9 Best Places to Retire in Central Florida

Florida is one of the top destinations for retirees in the United States. The warm climate, beautiful beaches, and variety of activities make it an ideal place to retire.

Within Florida, Central Florida stands out as a popular area for retirees due to its lower cost of living compared to other parts of the state. Plus, there is no state income tax – an added bonus!

Why move to Central Florida?

There are many reasons why retirees choose to call Central Florida home. Here are some of the top reasons:

  • Affordable Cost of Living: The cost of living in Central Florida is lower compared to other popular retirement destinations such as South Florida or coastal areas.
  • Beautiful Weather: Central Florida is known for its warm and sunny weather year-round. Retirees can enjoy outdoor activities such as golfing, biking, and walking without worrying about freezing temperatures or heavy snowfall.
  • Variety of Activities: With world-renowned theme parks like Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld in the area, retirees will never run out of things to do in Central Florida. There are also plenty of cultural attractions, nature parks, and shopping opportunities to keep retirees entertained.
  • Strong Retirement Communities: Central Florida is home to several well-established retirement communities. These communities offer amenities such as golf courses, fitness centers, and social events for retirees to stay active and socialize with others in their age group. There are 55-plus neighborhoods too!

Where are the best places to retire in Central Florida?

If you’re considering retiring in Central Florida, here are seven of the best places to live:

  • The Villages: Located in Sumter County, The Villages is the largest retirement community in the world. With over 50 golf courses and countless recreational activities, it’s no wonder why it’s a top choice for retirees.
  • Winter Park: Winter Park is an excellent choice for retirees who prefer a quieter and more upscale community. This charming town has a thriving arts scene and beautiful parks perfect for outdoor activities.
  • Ocala: Known as the “horse capital of the world,” Ocala offers a peaceful and scenic setting for retirees who enjoy outdoor activities like horseback riding, hiking, and fishing.
  • Mount Dora: This quaint town is often referred to as the “New England of the South” due to its charming small-town feel. Retirees can enjoy strolling through the downtown area lined with shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Vintage shopping, Lake Dora, and The Mount Dora Light are Florida’s only inland freshwater lighthouses.
  • Sanford: Located along the shores of Lake Monroe, Sanford offers a historic downtown district with unique shops and restaurants and outdoor recreational opportunities like boating and fishing.
  • Clermont: Located in Lake County, Clermont offers retirees a suburban setting with easy access to Orlando’s attractions. It also has plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking trails and lakes for fishing and boating.
  • Deland: This picturesque town has a rich history and plenty of cultural attractions for retirees to enjoy. It also offers a low cost of living and a variety of housing options.
  • Tavares: Located in Lake County, Tavares is known as “America’s Seaplane City.” Retirees can enjoy a waterfront lifestyle with access to boating and fishing on the Harris Chain of Lakes.
  • Howey in the Hills: This small town has a strong sense of community and offers retirees a peaceful and scenic setting with access to golf courses, lakes, and parks.

If a city or town captures your attention, let me share some additional benefits of each location listed below. You’ll be convinced why these places are worth considering!

1. The Villages

Located in Sumter County, The Villages is a popular retirement community known for its golf courses, recreational activities, and close-knit community.

The Villages is often referred to as “Florida’s Friendliest Hometown,” and for a good reason. The emphasis on community and active lifestyles provides a unique and vibrant living experience. The community boasts over 2,000 organized clubs covering various interests, allowing residents to connect and pursue their passions.

Retirees can also take advantage of the community’s free golf for life program and enjoy a round of golf at any of the nine country clubs.

The Villages also offers a robust dining scene with over 100 restaurants. Whether you are in the mood for gourmet dining, casual fare, or anything in between, you’ll find it in The Villages. Residents also enjoy various shopping opportunities, with boutiques, retail stores, and supermarkets all conveniently located within the community.

Ultimately, life in The Villages is about more than just the physical location – it’s about the lifestyle. It’s about finding your place in a vibrant, active community where every day presents an opportunity to explore your interests, connect with others, and enjoy the fruits of your retirement years.

2. Winter Park

Winter Park is truly a remarkable retirement destination that offers a perfect blend of tranquility, elegance, and enriching cultural experiences. You’ll immerse yourself in a serene atmosphere, surrounded by well-maintained parks inviting you to relax and unwind.

As you stroll along the beautiful brick-lined streets, you’ll be enchanted by the majestic Southern Live Oak and Camphor trees, their branches draped with elegant Spanish Moss. And don’t miss out on Central Park, where you can enjoy the breathtaking rose garden and be treated to delightful outdoor concerts throughout the year.

In addition to its natural beauty and cultural offerings, Winter Park also boasts a wide range of charming eateries and boutiques, adding to the allure of this peaceful yet vibrant place to call home.

3. Ocala

Ocala, often called the “Horse Capital of the World,” offers a serene and picturesque setting ideal for retirees seeking a relaxed lifestyle.

This town is home to some of Florida’s most beautiful natural landscapes, including the Silver Springs State Park, where retirees can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, bird-watching, and kayaking.

Ocala’s thriving equine industry also provides retirees unique experiences, from horseback riding trails to polo matches and horse shows.

The town offers a variety of golf courses catering to all skill levels, perfect for a leisurely game under the Florida sun.

This town embraces a strong sense of community, and its residents are known for their warm and friendly nature. Ocala offers affordable housing options, a cost of living lower than the national average, and convenient access to top-notch healthcare facilities. If you’re a retiree considering a move to Florida, Ocala makes a compelling case that is hard to resist.

4. Mount Dora

Mount Dora, often called the “Festival City,” presents retirees with an engaging and vibrant lifestyle. The city is known for its charming downtown, filled with antique shops, art galleries, cozy cafes, and a wide array of restaurants. Regularly held festivals such as the annual Arts Festival and the Classic Car Show add a lively touch to city living, inviting locals and tourists alike to partake in the city’s cultural richness.

The city is nestled amid the beautiful Lake Dora, adding a scenic charm to the town and providing ample opportunities for boating and fishing. For nature enthusiasts, the Palm Island Park offers serene trails for walking, bird watching, and soaking in the views of Lake Dora.

Mount Dora’s rich history is another reason to consider this quaint town. The Mount Dora History Museum and the historic Lakeside Inn, the oldest continuously operating hotel in Florida, are a testament to the city’s rich past.

Retirees considering Mount Dora can easily access healthcare services with the presence of AdventHealth Waterman, recognized for its advanced medical services. Conclusively, life in Mount Dora is a blend of culture, nature, history, and convenience, making it an ideal retirement destination.

5. Sanford

Sanford, often referred to as the “Historic Waterfront Gateway City,” is a charming option for retirees seeking a balance of tranquility and vibrant living. Its downtown district, brimming with 19th-century architecture, is a testament to the city’s rich history, featuring art galleries, antique shops, and an array of restaurants. The RiverWalk, with its stunning views of Lake Monroe, offers a fantastic setting for leisurely strolls or bike rides.

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the city’s proximity to several state parks, while the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens provides the perfect opportunity for a delightful day out. For those interested in water activities, Sanford’s location on the southern shore of Lake Monroe provides ample opportunities for boating and fishing.

Retirees interested in maintaining an active social life will appreciate the city’s repertoire of events, including jazz concerts, art festivals, and farmers’ markets. Additionally, Sanford’s strong community vibe welcomes newcomers, ensuring you’ll feel at home in no time.

Healthcare services are also easily accessible in Sanford, with the Central Florida Regional Hospital renowned for its heart care and rehabilitation services.

6. Clermont

Clermont, also known as the “Choice of Champions,” is an excellent destination for retirees seeking a blend of outdoor adventure, relaxation, and community spirit. The city is renowned for its rolling hills and pristine lakes, providing a beautiful backdrop for various outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, or simply enjoying a picnic by the lake.

Encased by its natural beauty is Clermont’s Downtown Historic Village, where you can step back in time and explore the city’s rich history.

The city also hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, fostering a vibrant community spirit. For wine enthusiasts, the award-winning Lakeridge Winery offers tours and wine-tasting events that make for a delightful afternoon outing.

Clermont also prides itself on its quality healthcare, with South Lake Hospital providing top-notch medical services to its residents. In summary, Clermont strikes a perfect balance of active living, relaxation, and community, making it an appealing choice for retirees.

7. Deland

Deland, often celebrated as the “Athens of Florida,” is a captivating choice for retirees with its blend of rich history, cultural vibrancy, and natural beauty. The city is renowned for its historic downtown, filled with murals, art galleries, and distinctive shops, offering retirees an engaging and enriched lifestyle.

The town’s commitment to preservation is evident in the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum and the Stetson Mansion, both offering glimpses into the city’s past. The Hontoon Island State Park and the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge provide ample opportunities for nature walks, bird-watching, and boating, offering a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle.

On top of these features, DeLand hosts vibrant events throughout the year, including the popular DeLand Fall Festival of the Arts.

Coming soon, you’ll have direct access to Sun Rail, putting you just a short 30-minute commute away from beautiful Daytona Beach. Experience the convenience and ease of travel, while enjoying the coastal charm and endless adventures that await you.

8. Tavares

Tavares, often designated as America’s Seaplane City, offers retirees a unique blend of adventure and relaxation. The city’s seaplane base and marina on Lake Dora are exceptional recreational attractions, providing opportunities for seaplane rides and boating.

The Jones Brothers Air and Seaplane Adventures even offer seaplane training for the more adventurous. Tavares also hosts several waterfront entertainment events, including the popular annual Seaplane-A-Palooza.

For those who prefer land-based activities, the city boasts beautiful parks, such as Wooton Park and Aesop’s Park, perfect for leisurely strolls or picnics. Tavares also plays host to a charming train station, where residents can enjoy the scenic Dora Canal on a vintage train ride.

9. Howey in the Hills

Howey in the Hills is a hidden gem that offers an idyllic setting for a serene retirement. Nestled in Lake County, this small, friendly town is surrounded by gentle, rolling hills and sparkling lakes, offering breathtaking natural beauty and an array of recreational activities.

The area is known for its world-class golf courses, such as the Mission Inn Resort & Club, which provide leisurely days on the green surrounded by stunning vistas.

  • Sugarloaf Mountain – 8 miles from resort
  • Mount Dora (downtown) – 13 miles from resort
  • Clermont (downtown) – 15 miles from resort

The town’s location allows for easy access to nearby cities and attractions, yet its small size ensures a peaceful, unhurried lifestyle. Its rich heritage, demonstrated by the historic Howey Mansion, adds a touch of charm and invites exploration into the town’s past. The local library and community center regularly host events, promoting a close-knit community spirit.

Howey in the Hills also boasts exquisite local dining experiences and a local winery, enhancing the town’s allure as a retirement destination.

Cyclists absolutely adore the breathtaking rolling hills, exhilarating group rides, and thrilling trail activities that take place all year round! Join in the excitement and experience the joy of cycling firsthand!


These are just some of the best places to live in Central Florida for retirees. Each town offers its own unique charm and amenities, making it easy to find the perfect place to call home during your retirement years. Start planning your retirement in Central Florida today!

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