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The 10 Best Places to Retire in Michigan

Most of us spend years financially preparing for retirement but often don’t consider what our lives will look like during our golden years. Have you put much thought into what you’ll do with your free time, or what location will provide the backdrop to your dream retirement?

If you’ve done any research into the best states to retire, there’s a good chance Michigan has been on your radar. The state has plenty to offer retirees, and it has a number of retirement-friendly cities that would be the perfect place to spend your retirement years.

Is Michigan a Good Place to Retire?

It’s easy to see why so many people choose to retire in Michigan. First, the state has a low cost of living, like much of the midwest. Retirees will find that their money goes further, making it easy to buy homes, pay for healthcare, and still have plenty left over to enjoy their lives.

Michigan also has plenty of recreation and activities to offer retirees. The state experiences all four seasons, meaning residents can take advantage of just about every outdoor activity. Michigan sits right on three of the Great Lakes, making water accessible for most of its residents. Finally, with its many small towns, Michigan has a strong sense of community.

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The 10 Best Cities to Live in Michigan

1. Grand Haven

Population: 10,991
% of Population Above 65:8%
Median Home Value: $373,122
Cost of Living (Compared to the National Average): 10% lower
Cost of Healthcare (Compared to the National Average): 4% lower
Crime Rate (Compared to the National Average): 45% lower
Amenities Score: A+

Grand Haven is a small Michigan city located along the western part of the state and the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. The lake provides much of the city’s recreation. It’s well-known for Grand Haven State Park beach and its south pier, which are home to the 1893 Grand Haven Lighthouse and its boardwalk. There are plenty of other parks in the area, including the Ottawa Sands County Park, North Ottawa Dunes, Duncan Woods, and more. Additionally, the Grand River runs right through the city.

Grand Haven has plenty to offer retirees. The city’s average housing price is slightly higher than the national average. However, healthcare costs and the overall cost of living are lower than much of the country. Additionally, the city has a large senior population, many amenities, and a crime rate that’s considerably lower than the national average.

2. Ann Arbor

Population: 121,536
% of Population Above 65:9%
Median Home Value: 488,271
Cost of Living (Compared to the National Average): 11% higher
Cost of Healthcare (Compared to the National Average): 4% lower
Crime Rate (Compared to the National Average): 33% lower
Amenities Score: A+

Ann Arbor is a large Michigan city located in the southeastern part of the state. It’s a short drive from Detroit and is home to the University of Michigan. As a university city, much of what Ann Arbor has to offer is related to the school, including its well-known art museum. Ann Arbor is also home to plenty of outdoor recreation. It has plenty of local parks, nature areas, botanical gardens, and nature preserves.

Ann Arbor has an above-average cost of living, as well as average housing costs that are considerably higher than the national average. However, the city also has below-average healthcare costs and a very low crime rate.

3. Grand Rapids

Population: 197,416
% of Population Above 65:4%
Median Home Value: $264,988
Cost of Living (Compared to the National Average): 11% lower
Cost of Healthcare (Compared to the National Average): 4% lower
Crime Rate (Compared to the National Average): 14% higher
Amenities Score: A+

Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in Michigan, falling behind only Detroit. It’s located in the western part of the state, not far from the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Like much of the state, Grand Rapids is known for its outdoor recreation, including its tropical conservatory, gardens, parks, and more. Grand Rapids also has a thriving art scene and the Grand Rapids Art Museum where local artists can have their work highlighted. Finally, the city is known for its many breweries.

Grand Rapids has a cost of living that’s below the national average and includes affordable housing and healthcare. The city also has many amenities. However, it also has a crime rate that’s above the national average and a relatively small senior population.

4. Kalamazoo 

Population: 73,257
% of Population Above 65:6%
Median Home Value: $219,652
Cost of Living (Compared to the National Average): 21% lower
Cost of Healthcare (Compared to the National Average): 4% lower
Crime Rate (Compared to the National Average): 166% higher
Amenities Score: A+

Kalamazoo is a medium-sized city in the southwestern part of Michigan. The city is home to the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts, which is filled primarily with American and European art. Kalamazoo also features the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, which has exhibits on science, technology, and history, as well as a planetarium. Finally, the city is home to the Air Zoo museum and Kalamazoo River Valley Trail that runs through it, offering plenty of outdoor recreation to its residents.

Kalamazoo has some downsides for retirees, including a high crime rate and a small percentage of the population above the age of 65. On the other hand, it offers affordable housing and healthcare, an overall low cost of living, and many amenities.

5. Lansing

Population: 112,684
% of Population Above 65:2%
Median Home Value: $143,782
Cost of Living (Compared to the National Average): 15% lower
Cost of Healthcare (Compared to the National Average): 4% lower
Crime Rate (Compared to the National Average): 89% higher
Amenities Score: A+

Lansing is the capital of Michigan and is one of the state’s largest cities. One of the central sights is the Michigan State Capital, which features a cast-iron dome. Lansing is also home to the Impression 5 Science Center, the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, and the Potter Park Zoo. Like the rest of the state, Lansing also offers plenty of outdoor recreation, including its many city parks, nearby state parks, nature areas, and more.

One of Lansing’s biggest advantages for retirees is its low cost of living. The city boasts low housing prices, low healthcare costs, and an overall cost of living that’s below the national average. However, Lansing also has an above-average crime rate and a relatively small senior population.

6. Detroit 

Population: 632,464
% of Population Above 65:9%
Median Home Value: $69,804
Cost of Living (Compared to the National Average): 16% lower
Cost of Healthcare (Compared to the National Average): 4% lower
Crime Rate (Compared to the National Average): 130% higher
Amenities Score: A+

Detroit is the largest city in Michigan, located on the Canadian border and the Great Lakes. Detroit is known for many things — some good and some bad. It’s home to the Detroit Institute of the Arts, its ties to the auto industry (gaining it the nickname Motor City), and for being the birthplace of Motown Records. Of course, Detroit is also known for its financial struggles and crime since losing most of its auto industry jobs. That being said, Detroit has been experiencing a renaissance of sorts in recent years.

Detroit still has a crime rate that’s considerably higher than the national average. However, it’s also an affordable place to live. The city has low housing costs, low healthcare costs, and an overall low cost of living. Not to mention, it offers many amenities to its senior residents.

7. Traverse City

Population: 15,559
% of Population Above 65:3%
Median Home Value: $428,056
Cost of Living (Compared to the National Average): 2% lower
Cost of Healthcare (Compared to the National Average): 5% lower
Crime Rate (Compared to the National Average): 20% lower
Amenities Score: A+

Traverse City is a small city in Grand Traverse County. It’s located in the northern part of the state and sits on the shore of the Grand Traverse Bay, which leads into Lake Michigan. Much of what Traverse City has to offer is related to its proximity to the water. It has several parks along the water..

Traverse City has housing prices that are a bit higher than the national average. However, it also boasts affordable healthcare and an overall cost of living that’s below the national average. Traverse City also has a high amenities score, a large senior population, and a low crime rate.

8. Petoskey

Population: 5,905
% of Population Above 65:7%
Median Home Value: $339,042
Cost of Living (Compared to the National Average): 7% lower
Cost of Healthcare (Compared to the National Average): 5% lower
Crime Rate (Compared to the National Average): 70% lower
Amenities Score: A+

Petoskey is a small city in northern Michigan that’s located in Emmet County and along Little Traverse Bay, which leads to Lake Michigan. Given its small size, Petoskey doesn’t have as much to do as many of the other cities on our list. However, it does have plenty of outdoor recreation, including its waterfront parks and its recreation areas.

Petoskey has a very small population, nearly 20% of which is over the age of 65. The city also offers below-average housing and healthcare costs and an overall low cost of living. Additionally, Petoskey has a very low crime rate and many amenities, despite its small size.

9. Saugatuck

Population: 899
% of Population Above 65: 29%
Median Home Value: $588,496
Cost of Living (Compared to the National Average): 12% higher
Cost of Healthcare (Compared to the National Average): 4% lower
Crime Rate (Compared to the National Average): 68% lower
Amenities Score: A+

Saugatuck is a city located in Allegan County along the western part of the state and the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Despite being technically labeled as a city, Saugatuck has a population of less than 1,000 people. It’s located within Saugatuck Township, but is technically its own community. Because of its small size, Saugatuck itself doesn’t offer much to do, but the surrounding area has plenty of lakeside activities, outdoor recreation, and more.

Saugatuck has housing prices that are considerably higher than the national average. It also has a cost of living that’s higher than any other city on our list. However, the city also offers below-average healthcare costs, a low crime rate, and a very high senior population — nearly 30% of the residents are age 65 or older.

10. Bay City

Population: 32,404
% of Population Above 65:8%
Median Home Value: $92,706
Cost of Living (Compared to the National Average): 14% lower
Cost of Healthcare (Compared to the National Average): 4% lower
Crime Rate (Compared to the National Average): 2% higher
Amenities Score: A+

Bay City is a small Michigan city located in Bay County, which is in the eastern part of the state near the base of the Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron. The city has the Saginaw River running through it, which offers much of its recreation. You’ll find several parks along the river, along with the local Riverwalk Pier. Just outside Bay City is the USS Edson – Saginaw Valley Ship Museum.

Bay City has just about everything retirees want in a city. It has a low cost of living, including housing and healthcare costs that are below the national average. The city’s crime rate is in line with the national average. However, it does have a relatively small senior population.

Our Take

Choosing your dream retirement destination is only one piece of the puzzle. It’s also important to make sure your finances are in order. The Personal Capital Retirement Planner can help you determine how much you’ll need to retire, identify how much you should save each month to retire on time, and tell you whether you’re on track to reach your retirement goals.

Get Started with Personal Capital’s Free Financial Tools

 

Author is not a client of Personal Capital Advisors Corporation and is compensated as a freelance writer.

The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. Compensation not to exceed $500. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money. Any reference to the advisory services refers to Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, a subsidiary of Personal Capital. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training nor does it imply endorsement by the SEC.

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