8 Great Places to Retire in New England

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Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire
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If you’re drawn to the brilliant fall foliage and rich history of one of the oldest regions in the United States, retirement in New England has a lot to offer.

New England’s ocean beaches, outdoor recreation, vineyards and classic foods such as clam chowder, lobster and maple syrup are a big draw for retirees. The cost of retiring in New England is steep, however, including paying high state income taxes.

In fact, all six New England states — Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Connecticut — rank in the bottom 15 of the “affordability” category in Bankrate’s 2022 report on the best and worst places to retire. Yet Vermont also tops a recent list with the most relocation moves into the state, with Rhode Island not far behind.

Retirees relocating to New England can still find pockets of affordability, along with four distinct seasons and culture-packed cities and towns. If you can brave the harsh winters or afford to be a snowbird, New England could be just the right place to spend your golden years.

Here’s the rundown on several great places to retire in New England.

New Haven, Connecticut

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Population: 135,000

Home to Yale University, New Haven has much to offer retirees who want to live an urban lifestyle with plenty of cultural offerings, including the Yale University Art Gallery.

New Haven is also home to the renowned Yale New Haven Hospital, so retirees have many medical specialties covered. The average home value in New Haven is a bargain for New England — around $260,000, far below the national average of $329,000 — according to Zillow. The cost of living is 5.5% above the national average.

Portland, Maine

Coast of Portland, Maine
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Population: 68,000

The coastal city of Portland, the most populous location in Maine, appears frequently on retirement destination lists as one of the best in New England. Retirees will find plenty to do in Portland’s bustling downtown, and the city has abundant stores and shops, including the Maine Mall. A picturesque waterfront and nearby beaches welcome retirees and tourists alike.

Each of Portland’s two teaching hospitals — Maine Medical Center and Southern Maine Health Care — was named a 2022 top teaching hospital by the Leapfrog Group for health care quality and safety.

Retirees there may want to budget for a snowbird allowance during the coldest months. Also note Portland’s cost of living is around 12% higher than the national average.

Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Pittsfield Massachusetts lake
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Population: 44,000

Kiplinger named Pittsfield as one of the best places in New England to retire due to the city’s relative affordability when compared with Boston and Cambridge. The average Pittsfield home value is only around $258,000 — significantly lower than the average home value in Boston of $672,000, according to Zillow.

Retirees will enjoy the splendor of fall leaves and natural beauty of this small city located in the Western Berkshires. Tanglewood Music Center, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home, is less than 10 miles away. The Clark Art Institute and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art are not far either.

Residents ages 65 and older make up around 20% of the population. Another plus: The cost of living in Pittsfield is around 11.5% lower than the national average.

Amherst, Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts
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Population: 39,000

Great Retirement Spots named Amherst as a great place for retired academics looking for small-town, rural living that offers culture, history and recreational activities. But this former home of poets Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost has plenty to offer other retirees, too.

Located in the Happy Valley region of Western Massachusetts, Amherst is home to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst College and Hampshire College. The city has a collegiate vibe with plenty of cultural events, including poetry readings at the Emily Dickinson Museum and an arts cinema, along with classes and exhibits at the Yiddish Book Center and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Retirees craving occasional big-city life are only a few hours drive away from Boston or New York City.

Laconia, New Hampshire

Laconia, New Hampshire
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Population: 17,000

Laconia’s lower-than-average cost of living, scenic location and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities make this town appealing to retirees who enjoy small-town living.

Nicknamed “City on the Lakes,” Laconia is located on the Winnipesaukee River and borders Lake Winnisquam and Lake Winnipesaukee, the state’s largest lake at around 20 miles long and 12 miles wide. From its beaches to the nearby White Mountain National Forest, Laconia’s natural offerings will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts.

Residents ages 65 and older comprise around 21% of the population. The cost of living in Laconia is around 5% lower than the national average.

Rochester, New Hampshire

Rochester, New Hampshire
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Population: 33,000

Home of the Rochester Opera House and Rochester Museum of Fine Arts, Rochester has culture, crafts galleries, antique stores, outdoor concerts, nearby beaches and a long-running agricultural fair.

Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester received an “A” Hospital Safety Grade from the Leapfrog Group for its efforts to protect patients from preventable harm and errors.

Rochester’s cost of living is 4.4% lower than the national average.

Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island houses homes
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Population: 190,000

Located 50 miles southeast of Boston and one hour’s drive from Cape Cod, Providence has much to offer as a retirement destination, according to Top Retirements. One of the largest cities in New England and Rhode Island’s state capital, Providence is home to Brown University and several colleges.

With nearby beaches and a riverfront walkway to concerts by the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and plays at the award-winning Trinity Repertory, retirees will find plenty of ways to stay active and engaged.

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont
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Population: 45,000

Retirees looking for a city with a small-town feel, cultural and outdoor activities, pleasant summers and breathtaking fall scenery will find all of that and more in Burlington. Located on Lake Champlain near the Adirondack Mountains, winters can be brutal, however.

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