By Megan Wild, Author of Your Wild Home Blog

Looking to relocate in the near future? Many soon-to-be retirees seek out new homes in the South for a variety of reasons. The climate is mild, so you don’t have to shovel snow or worry about slipping on ice. If you want, you can play golf 365 days a year in many Southern towns, or check out beaches with glimmering water and soft sand.

Weather is not the only consideration for retirement living, of course. There are many leisure activities in Southern towns, such as historic districts, local parks, vibrant art scenes and distinctive cuisine. Cities that are best for retired people often have state-of-the-art medical facilities nearby. The cost of living in many Southern towns is reasonable, especially compared with the high priced cities of the East and West Coasts, such as New York City and San Francisco.

The following places are the six best Southern cities for retirement.

1. Charleston, SC

Charleston hit the No. 1 spot on Southern Living magazine’s list of best cities to retire in the South. It’s easy to see why. The pace is slow, with plenty of time for leisure and getting to know the neighbors. But the life is sophisticated, with a foodie scene appreciating innovative cuisine and excellent theater and museums. The South Carolina Lowcountry is beautiful. Charleston is also a city of churches, which accounts for its nickname as The Holy City.

It’s also affordable, with low property taxes for those 65 and over. Social Security payments are not taxed.

southern cities

2. Fairhope, AL

Fairhope received its name because it was historically founded as a utopia. The town is on Mobile Bay and is beautiful, with Spanish moss and flowers abounding. There are multiple festivals throughout the year, for arts, music and migrating birds. Fairhope has all the friendliness and charm of a small town, but is close to Mobile for big-city delights, including two airports.

Social Security benefits aren’t taxed in Fairhope.

3. Venice, FL

Looking for a retirement city where you can while away time on the beach? Look no further than Venice, Fla., which is on the Gulf of Mexico. Even better, perhaps, is that the canals for which Venice is named beribbon the town. Venice is a wonderful town for sports buffs, with abundant golf courses, tennis courts and parks. It’s also a good arts destination, with theaters and festivals.

The larger Florida cities of Tampa and Sarasota are within an hour’s drive. Florida doesn’t tax Social Security benefits, and Venice senior citizens get a discount on property taxes.

4. Houston, TX

Houston, Texas, is perhaps the largest city on our list, with more people moving there every year. In fact, last year, Houston added roughly 155 people per day. It’s easy to see why. Houston is a world-class destination for the arts, with great museums, ballet and music. You can hear anything from zydeco to symphonies on any given night. It has one of the most vibrant food scenes in the United States, with restaurants ranging from Tex-Mex to Vietnamese breakfast places to elegant four-star French restaurants. There are multiple parks and green spaces too.

Its Southern friendliness and can-do spirit complement the city’s vibrancy. The Bayou City welcomes retirees with a big Texas grin.

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5. Gainesville, FL

College towns can be great places to retire. There’s plenty of culture, with museums, lectures and visiting artists year-around. Many universities, including Gainesville’s University of Florida, offer senior citizens the opportunity to take classes for reduced prices. Gainesville is a cultural center, with the historical charm of Old Florida, with Victorian houses and cobblestone streets.

Gainesville residents will also benefit from the economic advantages Florida offers to seniors, including low property taxes and no tax on Social Security benefits.

6. Chapel Hill/Raleigh/Durham, NC

These three cities, known collectively as the Research Triangle, offer multiple benefits to retirees. North Carolina is beautiful here, with rolling hills and blue skies. The Research Triangle has tons of walking trails and bike paths. The universities which gave the Research Triangle its name, the University of North Carolina and Duke University, have enough cultural events to make a city proud, but the area is still far more low-key and affordable than most major cities.

The Research Triangle is an ideal place for anyone who loves college basketball, as the teams of both universities are top-rated and often vie for championships. The medical centers of both universities also offer top-notch medical care, including cutting-edge research treatments. Public transit note: Seniors ride free on local buses.

The South is perhaps the best retirement destination in the United States, with warm temperatures, affordable living costs, senior citizen-friendly environments and excellent cultural amenities, outdoor activities and medical care. All these six cities offer a distinctive charm and an excellent quality of life for retirees. All you have to do is choose what you most want from your environment in your golden years!

southern cities