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20 Best Cities in the U.S. for Physicians to Retire

Contributor Alvin Yam
Editor Vinci Palad

According to a 2022 research published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), more than half (46.7%) of practicing physicians were over the age of 55 in 2021. 

As many physicians are approaching retirement age, choosing the right place to retire becomes a significant decision. A recent study from Medscape ranks the best cities in the U.S. for physicians to retire. The magazine identified 20 of the best places for doctors to retire, which include criteria such as access to quality healthcare, low state income taxes, and outdoor recreation. 

For each city, we highlight a few other factors we think are important for retirement in addition to Medscape’s list, such as affordability, crime rate,  weather, and happiness.

Let’s dive in.

 

1. Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville tops the list in the Sunshine State and has a population of around 962,000.

  • One of the key attractions of Jacksonville is its affordability. The cost of living, especially housing, is lower than the national average, making it an economical choice as well.
  • Jacksonville scores high on the happiness index, with residents expressing satisfaction with their community, the availability of outdoor activities, and low stress levels.
  • Jacksonville has a somewhat higher crime rate than the national average, but the majority of crimes are property-related.
  • The weather in Jacksonville is warm and sunny year-round, providing an ideal climate if you enjoy outdoor activities. However, you should be aware of occasional hurricane risks.
  • Florida is one of the few states in the U.S. that does not levy a state income tax.
  • Jacksonville is home to Mayo Clinic Florida and other top-notch hospitals, offering access to excellent healthcare facilities. Physician opportunities may be limited in Jacksonville, but there may be potential for roles in teaching or research.
  • Jacksonville offers extensive beaches and parks, a thriving arts scene, diverse dining options, and museums.

 

2. Martinsville, Virginia

Martinsville, Virginia, is a charming small town with affordable living, a strong sense of community, and a population of around 13,000.

  • Martinsville is affordable, with costs significantly lower than the national average across all categories.
  • The town scores high on the happiness index, with residents reporting job satisfaction, low stress levels, and a close-knit community vibe.
  • Martinsville has a very low crime rate for both violent and property crimes, contributing to the town’s appeal.
  • Martinsville has moderate four seasons allowing residents to do seasonal activities throughout the year.
  • Virginia’s state income tax rate is progressive, starting at 3% and going up to 5.75%.
  • Martinsville is home to local hospitals with access to larger medical centers in nearby cities. While physician opportunities are limited in Martinsville, there is potential for volunteer work or telemedicine.
  • Residents in Martinsville can enjoy hiking, fishing, and other outdoor activities. The town also hosts arts festivals and historic sites.

 

3. Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman is a vibrant college town with a population of around 53,000, known for its stunning mountain scenery and its many outdoor activities. 

  • The cost of living, especially housing, is higher than the national average. 
  • Bozeman scores high on the happiness index, with residents reporting a strong sense of community involvement.
  • The town boasts a very low crime rate, with both violent and property crimes significantly below average.
  • Bozeman experiences four distinct seasons, with cold winters and hot summers. 
  • Montana’s state income tax rate is progressive, starting at 1% and going up to 6.75%.
  • Bozeman is home to local hospitals and access to top-tier medical centers in nearby cities. While physician opportunities may be limited, Montana State University may offer teaching or research opportunities. 
  • Bozeman offers a range of recreational and cultural activities, such as skiing, hiking, fishing, and camping. 

 

4. Evans, Colorado

Evans, Colorado, is a picturesque town with a population of around 22,000, located in the foothills and near Denver.

  • The cost of living, especially housing, is slightly higher than the national average. 
  • Evans scores high on the happiness index, with residents reporting a strong sense of community involvement, excellent physical health, and easy access to nature. 
  • The town boasts a very low crime rate, with both violent and property crimes significantly below average.
  • Evans experiences four seasons, with sunny and dry weather, so residents enjoy outdoor activities throughout the year.
  • Colorado has a flat state income tax rate of 4.4% 
  • Evans is not too far from renowned hospitals and medical centers in other cities in Colorado, but physician opportunities may be limited.
  • Evans has cultural and recreational activities like hiking, skiing, and bicycling. Not too far is Denver, which has a thriving arts scene and a wide selection of restaurants.

 

5. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Rehoboth Beach is a small coastal town with a population of around 1,200, known for its beautiful beaches and relaxed atmosphere. 

  • The cost of living, especially housing near the beach, is higher than the national average. 
  • Rehoboth Beach scores high on the happiness index, with residents reporting a strong sense of community involvement, job satisfaction, and low stress levels. 
  • Rehoboth Beach has a low crime rate, with both violent and property crimes significantly below average.
  • Rehoboth Beach experiences mild four seasons with moderate temperatures.
  • Delaware is one of the few states in the U.S. that does not levy a state income tax on Social Security income.
  • Rehoboth Beach is not far from local hospitals and top-tier medical centers in nearby cities, though physician opportunities may be limited.
  • Residents can enjoy the town’s beaches, vibrant boardwalk, arts scene, fishing, golfing, and dining options.

6. Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine, is the largest city in the state, with a population of around 68,000, and serves as a major transportation and commercial center.

  • Portland’s affordability index is somewhat higher than the national average. 
  • Portland has a lower-than-average crime rate.
  • According to a study by National Geographic Explorer, Portland is ranked as one of the happiest cities in the U.S. 
  • Portland has four seasons and a harsh winter.
  • The state income tax rate is progressive, starting at 5.80% and going up to 7.15%.
  • Portland is home to Maine Medical Center, a renowned healthcare facility. There may be job opportunities with places such as Maine Health, Maine Medical Partners Division of Geriatrics, and Maine Medical Center.
  • Portland has a variety of museums and a vibrant arts scene. Sailing and hiking are also popular outdoor activities.

7. Tucson, Arizona

Tucson is a city known for its active retirement population, beautiful desert scenery, and sunny weather, and has a population of around 546,000.

  • Costs are less than the national average, making it relatively inexpensive compared to other top cities.
  • The crime rate in the city is marginally higher, especially when it comes to property crimes. 
  • Tucson is known for its year-round warm, sunny, and dry weather.
  • Arizona has a flat income tax rate of 2.5%, regardless of total income level. 
  • The University of Arizona is a major employer in Tucson, with potential opportunities in teaching and research. 
  • Tucson is known for its cultural heritage and its Native American history. There are historic sites, museums, and outdoor activities with several state and national parks in the area.

 

8. Burlington, Vermont

Burlington is the most populous city in Vermont, with a population of around 44,000, located 45 miles south of the Canada–U.S. border. 

  • Burlington has a cost of living that is higher than the national average.
  • Burlington has very low rates of both violent and property crimes.
  • Burlington has been recognized as one of the happiest cities in America. According to a study by WalletHub, Burlington ranked 10th among more than 180 of the largest U.S. cities. 
  • All four seasons are experienced in the city, with the winters being especially harsh. 
  • The University of Vermont Medical Center, which offers top-notch medical services, is Vermont’s largest hospital and is located in the city. Though physician job options may be limited, volunteer and consulting can be explored. 
  • Burlington is home to a thriving arts scene, three colleges and a university, and a range of all-season outdoor activities.

9. Bend, Oregon

Bend, Oregon, is a city located in the central part of the state, 163 miles southeast of Portland, with a population of around 99,000.

  • In terms of affordability, Bend is considered one of the more expensive cities in Oregon and one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.
  • The crime rate is 25% below the national average.
  • Oregon’s state income tax rate is progressive, starting at 4.75% and going up to 9.90%.
  • Bend’s happiness index is relatively low.
  • There are four different seasons in the weather, including mild winters. 
  • The St. Charles Health System and other hospitals are available healthcare facilities. Physician employment options may be scarce, but volunteer and consulting work may be available.
  • The city has many recreational options, with a wide range of outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, skiing, and golfing. Bend is also known for its artisan breweries and local art scene.

10. Franklin, Tennessee

Franklin is a historically rich city with a population of around 83,000, about 26 miles from Nashville.

  • Franklin’s overall cost of living is 1% lower than the national average.
  • Franklin’s crime rate is generally lower than the national average.
  • Tennessee has no income tax on salaries and wages. 
  • The town has four distinct seasons, with the winters being especially mild. 
  • Franklin is home to the Williamson Medical Center and other medical clinics. Physician employment options may be scarce, but you can explore volunteer and consulting.
  • Nashville is only a 30-minute drive away, which offers a wide range of outdoor activities and dining options.

11. Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg is a town located 70 miles from San Antonio and around 80 miles west of Austin, with a population of around 12,000.

  • Fredericksburg has a Cost of Living index of 104, which means the total cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, taxes, and other necessities is four percent higher than the U.S. average.
  • The town has four distinct seasons, with the winters being especially pleasant.
  • Texas has no state income tax.
  • The Hill Country Memorial Hospital and other surrounding medical facilities are located in the town. There may not be many job opportunities available for physicians, but there may be volunteer and telemedicine options. 
  • Fredericksburg is known for its thriving wine industry and is home to 15 wineries. The town also offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking and bird watching.

 

12. Gig Harbor, Washington

Gig Harbor is a city on the shore of Puget Sound in Pierce County, Washington, and is known for its scenic surroundings and has a population of around 12,000.

  • The cost of living in Gig Harbor is 14.0% higher than the national average.
  • Gig Harbor is in the 84th percentile for safety, meaning 16% of cities are safer and 84% are more dangerous.
  • Gig Harbor has a temperate marine climate with four distinct seasons. The summers are short, warm, dry, and partly cloudy, while the winters are long, cold, wet, and mostly cloudy.
  • Washington has no income tax.
  • Gig Harbor is home to several medical facilities, such as CHI Franciscan Health System – St. Anthony Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, and MultiCare Gig Harbor Medical Park. There may be job opportunities for physicians in hospitals, clinics, and private practices.
  • Gig Harbor has several parks, along with a historic waterfront with shops.

13. Boone, North Carolina

Boone is a town with a population of around 18,000 and sits within the Blue Ridge Mountains, with picturesque views.

  • Boone’s cost of living is 10% lower than the national average.
  • The overall crime rate in Boone is 29.5% below the national average.
  • Boone has four distinct seasons and a temperate maritime climate.
  • The state income tax rate in North Carolina is a flat rate of 4.99%.
  • Watauga Medical Center is a hospital located in Boone that provides a wide range of medical services. There may not be many job opportunities available for physicians, but volunteer and telemedicine options exist. 
  • The town offers mountain sports cozy mountain cabins, and hosts festivals and art galleries, and Tweetsie Railroad Theme Park.

14. St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis is a city close to where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers converge, with a population of over 300,000. 

  • Of the 25 most populated metropolitan regions in America, St. Louis is thought to be the most reasonably priced. The St. Louis region is ranked 41st out of the 100 largest metro regions in the US for overall affordability.
  • St. Louis is in the 13th percentile for safety, meaning 87% of cities are safer and 13% of cities are more dangerous. People living in St. Louis generally consider the southwest part of the city the safest.
  • St. Louis has four distinct seasons: hot, muggy summers, cool, wet falls, chilly, damp winters; and even wetter springs.
  • Missouri has a graduated state income tax rate of 1.5% to 4.95%. In addition, Kansas City and St. Louis levy a local 1% local income tax.
  • The Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Christian Hospital, and St. Luke’s Des Peres Hospital are just a few of the healthcare facilities located in St. Louis that may provide job opportunities for physicians.
  • St. Louis is known for its vibrant arts-and-culture scene, restaurants, and bars, and four professional sports teams.

 

15. Athens, Georgia

Athens is in northeastern Georgia, located roughly 70 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta with a population of around 128,000.

  • Living expenses are 12% less than the national average.
  • The happiness index for the state of Georgia is 4.97 (out of 10).
  • Athens is in the 23rd percentile for safety, meaning 77% of cities are safer and 23% are more dangerous. People who live in Athens generally consider the city’s southeast part the safest.
  • Athens experiences hot, muggy summers and mild to moderately cold winters.
  • Georgia has a graduated state income tax rate ranging from 1.0% to 5.75%.
  • Athens is home to several healthcare facilities that provide a wide range of medical services, including Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center and St. Mary’s Health Care System, which may provide job opportunities for physicians.
  • Athens offers a blend of outdoor experiences, history, and culture. The city’s thriving music industry is also well-known.

16. Grand Haven, Michigan

Grand Haven is located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Grand River with a population of 10,412.  

  • Grand Haven has a cost of living index of 94.3, which means the total cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, and taxes is 5.7 percent lower than the U.S. average and 3.1 percent lower than the average for Michigan.
  • Grand Haven, Michigan, is often considered one of the happiest places in America. 2017 Coastal Living Magazine named Grand Haven the happiest seaside town in America.
  • Grand Haven, Michigan, has a relatively low crime rate compared to the national average. People who live in Grand Haven generally consider the southeast part of the city to be the safest.
  • Grand Haven experiences a range of temperatures all year round. The city has all four seasons: warm, sunny summers and chilly, snowy winters.
  • Michigan’s state income tax rate is a flat rate of 4.25%.
  • Grand Haven is home to several healthcare facilities that provide a wide range of medical services, including Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center and St. Mary’s Health Care System, though job opportunities for physicians may be limited.
  • There’s a range of cultural and recreational activities, such as The Kite Festival, Spring Lake Heritage Festival, Sand Sculpture Contest, Grand Haven Art Festival, Fourth of July Fireworks, and the nationally recognized Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival.

 

17. Paducah, Kentucky

Paducah has a population of around 26,000, midway between Nashville, Tennessee, to the southeast and St. Louis, Missouri, to the northwest.

  • Paducah has a cost of living index of 77, which means the total cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, and taxes is 23.0 percent lower than the U.S. average and 6.4 percent higher than the average for Kentucky.
  • The city is often considered a charming and enjoyable place to live. In terms of state-level happiness, Kentucky was ranked 45th in the U.S. in 2021.
  • Paducah is in the 36th percentile for safety, meaning 64% of cities are safer and 36% are more dangerous. People living in Paducah generally consider the west part of the city the safest.
  • Paducah’s climate is hot and muggy in the summers and cold, wet, and windy in the winters.
  • Kentucky’s state income tax rate is 4.5%.
  • Paducah is home to several healthcare facilities that provide a range of medical services, including ContinueCARE Hospital at Baptist Health Paducah and Mercy Health – Lourdes Hospital, though job opportunities for physicians may be limited.
  • Paducah offers live music at numerous festivals held each year, galleries and museums, and locally-made cuisine at many eateries.
  • Paducah has miles of trails along the riverfront, parks, sports, historical sites, and festivals.

 

18. Dayton, Ohio

Dayton is a city with a population of around 137,000 and sits 50 miles north of Cincinnati and 60 miles west of Columbus. 

  • Dayton is regarded as being very affordable, with a cost of living lower than the U.S. average. Dayton’s overall cost of living index is 79.8, whereas the U.S. average is 100.
  • Dayton is in the 24th percentile for safety, meaning 76% of cities are safer and 24% are more dangerous. People living in Dayton generally consider the southern part of the city the safest.    
  • Dayton experiences four different seasons with a moderate climate.
  • Ohio has graduated state income tax rates ranging from 0% to 3.99%. The City of Dayton levies an annual income tax of 2.5%.
  • Dayton is home to several healthcare facilities, including Kettering Health, a comprehensive healthcare network that includes Kettering Health Dayton, Kettering Health Main Campus, Kettering Health Miamisburg, and other locations.
  • Paducah is known for its lively outdoor recreation, thriving downtown, history, culture, and festivals on the shores of Lake Michigan and the Grand River.
  • Dayton has a wide range of parks, museums, live events, and aviation sites.

 

19. Lancaster, Pennsylvania


Lancaster is one of the oldest inland cities in the U.S. and is 59 miles southwest of Allentown and 61 miles west of Philadelphia, with a population of around 57,000.

  • Lancaster is known for its affordability, especially in terms of housing. In 2018, Lancaster came in first place in U.S. News’ retirement ranking, with top ranks in healthcare and housing affordability. 
  • Lancaster was ranked as the No. 3 best place to retire in the U.S. in 2024 by U.S. News & World Report. This ranking takes into account factors such as the Happiness Index. Lancaster was also named the fourth happiest U.S. city by Senior Living.
  • Lancaster is in the 38th percentile for safety, meaning 62% of cities are safer and 38% are more dangerous. People who live in Lancaster generally consider the southeast part of the city to be the safest.
  • Lancaster has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons.  Precipitation tends to be heaviest during spring and summer months and gets 43 inches of rain and 20 inches of snow per year on average.
  • The income tax rate in Pennsylvania is a flat rate of 3.07%.
  • Lancaster is home to several healthcare facilities that provide a wide range of medical services. One of them is Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, a comprehensive healthcare network that includes Lancaster General Hospital, Women & Babies Hospital, Lancaster Rehabilitation Hospital, and Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital. 
  • Lancaster has a wide range of cultural and recreational offerings, such as live performances, museums, and leisure and Cultural Activities, such as museums, live events, and parks.

 

20. Tarpon Springs, Florida

Tarpon Springs sits along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, just 45 minutes north of St. Petersburg, and has a population of around 26,000. 

  • Tarpon Springs has a cost of living index of 102.8, which means the total cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, and taxes is 2.8 percent higher than the U.S. average and 0.3 percent higher than the average for Florida.
  • Tarpon Springs has a livability score of 68 (out of 100), which takes into account factors like amenities, cost of living, crime, employment, housing, and schools.
  • The crime rate in Tarpon Springs is lower than the national average.
  • Tarpon Springs has a year-round wet climate. The winters are short, chilly, windy, and partially cloudy, while the summers are long, hot, and oppressive.
  • Florida is one of the few states in the U.S. that does not levy a state income tax.
  • There may be job opportunities for physicians as Tarpon Springs is home to several healthcare facilities that provide a wide range of medical services. Some include AdventHealth North Pinellas and other hospitals near Tarpon Springs, such as HCA Florida Trinity Hospital, Mease Dunedin Hospital, Mease Countryside Hospital, and Morton Plant North Bay Hospital.
  • Tarpon Springs has a wide range of activities for recreation and culture. One of the city’s most well-known features is the Sponge Docks on the Anclote River. There are also activities available at the Tarpon Springs Cultural Center, and the city has many parks and beaches.

Beyond the Rankings

Medscape’s list of the best 20 cities should give physicians plenty of retirement options in the U.S. to explore.

The best place for you to retire will ultimately depend on your lifestyle decisions, personal preferences, and affordability considerations.

Happy retirement planning!

 

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23 thoughts on “20 Best Cities in the U.S. for Physicians to Retire”

  1. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  2. Just finished my 30 years in Lancaster and I owe them a lot. Although moved to be with more like-minded people out West I can’t complain. However, have to take exception with the observation that the southeast portion of the city is where you want to be. Retiring physicians would be alone there, lol. Nothing south of King St is reasonable for anyone with means, and I lived in the city and still own a row house. A good place. It’s come a long way in the quality of life metrics.

    Reply
  3. I’ve been to Tucson several times because I have family there. It is very nice. My only concern is water availability in the future, not only there but throughout the southwest US and southern California.

    Reply
  4. Regarding Lancaster and other locations in Pennsylvania:

    The State of Pennsylvania has a flat 3.07% income tax on earned income. Social security and other retirement contributions are taxed as part of your earned income. When you take retirement money out there is no state income tax due because you paid taxes upfront. In that regard it’s similar to a Roth IRA.

    You will still have to pay federal tax on your retirement income no matter what state you live in. if you worked in a state that gave you a deduction for retirement contributions and you move to PA you still aren’t tax Pennsylvania when you take the money out,

    Reply
  5. I definitely would second Tucson (but then again I’m biased having retired here). Description notes warm year-round, but it does get cold (but not wet) during the winter. Very good symphony and other musical entertainment. University of AZ is a major asset for affordable performances as well (very talented staff and students). Four hours from the beach (Rocky Point, Mexico). Four hours from skiing (Flagstaff). It’s relatively affordable, and unlike Phoenix, it’s quite liberal.

    Reply
  6. LOL. These are predominantly white conservative cities (Jacksonville has an active KKK and Nazi presence) Most immigrant or black/brown physicians would not be welcome here. How about including cities or towns that are more diverse/inclusive even if they are expensive. We are doctors after all, not retiring McDonalds workers.

    Reply
    • This is one of the more ignorant blobs of verbiage I’ve seen in a while, especially from a physician. “Most immigrant or brown/black physicians wouldn’t be welcomed”?! Project much? Your own bias shows through loud and clear. I’m sure the good people of Jacksonville would disagree with your ridiculous take that it’s full of KKK and Nazis.

      Reply
      • To be factual Steve K: Sam Raja said Jacksonville “has an active KKK and Nazi presence”. He DID NOT say the city was FULL of them.

        Reply
        • This is a gross generalization. How about New York City has an active population of homeless, drug-using people? Point being, every place has its’ positives and negatives. Focusing on race, politics, etc, takes one down the path of ignorance doesn’t allow the individual freedom to judge a person on their own merits.

  7. I live in Augusta Georgia and wondered why Athens made the list rather than Augusta. Augusta has a much lower cost of living and more hospitals than Athens. Just curious. Thanks for the article

    Reply

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