10 Great Places to Retire in the Midwest

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Traverse City, Michigan
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Most lists of the best places to retire are dominated by warm and sunny spots in states like Florida and Arizona. And certainly, those locales are popular with retirees.

But not everyone wants to swelter in the heat during their retirement years. There are plenty of perfectly fine communities in the Midwest for older Americans who enjoy the four seasons.

We’ve pulled together a list of great options for Midwest-minded retirees. While there are many ways to define this region, we stuck to the 12 states designated as the Midwest by the Census Bureau.

See if any of these spots might be right for you.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Each year, U.S. News and World Report analyzes factors ranging from resident happiness to housing affordability to determine the best cities for retirees. In its 2022-2023 rankings, Ann Arbor, Michigan, is the highest-ranked Midwest city on the list. It took the No. 8 spot in the country for retirees and was named the 11th-best place in the country for anyone to live.

Home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is buzzing with activity for much of the year, but if you are looking for more to do, Detroit isn’t far away. U.S. News ranks the city especially high for quality of life and notes there are plenty of parks for active retirees.

Mequon, Wisconsin

Mequon, Wisconsin
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Looking for a smaller city? Mequon, Wisconsin, gets the nod from Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the best small towns in the U.S. for retirees. Located north of Milwaukee and by the Lake Michigan shoreline, this city is home to about 25,000 residents.

Mequon is close enough to the big city that retirees shouldn’t have trouble finding activities to fill their time. Closer to home, they will enjoy life in a community that has a rural feel and has been designated as a Bee City USA, Tree City USA and Bird City Wisconsin.

Cincinnati, Ohio

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You might not think of Cincinnati, Ohio, as a prime retirement destination, but it ranked third on WalletHub’s 2022 list of the best places to retire. The finance website updates the list annually and bases its recommendations on metrics related to activities, affordability, quality of life and health care.

Part of what propelled Cincinnati so high in the rankings was the availability of a variety of activities. Among the options are museums, arts centers and plenty of parks. The city also hosts festivals and events, including the Cincinnati Riverfest, Cincinnati May Festival and Taste of Cincinnati.

Brookings, South Dakota

Brookings, South Dakota
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If safety is your top concern, consider Brookings, South Dakota, as a retirement destination. Finance website GOBankingRates ranked the community at No. 6 among the safest places to retire in the U.S.

Relatively small with fewer than 25,000 residents, Brookings is about an hour north of Sioux Falls and home to South Dakota State University. The city has numerous parks, and its local attractions include museums, an arts council and an aquatic center.

Fargo, North Dakota

Downtown Fargo.
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Forbes is another publication that ranks the best cities for retirement each year. The website and magazine considers 800 locations in the U.S. before paring down the options to the top 25. In the 12 years Forbes has created its list, Fargo, North Dakota, is the only city to make an appearance every year.

Among the perks you’ll get in Fargo are a bikeable community, good air quality, plenty of doctors and no state estate tax. On the downside, there’s the cold. If you aren’t into bundling up in the winter, Fargo may not be the town for you. Average highs in January are only 18 degrees.

Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan
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After analyzing cities for the best places to retire, Forbes then considered the best places to enjoy your retirement. For the 2022 list, the only Midwest city to make the cut was Traverse City, Michigan. The community also topped a 2022 Realtor.com list of the best affordable places to retire.

Located in Michigan’s lower peninsula, Traverse City sits along the Grand Traverse Bay, which connects to Lake Michigan. The city is known for its annual cherry festival, shopping, golf courses and wineries. Old Mission Peninsula and historic Fishtown are also popular places for residents and visitors alike to explore.

Bloomington, Illinois

Bloomington, Illinois
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Bloomington, Illinois, is another option from Realtor.com’s list of the best affordable places to retire. The website gave Bloomington the No. 5 spot on its list, noting it is a safe, midsized city located two hours from Chicago. Illinois is also the only Midwest state that doesn’t tax 401(k), individual retirement account (IRA) or pension income, according to Realtor.com.

Among the amenities in Bloomington are a zoo, library, golf courses, ice center and a performing arts venue. There are also opportunities to fish, bike and relax in one of the community’s many parks. The downtown area features dining, shopping and a farmers’ market that is accompanied by live music at times.

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Downtown Jeffersonville, Indiana
Thomas Kelley / Money Talks News

Perhaps you expect to have very limited funds in retirement. Don’t worry. GOBankingRates says you should be able to retire to Jeffersonville, Indiana, on less than $2,000 per month. The website ranked the city as the fifth-best place to retire on that amount of money.

Jeffersonville just barely squeaks into the Midwest and is located across from Louisville, Kentucky, along the Ohio River. About 50,000 people call Jeffersonville home, and the community has more than 40 parks, an arts and cultural district and a RiverStage for live music.

Ankeny, Iowa

Ankeny, Iowa
Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock.com

How about retiring to one of the most livable communities in the country? In that case, you’ll want to pack your bags and head to Ankeny, Iowa. In 2019, the website AreaVibes analyzed data from more than 35,000 U.S. cities and neighborhoods to check for their amenities, cost of living, crime rates and more. With a livability score of 97, Ankeny ranks No. 1 in the nation.

A suburb of Des Moines, the city touts that it has the lowest city tax rate in the metropolitan area. It also maintains about 100 miles of trails and has a dog park, aquatic center and senior community center. More than 70,000 people call Ankeny home.

Glendale, Missouri

Glendale, Missouri
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Actually, the AreaVibes list of best places to live in America is dominated by Midwest cities. For those seeking a town where no one stays a stranger long, try Glendale, Missouri. It has a livability score of 96 and a mere 6,000 residents.

While a small town, Glendale is part of the St. Louis metro area, so big city life isn’t far away. However, those who want to stay close to home can enjoy spending time at the Glendale-Kirkwood-Oakland Aquatic Center or join the Walk the Parks program run by the Shepherd’s Center.

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