The 30 Best Places to Live in Florida for Empty Nesters

You did it – you’ve raised your children and sent them out into the world. Now that they’ve flown the coop, it’s time for a fresh start. If you’re looking to relocate, Florida is a fantastic choice.

Whether you want to retire or explore a second career, the Sunshine State offers gorgeous weather, breathtaking beaches, and a booming economy. Plus, the year-round vacation vibe will encourage your kids to visit.

Now that you have more disposable income and fewer responsibilities, you’re in the perfect position to take advantage of everything Florida has to offer. Spend your days on the golf course or take up watersports. The state is also home to a thriving arts scene.

At this point in your life, you probably don’t want anything too sleepy – you’re not ready to slow down just yet. The best places to live in Florida for empty nesters provide the perfect combination of economic opportunity, relaxation, and recreation.

1. St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg offers the quintessential Florida lifestyle. Boasting 361 days of sunshine a year and an enviable waterfront location, the “Sunshine City” is all about fun in the sun.

Are you in vacation mode? Sail through Tampa Bay or soak in the rays on St. Pete Beach. With six local golf courses and another 42 within a 20-mile radius hitting the links is a way of life.

Craving culture? Stroll the galleries in the Central Arts District or explore the Salvador Dalí Museum. St. Petersburg also has a booming theater, opera, and live music scene with a distinctive Florida flair.

If you’re planning to work, the local economy has plenty to offer; this region forms the western end of Florida’s High Tech Corridor. The housing market is impressively diverse, so you can choose from waterfront condos, spacious single-family homes, and everything in between.

2. Monteverde

Pastoral and impossibly lush, Monteverde is one of Florida’s hidden gems. Located on the southwestern shores of Lake Apopka, this small town offers easy access to protected wilderness areas and miles of multi-use trails. Local streets wind through towering trees and green meadows, offering a new view around every corner.

Residents take full advantage of Monteverde’s unique outdoor environment; families stroll along the lake, and birdwatchers flock to spot the 362 species that live on the Lake Apopka North Shore. You might even see a world-famous cyclist out for a training ride on the rolling hills.

As an empty nester in Monteverde, the tight-knit local community brings social opportunities aplenty. The surrounding areas offer all the amenities you need, from shopping to culture. When it’s time to get out of town, the Orlando International Airport is just 34 miles away.

3. Miami

Miami offers Florida sunshine, big-city amenities, and a dash of glitz and glamor. Spend your empty-nest years here, and you’ll never be bored.

Arts and culture thrive in this sparkling south-Florida city. If the classics are your thing, check out the Florida Grand Opera and the Broadway-caliber Adrienne Arsht Center. People come from around the world to admire the colorful murals in the Wynwood District and attend festivals like Art Miami and the star-studded Art Basel.

For foodies, Miami offers an eclectic and exciting restaurant scene. Whether you’re in the mood for killer Cuban eats in Little Havana or the tasting menu at a chic downtown hotspot, local chefs have you covered.

In terms of real estate, Miami offers something for every empty nester. Enjoy the view from a downtown high-rise or settle into a low-slung Florida home under the palms in one of the city’s diverse neighborhoods.

4. Miami Beach

Miami Beach sits just across the Intracoastal from Miami, but it has a completely different vibe. That’s mostly due to the location – the city stretches along a narrow barrier island bounded by one of the best beaches in the state. Life here is relaxed, fun, and undeniably exciting.

You might know Miami Beach for its party-oriented South Beach area, but it’s so much more. Residents come for the bike-friendly beach trails, the exceptional restaurant scene, and one of the best public transportation networks in the state. Crime is low, and the population is diverse.

The gorgeous Art Deco architecture doesn’t hurt, either.

Here, you can wake up to the sunrise in your waterfront condo and spend the day fishing, golfing, or taking yoga classes on the beach. In the evening, drop by the groundbreaking SoundScape Park to hear the New World Symphony.

5. Orlando

You probably know Orlando for one thing: its theme parks. Away from Universal and Disney World, the city offers a wealth of opportunities for entertainment, employment, and adventure.

If you love sports, check out the schedule for the NBA’s Orlando Magic and the MLS’ Orlando City Soccer Club. The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts produces more than 300 theater, comedy, ballet, and opera shows every year. With 20+ museums, 900 works of public art, and 40 miles of biking and hiking trails, there’s something for everyone.

Are you planning to continue your career? The ever-expanding Orlando metro area attracts cutting-edge companies in the aviation, financial services, and technology industries. Plus, since the cost of living is lower than the Florida average, your money goes further.

When the travel bug strikes, the largest airport in the state is just a few minutes away.

6. Gainesville

Gainesville isn’t the flashiest of Florida cities, but what it lacks in glamor it makes up for in quality of life. Home to the University of Florida, this mid-sized city has an energetic vibe and a reputation for innovation.

If you’re looking for a job, there are plenty of opportunities in Gainesville’s healthcare, agriculture, information technology, and high-tech sectors. Startups are everywhere; in fact, the city has a record number of business incubators.

Away from the office, Gainesville is a nature lover’s paradise. Stunning parks surround the city, providing miles of trails for hiking and biking. Paddle the Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Rivers, fish for bass in Lake Santa Fe, and explore the otherworldly hardwood hammocks.

That’s just the start – Gainesville also offers an affordable cost of living, fantastic healthcare, and perfect weather every month of the year.

7. Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is one of the top destinations for empty nesters in Florida. It offers a bit of everything, from world-class culture to phenomenal golf courses. You won’t be the only one taking advantage of the upscale lifestyle – nearly one-quarter of the city’s population falls between the ages of 40 and 59.

It’s easy to see the appeal. In addition to the obvious draw of its white-sand beach, Fort Lauderdale offers a varied restaurant scene and a wealth of live entertainment options. If you’re in search of luxury amenities, the city’s spas, tennis clubs, and designer shopping centers are sure to please.

The city offers a full calendar of community events, including the Olas Wine & Food Festival and the Chinese Lantern Festival. If you can pull yourself away from the fun, the Fort Lauderdale International Airport has regular connections to destinations around the world.

8. Tallahassee

The capital of Florida, Tallahassee has a character and culture all of its own. Florida A&M and Florida State University bring a youthful vibe, while a wealth of government offices create a thrilling political environment.

For a city of just 200,000, Tallahassee has a lot to offer. Funky eateries and quirky art galleries dot the downtown area, and everyone comes out for university game days. Without the constant flow of tourists, the city maintains a welcoming sense of community.

From its perch on the panhandle, this compact metropolis offers easy access to the Florida wilderness. Within an hour’s drive, you can relax on the white-sand beaches of the Gulf Coast or hike the hills of the Apalachicola National Forest.

9. Pensacola

Pensacola is home to just 52,000 people, but it’s packed with personality. The Naval Air Station Pensacola sits southwest of town, adding a military flair to everyday life. For empty nesters, the eclectic population is part of the city’s charm – the community is welcoming, and everyone has a unique story.

Get to know your new neighbors at Pensacola’s many outdoor events; this is the Festival City of the South, after all. Annual favorites include the Pensacola Crawfish Festival and the Great Gulf Coast Arts Festival. Regular gallery nights bring the downtown area to life, and live music is a way of life.

Are you interested in exploring the American South? Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana sit within a 200-mile radius. On the barrier islands off the coast, enjoy the brilliant green water and untouched beaches of the 160-mile Gulf Islands National Seashore.

10. Okeechobee

Now that your kids are out of the house, are you searching for a slower pace? Okeechobee is the perfect fit. This small, relaxed town offers reasonably priced real estate and a cost of living that’s well below the state average.

With fewer than 6,000 residents, Okeechobee is the kind of place where neighbors know each other by name. That’s good news because you’ll probably see them all at community events like the Okeechobee County Fair and the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival.

If you’re in the mood for outdoor adventure, head straight for the expansive Lake Okeechobee. Florida’s “Inland Sea” offers some of the best freshwater fishing in the state. Explore the shore on the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail or take a boat into the Everglades on the Okeechobee Waterway.

11. Winter Springs

Embrace Florida’s version of lake life in Winter Springs, a bustling town on the banks of Lake Jesup. Though the busy streets of Orlando are a short drive away, Winter Springs is known for its quiet, green spaces. Residents love the abundance of public parks and easy access to the Cross Seminole Trail and Bear Creek Nature Trail.

With events ranging from outdoor movie nights, food truck fairs, and holiday festivals, it’s easy to get involved in the Winter Springs community. Don’t miss the Hometown Harvest fall festival and the lively Scottish Highland Games.

When it comes to housing, Winter Springs has a competitive but attractive market. Lots in town are large and lush, with old-growth trees and plenty of greenery. City planners use space widely, so neighborhoods never feel crowded.

12. Sarasota

Beautiful Sarasota is consistently ranked one of the best places to retire in Florida. You’ll understand why the moment you arrive – its pristine, white-sand beaches, charming Old-Florida architecture, and incredible restaurants have an undeniable appeal.

Don’t worry if you’re not ready to retire quite yet; Sarasota is overflowing with things to do. Soak up the constant sunshine with fishing, boating, and golf outings. In the evenings, grab a cocktail in the lively downtown district before you head to the Sarasota Opera House or the Sarasota Ballet.

Sarasota’s beaches are the stuff of legends, offering brilliant white sand and some of the most dazzling azure water in the state. Opt for an island cottage or a resort-style condo and you can enjoy it all just steps from your front door.

13. Jacksonville

Situated less than 30 miles from the Georgia border, Jacksonville is one of the northernmost cities in Florida. As a result, it offers milder weather and more noticeable seasonal shifts.

Music and art are a way of life in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Jazz Festival might draw the crowds, but residents enjoy theater, music, and art events throughout the year. Complete every cultural outing with a stop at the city’s world-class restaurants and boutiques.

Are you dreaming of an active lifestyle? Jacksonville delivers with 22 miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches, 337 parks, and an endless array of rivers and creeks. If you’re a runner or biker, head straight for the 14.5-mile Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail.

14. Naples

Now that your kids are grown, you may be in the market for a more luxurious lifestyle. If that sounds familiar, look no further than Naples. Located on the Gulf Coast south of Fort Myers, this affluent area offers both economic opportunity and upscale amenities.

In Naples, everything you need is within reach: designer shopping, first-class restaurants, and spas are on every corner. Golf is practically a religion in this compact city, which offers 90 nearby courses. You’ll also find boating, fishing, and watersports galore.

Then, there are the beaches – the Naples coast is known for its ultra-fine sand and crystal-clear water. Enjoy the buzz at the Naples Pier beach or take in the unspoiled wild beaches in Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park.

15. Ocala

It’s easy to fall in love with Ocala. With just 60,000 residents and some of the most beautiful countryside in the state, it’s the perfect place to settle down. The Old Florida magic is palpable, whether you’re strolling through the historic downtown area or hiking beneath moss-covered trees.

When it comes to nature, Ocala is unmatched. The nearby Ocala National Forest is home to breathtaking natural springs and more than 600 lakes and rivers – you can swim, snorkel, or kayak through the trees. This is the Horse Capital of the World, so don’t be surprised if you’re sharing the 100-mile trail network with an equestrian or two.

Ocala is off the tourist trail, but you’re never far from fun Florida attractions. In less than two hours, you can reach the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Orlando theme parks.

16. Lakeland

Lakeland strikes the perfect balance of small-town charm and comfortable amenities. This central Florida city is home to 100,000 people, and it’s growing fast. Families, young professionals, and retirees come here for affordable housing and high quality of life.

Lakeland residents take great pride in their community, and it shows. The well-kept historic downtown buzzes with weekend farmers markets, family-friendly shops, and mom-and-pop restaurants. A selection of museums and a vibrant theater community keep culture alive.

True to its name, Lakeland is surrounded by large and small lakes. Local trails and parks offer hiking and biking near Lake Parker, while the Carter Road Mountain Bike Trails draws thrill-seekers from miles around. With an average winter temperature of 63 degrees, it’s always a great time to get outside.

17. Tampa

Just 35 miles from Lakeland, Tampa feels like a different world. The urban energy is strong in this thriving city, which sits on the picturesque Tampa Bay. Home to world-class breweries, gorgeous golf courses, and a booming boating culture, it’s a great place for your second act.

Tampa is famous for its climate; with more than 360 days of sunshine every year, it’s always a good time for a beach day. Revel in the sunshine as you explore the Tampa Riverwalk, kayak through the mangroves, or paddleboard across the bay.

As the third-largest city in Florida, Tampa isn’t short on entertainment. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Lighting hold regular home games, and the New York Yankees conduct their spring training at Steinbrenner Field. For touring Broadway productions, check the calendar at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

18. St. Augustine

If you’re a history buff, head straight for picturesque St. Augustine – this north-Florida city is the oldest in the country. It’s packed with historic sites to keep you busy, including the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas.

When you’re not learning about Old World explorers, the charming historic district offers an exceptional quality of life. Stroll the quaint streets, relax in sidewalk cafes, and enjoy live music every day of the week. The city’s stunning Spanish Colonial styling makes every outing feel like a trip to Spain.

This is Florida, so outdoor adventure is a given. From the spectacular Atlantic Ocean beach to the nearby Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, the city is surrounded by pristine wilderness. St. Augustine’s mild north-Florida climate makes it easy to get outside every month of the year.

19. Jupiter

Offering some of the most beautiful beaches on the Atlantic coast, Jupiter attracts sun-seekers from around the state. Come for the turquoise seas and stay for the chill, beach-town vibe.

In Jupiter, everything revolves around the water. Set at the confluence of the Loxahatchee River and the Indian River, this small city offers world-class surfing, kayaking, boating, fishing, and swimming. A vast network of creeks and canals creates fantastic waterfront real estate – many properties even have private docks.

In town, Jupiter delights residents with excellent restaurants and charming boutiques. Enjoy luxury amenities and a laid-back atmosphere in areas like Abacoa. If you’re craving city life, Palm Beach is just a few miles south.

20. Daytona Beach

Life is anything but sleepy in Daytona Beach. Here, residents enjoy the same things that draw tourists in droves: year-round pier fishing, fantastic golf, and an enormous, sunny beach. Away from downtown, Bulow Creek State Park and Tiger Bay State Forest provide quiet wilderness escapes.

Adrenaline junkies, listen up: Daytona is the undisputed motorsports capital of Florida. Break out your NASCAR gear for weekends at the Daytona International Speedway, or tune-up your motorcycle for the annual Bike Week celebrations.

Despite its spring-break reputation, Daytona has a surprisingly vibrant cultural landscape. Check out the Museum of Arts & Sciences or catch a show at the Peabody Auditorium and the Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center.

21. the Florida Keys

If you’re dreaming of lazy days on the water and a laid-back island vibe, head straight for the Florida Keys. This string of islands extends off the state’s southern tip, offering year-round warm weather and limitless outdoor recreation.

The island magic is strong in the Keys – palm-fringed beaches, charming villages, and glittering water are everywhere you look. Life moves slowly, which is just the way locals like it.

As you might guess, the real estate market is competitive in the Florida Keys. Be patient, however, and you’ll be moving into a gorgeous bungalow in no time. No matter where you live, friendly neighbors will welcome you into the fold.

22. Marco Island

When you’ve spent most of your adult life building a career and raising kids, sleepy Marco Island is the perfect place to relax. Tucked away on Florida’s southwestern coast, this small island offers pristine beaches and constant sunshine.

On Marco Island, every day feels like a vacation. Many local properties sit on the island’s many canals, so you can start the day with coffee on the dock and then while away the hours with golf, sunbathing, and watersports.

A move to Marco Island is the perfect excuse to invest in a boat. Cruise the coast or explore the maze of inlets and mangroves on Ten Thousand Islands. To the north, Rookery Bay is packed with secret fishing spots brimming with tarpon, snapper, and snook.

23. Fort Myers

In the early 1900s, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford spent long, leisurely winters in Fort Myers. Today, you can experience the same excellent weather and Old-Florida charm with a move to this quiet city. As you relax on your porch under the palms, it’s easy to feel transported back in time.

Fort Myers sits on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, a stone’s throw from the bustling beaches of Sanibel Island. Pack your tackle box – the river offers the most exciting bass fishing in the region. Head to the Gulf Coast for swimming, watersports, and unparalleled sunbathing.

Whether you’re planning to retire or continue your career, Fort Myers is an attractive choice. Housing costs are more affordable than in nearby Naples, and the growing economy offers job opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare.

24. Crystal River

Tucked into the heart of Florida’s Nature Coast, Crystal River is a paradise for outdoor adventurers. Miles of protected wilderness extend to the north and south, creating the perfect conditions for paddling, swimming, fishing, and wildlife watching.

Crystal Springs’ nickname is the “Home of the Manatees.” As the water in the Gulf cools, these gentle giants swim up the Crystal River and rest for the winter. The resulting tourist traffic keeps the small-town feeling lively and exciting year-round.

The town of Crystal Springs is tiny, but it offers a remarkably varied selection of restaurants and shops. Homes are affordable, and residents are known for their warmth. Every house in town is a quick drive from the wonders of Crystal River Preserve State Park, Three Sisters Springs, and the Homosassa Wildlife Management Area.

25. Clearwater

When it comes to fun in the sun, Clearwater is one of the hottest destinations in Florida. It isn’t just for vacationers – the city is home to families, young professionals, and retirees. Everyone comes for constant sunshine, warm weather, and a lively beach lifestyle.

Speaking of the beach, Clearwater has one of the best in the country. With its brilliant white sand and beguiling azure water, Clearwater Beach is straight out of a postcard. Grab a spot on the sand for a day of swimming or enjoy the view as you fish from the pier.

This dream beach lifestyle doesn’t have to break the bank; the cost of living in Clearwater is more affordable than in many surrounding cities. Whether you live in a sea-view condo or an inland neighborhood, you’re never far from the outstanding seafood restaurants in the adorable downtown.

26. Dunedin

Just north of Clearwater, the small town of Dunedin is a quirkier, quieter alternative. It’s removed from the flow of tourists, so you can enjoy the sun and sea without the crowds. Crime is low, housing is affordable, and healthcare is top-notch.

The best part of living in Dunedin is the friendly community. Familiar faces are everywhere, whether you’re sipping a beer at the Dunedin Brewery or strolling through the farmers market in Pioneer Park. Locals come out en masse for art walks, Scottish cultural festivals, and local theater productions.

With only a handful of cloudy days each year, Dunedin is a hotspot for outdoor recreation. Go for a bike ride on the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, or head down to the marina for a relaxing boat ride. Across the bay in Caladesi Island State Park, miles of hiking trails and immaculate beaches await.

27. Mount Dora

Perched on the shores of Lake Dora in Central Florida, Mount Dora is a waterfront paradise. With a population that’s just shy of 14,000 people, the community is tight-knit but not oppressively so. Most homes sit within walking distance of downtown, so residents often ditch their cars in favor of a walk or bike ride.

In Mount Dora, something’s always happening in the historic downtown area. Seasonal festivals are a regular occurrence; the Mount Dora Arts Festival brings in visitors from around the region. With museums, art galleries, and antique shops to explore, you’ll never be bored.

If you don’t have a boat, now’s the time to start shopping. Lake Dora is part of the connected Harris Chain of Lakes, so there are miles of waterways for boating, swimming, fishing, and waterskiing. On land, you can enjoy the views as you stroll the boardwalks in Palm Island Park or check out the freshwater lighthouse in Grantham Point Park.

28. Lake City

Located south of I-10 between Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Lake City is a relaxed north-Florida retreat. It’s hard not to feel at home here; this small community has a welcoming, open atmosphere that’s impossible to resist.

Make sure to bring your outdoor gear – Lake City is a haven for nature lovers. The Osceola National Forest offers first-rate camping, hiking, and fishing. In town, Alligator Lake Park is always busy with hikers and kayakers.

Lake City is sleepy but never boring. Enjoy the thrill of the North Florida Speedway, or dive into local lore at the Columbia County Historical Society. For golfers, the local courses are both beautiful and challenging.

29. Anna Maria Island

Live the Florida dream on Anna Maria Island, a small barrier island west of Bradenton. Get a taste of the incredible weather, fresh seafood, and awe-inspiring scenery and you might never go back to the mainland.

On Anna Maria Island, you’re never more than a few minutes’ walk from the water. Head to the west side to relax on the long, white-sand beach that stretches for miles along the glittering Gulf of Mexico. On the east side, gorgeous single-family homes line a series of narrow canals.

The island might be small, but it’s not short on entertainment. Head downtown for farmers markets, quaint cafes, and frequent local festivals. In the evening, live music drifts from every cafe and bar.

30. Melbourne

Located on Florida’s tech-oriented Space Coast, Melbourne offers a growing economy and exciting startup opportunities. Thanks to the expanding space-program activity to the north, this compact city is growing steadily.

Melbourne sits on the Indian River, a quick hop from the spectacular barrier-island beaches. The protected inland waters of the lagoon are popular for kayaking, fishing, and sailing. In the winter, keep an eye out for the manatees that swim by the shore.

Culture is alive and well in this 80,000-person city. Explore the galleries in the Eau Gallie Arts District and listen to live music while you dine at the charming downtown restaurants. Parks, shops, and museums offer something to do every day of the week.

What makes Florida an attractive choice for empty nesters?

Many of Florida’s charms are obvious: the sea, sand, and sunny weather create a year-round vacation. If you’re an empty nester, however, the perks of the Sunshine State go far beyond the beach.

Whether you’re planning to retire or continue working after a move to Florida, the state’s tax laws have big financial benefits. Florida residents don’t need to pay state income taxes, which saves you a serious chunk of change. After you retire, you won’t need to pay state taxes on income from your pension, investments, or Social Security payouts.

Keep in mind that to receive these benefits, you’ll need to set up a primary residence in Florida. According to state law, this means spending more than six months within state limits. Tax officials in Florida are on the lookout for people who try to cheat the system, so it’s a good idea to start establishing a paper trail from day one.

Tax code aside, Florida has something for every type of empty nester. Now that you’re not busy raising a family, you’ll have time to take advantage of the state’s world-class beaches, watersports, and fishing holes. With 1,350 miles of coastline, you’ll never run out of waterfront escapes. Florida also offers more than 1,100 golf courses, countless spas, and some of the best theme parks in the United States.

What are some of the most affordable cities in Florida for empty nesters?

Even with its generous tax laws, living costs in Florida can add up quickly. The closer you are to the water, the more you can expect to pay for housing. That doesn’t mean there aren’t budget-friendly places – you just need to know where to look.

Some of the most affordable places for empty nesters in Florida are:

  • Orlando
  • Jacksonville
  • Gainesville
  • Dunedin
  • Lakeland
  • Fort Myers
  • Crystal River

If you don’t mind a slower pace of life, you can also check out the retirement haven of Port St. Lucie; it’s famous for its low-cost housing. Another great spot is Kissimmee, which offers some of the state’s most affordable house prices.