florida

Happiest Seaside town winner: Stuart, Florida

Tucked between Vero Beach and Palm Beach, this quaint Intracoastal town is a hidden gem along the coast, with Old Florida vibes and a reputation as the "Sailfish Capital of the World." The welcoming atmosphere and colorful boutique-lined downtown are draws for seniors, who make up more than a quarter of the town's population.

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Folly Beach, South Carolina

A short drive from Charleston, Folly Beach is a barrier island both near to city life and millions of miles away. Funky, free-spirited, and full of surfers, sun-seekers, and quirky souls, this is beach life in all its glory. Get your action fix at Center
Daniela Duncan/Getty Images

When looking for a beach town in South Carolina to relocate to, set your sights on Folly Beach. It's home to one of the most relaxed stretches of shore in the area, with a laidback surf feel and a welcoming community, but it also offers access to the city comforts of Charleston, just a 20-minute drive north.

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Naples, Florida


This gorgeous little Gulf Coast town with Mediterranean-inspired architecture is a total dream, so much so that it ranks highly in multiple surveys on happiness and well-being. It's one of the best places in the country to retire because it has plenty of medical care, social opportunities, retirement centers, and recreation activities nearby.

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Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island lighthouse
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If you want to retire to coastal Georgia, Tybee Island is an ideal spot. Transplants relish the island's quiet beaches, which are bounded by rolling dunes and sapphire waves. There's also a long fishing pier for casting a line, and historic sights like the town's iconic lighthouse.

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Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Welcome to the Lowcountry
Laurey W. Glenn

For an elegant retirement, you can't do much better than life on Kiawah Island. You'll find some of the area's best seafood and golf courses, and the opportunities for fun are endless. Set out on a sailboat, book a tennis lesson, breeze along biking trails, explore the boutiques, or nab tickets for concerts and festivals to make the most of retirement in this South Carolina paradise.

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Fairhope, Alabama

Alabama: Fairhope

Few towns are as charming as Fairhope, and its relaxed, welcoming atmosphere makes retirees feel right at home. With the draw of the water (Fairhope is on Mobile Bay) and a downtown with unique restaurants and boutiques, it's one of the best places in the state, maybe even in the whole country, to retire.

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