Retirement Just a Pipe Dream? 10 Best Cities in America for Working Retirees

old person with a plan to never retire

Many people plan to never retire | Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

A retirement filled with only fun and leisure is a nice thought, but it’s a flawed concept for many Americans. Gone are the days when a worker would sail off into the sunset with a gold watch and a comfy pension. Today, workers across the nation are more responsible than ever for their retirements as pensions and financial security become more elusive. Unfortunately, that can mean working longer or never retiring.

Some people plan to delay retirement or never retire to compensate for a lack of savings, while others simply enjoy their work too much to completely walk away at a set age. Either way, certain cities are more attractive to working seniors than others. In order to find the best retirement cities for people never planning to fully retire, SmartAsset recently analyzed data for 404 cities in America and ranked them based on 10 factors, including average effective tax rates, number of retirement communities, housing costs, senior unemployment rates, and senior populations.

Florida is the most popular state for the best ranking cities, but there are a few surprises on the list. Let’s take a closer look at the 10 best retirement cities if you plan to never retire, or at least plan to work well into your golden years, according to SmartAsset.

10. Santa Monica, California

Work Retirement index: 83.22

Santa Monica ranks as the No. 10 best retirement city if you never plan to retire, and is the only California city to make the list. It ranks poorly for housing costs and has a higher effective tax rate than every other city on the list, but other advantages help balance out those costs. Santa Monica ranks No. 5 for the number of doctors’ offices per thousand residents, and No. 1 for the number of recreational facilities per thousand. Seniors also make up more than 15% of the city’s population.

Next: Seniors love this combination of dry heat and low unemployment.

9. Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona | Source: City of Tucson

Work Retirement index: 83.85

Tucson ranks as the No. 9 best retirement city if you never plan to retire. The dry heat attracts a senior population of 12.6%, while the senior unemployment rate is only 5.53%, the second lowest on the list. Tucson’s housing costs ($9,312) are also the second lowest on the list. As an added bonus, the city ranks as one of America’s most dog-friendly cities thanks to an abundance of dog parks and dog-friendly restaurants. However, there are only 2.20 doctors’ offices per thousand residents, the second worst on the list.

Next: Seniors flock to Florida like it’s a 4 p.m. dinner buffet special.

8. Hollywood, Florida

Hollywood, FL

Hollywood, Florida | Source: City of Hollywood, FL

Work Retirement index: 84.03

Florida is no stranger to retirees. Hollywood, Florida ranks as the No. 8 best retirement city if you never plan to retire. The city has a decent senior median household income of $33,669, and a senior population of 15.4%. The effective tax rate is a reasonable 6%. Although housing costs are on the high side at $13,464, there are plenty of doctors (5.35 per thousand residents) and nice weather to enjoy affordable outdoor activities. After all, Florida is known as the Sunshine State for a reason. Four of the top 10 retirement cities are located in Florida.

7. Southfield, Michigan

The Detroit skyline.

Detroit is Southfield’s neighbor | Source: Foter.com

Work Retirement index: 84.39

The city with the slogan “The Center of it All” makes a surprising appearance on the best retirement cities list, ranking No. 7. Southfield is the only Northern Midwest city in SmartAsset’s top 10. The “prosperous suburb of Detroit” has an impressive senior median household income of $40,531, and a senior unemployment rate of only 6.44%. Housing costs are $12,648, seniors make up 18.3% of the population, and the effective tax rate is 5.79%. Doctors are plentiful at 4.88 per thousand residents.

6. Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama on a map | iStock

Birmingham, Alabama on a map | Source: iStock

Work Retirement index: 85.86

Warm climate states continue to have an advantage in retirement rankings. Birmingham ranks as the No. 6 best retirement city if you never plan to retire. The city offers affordable living with housing costs just under $9,000, and a senior median household income of $30,932. The senior unemployment rate is 4.99%, the lowest on the list. The effective tax rate is 5.03%, and Alabama is home to some of the lowest property taxes in the nation. Seniors account for almost 13% of Birmingham’s population. Doctors’ offices per thousand residents is 3.69.

5. Miami, Florida

miami florida skyline

Welcome to Miami | ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Work Retirement index: 87.3

Miami offers something for everybody, including seniors. Magic City ranks as the No. 5 best retirement city if you never plan to retire. The senior median household income is low at $20,484, but Miami offers a high amount of doctors’ offices (8.47 per thousand), enough jobs for a senior unemployment rate just under 7%, and a reasonable effective tax rate of 6.48%. Of course the weather is nice, which also helps explain why seniors make up almost 16% of the population. Housing costs are in line with other top retirement cities at $12,024.

4. Las Vegas

Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Work Retirement index: 91.46

Instead of Sin City, you might want to think of Las Vegas as Senior City, as it ranks as the No. 4 best retirement city if you never plan to retire. Vegas is yet another example that warmer is better when ranking retirement cities. Eight of the top 10 cities on the list are in warm climates. Vegas as the highest senior median household income ($41,726) on the list, and 3.2 doctors’ offices per thousand residents. The senior unemployment rate is 9.86%, while the effective tax rate is on the high side at 7.5%. However, seniors make up 13.3% of the city’s population.

3. Medford, Oregon

Medford, OR

Medford, OR – centrally located between San Francisco and Portland | Source: City of Medford, OR

Work Retirement index: 93.11

Medford ranks as the No. 3 best retirement city if you never plan to retire. It’s the only Northwest city on the list. Medford has one of the lowest effective tax rates (4.21%) in the country, a high senior population (16.1%), and a solid senior median household income ($39,599). However, not every senior is finding a job easily. The senior unemployment rate is 13.16%. Doctors are not as abundant in other top cities either (2.17 doctors’ offices per thousand residents).

2. Pompano Beach, Florida

Source: Facebook Pompano Beach

Pompano Beach, Florida | Source: Pompano Beach via Facebook

Work Retirement index: 94.25

Pompano Beach ranks as the No. 2 best retirement city if you never plan to retire. The beautiful beach city attracts a large older crowd. Seniors account for 19.1% of the city’s population. Working retirees may also enjoy the 5.56% effective tax rate, and there are 6.74 doctors’ offices per thousand residents. However, the city’s senior unemployment rate is the highest in the top 10 at 13.88%, and the senior median household income is only $28,978. Housing costs come in at $11,676.

1. Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Source: W Fort Lauderdale Facebook

Fort Lauderdale, Florida | Source: W Fort Lauderdale via Facebook

Work Retirement index: 100

Fort Lauderdale completes Florida’s strong showing, ranking as the best retirement city in America if you never plan to retire. Of the 404 cities analyzed, Fort Lauderdale has the highest amount of doctors (10.95 doctors’ offices per thousand residents). The senior median household income is $41,672, while the effective tax rate is 5.56%. Housing costs ($13,860) and senior unemployment (11.34%) are on the high side, but plenty of seniors are moving into town and making it work. Seniors make up 16.4% of Fort Lauderdale’s population.

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