The Main Street in Lincoln, New Hampshire.

8 Best Small Towns to Retire in New England in 2024

New England, with its glimmering lakes, rugged and rocky coastlines, and verdant forests, ranks among the most enchanting regions in the United States. This area scores highly on access to medical care, quality of life, and relative safety. The many small towns scattered across this region are inviting, making it an ideal place to settle down. If you're considering New England for retirement, explore the 8 best small towns for retirement below.

Lincoln, New Hampshire

Lincoln Main Street at town center and Little Coolidge Mountain on Kancamagus Highway at the background with fall foliage, Town of Lincoln, New Hampshire
Main Street at the town center and Little Coolidge Mountain on Kancamagus Highway, Lincoln, New Hampshire, via Wangkun Jia /

Lincoln, New Hampshire, stands as a picturesque retirement haven within the majestic White Mountains. Lincoln serves as a gateway to Franconia Notch State Park, where days can be spent exploring the Flume Gorge or relaxing by Echo Lake's crystal-clear waters. The town's compact downtown area is alive with cozy cafes, artisan boutiques, and welcoming locals, fostering a sense of belonging. Community events like the enchanting Ice Castles exhibition transform winter into a dazzling fairy tale. With Littleton Regional Healthcare nearby, residents have easy access to excellent medical services. The median home price in Lincoln hovered around $300,000, making it an affordable option for retirees looking to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of New England without sacrificing the comforts of home. 

New London, Connecticut

Ice rink in New London, New Hampshire.
Ice rink in New London, New Hampshire. Image credit James Kirkikis via Shutterstock

New London is a diverse community that values learning from one another and sharing experiences. Whites (Non-Hispanics) constitute about 45% of the town's population, with Hispanics and Blacks making up about 34% and 13%, respectively. The Garde Arts Center, a historic movie palace, stands as one of the town's signature attractions. Despite a median age of about 32 years, which might seem young, interactions with younger generations have been shown to provide seniors with a sense of purpose and enhance their well-being and quality of life. New London is also remarkably affordable, with homes fetching a median price of $235,000 according to January 2024 data from Redfin. In the event of a medical emergency, Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, located within the town and providing excellent healthcare since Woodrow Wilson's first presidential election, is readily available.

Keene, New Hampshire

The Bandstand in Central Square in Keene, New Hampshire.
The Bandstand in Central Square in Keene, New Hampshire.

Keene might be small and quaint, but it has the potential to charm any retiree. The town boasts a vibrant local retail scene and a dining scene, featuring venues such as Stage Restaurant and Thai Garden, that is exceptional for a town of its size. The median age in Keene is 36, making it suitable for retirees who wish to stay young at heart or engage with a youthful, enthusiastic community. With Keene State College in the vicinity, retirees have access to a diverse lifelong learning program to keep their minds active and engaged. Homes in Keene have a median price of $355,000, a great value for New England. Additionally, the presence of Cheshire Medical Center in the town, recognized with the Patient Safety Excellence Award, alleviates concerns about access to healthcare.

Camden, Maine

Downtown Camden, Maine.
Downtown Camden, Maine.

Maine's coast is renowned for its rocky yet spectacular landscape. Retiring here, especially in Camden, can invigorate one's spirit, potentially making a retiree feel rejuvenated. For those looking to maintain physical fitness, the picturesque Mount Battie Trail awaits, offering breathtaking views of Penobscot Bay that could mesmerize anyone. With a median age of about 50 years, Camden is an ideal spot for empty nesters to connect with peers and reflect on life's rich tapestry. Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, serving the community for nearly 50 years, continues to provide excellent medical services, ensuring retirees have access to quality healthcare.

Williamstown, Massachusetts

Spring Street in Williamstown, home of Williams College
Spring Street in Williamstown, home of Williams College, via Adam Gladstone /

Situated in the Berkshires, one of New England's most enchanting regions, Williamstown is surrounded by scenic hiking trails, rural beauty, and a wealth of cultural attractions. Its location in western Massachusetts, away from the coastal areas and popular beaches, contributes to its relative affordability. According to January 2024 data from Redfin, homes in Williamstown are priced at a median of $515,000, which is considered a bargain by Massachusetts standards. Just 14 miles away is Bennington, Vermont, home to the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, a facility recognized for its Outstanding Patient Experience Award. For those seeking to engage their minds, the Berkshire Community College’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers enriching opportunities right at your doorstep.

Auburn, Massachusetts

Town Offices and Merriam Library in Auburn, Massachusetts
Town Offices and Merriam Library in Auburn, Massachusetts

Auburn presents retirees with the Pakachoag Hiking Trail, an ideal setting for regular, morning excursions. The town is also notable for the Goddard Rocket Launching Site, where the world’s first successful liquid-fueled rocket was launched. Proximity to Worcester, merely 5 miles away, ensures easy access to urban amenities, including reputable hospitals and shopping centers. The Umass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester is distinguished for its Cardiac Surgery Excellence Award, highlighting the quality of healthcare available. With homes in Auburn having a median price of $390,000, many consider this to be an excellent value for the offerings.

Yarmouth, Maine

Sparhawk Mill, formerly a cotton mill house exterior by Bridge Street Dam in Yarmouth, Maine.
Sparhawk Mill, formerly a cotton mill house exterior by Bridge Street Dam in Yarmouth, Maine.

Maine, known for its moderate tax friendliness, is unparalleled in beauty, offering a splendid natural environment. It is also recognized as the safest state in the country, according to FBI data. Yarmouth, situated in the Pine Tree State, emerges as a prime choice for retirees. The community is welcoming, the beach is just a short distance away, and the neighborhoods are secure and inviting. Located approximately 11 miles from Portland, Maine's largest city, Yarmouth offers retirees easy access to urban amenities, including some of New England's finest hospitals. For instance, Maine Medical Center has been honored with America's 100 Best Hospitals for Joint Replacement Award. Given its offerings, the median home price in Yarmouth, which was $695,000 in January 2024, might seem like a steal.

Northampton, Massachusetts

View of buildings in downtown Northampton, Massachusetts
View of buildings in downtown Northampton, Massachusetts. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

Nestled within the Five Colleges Community, Northampton presents an ideal setting for retirees who seek intellectual stimulation. Proximity to UMass Amherst, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College, Smith College, and Amherst College—one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges—provides ample educational and cultural opportunities. The community is known for its openness and liberal values. Cooley Dickinson Hospital, located in the heart of the town and serving Pioneer Valley residents since 1886, underscores the town's commitment to quality healthcare. With a median home price of $375,000 as of January 2024, significantly below the state average of $573,700 during the same period, Northampton offers considerable financial advantages for retirees. Additionally, being about 20 miles from Springfield, the fourth-largest city in New England, ensures retirees have no shortage of urban amenities or cultural attractions.

The Takeaway

Each of New England's six states boasts its own unique retirement allure, especially in terms of tax friendliness and affordability, yet the entire region excels in natural beauty, safety, and access to medical care. Massachusetts is lauded for having the best healthcare system in the United States, while Maine enjoys the status of being the nation's safest state. Such attributes are highly appealing to anyone considering retirement. However, with New England's vastness, choosing a specific retirement location can be challenging. For those seeking recommendations, Lincoln, Rhode Island; New London, Connecticut; Auburn, Massachusetts; and Keene, New Hampshire stand out as exceptional choices for a fulfilling retirement.

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