Main shopping district of Cold Spring, New York. Image credit James Kirkikis via Shutterstock

9 Best Small Towns to Retire in New York in 2024

Americans are fretting about retirement, with 79% now perceiving it to be a crisis — a significant increase from 67% four years ago according to a new poll conducted by the National Institute on Retirement Security. In addition, 87% hope Congress will make a move to rectify the problem. Suffice to say, the future of retirement in America is bleak at best. On the bright side, you have the freedom of mobility and can move to a cheaper place since you are a human and not a mountain. Luckily, New York offers affordable retirement options for those looking to save a buck or two, depending on where you move. In this article, we will explore the best small towns in New York to retire in while factoring in real estate prices, crime rates, and access to amenities.

Stony Point

Stony Point, New York: landscape view of the Hudson River from the top of Perkins Memorial at sunset.
Stony Point, New York: landscape view of the Hudson River from the top of Perkins Memorial at sunset.

Once a fierce battleground during the American Revolution, Stoney Point has blossomed into a charming town today, with a population of 15,000 kind-hearted residents. Locals here have the luxury of gazing at the majestic Hudson River all year round. According to the U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts, the median rent from 2018-2022 in Stony Point stood at $1.6K, while the median value of owner-occupied housing units was $469K for the same years. And if you ever require medical attention and added peace of mind, the Helen Hayes Hospital is conveniently located minutes away in West Haverstraw. It's not just any hospital, the establishment is recognized as a leading center that specializes in stroke recovery, spinal cord problems, and other unique needs. To escape the city's ruckus, take a trip to Haverstraw Bay County Park. The 27-acre park, which borders the Hudson River, is the perfect getaway to wind down and enjoy the natural landscape of New York's less explored side.

Penn Yan

Main street in Penn Yan, New York
Main street in Penn Yan, New York

According to ApartmentGuide's latest figures, the average rent in Penn Yan is just $748, enabling retirees on fixed incomes to save and stretch their wallets on discretionary spending. This means they can splurge on leisure, dining out, and entertainment. Beyond financial flexibility, this is just one of many reasons to move to Penn Yan. Another reason is the picturesque Keuka (pronounced key-you-ka) Outlet Trail, which provides seven miles of hiking trails, fishing spots, and cross-country skiing during the colder months. Furthermore, the town has a rich history, as evidenced by its eight historic properties, with the Penn Yann Historic District taking the crown after being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Cold Spring

Sidewalk scene in Cold Spring, New York
Sidewalk scene in Cold Spring, New York, via Joe Tabacca /

Cold Spring sits right along the Hudson River but, more importantly, boasts exceptional safety statistics, providing a sense of security that only a few towns can match. In fact, the town is consistently ranked as one of the safest in the state, with the crime rate being at only two incidents per 1,000 residents according to NeighborhoodScout's data. In other words, your odds of becoming a victim are a reassuring 1 in 500. That's not the only reason to move here, though — the Breakneck Ridge Trail is another reason: the challenging yet exhilarating adventure rewards hikers with stunning panoramic if they ascend to the top. Bear in mind, the path does get quite busy during warmer months thanks to a surge in tourism, whereas the winters will offer you a more secluded journey and breathtaking views of New York's natural beauty, all to yourself! And lastly, despite the town's relatively small size, it boasts a lively restaurant scene with some establishments offering patios, providing scenic views of the Hudson River.


Street view at Skaneateles, New York.
Street view at Skaneateles, New York.

Skaneateles Lake, both a source of beauty and sustenance for locals, makes Skaneateles one of the most beautiful towns in America as evidenced by the flock of tourists who come here every year. The gorgeous lake provides tourism to bolster its economy and drinking water for more than 220,000 residents. Moreover, the water's purity consistently ranks among the nation's top ten lakes. Despite the natural beauty of Skaneateles, the cost of living is relatively low; rent, for example, stands at $1.1K as specified by RentCafé — 31.9% cheaper than the national average of $1.7K. Another perk of calling this town home is the lack of crime: Skaneateles is safer than 82% of cities and towns in the United States, according to NeighborhoodScout. And just minutes away, you'll find Guppy Falls Trail, the perfect spot for taking calendar-worthy pictures of the 20-foot-high falls. The silky water streaming down is most beautiful during fall foliage, but it's also a sight to see during other seasons.


Guilderland Public Library, on Western Avenue
Guilderland Public Library, on Western Avenue, By Kenneth C. Zirkel - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Guilderland offers an affordable housing market for renters, with the average asking price coming in at $1.5K — a 9% discount compared to the national average. As an added peace of mind for retirees, who typically require higher hospitalization rates, the Albany Medical Center is just around the corner for all your healthcare needs. Also within reach are numerous parks and golf courses, including Nott Road Park, Western Turnpike Golf Course, and Tawasentha Park, with the latter offering over 200 acres of forest land, an outdoor swimming pool, and paved paths surrounded by lush trees, perfect for walks or a refreshing jog.


Main Street in Cooperstown, New York state
Main Street in Cooperstown, New York state. Image credit Ritu Manoj Jethani via

Few towns can say they have it all, but Cooperstown is one of them. Whether it's water views, a medical center, a vibrant culinary scene, or even the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown has it. While the median listing home price is higher than average, Realtor states Cooperstown is a buyer's market as of February 2024, thanks to a surplus in supply that's outpacing demand. In other words, it's possible to snatch up a house for a bargain. Furthermore, safety is not much of a concern for residents here, with the overall crime rate standing at a paltry 9 per 1,000 residents, according to NeighborhoodScout. To break a sweat, visit Fairy Springs Park, it's right on the edge of town and grants breathtaking views of Otsego Lake. The best part, though? It's dog-friendly, so you can bring your furry buddy to break a sweat with you.


Lockport Railroad Bridge, New York
Lockport Railroad Bridge, New York. Image credit HVEPhoto via

The median home price in Lockport is $99.9K according to Realtor — significantly below the market average. This, and its proximity to Buffalo make it an attractive retirement option for budget-conscious retirees looking to save money. This town features a wide variety of activities: explore the historic Lockport Cave located beneath the city, take a hike through the Rollin T. Grant Gulf Wilderness Park to see the Indian Falls and all the other natural treasure troves, or catch a live performance and movie at the nearly 96-year-old Historic Palace Theatre, a beloved community landmark. And finally, since Lockport is a canal town, several boat services are available that can take you on scenic tours.


Late afternoon aerial photo of Lake Mahopac located in Town of Carmel, Putnam County, New York
Late afternoon aerial photo of Lake Mahopac located in Town of Carmel, Putnam County, New York

The cost of living in Carmel could dig a little deeper into your wallet compared to other towns mentioned so far, but it offers several advantages. For starters, CrimeGrade gives this town an A+ rating, as Carmel ranks in the 93rd percentile for safety. In addition, Carmel is also just one-and-a-half hours away from the world-famous New York City. And less than 10 minutes away lies the marvelous Nimhan Mountain, where you can explore forests with miles of trails, campsites, fishing spots, or see New York's wildlife. Moreover, this park includes the 82.5-foot Ninham Mountain Fire Tower, which allows breathtaking 360-degree views of the Hudson River Valley. Another notable point of interest in Carmel is the Fred Dill Wildlife Sanctuary. Here, you can immerse yourself in a thriving forest with well-maintained paths, and enjoy the serene beauty of nature as you disconnect from life's mundane trivialities while being a spectator to the choir of birds.


Riverwalk in downtown Oswego, New York.
Riverwalk in downtown Oswego, New York. Image credit debra millet via Shutterstock

The real estate market in Oswego is skewed in favor of sellers over buyers. But don't let that scare you — the median listing home price in Oswego stands at just $148.5K, as per Realtor. Aside from affordable houses, this town is geographically blessed as it sits directly by Lake Ontario, giving nature lovers ample green space and plenty of parks, including Breitbeck Park and Lakeside Park. This historic town is also home to Fort Ontario, a historic site where intense battles were once waged during the French and Indian War and the Battles of 1812. This fort was once commissioned by Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration as a temporary settlement for Jewish refugees in World War II. Manya Hartmeyer Breuer, who arrived after escaping Berlin as a young child, recounted her arrival at the settlement, stating: "All of a sudden, I was brought back to the sun, to sunshine and life. And I faced the beautiful country that was to me, for which I was forever grateful.." serving as a testament to Oswego's beauty and hospitality.

In conclusion, New York offers a blend of everything that retirees desire — whether it's the breathtaking scenery in safe cities like Skaneateles and Cold Spring, or the cultural hubs in affordable cities like Carmel and Cooperstown, each town has a vibrant community to welcome you and bring you one step closer to your dream retirement life.

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