Where should I move in retirement on a budget (i.e. less expensive locations) is a top question we receive from our members, and we’ve found it boils down to three fundamental questions:

  • Where will my money go further in retirement?
  • Where is a place that meets my needs with regard to weather, safety, and access to healthcare?
  • Where will I be happy living in retirement?

Looking at the first two questions will hopefully lead you to the third answer.


We’ve gone through our data and selected the top small sized cities (population less than 500,000) for each type of weather (four seasons, warm, and mild weather) that have below average crime rates and decent access to healthcare. Let’s look at a hypothetical person named Sue to better understand what the new locations have to offer. A little about Sue:

  • Age: 62
  • Moving from Bridgewater, Massachusetts
  • Expected annual retirement income of $35,000
  • Owns her home valued at $187,000 with $50,000 left on the mortgage and a monthly mortgage payment of $358

Best Four Seasons: Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, WI is an amazing college town, with rich cultural institutions as well as a beautiful natural environment. It has a population of around 220,000 and consistently ranks as a top place to live because of its healthy economy, safety, and picturesque scenery. Also, if you’re over 60, you can audit class at the university for free.

Madison has excellent healthcare because of the university, below average crime, and has been ranked by U.S. News as a great place to retire. Wisconsin doesn’t tax Social Security, but has high property taxes at 2%.

In Madison, Sue can increase her potential spending power to $47,000 (a 34% increase) by selling her home and buying a similar one in Madison for $105,000. Also, day-to-day living in Madison is less expensive than Bridgewater, MA.

Best Mild Weather: Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

If you like being by a city, but also want access to nature and activities, then consider Raleigh-Durham, NC. The city has several historic districts including the Fayetteville Historic District. City centers are walkable, a decent bus transit system exits, and the population is sizable at 400,000.

North Carolina doesn’t tax Social Security, property taxes are low (0.86%), and Forbes recommends Raleigh as a best place to retire. Crime is below average and the access to healthcare is good.

In Raleigh-Durham, Sue can increase her potential spending power to $49,000 (a 40% increase) by selling her home and buying a similar one in Raleigh-Durham for $70,000, plus the lower cost of living.

Best Warm Weather: Mesa, Arizona

Mesa’s bucolic environment is very friendly for retirees, with a population of 440,000. It enjoys a variety of amenities including parks within easy walking distance from home, sports facilities that cater to athletes young and old, highly rated golf courses for every skill level, and a diversity of special events and community festivals.

As with the other states, Arizona doesn’t tax Social Security, Mesa property taxes are low (0.8%), crime is below average, and access to healthcare is above average. Forbes also recommends Mesa as a great place to retire.

In Mesa, Sue can increase her potential spending power to $50,000 (a 42% increase) by selling her home and buying a similar one in Mesa for $103,000 and taking advantage of the area’s less expensive cost of living.How to find a better and less expensive place to retire?Looking for even more recommendations on where to retire? RETIRETY offers a tool to help you answer that very question — the Retirement Relocator. The above recommendations, plus many more, are given to our members.