7 Best-Kept Secret Places to Retire in Florida in 2024

Written by Alyssa Shea
Updated: November 2, 2023
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We’ve all heard about great places to retire to in Florida. Usually, places like Tampa or Daytona are recommended as hot spots for retirees. Many people flock here because the state won’t tax any of your income, regardless of its source. But what about the lesser-known gems? These are some of the best-kept secret places you can plan on retiring to in Florida!

Check out these 7 great but secret places to retire in Florida!

1. Naples

With a population of around 24,000, Naples is truly a treasure, and all of the inhabitants wholeheartedly agree! This scenic city is situated next to the Gulf of Naples in southwest Florida and is about an hour south of Fort Myers. Known for its high-end shopping areas, numerous golf courses, inspiring sunsets, and pristine beaches, this place is basically a tropical paradise! More active individuals can explore local nature preserves, visit theFlorida Everglades, or venture to nearby islands such as Naples Island and Marco via boat. Though the cost of living is a bit higher than surrounding areas, you get what you pay for if you live here!

Pink Sunset over the colorful shops of the Village on Venetian Bay in Naples, Florida

There are over 100 art galleries in Naples, Florida.


2. Merritt Island

Merritt Island, located midway down the east coast of Florida, is a special place. This picturesque area offers a dense suburban feeling and a great sense of community. Most people own their homes here, and its schools are highly rated, which always aids in resale value if you decide to move. The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge safeguards a 140,000-acre nature sanctuary that aids in the preserved beauty of this island. If you’re interested in space, you will be delighted to find that the John F. Kennedy Space Center is located on Merritt Island!

Sunrise Over the Atlantic in Merritt Island Florida

The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge provides habitats for more than 1,500 species of plants and animals.

©Bkamprath/ via Getty Images

3. New Port Richey

You will find a large population of retirees living in New Port Richey, which sits close to Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Pete. The small-town culture lends to the sense of community. Also, more doctors are available here than in most cities. There are always loads of senior discounts and plenty of activities for the 55+ community. The climate is very pleasant, and the economy is well-balanced!

Aerial view of a neighborhood of New Port Richey, Florida surrounded by greenery

New Port Richey is known for its tax rates and housing costs.

©Wirestock/ via Getty Images

4. Gulf Breeze

Gulf Breeze, situated across from Pensacola on the Florida Panhandle, is a balmy, beautiful place close to white sand beaches. Right next door is the Naval Live Oaks Preserve, where you can hike and observe local wildlife. There is also a well-kept zoo with over 900 exotic animals, including rhinos, hippopotamuses, zebras, and more! This safe, coastal community boasts a great restaurant scene. The cost of living is reasonable as housing expenses are 9% lower than the national average.

Aerial photo luxury waterfront homes with dock Gulf Breeze Florida USA

Aerial photo luxury waterfront homes with dock Gulf Breeze Florida USA

©felixmizioznikov/ via Getty Images

5. St. Augustine

If you want to have easy access to many parks, museums, and historical spots, then St. Augustine is for you! Shopping, dining, and boating are also everyday activities for many retirees. The Spanish architecture is also beautiful to behold. Make sure to get your annual pass to the Florida State Park so you can visit Anastasia State Park. If you enjoy fishing, stop by the St. John’s Fishing Pier! There are plenty of 55+ communities, a well-developed healthcare system, and the housing is affordable.

Saint Augustine, Florida. Aerial view at dusk.

St. Augustine is the country’s

oldest city



6. Crystal River

Located on the west coast of Florida, Crystal River is home to some of the most amazing beaches in the state. There are plenty of restaurants and parks to enjoy. Head here for some of the best tarpon fishing and a fantastic year-round climate. The cost of living is relatively low, and the community is incredibly welcoming and friendly. During the winter season, you will be pleasantly surprised to find hundreds of manatees visiting the area while the waters cool in the Gulf of Mexico. This is known as the largest gathering of these friendly mammals in North America!

Manatee 9

Crystal River is a popular destination for manatees due to its warm water and abundance of food.

©tobiasfrei/ via Getty Images

7. Brooksville

Located in the Big Bend region where the curve of Florida connects the panhandle to Florida’s peninsula, Brooksville nestles neatly along the with its easy access to Tampa and Ocala, Brookville is a popular retirement destination. If you’re looking for a small-town feeling, this is the right place for you. You will get a great mix of country living while also having access to affordable housing with breathtaking historic homes along brick-lined streets. The downtown area is charming, and the population is relatively low. Brooksville is a popular destination for camping, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing!

Hernando County Courthouse in Brooksville, FL

In Brooksville, you can access affordable housing with breathtaking historic homes along brick-lined streets.

©Sean Craft/ via Getty Images

Summary of the 7 Best Kept Secret Places to Retire in Florida

NumberCitySome of the Reasons
1NaplesFlorida Everglades
2Merritt IslandJohn F. Kennedy Space Center
3Newport RicheySense of Community
4Gulf BreezeLow Cost of Living
5St. AugustineHistorical Location
6Crystal RiverAmazing Beaches
7BrooksvilleSmall-town Feeling

The photo featured at the top of this post is © gguy44/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

I'm a 36-year-old mother of 2 and military wife. I have 2 dogs and a cat that I'm thoroughly obsessed with. When I'm not writing for work, I'm writing as a hobby. You can find me knee deep in a pile of books or way too invested in a video game.

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