Morgantown, West Virginia: Aerial drone panoramic shot of the downtown campus of WVU, with the river in the distance. Editorial credit: Steve Heap /

7 Budget-Friendly Towns in the Southern United States for Retirees

While some retirees are going for the most exclusive spots money can buy, many others do not have that luxury — or prefer to spend that cash on something else. The Southern United States is traditionally known for being budget-friendly and is home to numerous states often ranked as the cheapest in the nation. Of course, one will want to consider other crucial factors, including access to good hospitals. From Tupelo, Mississippi, to Opelika, Alabama, discover below seven budget-friendly towns for retirees in the Southern United States.

Tupelo, Mississippi

Tupelo, Mississippi: Elvis Presley Statue with City Hall in the background.
Tupelo, Mississippi: Elvis Presley Statue. Editorial credit: Chad Robertson Media /

The median listing home price in Tupelo was just $279,900 in April 2024. Even by local standards, this price point is pocket-friendly, especially considering Mississippi’s median home listing price for the same period is $289,900. And many seem to have noticed this. For example, financial website Insider Monkey recently named Tupelo the third most affordable place to retire in 2024. If a retiree needs to see a doctor urgently, North Mississippi Health Services, a two-time Vascular Surgery Excellence Award recipient, is right in town. The town’s median age is a bubbly 35, and fellow empty nesters (those aged 60 and above) comprise 21% of the population. One will love passing time at the Elvis Presley Birthplace, visiting the original house where the music legend was born and the church he used to pray at. Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo is the largest in Mississippi, and mingling with buffaloes, tigers, and giraffes may just come with some crucial life lessons. Then again, Tupelo is the headquarters of the Natchez Trace Parkway, which crosses some of the most beautiful terrain in the state.

Morgantown, West Virginia

Morgantown, West Virginia: Dramatic image of Woodburn Hall at West Virginia University (WVU) as the sun sets behind the illuminated historic building.
Morgantown, West Virginia: Woodburn Hall. Editorial credit: Steve Heap /

There is a good reason people call West Virginia “Almost Heaven.”The state’s natural beauty is hard to beat, and the chance to retire here can be a godsend. In April 2024, the median listing home price in Morgantown was $333,000, earning the town a spot among the most budget-friendly in the Southern United States. And it is not just housing: The American publisher of personal finance advice, Kiplinger, mentions that the cost of living in Morgantown is 7.2% lower than the national average. West Virginia University calls Morgantown home and offers significant discounts on courses to residents aged 65 and above. Plus, it will be nice to retire in an academically stimulating environment. To its credit, the university is known to promote healthcare in the area and has many medical facilities, including the Eye Institute, Heart Institute, and Ruby Memorial Hospital. This town’s median age is 23; hence, providing retirees a chance to catch the energy of those still young, ambitious, and creative. But it is not all youth. Residents aged 60 and above comprise a decent 14% of the population. A retiree can catch a basketball game or enjoy a wrestling match at the famous university Colosseum, spend time with nature at the Core Arboretum, float down the Monongahela River, or enjoy an afternoon show at the Metropolitan Theatre.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA: Townscape at dusk in the mountains.
Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA: Townscape at dusk in the mountains.

There is almost no end to what Hot Springs, a beautiful resort town secreted in the Ouachita Mountains — offers. But let us start with money matters. In April 2024, the median listing home price in Hot Springs was just $349,900. Many will consider this a jackpot, considering what the town gives. There is the one-of-a-kind Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo, the phenomenal Hot Springs National Park, unique for being situated on a main street, Northwoods Trail, which is enveloped in spellbinding beauty, the Hot Springs Country Club, where one can enjoy an afternoon round of golf, and the Gangster Museum of America, where retirees will enjoy learning about the history of the city and the influence of famous gangsters. The American Spa, as Hot Springs is called, hosts numerous hospitals, including the National Park Medical Center, which has been serving residents in the area for 70 years. On the social scene, the median age here is a cool and tepid 44, and residents aged 60 and above comprise an inviting 32% of the population.

Punta Gorda, Florida

Punta Gorda, Florida, USA: Aerial view of Gilchrist Park during the day.
Punta Gorda, Florida, USA: Gilchrist Park. Editorial credit: Khairil Azhar Junos /

A small but buzzy town of about 20,000 residents, Punta Gorda is among the top sport-fishing destinations in the world. Punta Gorda is also a paddler’s paradise — mostly because it is situated where the slow-moving Peace River meets Charlotte Harbor. The river is an excellent spot for fossil hunting. The median listing home price in Punta Gorda was a pocket-friendly $430,000 in April 2024. One can get up and close with the rare-to-see Great horned owl, the quintessential owl of storybooks, at the Peace River Wildlife Center. There is the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens as well, a 30-acre waterfront oasis that encompasses the diversity of five ecosystems. History Park supplies residents with fresh fruits and veggies, and the area around the harbor provides excellent biking opportunities. If you need to see a doctor, Shorepoint Health is right in town. Alternatively, HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital, a recipient of numerous medical awards, is a heartbeat away in Port Charlotte. The icing on the cake is that the town’s median age is 66. In essence, Punta Gorda is a big-tent gathering of fellow empty nesters.

Sherman, Texas

The Sherman Museum in Sherman, Texas, United States.
The Sherman Museum in Sherman, Texas, United States. By Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The fact one can own property in Sherman for about $337,900, the town’s latest median listing home price — makes this Texas charmer one of the most budget-friendly retirement venues in the South. Another nice thing about retiring in Sherman is the fact the town is just about an hour’s drive from Dallas, the state’s third-largest city. That said, Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center is right in town —as is the outstanding Baylor Scott & White Surgical Hospital. The town’s median age is 35, and empty nesters aged 60 and above comprise a decent 22% of the population. With Hispanics comprising 22% of the population and Blacks 9%, Sherman is enticingly diverse. Austin College, the oldest college or university in the state operating under its original charter, calls the town home. Lovely outdoor venues include Herman Baker Park, a pretty little park ideal for smiling with flowers and getting intimate with nature; the Stone Creek Golf Club, ideal for teeing away a slow afternoon; the Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille, the place-to-be if one wants to catch a mood-lifting show, and the conveniently located Fairview Park, where a furry friend can enjoy a fun-filled day out.

Opelika, Alabama

Opelika, Alabama, USA: Historic buildings along Railroad Avenue in Opelika's downtown historic district. Founded in the 1830s as Opelikan, the name was changed in 1850.
Opelika, Alabama, USA: Historic buildings along Railroad Avenue. Editorial credit: JNix /

First, this vibrant town is incredibly affordable and boasts a median home listing price of just $339,900. Cute and dainty, Opelika scores big on access to big-city amenities and is just about 7 miles from Auburn, Eastern Alabama’s largest city. A retiree here will be a heartbeat away from Auburn University Campus, whose Osher Lifelong Learning Institute provides a range of courses to the elderly. An empty nester here can occasionally savor a filling brunch at the numerous restaurants that dot the town, including Freddy's, whose sizzling burgers are typically served hot, fresh, and delicious. There is the chance to enjoy rounds of golf at the Grand National, a Robert Trent Jones course located on the scenic 600-acre Lake Saugahatchee. The Red Clay Brewing Company is known for its great acoustics and beer — while the Angel's Antiques & Flea Mall — located just one block off the interstate, can effortlessly steal a whole morning. Then again, this town will entice those who prioritize racial and ethnic diversity, especially since Blacks comprise 36% of its population. On healthcare access, the East Alabama Medical Center is a recipient of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Surgery Award.

Biloxi, Mississippi

Biloxi, Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast.
Biloxi, Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast.

Biloxi is on a narrow Gulf Coast peninsula, a short drive from Gulfport, the second-largest city in the Magnolia State. Being close to Gulfport comes with fantastic access to big-city amenities, including hospitals — such as the 130-bed Singing River Hospital — previously recognized for the Patient Safety Excellence Award. In April 2024, the median listing home price in Biloxi, MS was just $296,300 — earning it a spot among the most budget-friendly towns to retire in the Southern United States. The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum, with its unique maritime artifacts and exhibits, celebrates the heritage of a town once called the Seafood Capital of the World. Today, Biloxi provides numerous beach-related adventures, and a sunny patch of shoreline is one of its most appealing draws. Of course, Biloxi's lighthouse is among the first cast-iron lighthouses built in the South. A retiree will be close to the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, a Smithsonian Affiliate dedicated to the ceramics of George E. Ohr, nicknamed the "Mad Potter of Biloxi." Finally, Biloxi boasts a median age of 36, and residents aged 60 and above comprise 22% of its population.

The Southern Comforts Await

The Southern United States is not just known for human-friendliness — what is often called “Southern Hospitality.” This vast portion of the country is traditionally ranked among the most budget-friendly, with Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Alabama getting frequent mentions. While it is fine to live like a prince in a 7 million-dollar château, others may want to spend that cash traveling the world and enjoying other pleasures. For retirees who want to retire on the cheap, towns in the Southern United States such as Tupelo, Mississippi; Morgantown, West Virginia, and Hot Springs, Arkansas — can make for excellent retirement spots.

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