The best places to live for empty nesters

Published Date: September 12, 2023

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA skyline over Barrier Island.
If your empty-nester status has you considering moving somewhere new, there are a lot of factors to consider. Whether you’re looking to fully relocate your primary residence or find a second home to enjoy when your schedule allows, browse this list of the best locations for empty nesters. Our picks are based on the benefits these places offer empty nesters, from plenty of activities to the average age of residents to financial upsides — and good weather, of course. 

Why you should celebrate being an empty nester in a second home

When you enter a new phase of life, you can reimagine how and where to spend your free time. As a co-owner of a Pacaso second home, you’ll have ample time to enjoy luxury living in your favorite vacation destination, without the cost and burden of full ownership. Pacaso homes are available in top locations across the United States and beyond — including all the following locations. 

1. Los Cabos, Mexico

Every day is a vacation in Los Cabos, the Baja destination that includes both Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. This sunny destination features both Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez coastlines, along with unforgettable activities. On any given day, you can choose one of over a dozen golf courses, take a sport fishing excursion, hike in the Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve or snorkel near the famous Land’s End Arch.  While real estate can be costly in this area, many empty nesters find the overall cost of living to be lower in Los Cabos than in many parts of the United States. Thanks to the strength of the U.S. dollar, you may find restaurants, groceries and utilities to be less expense than back home, allowing you to stretch your budget further. 

2. Fort Lauderdale

Nearly a third of the population in this South Florida paradise are between the ages of 45 and 64, meaning there are plenty of fellow empty nesters. With an average of 246 sunny days each year, 24 miles of beachfront, and a massive network of canals that has earned the city the nickname of “Venice of America,” Fort Lauderdale is an ideal destination for empty nesters looking to soak up some sun. But there’s more to Fort Lauderdale than just beaches. The city boasts an impressive arts scene and plenty of cultural institutions. Take in a play or concert at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, see if you can spot all 20 outdoor murals that are part of the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project or get lost inside the 83,000-square-foot NSU Art MuseumBest of all, since you’re just a short drive from two major airports (Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport is right in town and Miami International Airport is 30 miles south), it’s easy and convenient for the kids to come visit. 

3. Hilton Head Island

South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island is an idyllic waterfront town straight from a postcard. While the island gets an incredible 3 million visitors each year, the year-round population is only 35,000, giving it a small-town feel, especially in the off season. Empty nesters choose Hilton Head Island for its slower pace of life. Popular activities include taking the ferry to Daufuskie Island and exploring by bicycle, walking the 14 miles of trails in the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, and sampling Lowcountry cuisine in charming local restaurants. Getting in and out of Hilton Head Island keeps getting easier. The recently expanded Hilton Head Airport keeps adding flights, making it convenient to head back to the mainland for work or pleasure — or visiting the kids at college. 

4. Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole is an increasingly popular destination for relocating empty nesters. While Jackson Hole is best known for its winter activities, there’s actually plenty to do in this Wyoming outpost, no matter the month of the year. First, the town is a great jumping off point for exploring Yellowstone National Park — the south gate of the park is just 60 miles away. There’s also plenty to do right in town. The town of Jackson is brimming with Wild West charm. Explore the valley on horseback, shop for a new pair of cowboy boots downtown or take in some live country music. 

5. Lake Tahoe

Tucked away high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the California-Nevada border, the Lake Tahoe area accommodates a wide range of lifestyles. Truckee boasts a charming historic downtown and enviable location near North Lake Tahoe’s best ski resorts. Incline Village tempts with a wide range of summer festivals. South Lake Tahoe is action packed, with everything from family-friendly activities to casinos and nightlife.Financially savvy empty nesters who are still working may decide to live on the Nevada side of the lake — the Silver State has no personal or corporate income tax. Once it’s time to retire, it’s worth noting that Nevada also doesn’t tax retirement distributions or Social Security benefits. 

6. Napa Valley

Toast your empty nester status in California Wine Country! Napa Valley is an ideal place to live for many, but it’s especially well suited for empty nesters. Without kids in tow, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the valley from end to end, plus sip everything from cabernet sauvignons to zinfandels. What’s more, when you live in one of the world’s top wine destinations, your empty nesting friends are sure to want to visit. Napa Valley is also a great place for active pursuits, thanks to an ever-expanding network of bike trails, ample hiking, kayaking and paddleboarding and more. And when you need a little rest and relaxation, you’ll discover that Napa Valley — and the town of Calistoga, specifically — is a wonderful place for pampering. 

7. Newport Beach

Empty nesters often enjoy more free time than they’ve had in many years, and Newport Beach has so much to offer. Newport Beach and nearby Balboa Island are known for their local events, which include a jazz festival, wine and food festival, and an annual Christmas boat parade. Choose from 10 distinct neighborhoods within Newport Beach. Opt for ocean views from high atop Pelican Hill, the bustling Lido Isle near the harbor, ultra-exclusive Crystal Cove and festive Balboa Island. 

8. Palm Springs

Many of the empty nesters who buy in Palm Springs start out using their property as a vacation home, then eventually become full-time residents of this chic desert outpost once they retire. And it’s easy to see why. Towering palm trees, the surrounding San Jacinto Mountains and the colorful Mid-Century Modern architecture give Palm Springs a vibe all its own. The art and culinary scene is top notch, and its proximity to Joshua Tree National Park makes it a favorite with outdoor lovers. The median age of Palm Springs residents is 56.1 years old, putting most empty nesters squarely in the most popular age group. Palm Springs is also known for its large and accepting LGBTQ+ community, making it an inclusive place to live.  

9. Vail 

Is the Centennial State calling? There are so many mountain towns to choose from in Colorado, but Vail is especially well suited for empty nesters. It’s just 100 miles from Denver, making Vail easily accessible for empty nesters on the go — and for grown children paying a visit. It also has a more laid-back vibe than other Colorado mountain destinations. Of course, Vail is ideal for those who want to spend their newfound free time on the slopes. Whether you’re a long-time skier or snowboarder or if you’re a total beginner, Vail has terrain for everybody. Vail boasts over 5,000 skiable acres and a blissfully long ski season, thanks to its over 11,500-foot elevation. 

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Jen Lyons

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