June 20, 2024
Travel & Tourism

Discover 11 Budget-Friendly Florida Cities Ranked Among the Top ‘Hidden Gem’ Retirement Spots in the Southern US.

Discover 11 Budget-Friendly Florida Cities Ranked Among the Top 'Hidden Gem' Retirement Spots in the Southern

Florida continues to be a top choice for retirement, boasting sunny weather, a beautiful coastline, tax-friendly policies, and a significant senior population. However, rising real estate prices, inflation, and mortgage rates nationwide have made certain communities in the Sunshine State less affordable for retirees. Nevertheless, there are still many communities in Florida that offer an attractive cost of living, allowing retirees to fulfill their dreams of spending their golden years in this desirable location. GoBankingRates.com recently released a report highlighting under-the-radar retirement destinations in the South, featuring 11 places in Florida where monthly expenses remain under $2,000. Although the top three spots are occupied by destinations in other states (The Woodlands, Texas; Cary, North Carolina; and Lexington, Kentucky), St. Petersburg, Florida, claims the fourth spot. According to the report, St. Petersburg is a bustling hub for retirees, with 19.28 percent of its residents aged 65 or older. Monthly expenses in this Gulf Coast city average $1,879, slightly above the national average by 1.54 percent. Just 36 miles northeast of St. Petersburg is Brandon, ranking eighth on the list with average monthly expenses of $1,862. Despite being slightly cheaper, Brandon offers a safer environment and a range of family-friendly amenities.

Pembroke Pines, located north of Miami, secures the 12th position on the list. While noted for its low rates of violent crimes, the cost of living in Pembroke Pines is 23 percent higher than the national average, with monthly expenses estimated at $1,841. For those prioritizing a large senior community, Clearwater is an excellent choice, with over 23 percent of its population aged 65 or over. Monthly expenses in Clearwater are similar to Pembroke Pines, averaging $1,849, with living costs only 1.6 percent higher than the national average. Other Florida cities featured on GoBankingRates’ list of “hidden gem” retirement spots in the South include Tampa, Miramar, Coral Springs, Cape Coral, Palm Bay, and Port Saint Lucie. The website compiled this list by analyzing the 100 most populated metropolitan areas across the region, ranking them based on factors such as violent crime rates, monthly expenses for residents aged 65 and over, and the percentage of seniors within the general population.

1- Port Saint Lucie

Port Saint Lucie, Florida, emerges as an enticing hidden gem and an ideal destination to explore during retirement. Nestled along Florida’s picturesque Treasure Coast, Port Saint Lucie offers a serene and laid-back atmosphere, perfect for those seeking a tranquil yet vibrant retirement lifestyle. With its lush golf courses, pristine beaches, and abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities, including fishing, boating, and birdwatching, this city caters to active retirees looking to stay engaged and enjoy the natural beauty of the Sunshine State. Port Saint Lucie boasts a lower cost of living compared to other coastal cities in Florida, making it an attractive option for retirees seeking affordability without compromising on amenities or quality of life. Additionally, the city’s friendly community vibe and proximity to cultural attractions in nearby areas like Stuart and Fort Pierce add to its appeal, making Port Saint Lucie a hidden gem worth discovering and savoring during your golden years.

2-Palm Bay, Florida

Palm Bay, Florida, stands out as a hidden gem and an exceptional travel destination for retirees seeking a blend of natural beauty, affordability, and tranquility. Located on Florida’s Space Coast, Palm Bay offers retirees an array of attractions and activities to explore. From its stunning coastline along the Indian River Lagoon to its numerous parks and nature preserves, including Turkey Creek Sanctuary and Fred Poppe Regional Park, outdoor enthusiasts will find ample opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, kayaking, and enjoying breathtaking sunsets over the water. Palm Bay’s affordable cost of living makes it an attractive option for retirees looking to stretch their retirement savings while still enjoying a high quality of life. The city’s welcoming community vibe, diverse dining options, and proximity to nearby attractions like Kennedy Space Center and Melbourne Beach further enhance its appeal. For retirees seeking a hidden gem with year-round sunshine, natural wonders, and a relaxed coastal lifestyle, Palm Bay, Florida, is an ideal destination to explore and savor during retirement.


Laredo is a vibrant city located in Texas, not Florida. It is known for its rich cultural heritage, lively festivals, and unique blend of Tex-Mex cuisine. As a retiree seeking new experiences, Laredo offers a dynamic atmosphere with a deep sense of history. Explore the historic downtown area with its charming architecture, boutique shops, and authentic Mexican restaurants. Embrace the local culture by attending the annual Washington’s Birthday Celebration, one of the largest and oldest celebrations of its kind in the country. Laredo’s warm climate allows for year-round outdoor activities like golfing, birdwatching, and exploring nearby nature reserves along the Rio Grande. For retirees looking to immerse themselves in a welcoming community with a distinct Texan flair, Laredo provides an exciting and fulfilling destination to discover during retirement.

4-Hialeah, Florida

Hialeah, Florida, emerges as a hidden gem and a wonderful city to consider for retirement living. Nestled in Miami-Dade County, Hialeah offers retirees a diverse and vibrant community with a wealth of amenities and attractions. The city boasts a rich cultural heritage, reflected in its dynamic neighborhoods, eclectic cuisine, and lively festivals celebrating Cuban and Hispanic traditions. Retirees can immerse themselves in Hialeah’s unique charm by exploring landmarks like the historic Hialeah Park Racing & Casino, known for its beautiful architecture and horse racing events, or strolling through the vibrant Westland Mall for shopping and dining. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate Hialeah’s proximity to parks and outdoor spaces, such as Amelia Earhart Park and Opa-locka Airport Trail, ideal for leisurely walks or birdwatching. Hialeah’s central location provides easy access to Miami’s renowned cultural and entertainment offerings, including museums, theaters, and pristine beaches. With its affordable cost of living compared to nearby Miami, coupled with a warm climate and welcoming community spirit, Hialeah presents an attractive option for retirees seeking a blend of urban amenities and suburban tranquility in their retirement years.

5-McAllen, Texas

McAllen, Texas, stands out as a hidden gem and an exceptional destination for retirees seeking a blend of culture, affordability, and warm hospitality. Located in the Rio Grande Valley near the Mexican border, McAllen offers retirees a unique South Texas experience. Explore the city’s rich cultural heritage by visiting the vibrant arts district in downtown McAllen, where galleries, theaters, and live music venues showcase local talent and creativity. Indulge in authentic Tex-Mex cuisine at family-owned restaurants and food trucks, savoring dishes like homemade tamales and flavorful carne asada. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate McAllen’s proximity to the World Birding Center and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, renowned for birdwatching and nature trails. The city’s warm climate allows for year-round outdoor activities, from golfing at scenic courses to leisurely walks along the McAllen Hike and Bike Trail. McAllen’s affordable cost of living compared to larger Texas cities makes it an attractive option for retirees looking to stretch their retirement savings without sacrificing quality of life. The city’s friendly community atmosphere, diverse population, and proximity to the cultural offerings of nearby South Padre Island and Nuevo Progreso, Mexico, further enhance its appeal. For retirees seeking a hidden gem with a laid-back vibe and a taste of authentic Texas culture, McAllen offers an ideal setting to explore and enjoy during retirement.

6-Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina, epitomizes the perfect destination for retirees seeking hidden gems and memorable travel experiences. Nestled along the picturesque coastline of the Atlantic Ocean, Charleston exudes Southern charm and boasts a rich history dating back centuries. Retirees can immerse themselves in the city’s storied past by exploring historic landmarks such as the Battery and Rainbow Row, renowned for their colorful antebellum homes and cobblestone streets. Discover hidden gardens and secret alleys tucked away in Charleston’s historic district, offering peaceful retreats amid the bustling city. Embrace the Low country cuisine by indulging in shrimp and grits or sampling freshly caught seafood at waterfront restaurants. Charleston’s mild climate allows retirees to enjoy outdoor activities year-round, whether strolling along the waterfront promenade at Waterfront Park or taking scenic boat tours along the harbor. The city’s vibrant arts scene, including galleries, theaters, and music venues, provides ample opportunities for cultural enrichment. With its blend of Southern hospitality, coastal beauty, and a wealth of hidden treasures waiting to be explored, Charleston is an ideal city for retirees seeking a fulfilling and enriching retirement experience.

7-Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia, beckons retirees with its undeniable charm and wealth of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. As the quintessential Southern city steeped in history and elegance, Savannah offers retirees a delightful blend of culture, culinary delights, and picturesque landscapes. Wander through the city’s historic district, adorned with moss-draped oaks and well-preserved antebellum architecture, and stumble upon hidden courtyards and secret gardens tucked behind ornate iron gates. Explore the vibrant arts scene, with galleries showcasing local talent and theaters hosting captivating performances. Food lovers will revel in Savannah’s renowned dining scene, from classic Southern fare like shrimp and grits to innovative farm-to-table cuisine. Take strolls along the cobblestone streets of River Street, lined with charming boutiques, art galleries, and cafes overlooking the Savannah River. Embark on guided walking tours to uncover the city’s haunted history or hop on a riverboat cruise to admire the city’s waterfront views. With its warm hospitality, distinctive charm, and endless opportunities for exploration, Savannah is the perfect city for retirees to uncover hidden gems and create lasting memories during their retirement years.

8-Brownsville, Texas

Brownsville, Texas, is a hidden gem and an ideal destination for retirees seeking a unique travel experience reminiscent of Florida’s laid-back coastal lifestyle. Situated along the Gulf Coast near the Mexico border, Brownsville offers retirees a blend of rich history, cultural diversity, and outdoor adventures. Explore the city’s historic downtown district, adorned with colorful Spanish colonial architecture and quaint shops. Discover hidden gems like the Historic Brownsville Museum, displaying artifacts that tell the story of the city’s past, or take a stroll through the Gladys Porter Zoo, home to a diverse collection of wildlife worldwide. Retirees can indulge in Tex-Mex cuisine at local eateries or savor fresh seafood along the waterfront. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate Brownsville’s proximity to South Padre Island, where they can enjoy beachcombing, fishing, or birdwatching in a pristine coastal setting. With its warm climate, welcoming community, and array of cultural and recreational activities, Brownsville is a hidden treasure for retirees looking to embrace a relaxed and enriching lifestyle during their retirement years.

9-Coral Springs, Florida

Coral Springs, Florida, emerges as an enticing destination for retirees seeking a vibrant and welcoming community to explore during retirement. Located in Broward County, Coral Springs offers a perfect blend of urban amenities and natural beauty. Retirees can enjoy leisurely walks or bike rides along the city’s well-maintained trails and parks, including the picturesque Tall Cypress Natural Area and Betti Straddling Park. The city’s commitment to arts and culture is evident in its Coral Springs Museum of Art, displaying local and national artists, as well as its vibrant performing arts scene at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts. For outdoor enthusiasts, nearby attractions like the Everglades National Park and the Atlantic Coast beaches provide birdwatching, boating, and beachcombing opportunities. Coral Springs boasts a range of dining options, from upscale restaurants to casual eateries offering diverse cuisines. With its warm climate, friendly atmosphere, and abundance of activities, Coral Springs offers retirees an ideal setting to relax, explore, and enjoy a fulfilling retirement lifestyle.

10- Miramar, Florida

Miramar, Florida, stands out as an exceptional city for retirees seeking hidden gems and unique travel experiences. Situated in Broward County, Miramar offers a diverse array of attractions and activities that cater to retirees looking to explore and enjoy their retirement years to the fullest. Discover hidden gems like the Miramar Cultural Center, a hub for arts and entertainment featuring performances, art exhibitions, and cultural events throughout the year. Explore the city’s lush parks and nature preserves, such as Miramar Pineland Park and Miramar Regional Park, ideal for leisurely walks, picnics, and birdwatching. Retirees can also indulge in shopping and dining at the upscale Miramar Town Center, offering a mix of boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. For those seeking outdoor adventure, nearby attractions like the Everglades National Park and Hollywood Beach provide opportunities for boating, fishing, and relaxing by the ocean. Miramar’s warm climate, diverse community, and proximity to Miami’s vibrant cultural scene make it an ideal destination for retirees seeking hidden gems and memorable experiences during their retirement journey. With its blend of urban amenities and natural beauty, Miramar invites retirees to embrace a relaxed and enriching lifestyle in the heart of South Florida.

11-Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia, is undoubtedly one of the best cities to visit for a captivating and memorable travel experience. Known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and Southern charm, Savannah offers a unique blend of old-world elegance and modern allure. Wander through the city’s picturesque squares lined with moss-draped oak trees and historic homes, marveling at the intricate details of the architecture and soaking in the laid-back ambiance. Explore Savannah’s vibrant arts scene by visiting galleries highlighting local artists or catching a live performance at one of the city’s theaters. Indulge in the culinary delights of the South, from classic dishes like shrimp and grits to innovative farm-to-table cuisine served in charming restaurants and eateries. Discover hidden gems like Bonaventure Cemetery, a hauntingly beautiful landmark steeped in history and mystery. Take a stroll along River Street, where shops, cafes, and galleries overlook the Savannah River, offering breathtaking views and a glimpse into the city’s maritime heritage. With its warm hospitality, cultural richness, and enchanting landscapes, Savannah promises an unforgettable travel experience for visitors seeking to immerse themselves in Southern hospitality and charm.


In conclusion, the array of budget-friendly and hidden gem cities featured across Florida and the Southern U.S. presents retirees with an enticing landscape of possibilities for their golden years. Despite rising costs in certain areas, retirees can still find affordable havens where they can thrive and enjoy a fulfilling retirement lifestyle. Whether it’s the vibrant coastal community of St. Petersburg or the tranquil landscapes of Port Saint Lucie, each city offers its unique charm, amenities, and opportunities for exploration. These cities not only provide an affordable cost of living but also boast rich cultural heritage, outdoor recreation, and a welcoming community spirit. The rankings from GoBankingRates.com highlight the diverse range of options available to retirees, allowing them to tailor their retirement experience to their preferences and interests. Whether retirees seek bustling city life, serene coastal living, or cultural immersion, these hidden gem cities in Florida and beyond beckon with promises of adventure, relaxation, and a fulfilling retirement journey. By leveraging the insights provided by this report, retirees can make informed decisions and embark on the next chapter of their lives with confidence and excitement in these remarkable destinations.

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