The Venice Fishing Pier in Florida

12 Best Small Towns In Florida For Retirees

Florida is among the top states to retire in because of its warm climate, top health facilities, and recreational activities. The state is more than bustling metropolises and that world famous mouse; Florida is home to some gorgeous towns with natural scenery and tranquility.

While some retirees shy away from retiring in smaller areas because of their lack of access to health care or shopping necessities, these small towns in Florida offer the best of both worlds. Retirees enjoy peace and serenity in a tight knit community while living just a short drive away from the necessities that they require. 

Gulf Breeze

Aerial view of Gulf Breeze, Florida
Aerial view of Gulf Breeze, Florida

Gulf Breeze has an idyllic natural landscape, the kind one finds on old fashioned postcards for Florida. The white sand beaches and azure colored water are just the beginning. Right across the water lies beautiful Pensacola Beach and, the Naval Live Oaks Preserve is a short stroll down the beach. 

One of the main attractions is the Gulf Breeze Zoo, encompassing 50 acres of free-range land where zebras, wildebeests, and other wildlife roam. The town includes a recreational center and 53% of the land is devoted to parks and open green spaces. The Tiger Point Golf Club boasts lovely views of the Gulf of Mexico.

Along with the 20 golf courses within 20 miles of Gulf Breeze, with two residing in the town, there is also a Senior Center that promotes wellness and health for adults 55 and older through a variety of programs. They also host seminars and community events throughout the year to promote a sense of community.

There are several medical practitioners and wellness centers in Gulf Breeze that cater to seniors. Baptist Medical Group and Living Waters Regenerative Medicine Center are the most popular. The Medical Wellness Institute of America and HealthTruthLife are two of the wellness centers that specialize in senior care. 

The houses in Gulf Breeze share a common architecture of brick or stucco ranch style homes. The crime rate is low and the cost of living is 38% higher in home costs while the utilities and groceries are about 6% higher than in other states. It is recommended that a single person average $56,000 per year in income and a family should earn $89,280 to live comfortably. There are a few senior living facilities to consider: The Beacon, The Arbors, The Camilia, and Beehive Homes are the four communities locally. 

The climate in Florida is a primary reason more and more folks are retiring in the Sunshine State. Gulf Breeze is no exception but it does not get as hot in the summer as the southern part of the states. That also means that it does get a bit cooler in the winter months, with an average of around 64℉ in December. Public transportation is available, with a free bus service running between Pensacola, Pensacola Beach, and Gulf Breeze.


Main street in Naples, Florida
Main street in Naples, Florida, via LMspencer /

Naples is an upscale community in southwest Florida that is convenient to major centers like Miami, Tampa, and Key West. The quaint community is in between the expansive Everglades National Park and the pristine white sand beaches that define the west coast of Florida. This is an ideal retirement spot, especially for nature lovers and fans of walking and bicycle trails. 

Historic and modern architecture converge to make this an aesthetically pleasing community to retire in. The historic downtown area brings visitors from around the world because of the sophisticated dining, high end retailers, and stunning view of the powdery sand beach. The palm lined streets and classic architecture wrap around pedestrian friendly thoroughfares to 5th Street, where art festivals, live music, and seasonal festivals are always happening. 

There are many community centers and local clubs designed for retirees. The River Park Community Center, Gulfshore Playhouse, and the Naples Performing Arts Center are just a handful of the local centers available. The TheatreZone offers live theatre and the Norris Center offers meeting rooms for clubs and also has live concert events year round. Naples is known for their golf courses and there are 92 clubs to choose from.

Because of its reputation as a retirement mecca, Naples offers many health and wellness facilities and gyms for seniors, most being on US 41, the main thoroughfare for convenience. Pro Senior Fitness is a gym for adults 55 and up and Senior Friendship Health Center is a group of practitioners specializing in senior care. 

The average cost of living in Naples is 13% higher than the US average. Living comfortably in Naples averages an annual income of $62,000 for a single person and $201,000 for a family. This is also a "snowbird" community and when people "flock" down here to escape harsh winters in the north from October until March, prices tend to go up on groceries, gas, and other living necessities. 

The weather in Naples is, in a word, perfect. While the summer months get hot, there are over 300 days of sunshine on average and the average temperature in December is around 76℉. Public transit is popular in Naples and there are a couple of options with the most recognizable being the Collier County Transit. 

Babcock Ranch

Aerial view of Babcock Ranch, Florida
Aerial view of Babcock Ranch, Florida

Babcock Ranch is a planned community of 18,000 acres in southwest Florida. It is built around a wilderness preserves and is within 30 minutes of the pristine beaches of the west coast of Florida. Known as "The Town of Tomorrow", the town is the world's first solar powered town and one of the best places to retire for a vibrant community and health and wellness. 

The town was built purposefully for peace and tranquility. Fiber optic cables provide high speed internet for the entire community and they have their own healthcare and education systems. Even though Babcock Ranch is in the middle of Fort Myers, once you enter the town, the hustle and bustle of the busy city fade away.

The inclusive amenities are at Crescent B. Commons. Amenities include shopping and dining like The Lakehouse Kitchen and Bar. The community is planning on more retailers coming in a second phase called Midtown.

The central and social area of Babcock Ranch is Founder's Square, set on the banks of Lake Babcock. Here you will find downtown like it used to be. This is the social meeting place, centered around a recreational hall where neighbors meet. On the weekends, live jazz music resounds from the band shell on the green. 

The Regency at Babcock Ranch is the designated 55+ community inside the town. Lee Health Facility is located at Founder's Square and is oriented toward senior care. There is also LPG Family Care that has general practitioners. WellWay is a wellness center that offers pilates, yoga, and other exercise programs. 

The median house price lists at $482,500 as of late October but is trending down 13% annually. Utility bills are on average 41% less than average of the US because of the solar power. 

This innovative town offers its own public transportation, Babcock Ranch Transportation Services. The shuttles are fueled by the solar power that powers the town. There are different communities here that rent to tenants while others are owner financed. The association fees cover a range of amenities from lawn maintenance to the use of the swimming pool and community center. 

The winter through the spring offer comfortable temperatures in the mid to high 70s while the summers heat up into the high 90s with high humidity. Winter coats are rarely needed here, and that is one of the main attractions about retiring at Babcock Ranch.


Street view in Venice, Florida
Street view in Venice, Florida, via Andriy Blokhin /

Venice is a small beach community on Florida's southwest coast. This small beach community of less than 30,000 people is an ideal destination for retirees because of its low crime rate, community activities, and year round tropical temperatures. Along with the white sand beaches, Venice is home to several parks including Venetian Waterway Park. and Centennial Park.

Venice is a small yet incorporated island with a laidback atmosphere.  The tiny island is known as the "shark tooth capital of the world" because of the amount of shark teeth that are found on Caspersan Beach. Tampa Avenue in historic downtown, built in the 1920s, reminds pedestrians of yesteryear and is home to several historic sites like Hotel Venice, the San Marco Hotel, and the Orange Blossom Garage. 

Several towns in this section of Florida are popular retirement communities. Venice is no different and offers various senior centers and community centers like the Senior Friendship Centers of Venice which offers an array of dancing classes, exercise classes, and other healthy activities. The Venice Community Center is available to all age groups and often hosts seminars, concerts, and community events.

 There are several medical facilities and physical rehabilitation centers for seniors in Venice. Beachlife Wellness, the 65 Plus Center For Active Aging, and the Self-Care Center are a handful of options for medical care, and the 65 Plus facility also has physical classes daily for a more active lifestyle.

The cost of living in Venice is roughly 5% higher than the national average with the median home cost averaging $441,000. There are several nursing homes here, along with senior centers that offer transportation.  Public transportation is available through Sarasota County.

 The weather here is warm year round, and the summertime can get a little oppressive, especially with the humidity. But, the tropical climate is nice in the wintertime and makes outdoor activities like walking or bicycling, more enjoyable. 

Lakewood Ranch

Lakewood Ranch, Florida.
Lakewood Ranch, Florida. Image credit Ken Schulze via Shutterstock

Lakewood Ranch is a planned community in Northern Manatee County, just north of Venice. It is an inclusive community and an ideal place to retire because of the weather, the community, and the convenient access to medical facilities and senior centers. 

It seems like something is always going on at Lakewood Ranch for residents. For instance, live concerts are held on the first Friday of every month, sports watching parties are held in the park, and live theatre is performed on the open field, which gives theatre a whole new atmosphere.

Along with the live performances held at the park, Lakewood Ranch also boasts several golf courses. There are over 300 retail shops in three Town Centers and restaurants to choose from and each neighborhood has its own plaza for community events. The town centers are designed to service a certain side of the community for added convenience to the residents.

The Sherdan and the Windsor are two of the senior facilities on Lakewood Ranch. The town has its own medical center, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, and also has a medical spa and daily exercise classes that promote a healthier lifestyle. The convenience of the highly rated medical facilities is one of the biggest draws at The Ranch. From medical emergencies to toothaches, there are facilities here for all medical and dental issues. 

The cost of living in Lakewood Ranch is about 6% higher than the national average, with the median home cost being $678,000. The utilities are, on average, 3% lower than the national average while the medical costs are roughly the same. There is public transportation available through Manatee County, but most of your retail or medical needs can be met inside the community. 

The temperature in Lakewood Ranch is fairly temperate in all four seasons. The humidity is high in the summer and the winter temperatures can dip into the 40s but, overall, the climate is warm with an average of the middle 70s to the middle 80s. 

Ponte Vedra

Aerial view of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Aerial view of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

Ponte Vedra is on the northeast coast of Florida and is known for its professional golf courses and gated communities. Historic A1A runs through the heart of town and stretches beside MIckler's Landing, a haven for shark tooth hunters. World class golfing attracts visitors from around the world and the PGA Tour plays at TPC Sawgrass every March.

Ponte Vedra is an upscale town with a small town charm that is hard to put into words. There is higher end dining at Ruth Chris Steakhouse, and also sports bars like Chubby's and Mulligan's Pub. The town closes its doors early, even on the weekend, but that is appealing to the local residents, as it cuts down on traffic and crime. 

There are 11 local golf courses, none of them municipal courses, and another 25 courses within a 20 mile radius. Ponte Vedra is an eclectic mix of hiking trails, bird watching, and sophisticated entertainment. The Ponte Vedra Inn and Club was the first major country club in town and holds a special prestige among the locals.

 Ponte Vedra is home to many retirees, and there are plenty of medical facilities and wellness centers that focus on the 55+ community. The Ponte Vedra Wellness Center, True Wellness Health Center, and  The Palms offer excellent service. Baptist Beaches is the primary hospital with an emergency room and they have a group of practitioners for non emergency services. 

The cost of living in Ponte Vedra is favorable to the national average, being 12% lower than the national average. There are places where new homes can be built but most of the communities were built in the 1970s and are still relatively new houses with modern amenities. Inside the gated communities, each neighborhood has its own aesthetic, which is a subtle touch and ensures the homes are not all alike. 

 Ponte Vedra, unlike in South Florida, does have seasons where the temperature drops to the lower 40s. The summer is hot and the humidity is high, which is the same in any part of Florida. There is public transportation and the senior care facilities offer shuttle services. 

Winter Park

Retail stores on South Park Avenue in downtown Winter Park, Florida.
Retail stores on South Park Avenue in downtown Winter Park, Florida.

Winter Park is a suburb of Orlando and is an ideal place to retire due to its low crime rate and convenient access to Orlando. It is known for its open spaces like Central Park and also has a vibrant arts and culture scene, showcased in The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, offering blown glass pieces by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

The town, once a winter resort, is also a nature lover's paradise and features over 70 parks. The arts and culture epicenter includes The Winter Park Playhouse, a live theater, and the Orlando attractions are only minutes away without having to fight the traffic. The brick lined streets and aesthetically pleasing architecture are akin to a Norman Rockwell painting and the town offers an abundance of outdoor and indoor attractions. 

There are a handful of golf courses locally and The Winter Park Country Club and Golf Course is a historic site and is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. There is also the Winter Park Community Center with daily events including Toastmasters, seminars, and a weekly coffee and clarity meeting.

There are three health and wellness centers in town along with a Dedicated Senior Medical Center. The Center specializes in cardiology, endocrinology, and a host of other services. Winter Park's proximity to Orlando is a convenient way to receive state of the art medical services from AdventHealth Orlando. 

The cost of living in Winter Park is about 6% higher than the national average with the median home cost being $495,000. The average commute time is 21 minutes and public transportation is available. Some of the senior centers provide shuttle services as well.

The temperature averages from the mid 90s during the summer months to the mid 70s in the winter, though the temperature can plummet to the early 40s in the winter. The rainy season is September to October, where an average precipitation of 11% is the norm. 

Winter Garden

Historic brick clock tower at the intersection of Plant and Main street in downtown Winter Garden
Historic brick clock tower at the intersection of Plant and Main street in downtown Winter Garden, via SRProductions/Shutterstock

Winter Garden is a sleepy town located only 14 miles west of Orlando, making it a popular retirement destination. Winter Garden is older than Winter Park and those looking for a rich sense of history would be better served in Winter Garden. The town was incorporated in 1908and the historic buildings are on the National Historic List.

West Orange Trail, in the heart of the historic district, was built on old railway alignments and runs 34 miles. Passengers often disembark to walk down Plant Street for shopping or dining at The Attic Door, Axum Coffee, or a host of other diners and coffee shops. The unique brick architecture and tree lined streets are warm and inviting and the pedestrian friendly roads make this the ideal spot for a relaxing stroll.

For the retiree looking for a strong sense of community, Winter Garden is the place to be. The town is known for its outdoor amenities including bicycle rentals, walking trails, and open air markets. Downtown is active during the weekends with Friday On The Plaza featuring live music, Saturday's Farmer's Market, and holiday specials throughout the year. 

There are several senior living facilities in town as well as senior health care, the primary center being AdvenHealth Winter Garden. There is a thriving 50+ community in the area and the town has a listing of community events and resources on their website

The cost of living is 6% higher than the national average with the median home cost being $615,000. The average home appreciation value has risen 24% in the last decade.  The average commute time is 28 minutes and public transportation is available. 

March, April, and November are the most comfortable months here while August and September are the hottest. The winter months temperature averages in the mid 60s but can dip to below freezing during a winter storm. 

Delray Beach

Colony Hotel and Cabana Club. Delray Beach, Florida, United States.
Colony Hotel and Cabana Club. Delray Beach, Florida, United States. Editorial credit: alisafarov /

Delray Beach is on the southeast coast and is home to a funky and eclectic arts scene. The The Pineapple Grove Arts District is lined with local art galleries and artist displays while the Morikami Museum displays gorgeous Japanese tea gardens on the lake shore. Wakodahatchee Wetlands is nearby where turtles and alligators are part of the daily attraction.

This small coastal town ranks among one of the best retirement communities because it has the feel of a big city without the traffic and the noise. The crime rate is low and it has been voted America's Best Small Town. It also has the amenities that retirees need and is in close proximity to bigger metropolises. 

There are senior living facilities here as well as 55+ communities. The town website has a calendar of events for seniors where retirees can keep track of upcoming events like the ever popular Delray Beach Senior Games. The town also hosts many live music events. particularly in the summer.

The Delray Community Center and the Dedicated Senior Medical Center specialize in senior care and the Senior Health and Wellness Center has exercise programs and events designed for healthy living. 

The cost of living in Delray Beach is 14% above the national average but the median home cost is $355,700, cheaper than most retirement communities in Florida. The average home appreciation value has risen 22% in the last ten years. The average commute is 22 minutes and public transportation is available. 

The average temperature in Delray Beach is in the upper 80s for most of the year and the mid 60s to the low 70s during the winter. The wettest month of the year is September with an average rainfall of 8". The winter months can cause a freeze, though it is rare in the southern part of the state. 

Amelia Island

A couple standing in front of the Welcome Center at Amelia Island, Florida, set off to explore the town.
A couple standing in front of the Welcome Center at Amelia Island, Florida, set off to explore the town.

Amelia Island is part of the Sea Islands, a chain of barrier islands in northeastern Florida. It is a historical island and is also home to Fernandina Beach. The island has been under French, British, and American rule, but is now known for its luxurious golf courses, beaches, and architecture. 

The warm tropical climate and historical significance are a major draw for retirees and the town holds annual events like the Amelia Island Concours, an annual luxury and antique motor car event. The median age is 54, and it is a lovely old Florida island to spend your retirement. 

There are several retirement communities and assisted living facilities on the island. For those needing more specialized care, Jacksonville is an hour's drive away. There are also more than ten home assistance services such as Home Helpers, Healing Hands, and others. 

Amelia Island is in Nassau County and the county website has a listing of senior events and various memberships for senior centers like the Janice Ancrum Senior Life Center, which include unlimited classes geared towards seniors. 

The cost of living is 7% higher than the national average and the median income to live comfortably is $105,000 for a single person. The utilities run about 5% higher than the national average while the groceries are 2% lower than average. There is public transportation available through the county and the island does have a shuttle service, along with a ferry to access the mainland.

The average temperature ranges from the low 60s in the winter to the high 90s during the summer months. Summer in northeast Florida is sure to bring rain virtually every afternoon, which actually makes the ambient temperature more steamy. Winter storms can also bring frost during the coldest months of December and January. 

Vero Beach

Vero Beach hotels and condominium buildings in Florida
Vero Beach hotels and condominium buildings in Florida

Located in Indian County, Vero Beach is a small seaside community and one of the more favored locations in Florida to retire in. The barrier island sits across from the Indian River Lagoon and is home to wide sandy beaches and open air parks. The Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge lies to the north and is a haven for wildlife with walking trails and picnic areas.

The town is a unique blend of modern amenities and old Florida charm. Downtown’s South Beach Park highlights the citrus area, which is what formed the economy, and the McKee Botanical Garden is a serene and lush tropical paradise. The atmosphere is laidback and coastal with a vibrant cultural arts heritage. 

There are several community events held annually including the Art Fair and the Garden Fest, where locals shop and sell plants from their gardens. There is also a live theatre, treasure museum, and art galleries that also host events throughout the year. Golfing is widely popular in Vero Beach, and there are several private and municipal courses in town.

Vero Beach Medical Spa specializes in senior care and there are a host of senior living facilities and in home care for seniors. For more pressing medical issues, there is the CenterWell Senior Primary Care facility along with the Indian River Hospital.

The cost of living in Vero Beach is 2% less than the national average and the median home cost is $349,500, which is lower than the state average. The median income is $54,000 per person which makes this an affordable retirement community. 

The average temperatures range from the mid 70s in the winter months to the high 80s during the summer. Summers are humid in this part of Florida but the daily afternoon rain shower generally takes away the humidity. December through March offers the best weather down here.

Florida is a prime location to spend retirement because of the tropical weather, local attractions, and the vibrant art scene. The smaller towns are less populated and generally see less tourism, which makes them all the more desirable. These towns offer the best of the true Florida lifestyle while offering the services that retirees require the most. From coastal beach towns to historical landlocked villages with beautiful architecture, Florida has something to offer for every retiree.

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