Naples, Florida downtown skyline at dusk.

9 Towns on the Gulf Coast that Are Ideal for Seniors

The Gulf Coast is a popular retirement destination for seniors who want to spend their golden years in a place near the ocean. This region stretches from Texas to the tip of Florida and is known for its white sandy beaches and abundant sunshine. Many towns along the coastline offer outstanding natural beauty, but not every community is ideal for active senior adults looking for a permanent home. There are several factors to consider, such as the cost of living, access to healthcare, and opportunities for meaningful community connections, all of which can improve the quality of life for older adults. Before moving to the Gulf Coast to enjoy the sun and sand, it's worth checking out these nine towns that offer some of the best places for seniors to spend their later years.

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

View of Ocean Springs, a city located near Biloxi in Jackson County, Mississippi, United States.
View of Ocean Springs, Mississippi business area. Image credit EQRoy via Shutterstock.

This charming seaside town is famously known as the "City of Discovery" and often features in the list of best places to retire. It is home to the Gulf Islands National Seashore, a perfect spot for seniors to enjoy hiking or biking along the many paved trails. The seashore and wetlands are great for viewing the natural habitats of alligators, sea turtles, and various bird species. In addition, Ocean Springs offers a range of charter boats and deep-sea fishing expeditions to keep individuals engaged or families entertained. 

Ocean Springs boasts a charming historic downtown district shaded by century-old oak trees. The district is easy to walk, offering a plethora of galleries, shops, and restaurants to explore. There is a significant art presence, and every year, it hosts the Peter Anderson Art Festival, which draws creative artists from across the South. The Pink Rooster and the Walter Anderson Museum of Art are two excellent examples of places where you can browse the works of local artists. Foodie lovers will enjoy various restaurants, serving everything from BBQ to tacos to seafood. Be sure to try the multi-nominated James Beard restaurant, Vestige, which serves an exquisite five-course tasting menu every Tuesday through Saturday evening. 

Many casinos are nearby, and they provide top-quality performances by nationally recognized entertainers. The Singing River Healthcare System offers excellent medical care, including inpatient and outpatient services. With a lower cost of living than the national average and the median price of a new home running about $234,000, it is easy to see that Ocean Springs is quickly becoming one of the best places to retire on the Gulf. 

Rockport, Texas

View of beach at sunrise in Rockport, Texas
View of the beach at sunrise in Rockport, Texas. Image credit Grossinger via Shutterstock.

This community sits on the Texas Gulf Coast, one of the state's premier beach towns about thirty minutes from Corpus Christi. With a laid-back vibe, strong arts culture, and a relatively low cost of living, Rockport offers plenty of outdoor activities for active seniors. Rockport Beach is a "blue-water" beach that is immaculate, pristine, and accessible. The Gulf's warm waters are perfect for swimming, or residents can relax while soaking up some sun. With many bird species nesting nearby, retirees will enjoy the ability to watch various birds in their natural habitats. Fulton Pier offers a great fishing place, with anglers often snagging redfish, speckled trout, or black drum. 

The town celebrates numerous festivals during the year, including the Rockport Arts Festival during the summer, which has been supporting the arts community since 1969. The Hummingbird Festival occurs each fall, thrilling nature lovers as ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate annually. 

The Heritage District offers numerous shops, boutiques, and dining opportunities. Whether browsing through the Rockport Center for the Arts, enjoying a concert series downtown, or dining in one of the many restaurants, retirees will find plenty to keep busy. Latitude 28*02' is a restaurant and art gallery worth trying, and Rock Bottom Park and Pub is the best place to sit outside, sip on a cocktail or glass of wine, and bask in the warm gulf breezes. 

Rockport enjoys a cost of living of about 10.8% less than the national average. While the median home value pushes around $350,000, prices for food and fuel are reasonable. Like many small towns on the Gulf Coast, the community can get quite active during spring break, with an influx of tourists descending on the region. However, most of the year, this beautiful beach town is one of the best-kept secrets on the Coast and a perfect place for retirees who want to live a laid-back lifestyle.   

Orange Beach, Alabama

Perdido Pass, Orange Beach, Alabama
Perdido Pass, Orange Beach, Alabama. 

Orange Beach is just east of Gulf Shores and is blessed with some of the clearest water on the Gulf. Active seniors will enjoy the 32 miles of beaches encompassing Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, with several access points and easy parking. Families will want to take a charter boat tour for an up-close experience with the playful dolphins that often frequent the waters. If strolling through the Alabama wilderness is more your speed, get your hiking boots on and traverse the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. This unique wilderness habitat is an excellent place for wildlife viewing, with over 15 miles of paved paths.

The Wharf is a vibrant entertainment district a 112-foot Ferris wheel. If you need a place to eat, Wolf Bay Restaurant has fresh seafood, and the Ruby Slipper is a great place for omelets or brunch. If you want an open-air bar with fabulous coastal views of the water, try CoastAL Bar, which recently opened but is a favorite local hangout. 

Living in Orange Beach is more expensive than nearby Gulf Shores, and being a resort community, housing can sometimes be at a premium. (The median price for a home is over $750,000). Yet, there is good access to medical care and strong support for seniors in the community. Residents will find that Orange Beach is quieter, more relaxed, and muchmuch less crowded than many beach towns on the Coast, making nice place to retire. 

Siesta Key, Florida

 Siesta Key trolley on Ocean Blvd
 Siesta Key trolley on Ocean Blvd. Image credit Felix Mizioznikov via Shutterstock.

Frankly, almost anywhere in the Sarasota area is an excellent place to retire, but if you are looking for a great place in Florida, Siesta Key could be a perfect option. This town is on an island along the west Coast of Florida, home to America's top-rated beach. Be prepared to enjoy beautiful sunsets over the water or stroll over white sand beaches that are so fine that you will feel like you are walking on air. The resort vibe in this town is clearly evident, with lots of exciting nightlife, numerous bars, and restaurants. The Siesta Key Breeze Trolley is free, so getting around is no problem if you need a lift.  

One of the best places to experience the laid-back vibe of the beach is to visit the Siesta Key Oyster Bar, where great cocktails and fresh seafood are at the top of everyone's list. The menu is a seafood lover's delight with crab-stuffed lobster, blackened shrimp, jambalaya, or fish tacos. Since you are simply steps away from the beach, this is a favorite place after a moonlit stroll on the beach during the evening tides.  

The beach offers plenty of opportunities to paddleboard, snorkel, or kayak. If you need an adventure with the grandkids, plan on scouring Turtle Beach, which is known for its wide variety of seashells. Sarasota is less than ten minutes away and is the spring training home to two major league franchises, the Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves. If you love baseball, this can provide some great afternoon entertainment for the family when they visit. 

As you might expect, Siesta Key can be expensive, and many residents opt to reside in South Sarasota, where housing costs are cheaper. The median home is valued at around $850,000, and the average mortgage is nearly $2,500. Despite the expensive housing, food/fuel costs are near the national average. 

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Aerial view of Fort Walton Beach, FL.
Aerial view of Fort Walton Beach, FL.

Fort Walton Beach is a vibrant community located in the northwest part of Florida's panhandle and home to around 20,000 residents. It has become a popular destination for retirees due to its mild temperatures, crystal-clear waters, and beautiful sugar sand beaches. 

Okaloosa Island is a narrow beachfront area located just two minutes south of downtown Fort Walton Beach. It stretches for 15 miles towards Destin and is home to many condominiums, hotels, and attractions. Seniors visiting this area can enjoy various activities such as the Gulfarium, an old-fashioned boardwalk with its many shops and restaurants, or the fishing pier where anglers are always trying to catch fresh, saltwater fish. During the summer months, senior adults can get around Okaloosa Island pretty easily with free trolley rides.

If you're a golf enthusiast, Fort Walton Beach Club offers two championship courses with manicured, wide fairways and affordable green fees. 

The downtown area of Fort Walton Beach is home to several antique stores, such as De'France Indoor Flea Market Antiques and Collectibles, the Vintage Barn, and Bobbi's Emporium. The Air Force Armament Museum is a hidden gem with excellent displays and a collection of planes. Moreover, the Emerald Coast Science Center is one of the most interactive science museums in the nation and an ideal place for children to experience the marvels of science. With the influx of tourists, there are many dining choices, but the best places to eat are Crackings for breakfast and lunch and The Shack, known for its award-winning seafood entrees.

The HCA Fort Walton Beach Destin Hospital anchors the healthcare in the region with over 300 highly qualified physicians on staff. Considering that the median home value is $323,000, when you add the benefit of reasonable fuel costs, excellent healthcare, and no state income tax, it's easy to see why this small town is a growing place, attracting more seniors every year. 

Dunedin, Florida

Urban views on Douglas Ave in Dunedin, FL
Urban views on Douglas Ave in Dunedin. Image credit Garrett Brown via Shutterstock.

If you want to find a place to retire that offers great beaches but is close enough to a metropolitan area to offer services and cultural opportunities, Dunedin is the place. The town sits just west of Tampa and is known primarily for two state parks, Caladesi and Honeymoon Island. The Honeymoon Island State Park provides a rich forest that gives way to three miles of unmolested beachfront. In addition, residents will enjoy hiking or biking along the Pinellas Trail, a converted rails-to-trails route that runs right through the heart of downtown. From sunbathing on the beach to paddleboarding in the ocean to bird-watching, Dunedin has plenty to keep seniors fulfilled and active. 

The downtown district is super-quaint, making it an ideal destination for exploring the unique shops, galleries, restaurants, and breweries located there. With nine breweries in the area, the town has fully embraced the craft beer craze, with popular spots such as Dunedin Brewing and 7venth Sun Brewery. If you're in the mood for lunch, Cafe Alfresco is a great choice, known for its award-winning food and fantastic climate-controlled patio. The Clearwater Jolly Trolley makes getting around easy with a cheap all-day pass of only $5. 

Dunedin is just a short 30-minute drive from Tampa, offering easy access to a wide range of services, cultural events, and sports activities. The majority of its residents are over 45 years old, making up more than 55% of the population. With an average home price of $425,000, low crime rates, and a cost of living that's 3% below the national average, Dunedin is the perfect place for seniors who want to enjoy big city amenities while living a peaceful beach lifestyle. However, it's worth noting that the beaches can get crowded at times with families or spring-breakers looking to have fun in the warm Gulf waters, so if you can handle the influx, then Dunedin might just be the perfect place to call home.

Naples, Florida

Naples, Florida downtown skyline at dusk.
Naples, Florida downtown skyline at dusk.

Naples is consistently ranked as one of the top places to retire in the country. The majority of the local residents are seniors who enjoy healthy and active lifestyles, low crime rates, and access to excellent medical care. While median home values can fluctuate between $800,000 to over $1 million, there is an ample supply of condos and apartments, and many retirees choose to downsize and save.

There are over forty beach access points, stretching along nine miles of shoreline. You can wander through the Naples Botanical Gardens or stroll through the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, which covers 13,000 acres of protected habitats. For golfers, Naples is a fairway lovers paradise with over 80 golf courses in the area. Remember that if your ball goes near the water, keep your eyes peeled for alligators who love the small ponds and lakes on the courses.

Naples has a nice main district, Fifth Avenue South, which runs about a mile from 9th Street toward the beach. The area is home to several spas, shops, and restaurants, including the French Brasserie Rustique which is a must-visit serving its classic French cuisine. The restaurant is one of the most popular places on the Gulf Coast and never disappoints. If you find the place too crowded, try Osteria Tulia for an excellent Italian menu right across the street. 

Don't forget to walk out onto the Naples Pier, which extends over a thousand feet over the water, making it a great place to fish even if you don't have a license. 

Biloxi, Ms. 

View of the lighthouse in Biloxi, Mississippi at dusk.
View of the lighthouse in Biloxi, Mississippi at dusk.

Although Biloxi is widely known for its 26-mile beachfront and casinos, the town has more to offer than gaming and sand. It boasts a rich historical heritage, which seniors will surely enjoy. The Beauvoir, formerly the post-Civil War home of Jefferson Davis, has beautiful grounds and offers guided tours. The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art hosts various local and international art exhibits, while the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum celebrates the town's legacy as the shrimp capital of the country. Moreover, if the grandkids need a break from the beach, the Mississippi Aquarium is nearby in Gulfport. 

Biloxi hosts several festivals each year that can engage residents and visitors. Cruising on the Coast is one of the largest classic car shows in the Southeast. The Biloxi Seafood Festival offers a wonderful assortment of all things shrimp-related, and there is even an annual dog parade called Barkloxi Pawrade, where residents get to show off their pets in costume, all in an effort to raise money for the local Humane Society. 

Be sure to sample some of the best restaurants on the Coast, in Mary Mahoney's, Sapphire Supper Club, or Half Shell Oyster House. This area has a vibrant nightlife, and many of the casinos offer performances from entertainers, so there is always a show to see. 

The median price of a home in this region is $224,000, which is quite reasonable. The cost of living is also 16% below the national average. In addition, the region boasts some of the lowest food and fuel costs in the country. While getting around is fairly easy, it's worth noting that the area is a popular spring break destination for students looking to enjoy the beach. Still, Biloxi is a great place to retire, particularly if you happen to be on a budget.

Venice, Florida

Fishing boat on the Gulf Coast in Venice, Florida
Fishing boat on the Gulf Coast in Venice, Florida. Image credit Kent E Roberts via Shutterstock.

Venice is a part of Sarasota County, best known for its historic downtown district, white sandy beaches, and mild year-round climate. The town is a popular resort community with plenty to keep seniors active, including boating, watersports, and fishing. The 700-foot fishing pier is a nice place to cast a line or just walk out over the water to watch the sunset. With a low crime rate, gated communities, and a strong commitment by the residents to preserve this slice of heaven, Venice is becoming one of the top retirement destinations on the Coast.

The downtown area has a definite Mediterranean vibe, with warm pastel colors and tree-lined streets. The area has over 130 shops, antique stores, and restaurants, all within an easy walk. Centennial Park is a nice green space in the heart of the downtown, with free concerts in the park every Friday evening. Many of the residents bring their own lawn chairs or blankets to sit and enjoy local bands and musicians. If you need a place to eat while browsing the town, try Darrel's for a great barbeque plate or burger. Tikka Indian Cuisine is a simple restaurant with nice portions and good value that the locals love.  

The median price for a home is over $425,000, as many of the homes are in gated retirement communities. The cost of living is somewhat higher than the national average, but there is good access to nearby medical care and transportation services. Considering all the town has to offer, with pristine, uncrowded beaches that are easy to access, it is easy to see why almost two-thirds of the town's residents are retirees. 

Retirees often face a difficult task in choosing a safe and affordable place to afford living costs and activities. Fortunately, the small towns along the Gulf Coast offer many options for older adults, allowing them to enjoy vibrant and productive lives. The area's mild climate and white sand beaches attract tourists who want to play in the Gulf's warm waters while also being an ideal place for retirees. Spend the golden years in these paradise-like communities and find all troubles melting away, just like the soft roll of the tide. There are few better ways to spend a day than watching the sunset settle over the water.

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