Retirement Best Places to Retire for Foodies for Under $2,500

So, you’re ready to leave your work life behind, but your taste buds are just getting started? Check out some top U.S. locales to treat your palate in retirement.

By Katie Perry
PUBLISHED 01/18/2023 | 8 MINUTES

Are you retiring soon and wondering where to settle that will give you the best bang for your bouche? Whether you’re a cheese aficionado, meat lover or wine connoisseur, here’s a list of the top five places to retire if you want to treat your palate gastronomically—all for less than $2,500 per month.

Best For Seafood: Orlando, Florida

Situated in Central Florida, about an hour’s drive from the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf, the sheer volume of seafood available is what gives Orlando this accolade. From blue and stone crabs and spiny lobster to catfish and mahi mahi, there’s no shortage of options to try and places to try them—with the famous International Drive and Restaurant Row on your doorstep. In fact, Orlando came in at number 2 of 182 on WalletHub’s list for best foodie cities.

A few other perks? Retirement in the Sunshine State is tax-friendly, since there is no state income tax and the cost of living is 1% lower than in the rest of the United States—meaning your money will go further in retirement. Plus: Orlando, a central, bustling Floridian city, has no shortage of communities to retire in, tons of recreational activities to choose from and good health care.

Best for Meats and Beer: Denver, Colorado

You may have heard about the increasingly popular cut of meat called a Denver Steak—and this is no accident. Coming from the beef chuck primal cut, they’re tender and typically have good marbling, giving Denver its place on our list as best for meats. Plus, Denver is host to more than 150 microbreweries, which means countless opportunities for beer aficionados to get their fill. (And it was rated 7th on the WalletHub foodie list.)

Head to Post Chicken & Beer for their celebrated happy hour with $5 Post Core Drafts or to Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, where you can get a $7.50 Elk, Rattlesnake or Ostrich Gourmet Dog. You can also try local western buffalo meat, like the $23.99 Wild Bill Skillet at the iconic Sam’s No. 3, established in 1927.

Denver has a $24,000 tax deduction for older adults, low property taxes, and grocery and prescription drug sales tax exemptions. Many choose to retire in affordable suburbs like Lakewood, which provides ample access to art, entertainment and health care. While the cost of living in Denver is higher than the U.S. average, utility costs are much lower, and you’ll still be under the $2,500 per month mark with median rent being just below $1,700.

Best for Americana With a Twist: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Well-known for its art community and big-city energy (and ideally located near Lake Michigan), Grand Rapids delivers affordable Americana cuisine with a local twist. Taco Boy serves the “Michoacán-style Mexican” Super Wet Burrito for just $7.50, or hit up the Grand Coney Diner for an original $4.50 Coney Dog (not from Coney Island). And you don’t want to miss the $1 Cake Donut scene at Sandy’s Donut House.

The Great Lake State has no Social Security income tax and has a 5% lower cost of living than the rest of the country.

Best for Wineries: Buffalo, New York

Renowned for its sports and proximity to Niagara Falls, Buffalo, the second biggest city in New York, is where you’ll find the best wings, wineries and winter comfort food. While living a relaxed life upstate, you can appreciate a nearby $20 wine tour at Freedom Run Winery. Or adventure along Buffalo Wing Trail, where you’ll discover authentic world-famous chicken wings at 14 neighborhood pubs (you’ll get $10 back on your $20 Day pass if you make it halfway through the trail, or $20 back if you go all the way). And on the Beef On Weck Trail, you can discover what makes this roast beef sandwich a regional icon.

The Empire State has lower income tax due to Social Security income exemptions, and Buffalo made the U.S. News & World Report’s list of top places to retire in 2021–2022 due to its reasonable real estate prices, accessibility to medical facilities and robust economy. This City of Good Neighbors is also a friendly community with a history of welcoming newcomers, which is good news for relocators. And, despite the NY area code, Buffalo’s cost of living is 5% lower than the national average.

Best for a Blend of Cuisines: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Given its proximity to the Mexican border, Albuquerque prides itself on the eclectic and diverse culture that rings true in its cuisine. While popular for its cultural heritage and the surrounding Rio Grande Valley State Park, Albuquerque is also one of the better places to get a tasty blend of American, Native American and Mexican cuisines. For an early breakfast off Route 66, stop at Frontier for a $2.75 big Sweet Roll or a $5.95 green chile Breakfast Burrito wrapped in a fresh flour tortilla. You can also learn about indigenous traditions while experiencing a Pueblo-style, $15 Prime Rib Fry Bread Dip sandwich at Indian Pueblo Kitchen. Golden Crown Panaderia bakes $5 Fruit Empanadas, and their $13 Original New Mexico Green Chile Bread is a specialty that sells out quickly.

The Land of Enchantment includes $8,000 deductions on qualifying retirement income, low real estate taxes, and allowances for groceries and medications. This Southwestern city is incredibly charming, and the year-round weather is comfortable and warm. You can enjoy the natural landscapes and breathe the crisp, fresh air atop the expansive Sandia Peak—you can hike it or take the scenic Tramway—while enjoying a cost of living that is 8% lower than the national average.

Millie content is licensed from Dotdash Meredith, publisher of Millie, Real Simple, InStyle, Investopedia, The Balance and more.

Katie Perry is a travel blogger based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has spent more than ten years abroad and has lived long-term in Portugal, Brazil, Peru and Costa Rica.


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