Great Places to Retire Early Near the Beach
Lazing about the beach is a common retirement dream, but expensive oceanfront housing costs are often a big wake-up call. Then again, America is filled with great beachfront destinations from sea to shining sea and all the places in between. Far from the coasts, you can find desirable metro areas that offer access to freshwater beaches on lakes and rivers, so you still get to feel the sun on your face and the sand between your toes, but often at more affordable prices than you'll encounter in popular coastal retirement cities.
We pinpointed great places for early retirement in each state, taking into account living costs, median incomes and poverty rates for residents ages 45 to 64, as well as local labor markets (in case you want to keep hustling in one way or another in your early retirement) and tax situations. Of our 50 picks, 28 great places to retire across the U.S. offer the added benefit of nearby beaches, within a 30-minute drive, where you can swim and bum around. The mix of beach-adjacent early retirement destinations is sure to surprise you.
Courtesy Travel Juneau
TOTAL POPULATION: 32,434
SHARE OF POPULATION, AGE 45 TO 64: 29.3%
RETIRED COST OF LIVING: 33.2% above national average
MEDIAN INCOME, AGE 45 TO 64: $102,396
STATE'S RETIREE TAX PICTURE: Most Tax Friendly
POPULAR LOCAL BEACHES: Eagle Beach, Auke Bay Recreational Area
If you crave adventure—and don't mind long winters and vast swaths of wilderness—it pays to live in Alaska. Literally. The state's oil wealth savings account gives all permanent residents an annual dividend: $1,600 per person in 2018. That's on top of the state's generous tax situation: Alaska has no state income tax or sales tax (although municipalities may levy a local sales tax), and it doesn't tax Social Security or other retirement benefits. No wonder Alaska ranks as the most tax-friendly state for retirees.
Still, seniors don't seem too interested in facing the Last Frontier. Only 10.1% of the entire state's population is age 65 and older, compared with 14.9% of the U.S. That leaves more room for younger residents—with 25.8% of the state being 45 to 64 years old and an even higher share of the capital city belonging to that age group—to take advantage of the state's financial benefits. Younger retirees might also enjoy all the local, natural benefits: Juneau offers endless outdoor activities, from kayaking to whale watching, as well as a charming downtown.
Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
Courtesy Go Lake Havasu
TOTAL POPULATION: 204,691
SHARE OF POPULATION, AGE 45 TO 64: 28.0%
RETIRED COST OF LIVING: 0.2% below national average
MEDIAN INCOME, AGE 45 TO 64: $44,328
STATE'S RETIREE TAX PICTURE: Mixed
POPULAR LOCAL BEACHES: Lake Havasu State Park, London Bridge Beach, Rotary Community Park
Lake Havasu City, situated on the eastern shore of its namesake lake, is a popular destination for co-eds on spring break and snowbirds in the winter—a testament to its attractiveness for a wide age range, making it a great choice for early retirees. Indeed, for the whole year, the local median age is 50.4, compared with 37.8 for the U.S.
Being lake-adjacent, the area along the California border offers plenty of water-related recreation, including boating, fishing and swimming, as well as scuba diving and water skiing. But it's more than just fun and games: Kiplinger named Lake Havasu City one of 15 Satellite Cities Poised to Thrive. That's based on expanding regional business growth and a hot job market, so it offers a strong economic base should you decide to unretire in some form.