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America's 10 Fastest-Growing Places to Retire

While No. 1 Phoenix won't surprise you, two chilly locales will

By Sreekar Jasthi

(This article previously appeared on
When to retire is one of life’s biggest decisions, but where to retire is an often-overlooked question that can be equally important.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the country’s fastest growing metropolitan areas for retirees.

The site analyzed the 75 largest U.S. metros in 2007 and 2012 to find the ones with the greatest growth in their percentage of residents 65 and older.

Below are descriptions of the Top 10 fastest growers; for more on them, check out NerdWallet’s Cost of Living Calculator.

Top 10 Fastest-Growing Retirement Places

1. Phoenix, Ariz.

With great weather and over 200 golf courses, the Greater Phoenix area is, of course, a popular destination for the retired. Located within the region are the well-known retirement communities of Sun City and Sun City West.

(MORE: How to Choose Your Best Place to Retire)

2. Portland, Ore.

The Portland metro area is known for its abundance of outdoor activities and a vibrant art and music scene. It’s home to many retirement living centers, such as Rose Villa, and its microbreweries and golf courses are a hit with the growing retired population.

3. Las Vegas, Nev.

The Las Vegas metro area is a growing region regardless of age; its overall population increased by 9 percent between 2007 and 2012. The ratio of the 65 + population to total residents grew by roughly 1.9 percent.

(MORE: Ideal Places to Grow Older in America)

The state’s diverse geographic locales allow for many outdoor activities and its lack of an income tax or an inheritance tax is appealing to the retired.

There are many senior living communities in the Las Vegas region, such as The Echelon, which offers a host of recreational and living amenities.

4. Detroit, Mich.

Although the overall population here fell by 4 percent between 2007 and 2012, the number of 65+ residents grew and there was 1.8 percent growth in the metro’s ratio of 65+ residents to overall population.

Livonia, a large Detroit suburb, has been a popular place for the retired with communities such as Woodhaven, a full-service Continuing Care Retirement Community.

5. Raleigh, N.C.

The Raleigh area has experienced great overall growth in recent years — its total population increased by 13 percent between 2007 and 2012, the highest fof the Top 10 metros on this list. Meanwhile, the proportion of residents ages 65+ increased by 1.8 percent.

(MORE: If I Could Live Anywhere...)

The Raleigh metro provides access to several premier healthcare facilities due to the presence of several medical schools. And the region’s mild seasonal weather is a bonus.


6. Atlanta, Ga.

A low cost of living and a pleasant climate help explain the Atlanta area’s status as one of the fastest growing places for retirement in the last few years. Sandy Springs and Marietta are popular suburbs for the retired, but the city of Atlanta also has many options for those in search of a retirement community, such as Renaissance on Peachtree.

7. Tucson, Ariz.

Warm weather and some of the country’s best golf courses make the Tucson metro area a great place for retirees. The city is also home to the University of Arizona, which offers continuing education courses to adults 50 years or older at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

8. Jacksonville, Fla.

The Jacksonville area offers a low cost of living, proximity to several beaches, great Florida weather and no state income tax. One popular retirement-living village in the area is Fleet Landing, which is within walking distance to the beach and is also a satellite campus for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute courses taught by University of North Florida professors.

9. Richmond, Va.

Retirees in Richmond enjoy the area’s rich history, architecture and cultural offerings, which include a symphony, ballet, orchestra and many theaters and art galleries. The University of Richmond is another college that hosts the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

10. Grand Rapids, Mich.

Between 2007 and 2012, the Grand Rapids area saw a relatively high rate of growth in its 65+ population. Senior Neighbors operates several centers in the region with the goal of enhancing the health and wealth of local seniors. There are also numerous retirement living communities, including Clark Retirement Community, a not-for-profit with residential options and services for the retired.

Ranking the 10 Fastest-Growing Retirement Places


Methodology: NerdWallet divided the number of people age 65+ by the total population in each of the 75 largest U.S. metropolitan areas in 2007 and 2012.The places were then ranked according to the highest rates of growth in the percentage of 65+ residents. All population data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sreekar Jasthi is a strategy analyst at NerdWallet, where he crunches data and writes content to help consumers make smart financial decisions.

Sreekar Jasthi Read More
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