Sarasota has the white-sand beaches and sparkling water that many people dream about in a retirement spot. The cost of living is reasonable, which means even retirees on a budget can consider relocating to Sarasota. This Florida beach destination also has the amenities retirees need, including nearby hospitals and job opportunities for those looking to earn a little extra income in retirement.
Sarasota ranks as the No. 1 Best Place to Retire in the U.S. for the second year in a row in 2022. The U.S. News Best Places to Retire analysis includes data about housing affordability, happiness, desirability, retiree taxes, the job market and access to quality health care. The ranking compared the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. as potential retirement spots.
[See: The Best Places to Retire in 2022.]
Here's why Sarasota ranks as the Best Place to Retire in the U.S. in 2022.
A Desirable Beach Retirement Spot
Many newcomers are initially drawn to Sarasota's world-class beaches. Located along the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota has miles of beaches that range from popular to secluded. Siesta Key has soft and powdery quartz sand that stays cool even on hot days.
"Sarasota offers many opportunities to live an active, healthy lifestyle," says Kathy Black, a professor at the School of Aging Studies at the University of South Florida. "Many people love the natural outdoor living — the sun, the ocean and the award-winning beaches."
But the ocean breezes and swaying palm trees are not the only things that make Sarasota an attractive retirement spot. The area is also a haven for golf, art and culture, and hosts many annual events ranging from the Sarasota Film Festival to the Sarasota Chalk Festival. There's even a unique style of building, the Sarasota School of Architecture, that was developed in the region.
[SEE: The Best Beach Towns to Retire in the U.S.]
Sarasota residents report a high sense of well-being, according to the Sharecare Community Well-Being Index. Sarasota locals say that they like where they live and have supportive relationships and a manageable economic life, Sharecare found.
You'll find plenty of other retirees for company in this popular retirement spot where 40% of the population is age 60 or older, according to Census Bureau data. "There is much to be said for a place to live where older people have plentiful opportunities to mingle with others their own age who share their values, histories and lifestyles, and, yes, complaints about getting old," says Stephen Golant, a professor emeritus at the University of Florida and author of "Aging in the Right Place." "Older persons considering living in Sarasota will have far less difficulty establishing a social network of supportive friends and acquaintances."
Reasonable Housing Costs
While Sarasota isn't the lowest-cost place to retire in Florida, the reasonable housing costs allow retirees on a budget to retire near the beach. It costs a median of $1,531 per month to own a home with a mortgage in Sarasota. Renters pay a median of $1,209 per month.
The median home value among people age 60 and older is $245,000, but there's also a wide range of housing costs depending on the neighborhood you select. "If you want to buy a home on the beach or downtown or in a top golf community, it will cost more, but if you are happy simply being here, you can find less expensive places to live," says Laura Mattia, a certified financial planner and CEO of Atlas Fiduciary Financial in Sarasota. "There is a large range of lifestyle."
[See: Retirement Spots With Year-Round Nice Weather.]
No State Income Tax in Florida
The state of Florida doesn't have an income tax. This means retirees don't have to worry about paying state income tax on pension or Social Security income or withdrawals from retirement accounts. Retirees who continue to work also get to keep more of their earnings.
"It's pretty common to see a tax savings, because Florida doesn't collect income taxes. There is also no local income tax in Sarasota," says Angela Wetzig, a certified financial planner and president of Sage Wealth Consulting in Sarasota. "No state income tax is a huge benefit to retirees. This results in thousands more per year for most people."
Test-Drive Your New Retirement Lifestyle
As with any move, it's important to test out your new retirement destination before making the move permanent. "Spend time here prior to retirement. Sarasota, Venice, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch and the surrounding areas all have a different feel and offer a slightly different lifestyle," says John Cunningham, a certified financial planner for Reality Financial Planning Services in Sarasota. "It is important to know what you value and how you want to spend your time in retirement. This will help you make the decision that is best for you and your family."