Best places nationwide to retire: Florida cities again dominate U.S. News’ list for 2021-22

“Sarasota has a distinct vibe that’s different from Florida’s relative coastal cities, with its own vibrant arts scene, beachy atmosphere and burgeoning food culture,” U.S. News & World Report writes. (Sean Pavone / Getty Images)

Florida beach cities still rank among the best places to retire in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report’s new list for 2021-22.

Eight Florida metro areas, including Daytona Beach and Melbourne, are among the top 10 nationwide.

Sarasota is on top for the second year in a row “due to increases in desirability, retiree tax and job market scores,” the magazine wrote. Naples is No. 2. 

No inland Central Florida metro areas cracked the top 10 in the new rankings, but Orlando was ranked No. 18 in the nation, down two notches from last year.

Daytona Beach jumped twelve spots this year to land at No. 3, not because anything about the town necessarily improved, but because U.S. News used air quality and crime rate to evaluate cities for the first time this year. 

Daytona scores high in both air quality and safety.

“Many things that make Daytona Beach a popular vacation spot also make it a good place to live,” the magazine wrote, citing popular pastimes such as fishing, golf, NASCAR races, museums, theaters, performing arts centers, antique markets, restaurants, malls and colleges “that combine to make Daytona Beach one of Florida’s most well-rounded metro areas.”

Melbourne is right behind Daytona Beach at No. 4. The allure of Brevard County city includes satellite launches, the Eau Gallie Arts District with museums and galleries, and a historic downtown with plenty of restaurants, bars and shops to choose from.

“Meanwhile, the population has access to water-centric activities on the 155-mile long estuary, Indian River Lagoon, which separates the Space Coast from the Atlantic Ocean,” U.S. News writes. “Surfing, watching manatees, kayaking, boating and fishing are all regular pastimes.”

The list doesn’t take small towns into account at all. U.S. News evaluated only the 150 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S., including Puerto Rico.

Cities were ranked on a combination of housing affordability, happiness, desirability, retiree taxes, job market and health care quality.

Happiness — a blend of air quality, crime rate and sense of well-being — was the highest-weighted metric, counting for more in the rankings than any other factor. 

Housing affordability and health-care quality were weighted almost as high as happiness. 

Of the top 10, Daytona Beach and Pensacola have the best housing affordability, according to the analysis. Naples has the most expensive housing costs in the list. 

The two non-Florida cities in the top 10 both significantly outrank all the Florida cities in health care quality.

The complete top 10 list: 

1. Sarasota, FL

2. Naples, FL

3. Daytona Beach, FL

4. Melbourne, FL

5. Lancaster, PA

6. Tampa, FL

7. Fort Myers, FL

8. Port St. Lucie, FL

9. Ann Arbor, MI

10. Pensacola, FL

The media company analyzed happiness of local residents, housing affordability, tax rates and health care quality to come up with its list of the 150 best places to retire in the United States.

Article curtesy by Orlando Sentinel.