If you’re one of the thousands of Americans approaching retirement, one of your top concerns is probably when to retire. But an accompanying question is where to retire. Realtor.com crunched the numbers and identified the fastest growing retirement destinations.
The fastest growing retirement destinations might not be the best place to retire or the best place for you to retire, but they make for an interesting exercise in “what if.”
Read on for the top 10 fastest growing retirement destinations — and further down below — how you can relocate to one of these metros and live your retirement dream.
America’s Fastest Growing Retirement Destinations
Taking U.S. Census Bureau data and their own listings, Realtor.com came up with rankings by looking at every metropolitan statistical area and zeroing in on places where at least a quarter of the population are age 60 or above; they perused their real estate listings for phrases such as “aging in place,” “senior-friendly,” and “ground-floor master bedrooms.” Then they looked at the number of folks ages 55 and up who moved into new metros between 2016 and 2017.
Here are Realtor.com’s picks:
Punta Gorda, FL
- Median list price: $275,100
- Percentage of residents age 60 and up: 47%
Punta Gorda translates to “fat point.” This is a coastal community on the West coast of Florida. The city was largely rebuilt in the years following the devastation that Hurricane Charley unleashed in 2004. The city has taken pride in retaining small town charm.
Cape Coral, FL
- Median list price: $299,100
- Percentage of residents age 60 and up: 35%
Cape Coral is a city in southwest Florida, known for its many canals. Home to manatees, Sirenia Vista Park has kayak routes to Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve, where birds wade amid mangroves.
- Median list price: $399,100
- Percentage of residents age 60 and up: 40%
Prescott is a city in central Arizona. Downtown, historic Whiskey Row is known for its bars and live music venues. The Sharlot Hall Museum documents the region’s pioneer-era history. The Smoki Museum exhibits artifacts from indigenous peoples of the Southwest. To the northeast, Watson Lake is home to hundreds of bird species, and a circuit of trails runs among the granite boulders dotting its shore.
Santa Fe, NM
- Median list price: $580,100
- Percentage of residents age 60 and up: 30%
Santa Fe sits at the base of the Sangre de Cristo foothills. At its heart is a traditional plaza. This is a magical, exuberant and colorful destination full of history and culture.
- Median list price: $279,100
- Percentage of residents age 60 and up: 26%
Tuscon, home of the University of Arizona, claims to have 350 days of sunshine a year. So, if you are seeking an escape from grey dreary winters, this might be just the place. The Spanish name of the city, Tucsón, is derived from an Aztec dialect meaning “base of the black hill,” a reference to a basalt-covered hill now known as Sentinel Peak.
Morehead City, NC
- Median list price: $325,100
- Percentage of residents age 60 and up: 33%
Part of the Crystal Coast, this is a vibrant waterside town along the Atlantic ocean. There are a variety of ecotourism activities and lots of fishing.
Asheville is a city nestled in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s known for a vibrant arts scene (particularly in the River Arts District) and historic architecture, including the dome-topped Basilica of Saint Lawrence. The vast 19th-century Biltmore estate displays artwork by masters like Renoir.
- Median list price: $375,100
- Percentage of residents age 60 and up: 29%
Barnstable Town, MA
- Median list price: $525,100
- Percentage of residents age 60 and up: 39%
Barnstable is the largest community, both in land area and population, on Cape Cod. Around since 1638, it was one of the first towns settled in Plymouth Colony.
Traverse City, MI
- Median list price: $319,100
- Percentage of residents age 60 and up: 30%
If you love the outdoors and all four seasons, this might be the place for you. This area is known for fresh water beaches, forests, downhill skiing, vineyards and tart cherries.
Ocean City, NJ
- Median list price: $424,800,100
- Percentage of residents age 60 and up: 34.8%
Ocean City is on New Jersey’s coastal Jersey Shore. The city has a string of beaches and a boardwalk with shops, eateries and amusement parks.
How to Afford a Fastest Growing Retirement Destination…
If you’re not currently living in one of these metro areas but would like to, there are several methods for relocating, including selling your current home and downsizing to a smaller one, using a reverse mortgage to purchase a home, or renting a home in one of the above locations — or wherever suits your retirement fancy.
Here are three ways to afford your dream retirement:
One way to free up cash to buy a home is to sell your current one. As people get older, they often find that they’re not utilizing their entire house. There could be several empty bedrooms or even an entire floor that’s not being used. If you no longer require your current square footage, selling your home could allow you to purchase a smaller residence outright — and maybe even have money left over, depending on where you move.
Even if you can’t pay in full for a new home in one of the fastest-growing retirement destinations, downsizing may allow you to comfortably purchase a house of your dreams, whether it’s in an area you’ve always wanted to live in, or a home that better suits your needs.
2. Use a reverse mortgage to buy a home
If you’re interested in moving but don’t want to take on a new mortgage as you’re approaching or in retirement, consider a reverse mortgage. The federally-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase program allows people aged 62 and older to take out a reverse mortgage and buy a home in a single transaction. Not only can this save on time and paperwork, you can also save money by combining the transactions.
Typically the HECM for Purchase program is used by people who have recently sold their home and have enough money for a sizable down payment to be used in conjunction with the reverse mortgage. That way, older borrowers are able to buy a new home without needing to make monthly mortgage payments in retirement.
Click here for more information if you’re interested in exploring how to use a Reverse Mortgage to buy into one of the hottest retirement locales.
3. Rent — and consider roommates
If any of the fastest-growing retirement destinations sound appealing to you, but you’re not really interested in home ownership anymore, renting could be the answer.
While renting doesn’t always offer the same stability as owning, in some areas it may be more affordable — and make more sense — for you to rent rather than buy. As a renter, you’ll have greater flexibility for future moves, and the possibility you may want to live in more than one popular retirement metro.
Another way to live your retirement dream in a location of your choosing: getting a roommate. If your favorite retirement destination isn’t the most affordable, splitting rental costs could help. This could also be an option if you buy a home somewhere and live with a roommate.
Do You Have a Detailed Retirement Plan?
Not sure about what you can afford? Use the NewRetirement Retirement Planner — it is an easy way to get a realistic assessment of your current retirement forecast!
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