There have been many reports about the most inexpensive places to retire, but a low cost of living isn't everything. WalletHub recently conducted an in-depth analysis of the overall best and worst places to retire in the U.S., using five metrics to determine the rankings among the 150 largest cities.
Affordability is taken into account, but overall quality of life for senior citizens also plays a big role in the rankings. After all, what good is a cheap place to live if there's nothing to do, poor access to healthcare, and no part-time job market for senior citizens who want to work?
Interestingly enough, not one of the places ranked in the top five achieved a No. 1 ranking in any single category. However, they scored well across many categories, meaning they are well-rounded retirement locales.
Here are WalletHub's top five cities for retirement and the main reasons they achieved their rankings.
5. Scottsdale, Ariz.
While Scottsdale has great access to healthcare and a lot of activities for retirees, the category that stands out the most is "quality of life," in which Scottsdale ranks No. 3 overall.
This includes such factors as having a substantial portion of the population over 65 -- about 20% as of the 2010 census. Other highlights are the good weather (the highest-weighted part of the "quality of life" category), low crime rates, and good air and water quality.
Although the weather can be on the hot side for some (the average high from June to September is over 100 degrees), the mild winters and extremely low precipitation definitely help to make up for it.
4. St. Petersburg, Fla.
Florida has long been an extremely popular retirement destination, but in the years leading up to the recession, home prices were soaring, taking it out of many retirees' affordability range. With the post-recession declines in home prices, that has all changed now.
St. Petersburg (or St. Pete, as it's known locally) is the second-largest city in the Tampa Bay area on Florida's west coast. It's also the only city on this list to rank in the top 50 in all five categories, making it perhaps the most well-rounded retirement city. The standout category was affordability, for which St. Petersburg tied with its neighbor, Tampa, for ninth overall.
The average home in St. Petersburg costs just $128,000, according to Zillow.com. Also contributing to affordability is the abundance and low cost of in-home services for retirees.
St. Petersburg also has warm weather all year round, with the average daily high temperature ranging from 90 in July and August to a "chilly" 70 degrees in January. However, some people don't care for the nearly 46 inches of annual rainfall and the possibility of tropical storms and hurricanes.
3. Orlando, Fla.
This may surprise some people, mainly because Orlando is often thought of as an excellent place to bring children. And in this respect, you would be right, as just over 11% of Orlando's population is over 65.
However, the city ranked seventh in terms of affordability, with an average home price of just $131,000 and low property taxes. The company also took an impressive second place for the number of activities for retirees: There are plenty of senior and community centers, opportunities to volunteer, and lakes and golf courses to enjoy leisure time.
Of course, in the unlikely event they run out of things to do, retirees could check out Walt Disney World and Orlando's other famous theme parks, most of which offer good deals on annual passes for residents.
2. Grand Prairie, Texas
Grand Prairie is in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas, and while the city has good rankings in quality of life (#30 overall) and affordability (#26 overall), its No. 2 ranking in healthcare is what propelled Grand Prairie to such a high spot on the list.
In-home care services are very affordable in Grand Prairie -- and throughout most of Texas, for that matter. In fact, four out of the top five places for cheap in-home care are in the Lone Star state. Also contributing to Grand Prairie's second-best healthcare ranking is the high number of physicians, dentists, and nurses per capita and the high ranking of the area's public hospitals, which are some of the newest and most advanced in the country.
1. Tampa, Fla.
Just like its neighbor St. Petersburg, Tampa has beautiful weather and affordable homes. However, what sets Tampa apart is the number of activities available to seniors, a category in which Tampa ranks No. 3 in the U.S.
Tampa has some of the best fishing in the country, as well as great golf courses and other outdoor activities that residents can take advantage of all year round. There are also lots of sporting events and other entertainment options to choose from, and Tampa's beaches are ranked among the best in the world.
While there is a lot to do in Tampa, another reason for its high quality of life is its proximity to other desirable locations. Want to check out Disney World and Universal Studios with the grandkids? Orlando is just over an hour away. Miami and Fort Lauderdale are also a few hours away for world-class nightlife, shopping, and restaurants. And to get to the Florida Keys takes only half-day's drive through Alligator Alley.
Of course, everyone's dream retirement is different, and certain things are more important to certain people. Not everyone loves Florida, and in fact, many people would prefer to retire far, far north of the Sunshine State. The ideal retirement city for you depends on a variety of factors, so do your research, and you may find the perfect burg to spend your golden years.
Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.