12 Best Places to Retire in Florida on a Budget

Florida tops the list of the best states to retire to in the US based on affordability, healthcare access, and quality of life. It also has many assisted living facilities, 55+ retirement communities, and even mobile home parks, and it almost always ranks low in terms of crime rate. However, the cost of living will differ from one area to another, so you must be familiar with the best places to retire in Florida on a budget.

But with many options to consider, where are the top places to retire in Florida on a budget? Using data gathered by Payscale, we narrowed down the list to 12 (in descending order):

  • Gainesville
  • Tampa
  • St. Petersburg
  • Vero Beach
  • Port Orange
  • Kissimmee
  • Oak Hill
  • Melbourne
  • Jacksonville
  • Trenton
  • Sanford
  • Astor

The list of the best places to live in Florida for retirees won’t be enough for you to decide where to move and spend your retirement years. You also have to know what each city or town offers. We did the heavy lifting for you so that you’ll have an overview of the kind of life you’ll have in each place.

Vero Beach Sunset Walk

Table of Overall Cost of Living and Healthcare Cost

Here’s a table summing up the expected average cost of living (COL) and healthcare cost in each of the places included on our list compared to the national average as of writing.

Note that these numbers can change anytime, so checking the latest data is advisable. Also, while healthcare is already included in the overall COL score, it’s important to give you specific data, as it should be one of your priorities as a retiree.

City or TownAverage Cost of LivingAverage Healthcare Cost
Gainesville2% higher6% lower
Tampa1% lower5% lower
St. Petersburg2% lower5% lower
Vero Beach2% lower5% higher
Port Orange4% lower7% lower
Kissimmee4% lower7% lower
Oak Hill4% lower7% lower
Melbourne5% lower4% lower
Jacksonville6% lower17% lower
Trenton7% lower6% lower
Sanford7% lower4% higher
Astor14% lower7% lower

Where to Retire in Florida on a Budget

12. Gainesville

While the COL is a bit high, Gainesville made it to this list because healthcare, utilities, and groceries are 2% to 6% lower than the nation’s average. That said, it’s the best place to retire in Florida if you prefer more laid-back retirement years and want to stay away from the hassle and bustle of city life.

Also, as it’s a famous college town, retirees who still want to learn new skills and knowledge will love that they can do so at the University of Florida.

In addition, if you want to stay productive while earning, teaching at the said university is possible. That’s all thanks to the institution’s Institute for Learning in Retirement at Oak Hammock.

Even better, Gainesville isn’t a beach town, so you won’t have to worry about hurricanes. That said, you’ll find several museums, excellent parks, pedestrian-friendly trails, shopping centers, and restaurants to visit.

Also, although it offers urban-like amenities, the traffic and prices are of the suburban. It’s also one of the places in the state that prioritizes healthcare.

11. Tampa

Among the largest cities in the state, it isn’t surprising to find several entertainment options for all ages in Tampa. You can visit theme parks, an aquarium, and zoos with your grandchildren when they visit and even enjoy good food and a night out with friends.

Located along the state’s Gulf Coast, the city also has many crystal-clear beaches and natural springs. They’re not just ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and picnics but are also perfect for short and long walks, allowing you to have low-intensity daily exercise.

10. St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg is another city that allows you to have a simple retirement lifestyle while enjoying big-city amenities. Known as the Sunshine City, it is the best place in Florida to retire on a budget if you hate cloudy days.

It’s also perfect for retirees who love swimming in clear beach water, sunbathing and walking on white sands, boating, fishing, water sports, and sailing. That’s all thanks to the waters of Tampa Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, intercoastal waterways, and Boca Ciega Bay.

Apart from water activities, St. Petersburg has several golf clubs, shopping malls, and restaurants.

9. Vero Beach

Vero Beach, Florida, Waterfront

Another city ideal for those who lead an active lifestyle and want to continue doing so in their retirement years is Vero Beach.

Aptly named, you’ll enjoy several water activities, from swimming, snorkeling, and fishing to boating, paddleboarding, and canoeing. You’ll also find several parks to enjoy the sun on days when you don’t want to dip your toes in the waters.

This small city also has low property taxes and no income taxes imposed. Additionally, Vero Beach has many medical facilities for immediate and long-term healthcare needs.

8. Port Orange

A mid-sized city with a good population of individuals 65 and older, you’re sure to find several organized events and activities for retirees you’re sure to enjoy. You can also find historical sites to visit alone or with your relatives and friends.

The city also doesn’t fall short of other simple outdoor activities ideal for retirees, such as walking and relaxing in parks and the shores. Of course, it isn’t Florida without beautiful beaches. You’ll also find fantastic golf courses where you can relax and play.

7. Kissimmee

How can this city not be the best place in Florida to retire on a budget when it’s where you can find Solivita Living, one of the largest 55+ retirement communities in the US? If it isn’t the kind of housing you want, you’ll also be happy to know that house ownership and rental costs are 20% lower than the national average in Kissimmee.

Additionally, Kissimmee has several playgrounds and amusement parks and is a few miles away from Walt Disney World. Thus, whether you already have grandchildren or are soon to have one, the city has something in store for them. Well, it isn’t saying that you can’t also visit them with your friends and bring out that child in you.

6. Oak Hill

As a small friendly community, Oak Hill is the best city for retirees who want to live a laid-back life but still have the option to do certain outdoor activities. It has adventure parks, resorts, rafting communities, museums, and more.

While most shopping plazas and grocery stores are 15 to 30 minutes away from the main town, this assures you that you’ll enjoy a very quiet but connected neighborhood.

5. Melbourne

While Melbourne isn’t the number one choice when it comes to apartment and house rental costs, it offers one of the most affordable (but quality) healthcare services in the state. Utility expenses are also minimal.

Public transportation in this small town is also something you don’t have to worry about, thanks to its functional Space Coast Area Transit. It also has a lot of recreational activities to offer.

From estuaries and hiking trails to private and public golf courses and high-tech companies such as Liberty Aerospace, you’ll surely find one or more that will match your preference and lifestyle.

Among the best places to retire in Florida on a budget, with around 20% of its total population 65 and older, you would definitely meet new friends whom you can spend time with on weekdays and weekends.

4. Jacksonville

Although it’s one of the largest cities and most populous places in the Sunshine State, living in Jacksonville is surprisingly affordable. Not only are groceries and housing a bit cheaper than the national’s, but the average healthcare cost is 17% lower than the country’s average.

Of course, this big city has many attractions and activities you can enjoy. From restaurants and museums to beaches or shorelines, gardens, zoos, and parks, you’ll definitely enjoy the state’s humid climate, whether indoors or outdoors.

3. Trenton

This small city gives you a suburban-rural feel, making it an excellent place to live in Florida for retirees who want to enjoy a simple and slow-paced life. After all, you’ve most likely spent most of your years working so hard that it feels like time goes by so fast.

Of course, you won’t be bored to death because you won’t run out of things to do. Fill your easy-to-carry insulated water bottle (view on Amazon) and stroll around the vibrant and lively downtown area, where you can find restaurants serving homestyle dishes.

Trenton also hosts several family-friendly events and activities throughout the year that you, your friends, and your relatives will surely enjoy. Not only that, but the city also has several attractions perfect for both adults and children.

Also, if your children and grandchildren decide to live close to you, finding public schools offering quality education won’t be challenging.

2. Sanford

Sanford Marina

A city that gives you a dense suburban feel, Sanford offers attractions with great historical value. From nineteenth-century Victorian homes and brick-lined streets to towering oaks and Veterans Memorial Park, you won’t only have many destinations to visit during your free time. You’ll also surely learn something new each time you leave the house.

Of course, like most places included on this list, the city also has many parks, zoos, gardens, and restaurants. Sanford is also ideal if you want to live in an area where you can pack your weekend bag (view on Amazon) for a short vacation without the need to travel a thousand miles. After all, it’s located between Orlando and Daytona Beach, allowing you to enjoy the amenities Sanford doesn’t offer.

1. Astor

With the lowest cost of living among the cities and towns on this list, it is the top place to retire in Florida on a budget. In addition, house ownership and rental costs are affordable as they’re over 50% lower than the national average.

Just keep in mind that it isn’t the number one choice if you prefer to live in an urban city because Astor is more of a suburban-rural place. Not only is it small and not populated, but it’s also secluded.

Nonetheless, it’s popular for its natural beauty. It houses several natural lakes, rivers, and springs, where you can relax and enjoy the weather wearing your comfortable sun-protection hat (view on Amazon).

You’ll also find many boat rental and tour companies that allow residents and tourists to visit nearby larger lakes and beaches.

So, Where Is the Best Place in Florida to Retire on a Budget?

Retiring from work doesn’t mean you won’t be paying bills and other essential needs. That’s why it’s important to consider the overall cost of living of the place where you’ll spend your retirement years to have a stress-free and comfortable life.

That said, the best city or town in Florida for you will depend on your lifestyle, preference, and specific needs. That said, all the places included on this list ensure you won’t have to worry about expensive bills and access to healthcare and recreational activities.


Kris Peter

A positive individual enjoying the journey, and always searching for adventure. I created Sunlight Living to help my parents (and eventually myself) prepare for retirement. About Kris

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