Once again, Sarasota, Florida, topped the list of Best Places to Retire in the U.S., according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2021-2022 data. Florida cities took eight out of the top 10 spots on the most recent annual survey, which evaluates 150 metropolitan areas and ranks them according to criteria that includes health care, housing affordability, air quality, crime rates, taxes, and overall desirability.
Sarasota’s beaches, parks, cultural attractions, restaurants, and shopping make it a popular vacation destination as well as an ideal retirement community. Golf, boating, fishing, and water sports are favorite activities. Beaches like Lido Key and Siesta Key, the warm, swimmable Gulf of Mexico, fresh seafood, and waterfront dining draw travelers to the area, as does the sophisticated downtown and St. Armands Circle for shopping and restaurants.
Cultural and entertainment opportunities abound. There’s the Sarasota Opera House, Players Center for the Performing Arts, Sarasota Orchestra, Sarasota Ballet, West Coast Black Theater Troupe, and Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Museums include the Sarasota Art Museum and The Ringling with its fascinating circus museum and Ca’d’Zan, once the palatial home of the Ringlings and now open for tours. The stunning Marie Selby Botanical Gardens offers both self-guided and organized tours.
There’s no state income tax in Florida, which is an attraction for not only retirees but permanent residents of any age. Because of the area’s popularity, home prices are on the high side compared to many other Florida cities. That said, there is a lot of opportunity for home buyers; with 59,902 residents based on the 2020 census, Sarasota’s population has increased by 15.38 percent since 2010, and neighborhoods have expanded and revitalized with apartments and new homes. Several highly rated hospitals have locations in Sarasota, and the Florida Department of Health maintains a Sarasota facility for individuals who need care but lack insurance.
Of course, snowbirds arrive during the winter season to enjoy the warm weather, ultimately crowding shops, restaurants, and attractions. Nonetheless, the liveliness of Sarasota in the winter (with concerts and endless outdoor dining possibilities) more than makes up for the additional crowds. Summer is quieter, warmer, and more humid, with temperatures reaching as high as 90 during August, the hottest and rainiest month. Most residents would probably tell you that they’ll take the humid August days over cold winters.
For those hoping to spend their retirement years in a warm, sunny city with lots to do, Sarasota is well worth considering — especially for retirees who want to pack their golf clubs and leave their snow shovels behind.