Karen Lovegrove, 71, lives almost exclusively among other retirees. She moved from Scottsdale , Ariz., to Sun City, Ariz., when she turned 55. To live in this aptly named age-restricted community just outside of Phoenix, at least one household member must be 55 or older.
The low cost of living in Sun City was a big draw. Property taxes on her 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house with a patio overlooking a golf course are just $800 a year. "We don't have a school tax because we don't have any schools here because there are no children," Lovegrove says. Children younger than 19 may visit or live in Sun City only on a temporarily basis for up to 90 days. "It's not that we don't like kids. We've all got grandkids and we love them," says Lovegrove, who has two adult children and seven grandchildren who sometimes visit. "At this age, it's just a nice quiet relaxing lifestyle where you don't have to worry about kids running around."
[In Pictures: 10 Places with the Most Retirees.]
After a lifetime of living and working among people of all age groups, many retirees move to communities where they can live primarily among their peers. To find these places with the most retirees, U.S. News used our Best Places to Retire search tool, powered by data from Onboard Informatics, to seek towns where those age 65 and older make up the largest percentage of the population. We then narrowed the search to one place in each state to give the list some geographic diversity.
When you move to an area with a large retiree population, you have an opportunity to meet and connect with other retirees from throughout the country. "If you get involved in volunteer groups, you will quickly be assimilated into the community and your life will be busy, nonstop," says Scott Chase, 57, who moved from Seattle to Camano Island, Wash., in 2000 when he retired from the real estate industry. "Within our volunteer groups, the majority of people are retirees and most of them moved here from somewhere else." Chase is now employed part-time by Washington State University on a project that aims to preserve coastal areas and volunteers at Cama Beach State Park.
Jim Rice, 42, also aimed to pursue volunteer work when he retired from the Marines last year. He now puts in about 30 hours a month at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas, and spends time with his three teenage sons while his wife is on active duty in the Navy. "The cost of living down here is low enough that we can get by on my retirement income and give back to the community a little bit," Rice says.
A low cost of living coupled with a high quality of life draws many people to retirement communities. The median home price in Bella Vista, Ark., a planned recreational community near the Ozark Mountains, is just $125,000. There are even bigger bargains to be found in Kings Point, Fla., where the median home price is an astonishingly low $42,000.
"The first year I lived here, I reduced my living expenses by at least $10,000," says John Carsten, 92, of his move from Chicago to Pinehurst, N.C., when he retired from IBM's marketing department in 1983. "There are lower taxes, fewer heating bills, I don't have any commuting expenses, and I gave away my business suits and changed to golf shirts."
More than three quarters of the population is over age 65 in Laguna Woods, Ca., a small southern California city just 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean. A 2,100-acre age-restricted community houses the majority of the residents. Laguna Woods Village, formerly called Leisure World, caters to those age 55 and older. "We wear age like a merit badge—the older you are, the more badges you have," says Ruth May, 77, a former travel agent who has lived at Laguna Woods Village for 13 years. "We all think we're much younger than we are. It makes me feel comfortable." May says she enjoys socializing primarily with people her own age and keeps in touch with her grandson online. "I communicate with my one grandson via Facebook," May says. "I don't know how to Twitter yet."