9 Great Places to Retire on a Lake

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Senior couple walking their dogs on the lake beach
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Gazing out onto calm waters, eyeing birds in flight, walking around a serene shoreline, gliding along in a kayak — that could be you.

Many folks want to live on the water, but beachfront property can be prohibitively expensive, especially if it’s on the Atlantic, Pacific or the Gulf. But thankfully there are countless lakes to choose from across the U.S.; it’s just a matter of finding one.

Lucky for you, we have compiled a short list to get you started on your journey to the water. Depending on your price range and requirements for a lakeside retirement, there are many options available. So, dip your toes in and see what’s out there!

Lake Ozark, Missouri

Lake Ozark, Missouri
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Located at the northern part of the Ozark Mountains, this town of about 2,000 provides quick access to the Lake of the Ozarks and its myriad opportunities, including boating, fishing, golfing, shopping and more. The cost of living in Lake Ozark is less than the national average.

Gainesville, Georgia

Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia
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You and the grandkids will be able to explore Lake Lanier’s 76 recreational areas — 40 of which are run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — or launch a boat from one of the 10 marinas to check out Lake Lanier Islands.

The four-season climate rarely gets too cold nor too hot, although you’ll have to get used to the humidity common to the Southern U.S., and the cost of living is below the national average.

Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

Coeur d' Alene, Idaho
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This isn’t a quiet, bucolic village on the water. It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., for good reason. There’s golf and pickleball at Stoneridge, skiing and snowboarding for active older adults, and Silverwood Theme Park for the grandchildren.

The lake itself has a ton of recreational and dining options, but with the expanding population and opportunities is a rising cost of living, which is higher than the national average.

Cheat Lake, West Virginia

Cheat Lake, West Virginia
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Enjoy a meal while listening to live music or take up paddleboard yoga at this man-made reservoir, and for a dose of city life head into nearby Morgantown.

Retiring in the Mountaineer State can be easier on your pocketbook, with some of the lowest property taxes in the nation and a cost of living that is far below the national average.

Culver, Indiana

Culver, Indiana
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This town of less than 2,000 lies on Lake Maxinkuckee, the second-largest natural lake in the state, and has a cost of living well below the national average. There are plenty of arts and entertainment offerings at Culver Academies, a diverse array of shopping and dining in town, and Culver is a ‘walk-friendly community.’

Ice fishing, golf and scuba diving are among the many recreational options available at Lake Maxinkuckee.

Klamath Falls, Oregon

Klamath Falls, Oregon
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This is a beautiful spot for retirees who love the outdoors. Wildlife enthusiasts can get a glimpse of waterfowl, otters, minks, deer and bald eagles, and the lake is part of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway that includes the amazing Crater Lake a short trip to the north.

You can get a dose of the Bard at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival about a 90-minute drive west.

Winter Haven, Florida

Winter Haven, Florida
Noah Densmore / Shutterstock.com

Pick a lake, any lake. That’s the situation in this Chain of Lakes city, which boasts 50 lakes within or bordering city limits. Aside from the boating and fishing, the grandkids will love the largest Legoland in the world, and you can search for treasures in the Antique Loop and check out vintage aircraft at The Fantasy of Flight in nearby Polk City.

The median home value in Winter Haven is about $300,000, significantly less than Florida overall.

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri
Donna Chance Hall / Shutterstock.com

Many people have heard about the incredible array of musical offerings, but this city on Table Rock Lake has tons of fun things to do with the grandchildren and a cost of living significantly below the national average.

Median home values are a bit higher than Missouri’s.

Rangeley, Maine

Rangeley, Maine
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This town of about 1,200 on Rangeley Lake is considered one of the Best Places to Live in Maine by Down East Magazine. There’s trout to catch, bikes to ride, snow to traverse on, and a charming town where you can catch a meal and talk to the locals.

Take advantage of the lake with kayaks, canoes and motorboats, or take a lake cruise and maybe catch sight of bald eagles or loons.

The cost of living is below the national average, but the median home listing price is more than half a million, according to Realtor.com.

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