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Best Metros for Early Retirement


Written by Julie Ryan Evans | Published on 7/8/2024

 

In a race to retire? You may want to consider FIRE. It’s an acronym for a retirement savings and investment strategy — “financial independence, retire early.”

You may also want to consider moving to Omaha, Neb., as it’s the best metro for early retirement, according to a new DepositAccounts study.

Read on to find which of the 100 largest U.S. metros rank highly — and which fall behind.

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Key findings

  • Omaha, Neb., is the best metro for FIRE (financial independence, retire early). Among the 100 largest metros, Omaha has the fourth-highest quality-of-life and 38th-highest cost-of-living scores. North Carolina metros Greensboro and Raleigh are the next best for early retirement, with another (Charlotte) joining the top 10.
  • Bakersfield, Calif., is the worst metro for early retirement. Bakersfield has the fourth-lowest quality-of-life score of the 100 metros analyzed. Los Angeles and San Diego follow at the bottom of our list. Another four California metros join the bottom 10, filled exclusively by metros in Western states.
  • Southern metros dominate our cost-of-living metric. Seven of the 10 metros with the highest cost-of-living scores are in the South, led by McAllen, Texas. It’s followed by Little Rock, Ark., and Toledo, Ohio (in the Midwest). On the other hand, New York City has the lowest cost-of-living score, followed by Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and San Francisco.
  • Honolulu has the highest quality-of-life score. It’s followed by San Jose, Calif., and Raleigh. Meanwhile, Knoxville, Tenn., has the lowest score, followed by New Orleans and Little Rock.

Omaha is best metro for FIRE

If you can’t wait for your golden years, you may want to grab some Cornhuskers gear and head to Omaha, Neb. According to our findings, it’s the best metro for FIRE among the 100 largest in the U.S. Omaha ranks fourth-highest for quality of life and 38th-highest for cost of living, which gives it the highest overall score.

What goes into those rankings? The cost-of-living score examines:

  • Price parity: This is based on each metro’s 2022 regional price parity (RPP) from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). This measures the price levels of goods and services (including housing) to estimate the relative purchasing power of a dollar in different communities. The national average is 100.0, while our 100 metros have RPPs ranging from 86.9 to 117.9. Double weight.
  • State-local tax burden: Defined by the Tax Foundation as “state and local taxes paid by a state’s residents divided by that state’s share of net national product.” The U.S. average is 11.2%, with states in our rankings ranging from 7.6% to 15.9%. Half weight.
  • Cheapest Silver health care plan: This score is based on the 2024 cost of health care premiums in the state of each metro, as measured by the average cheapest Silver plan available on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange to a typical 40-year-old, according to KFF. The U.S. average is $468, with states in our rankings ranging from $337 to $719. Half weight.

The quality-of-life score examines:

  • Average number of poor mental health days each month: These are days reported by residents, according to the 2024 County Health Rankings, utilizing 2021 data. The average among the 100 largest metros is 5.0, ranging from 4.0 to 5.9. Double weight.
  • Average number of poor physical health days each month: These are days reported by residents, according to the 2024 County Health Rankings, utilizing 2021 data. The average among the 100 largest metros is 3.5, ranging from 2.5 to 4.6. Half weight.
  • Air pollution: This metric is based on the average daily density of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in micrograms per cubic meter, according to the 2024 County Health Rankings, utilizing 2019 data. The average among the 100 largest metros is 8.6 micrograms per cubic meter, ranging from 3.8 to 14.1. Half weight.
 

Of the individual categories, Omaha’s highest ranking (fourth) is for its average number of poor mental health days each month — 4.3, below the 100-metro average of 5.0. Its lowest ranking (91st) is because Nebraska’s average cheapest Silver health care plan is $570 — more than $100 higher than the U.S. average of $468. The metro’s other rankings:

  • Price parity: 15th
  • State-local tax burden: 69th
  • Poor physical health days: 11th
  • Air pollution: 16th

DepositAccounts founder Ken Tumin says Omaha’s high ranking makes sense, as Nebraska’s highest state income tax bracket rate is relatively low compared to other states with large metros. It’s also the most populated city in Nebraska, with numerous attractions and cultural activities. And it’s bike-friendly.

While Omaha doesn’t offer residents the lowest cost of living, it’s much lower than in other large metros across the U.S.

Best metros for early retirement
Rank Metro Final score Cost-of-living score Quality-of-life score
1 Omaha, NE 75.3 70.8 79.8
2 Greensboro, NC 72.8 76.1 69.5
3 Raleigh, NC 72.0 63.8 80.1
4 Des Moines, IA 71.6 77.0 66.1
5 Jackson, MS 69.2 81.6 56.8
6 Boise, ID 68.6 74.9 62.2
7 Charlotte, NC 68.1 67.1 69.0
8 Madison, WI 67.4 69.7 65.0
9 Harrisburg, PA 66.6 70.4 62.7
10 Cape Coral, FL 66.2 58.6 73.8
Source: DepositAccounts analysis of U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Tax Foundation, KFF and County Health Rankings data.
 

North Carolina metros take the next two spots, with Greensboro the second-best for early retirement (28th for cost of living and 11th for quality of life) and Raleigh third-best (59th for cost of living and third for quality of life). The Tar Heel State is represented again in the top 10, with Charlotte seventh.

Tumin says he’s not surprised North Carolina metros rank so high.

“North Carolina has a fairly low, flat state income tax of 4.5%, which is attractive to those living in high-income states,” he says. “North Carolina has been growing in popularity with Floridians wanting to avoid nine months of brutal heat and humidity, and it offers residents four distinct seasons with fairly mild winters and summers.”

Worst places for early retirement are in California

Other metros make FIRE more challenging — Bakersfield, Calif., we’re looking at you.

The California metro ranks as the worst in the U.S. (among the 100 largest) for early retirement. It comes in at 78th for cost of living and 97th for quality of life. Bakersfield’s highest ranking (a 10-way tie for 33rd with its fellow California metros) is for the average cheapest Silver health care plan. Its other rankings are all in the bottom quarter:

  • Price parity: 77th
  • State-local tax burden: 81st
  • Poor mental health days: 83rd
  • Poor physical health days: 98th
  • Air pollution: 98th

Two more California metros — Los Angeles and San Diego — follow as the second- and third-worst for early retirement. However, while Bakersfield scores extremely low in quality of life, Los Angeles and San Diego get dragged down by their cost-of-living scores — ranking 92nd and 95th, respectively. They rank higher (though not exceptionally high) for quality of life — 62nd and 49th.

Worst metros for early retirement
Rank Metro Final score Cost-of-living score Quality-of-life score
1 Bakersfield, CA 32.2 45.9 18.4
2 Los Angeles, CA 35.7 27.4 43.9
3 San Diego, CA 36.5 24.4 48.6
4 Fresno, CA 38.4 44.4 32.4
4 Seattle, WA 38.4 33.3 43.5
6 Sacramento, CA 38.8 34.3 43.2
7 Oxnard, CA 38.9 24.6 53.1
8 Portland, OR 39.4 40.3 38.5
9 Riverside, CA 39.5 41.8 37.1
10 Spokane, WA 39.9 56.9 22.9
Source: DepositAccounts analysis of BEA, Tax Foundation, KFF and County Health Rankings data.
 

For all the gorgeous weather and water, those looking to retire early in California will find it challenging to do so in quite a few metros. In fact, seven of the worst metros for early retirement are in the Golden State. And the 10 worst are all in the West.

Why California? Tumin says high taxes are likely a major factor.

“The top state income brackets, which most people with the ability to consider FIRE probably fall into, are 11.3% to 12.3%,” he says. “On top of high taxes, California has the second-highest cost of living in the U.S.”

Full rankings (by final score)

Best/worst metros for early retirement
Rank Metro Final score Cost-of-living score Quality-of-life score
1 Omaha, NE 75.3 70.8 79.8
2 Greensboro, NC 72.8 76.1 69.5
3 Raleigh, NC 72.0 63.8 80.1
4 Des Moines, IA 71.6 77.0 66.1
5 Jackson, MS 69.2 81.6 56.8
6 Boise, ID 68.6 74.9 62.2
7 Charlotte, NC 68.1 67.1 69.0
8 Madison, WI 67.4 69.7 65.0
9 Harrisburg, PA 66.6 70.4 62.7
10 Cape Coral, FL 66.2 58.6 73.8
11 Grand Rapids, MI 65.8 80.7 50.8
12 Winston-Salem, NC 65.6 76.7 54.5
12 Wichita, KS 65.6 81.4 49.7
12 Durham, NC 65.6 67.7 63.4
15 Kansas City, MO 65.3 78.4 52.1
15 Orlando, FL 65.3 61.4 69.2
15 Minneapolis, MN 65.3 56.6 73.9
18 Tucson, AZ 63.7 79.8 47.6
19 Milwaukee, WI 62.7 70.5 54.8
20 El Paso, TX 62.6 83.0 42.2
21 Atlanta, GA 62.5 66.4 58.6
22 Indianapolis, IN 62.4 79.5 45.2
23 Scranton, PA 62.1 79.0 45.1
24 Colorado Springs, CO 61.9 70.3 53.4
25 Lakeland, FL 61.1 70.4 51.8
26 Honolulu, HI 60.7 25.8 95.5
27 Virginia Beach, VA 60.4 64.8 55.9
28 Pittsburgh, PA 59.9 74.7 45.0
28 Allentown, PA 59.9 65.9 53.8
30 Provo, UT 59.4 66.9 51.8
31 Tampa, FL 59.3 62.9 55.6
32 Austin, TX 58.8 66.7 50.8
33 Baltimore, MD 57.8 59.0 56.5
33 Albuquerque, NM 57.8 75.9 39.7
35 McAllen, TX 57.7 92.3 23.0
36 Greenville, SC 57.4 77.2 37.6
37 San Jose, CA 57.1 22.7 91.4
38 Augusta, GA 57.0 81.1 32.9
39 Richmond, VA 56.9 65.5 48.3
40 Houston, TX 56.8 66.7 46.9
41 Detroit, MI 56.7 76.6 36.7
41 Chicago, IL 56.7 43.5 69.9
41 Tulsa, OK 56.7 82.1 31.3
44 San Antonio, TX 56.3 74.6 38.0
44 Oklahoma City, OK 56.3 80.2 32.4
46 St. Louis, MO 56.2 68.5 43.8
46 Charleston, SC 56.2 64.5 47.9
46 Columbus, OH 56.2 75.8 36.6
49 Ogden, UT 56.1 68.2 44.0
50 North Port, FL 56.0 59.2 52.7
51 Jacksonville, FL 55.3 65.5 45.1
52 Providence, RI 55.2 53.9 56.4
53 Cincinnati, OH 55.1 76.9 33.2
53 Columbia, SC 55.1 76.3 33.8
55 Washington, DC 54.7 32.4 76.9
56 Akron, OH 54.1 79.9 28.3
57 Dallas, TX 54.0 56.6 51.3
58 Palm Bay, FL 53.9 63.7 44.0
59 Louisville, KY 53.6 80.7 26.4
59 Deltona, FL 53.6 64.8 42.4
61 Denver, CO 53.5 47.5 59.4
62 Memphis, TN 53.4 82.8 23.9
63 Philadelphia, PA 53.2 60.1 46.2
63 Toledo, OH 53.2 84.0 22.4
65 Dayton, OH 52.2 81.4 22.9
66 Little Rock, AR 52.1 86.0 18.1
67 Worcester, MA 51.9 50.4 53.4
68 Miami, FL 51.4 37.5 65.3
69 Cleveland, OH 51.0 77.7 24.2
70 Phoenix, AZ 50.7 58.5 42.8
71 Albany, NY 49.7 45.8 53.5
72 Birmingham, AL 49.6 76.5 22.7
73 Boston, MA 49.5 35.6 63.4
73 Las Vegas, NV 49.5 73.3 25.6
75 Nashville, TN 49.4 72.5 26.3
76 Knoxville, TN 49.1 83.9 14.3
77 Rochester, NY 48.9 48.8 48.9
78 Buffalo, NY 48.0 51.6 44.3
79 Salt Lake City, UT 47.7 64.9 30.5
80 Baton Rouge, LA 47.6 75.7 19.4
81 New Haven, CT 47.1 31.0 63.2
82 Bridgeport, CT 47.0 21.5 72.5
83 Stockton, CA 46.8 37.3 56.2
84 Springfield, MA 44.8 62.5 27.1
85 Hartford, CT 44.4 32.1 56.7
85 New Orleans, LA 44.4 73.4 15.3
87 Syracuse, NY 42.7 52.7 32.7
88 San Francisco, CA 41.2 17.1 65.3
89 New York, NY 40.6 10.5 70.7
90 Poughkeepsie, NY 40.0 17.0 63.0
91 Spokane, WA 39.9 56.9 22.9
92 Riverside, CA 39.5 41.8 37.1
93 Portland, OR 39.4 40.3 38.5
94 Oxnard, CA 38.9 24.6 53.1
95 Sacramento, CA 38.8 34.3 43.2
96 Fresno, CA 38.4 44.4 32.4
96 Seattle, WA 38.4 33.3 43.5
98 San Diego, CA 36.5 24.4 48.6
99 Los Angeles, CA 35.7 27.4 43.9
100 Bakersfield, CA 32.2 45.9 18.4
Source: DepositAccounts analysis of BEA, Tax Foundation, KFF and County Health Rankings data.
 

Cost-of-living scores highest in South

Looking for a lower cost of living? Look down South, where seven of the 10 metros with the highest cost-of-living score can be found. McAllen, Texas, tops the list. It ranks first for price parity (86.9), fourth for state-local tax burden (8.6% in Texas) and 51st for average cheapest Silver health care plan ($468 in Texas).

McAllen is followed by Little Rock, Ark. — ranking second for price parity (89.2), 52nd for state-local tax burden (10.2% in Arkansas) and 19th for average cheapest Silver health care plan ($424 in Arkansas). After that is Toledo, Ohio, in the Midwest — ranking fourth for price parity (90.2), 46th for state-local tax burden (10.0% in Ohio) and 20th for average cheapest Silver health care plan ($431 in Ohio).

Tumin says the strong Southern cost-of-living scores are likely due in large part to state income taxes. In fact, two states with no state income tax — Texas and Tennessee — occupy four of the 10 spots with the highest cost-of-living scores.

And each state with metros in the top 10 for cost of living — Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Kansas — is considered red.

“Historically, one can expect an emphasis on fiscal responsibility and tough-on-crime legislation from Republican leadership,” he says. “This is attractive to retirees concerned about maintaining their savings and personal safety.”

Metros with the highest cost-of-living scores
Rank Metro Cost-of-living score
1 McAllen, TX 92.3
2 Little Rock, AR 86.0
3 Toledo, OH 84.0
4 Knoxville, TN 83.9
5 El Paso, TX 83.0
6 Memphis, TN 82.8
7 Tulsa, OK 82.1
8 Jackson, MS 81.6
9 Wichita, KS 81.4
9 Dayton, OH 81.4
Source: DepositAccounts analysis of BEA, Tax Foundation and KFF data.

Conversely, the New York metro has the lowest cost-of-living score, ranking 94th for price parity (113.0) and 95th for both state-local tax burden (15.9% in the state) and average cheapest Silver health care plan ($719 in the state).

Poughkeepsie, N.Y., follows New York — ranking 89th for price parity (110.0) and 95th for both state-local tax burden and average cheapest Silver health care plan. (Tax burdens and health care costs are calculated at the state level and would be the same as for the New York metro.) The next worst is San Francisco, ranking last for price parity (117.9), 81st for state-local tax burden (13.5% in the state) and 33rd for average cheapest Silver health care plan ($438 in the state).

Full rankings (by cost-of-living score)

Metros with the highest/lowest cost-of-living scores
Rank Metro Cost-of-living score
1 McAllen, TX 92.3
2 Little Rock, AR 86.0
3 Toledo, OH 84.0
4 Knoxville, TN 83.9
5 El Paso, TX 83.0
6 Memphis, TN 82.8
7 Tulsa, OK 82.1
8 Jackson, MS 81.6
9 Wichita, KS 81.4
9 Dayton, OH 81.4
11 Augusta, GA 81.1
12 Grand Rapids, MI 80.7
12 Louisville, KY 80.7
14 Oklahoma City, OK 80.2
15 Akron, OH 79.9
16 Tucson, AZ 79.8
17 Indianapolis, IN 79.5
18 Scranton, PA 79.0
19 Kansas City, MO 78.4
20 Cleveland, OH 77.7
21 Greenville, SC 77.2
22 Des Moines, IA 77.0
23 Cincinnati, OH 76.9
24 Winston-Salem, NC 76.7
25 Detroit, MI 76.6
26 Birmingham, AL 76.5
27 Columbia, SC 76.3
28 Greensboro, NC 76.1
29 Albuquerque, NM 75.9
30 Columbus, OH 75.8
31 Baton Rouge, LA 75.7
32 Boise, ID 74.9
33 Pittsburgh, PA 74.7
34 San Antonio, TX 74.6
35 New Orleans, LA 73.4
36 Las Vegas, NV 73.3
37 Nashville, TN 72.5
38 Omaha, NE 70.8
39 Milwaukee, WI 70.5
40 Harrisburg, PA 70.4
40 Lakeland, FL 70.4
42 Colorado Springs, CO 70.3
43 Madison, WI 69.7
44 St. Louis, MO 68.5
45 Ogden, UT 68.2
46 Durham, NC 67.7
47 Charlotte, NC 67.1
48 Provo, UT 66.9
49 Austin, TX 66.7
49 Houston, TX 66.7
51 Atlanta, GA 66.4
52 Allentown, PA 65.9
53 Richmond, VA 65.5
53 Jacksonville, FL 65.5
55 Salt Lake City, UT 64.9
56 Virginia Beach, VA 64.8
56 Deltona, FL 64.8
58 Charleston, SC 64.5
59 Raleigh, NC 63.8
60 Palm Bay, FL 63.7
61 Tampa, FL 62.9
62 Springfield, MA 62.5
63 Orlando, FL 61.4
64 Philadelphia, PA 60.1
65 North Port, FL 59.2
66 Baltimore, MD 59.0
67 Cape Coral, FL 58.6
68 Phoenix, AZ 58.5
69 Spokane, WA 56.9
70 Minneapolis, MN 56.6
70 Dallas, TX 56.6
72 Providence, RI 53.9
73 Syracuse, NY 52.7
74 Buffalo, NY 51.6
75 Worcester, MA 50.4
76 Rochester, NY 48.8
77 Denver, CO 47.5
78 Bakersfield, CA 45.9
79 Albany, NY 45.8
80 Fresno, CA 44.4
81 Chicago, IL 43.5
82 Riverside, CA 41.8
83 Portland, OR 40.3
84 Miami, FL 37.5
85 Stockton, CA 37.3
86 Boston, MA 35.6
87 Sacramento, CA 34.3
88 Seattle, WA 33.3
89 Washington, DC 32.4
90 Hartford, CT 32.1
91 New Haven, CT 31.0
92 Los Angeles, CA 27.4
93 Honolulu, HI 25.8
94 Oxnard, CA 24.6
95 San Diego, CA 24.4
96 San Jose, CA 22.7
97 Bridgeport, CT 21.5
98 San Francisco, CA 17.1
99 Poughkeepsie, NY 17.0
100 New York, NY 10.5
Source: DepositAccounts analysis of BEA, Tax Foundation and KFF data.

Honolulu has highest quality-of-life score

Hawaii’s capital tops the list for the highest quality-of-life score.

Honolulu ranks second in the three categories for quality of life: Poor mental health days (4.1 per month), poor physical health days (2.6 per month) and air pollution (3.9 micrograms per cubic meter).

But all that good health comes at a cost, as Honolulu ranks eighth-lowest for its cost-of-living score. There's a 69.7-point difference between the metro’s quality-of-life and cost-of-living scores — the highest disparity in categories among the 100 largest metros.

Honolulu is followed by San Jose, Calif., which ranks first for the lowest number of poor mental health days (4.0 per month) and the lowest number of poor physical health days (2.5 per month). Raleigh comes in third overall for quality of life, ranking third for poor mental health days (4.2 per month) and sixth for poor physical health days (2.9 per month).

Metros with the highest quality-of-life scores
Rank Metro Quality-of-life score
1 Honolulu, HI 95.5
2 San Jose, CA 91.4
3 Raleigh, NC 80.1
4 Omaha, NE 79.8
5 Washington, DC 76.9
6 Minneapolis, MN 73.9
7 Cape Coral, FL 73.8
8 Bridgeport, CT 72.5
9 New York, NY 70.7
10 Chicago, IL 69.9
Source: DepositAccounts analysis of County Health Rankings data.

Meanwhile, Knoxville, Tenn., has the lowest overall score for quality of life. The metro comes in 99th for the number of poor mental health days (5.9 per month), 93rd for poor physical health days (4.0 per month) and 49th for air pollution (8.2 micrograms per cubic meter).

It’s followed by New Orleans — ranking 99th for poor mental health days (5.9 per month), 85th for poor physical health days (3.9 per month) and 44th for air pollution (8.1 micrograms per cubic meter) — and Little Rock — ranking 94th (5.7 per month) for mental health days, 93rd for physical health days (4.0 per month) and 86th for air pollution (10.2 micrograms per cubic meter).

Little Rock stands out for being in the top three for cost of living and bottom three for quality of life.

Full rankings (by quality-of-life score)

Metros with the highest/lowest quality-of-life scores
Rank Metro Quality-of-life score
1 Honolulu, HI 95.5
2 San Jose, CA 91.4
3 Raleigh, NC 80.1
4 Omaha, NE 79.8
5 Washington, DC 76.9
6 Minneapolis, MN 73.9
7 Cape Coral, FL 73.8
8 Bridgeport, CT 72.5
9 New York, NY 70.7
10 Chicago, IL 69.9
11 Greensboro, NC 69.5
12 Orlando, FL 69.2
13 Charlotte, NC 69.0
14 Des Moines, IA 66.1
15 Miami, FL 65.3
15 San Francisco, CA 65.3
17 Madison, WI 65.0
18 Boston, MA 63.4
18 Durham, NC 63.4
20 New Haven, CT 63.2
21 Poughkeepsie, NY 63.0
22 Harrisburg, PA 62.7
23 Boise, ID 62.2
24 Denver, CO 59.4
25 Atlanta, GA 58.6
26 Jackson, MS 56.8
27 Hartford, CT 56.7
28 Baltimore, MD 56.5
29 Providence, RI 56.4
30 Stockton, CA 56.2
31 Virginia Beach, VA 55.9
32 Tampa, FL 55.6
33 Milwaukee, WI 54.8
34 Winston-Salem, NC 54.5
35 Allentown, PA 53.8
36 Albany, NY 53.5
37 Colorado Springs, CO 53.4
37 Worcester, MA 53.4
39 Oxnard, CA 53.1
40 North Port, FL 52.7
41 Kansas City, MO 52.1
42 Lakeland, FL 51.8
42 Provo, UT 51.8
44 Dallas, TX 51.3
45 Grand Rapids, MI 50.8
45 Austin, TX 50.8
47 Wichita, KS 49.7
48 Rochester, NY 48.9
49 San Diego, CA 48.6
50 Richmond, VA 48.3
51 Charleston, SC 47.9
52 Tucson, AZ 47.6
53 Houston, TX 46.9
54 Philadelphia, PA 46.2
55 Indianapolis, IN 45.2
56 Scranton, PA 45.1
56 Jacksonville, FL 45.1
58 Pittsburgh, PA 45.0
59 Buffalo, NY 44.3
60 Ogden, UT 44.0
60 Palm Bay, FL 44.0
62 Los Angeles, CA 43.9
63 St. Louis, MO 43.8
64 Seattle, WA 43.5
65 Sacramento, CA 43.2
66 Phoenix, AZ 42.8
67 Deltona, FL 42.4
68 El Paso, TX 42.2
69 Albuquerque, NM 39.7
70 Portland, OR 38.5
71 San Antonio, TX 38.0
72 Greenville, SC 37.6
73 Riverside, CA 37.1
74 Detroit, MI 36.7
75 Columbus, OH 36.6
76 Columbia, SC 33.8
77 Cincinnati, OH 33.2
78 Augusta, GA 32.9
79 Syracuse, NY 32.7
80 Fresno, CA 32.4
80 Oklahoma City, OK 32.4
82 Tulsa, OK 31.3
83 Salt Lake City, UT 30.5
84 Akron, OH 28.3
85 Springfield, MA 27.1
86 Louisville, KY 26.4
87 Nashville, TN 26.3
88 Las Vegas, NV 25.6
89 Cleveland, OH 24.2
90 Memphis, TN 23.9
91 McAllen, TX 23.0
92 Dayton, OH 22.9
92 Spokane, WA 22.9
94 Birmingham, AL 22.7
95 Toledo, OH 22.4
96 Baton Rouge, LA 19.4
97 Bakersfield, CA 18.4
98 Little Rock, AR 18.1
99 New Orleans, LA 15.3
100 Knoxville, TN 14.3
Source: DepositAccounts analysis of County Health Rankings data.

Complete data (by metro)

Metro Regional price parity State-local tax burdens Cheapest Silver health care plan Poor mental health days per month Poor physical health days per month Air pollution, particulate matter (PM2.5)
Akron, OH 92.1 10.0% $431 5.5 3.9 8.7
Albany, NY 96.6 15.9% $719 5.0 3.2 7.4
Albuquerque, NM 93.4 10.2% $449 5.3 3.6 7.5
Allentown, PA 98.0 10.6% $434 4.9 3.4 8.4
Atlanta, GA 98.8 8.9% $460 4.7 3.4 9.8
Augusta, GA 92.0 8.9% $460 5.3 3.9 10.2
Austin, TX 98.8 8.6% $468 5.0 3.1 9.6
Bakersfield, CA 104.5 13.5% $438 5.5 4.3 12.9
Baltimore, MD 102.4 11.3% $342 4.9 3.1 8.2
Baton Rouge, LA 92.5 9.1% $548 5.7 4.0 9.4
Birmingham, AL 91.2 9.8% $563 5.6 3.8 10.5
Boise, ID 94.2 10.7% $410 4.8 3.3 5.9
Boston, MA 112.0 11.5% $397 4.8 2.9 7.1
Bridgeport, CT 109.8 15.4% $648 4.5 2.9 8.0
Buffalo, NY 93.9 15.9% $719 5.2 3.5 7.3
Cape Coral, FL 101.7 9.1% $488 4.4 3.3 7.4
Charleston, SC 99.1 8.9% $490 5.1 3.4 7.7
Charlotte, NC 96.9 9.9% $493 4.5 3.1 9.2
Chicago, IL 105.7 12.9% $461 4.4 3.2 10.3
Cincinnati, OH 93.5 10.0% $431 5.3 3.7 11.0
Cleveland, OH 93.1 10.0% $431 5.6 3.8 9.6
Colorado Springs, CO 96.8 9.7% $433 5.0 3.7 5.0
Columbia, SC 93.6 8.9% $490 5.4 3.8 8.0
Columbus, OH 94.0 10.0% $431 5.3 3.5 9.9
Dallas, TX 103.5 8.6% $468 4.9 3.5 9.5
Dayton, OH 91.4 10.0% $431 5.6 3.8 10.4
Deltona, FL 98.8 9.1% $488 5.2 3.7 7.5
Denver, CO 107.4 9.7% $433 4.8 3.2 8.1
Des Moines, IA 92.1 11.2% $442 4.7 2.9 7.6
Detroit, MI 96.1 8.6% $374 5.3 3.5 9.8
Durham, NC 96.6 9.9% $493 4.7 3.1 8.3
El Paso, TX 91.2 8.6% $468 5.1 3.9 8.8
Fresno, CA 105.2 13.5% $438 5.2 4.1 11.7
Grand Rapids, MI 94.2 8.6% $374 5.0 3.4 8.1
Greensboro, NC 92.7 9.9% $493 4.5 3.4 7.4
Greenville, SC 93.2 8.9% $490 5.3 3.6 8.8
Harrisburg, PA 95.9 10.6% $434 4.6 3.3 9.9
Hartford, CT 104.9 15.4% $648 4.9 3.2 7.6
Honolulu, HI 112.9 14.1% $457 4.1 2.6 3.9
Houston, TX 98.8 8.6% $468 5.0 3.4 10.5
Indianapolis, IN 93.7 9.3% $394 5.0 3.5 11.1
Jackson, MS 90.4 9.8% $484 4.7 3.6 9.9
Jacksonville, FL 98.5 9.1% $488 5.1 3.6 8.5
Kansas City, MO 92.1 9.3% $498 5.0 3.3 7.8
Knoxville, TN 91.3 7.6% $490 5.9 4.0 8.2
Lakeland, FL 96.2 9.1% $488 4.9 3.8 7.7
Las Vegas, NV 96.5 9.6% $384 5.5 4.3 8.4
Little Rock, AR 89.2 10.2% $424 5.7 4.0 10.2
Los Angeles, CA 113.1 13.5% $438 5.0 3.4 12.4
Louisville, KY 92.3 9.6% $421 5.5 3.9 9.9
Madison, WI 95.3 10.9% $466 4.7 2.8 8.8
McAllen, TX 86.9 8.6% $468 5.4 4.6 10.7
Memphis, TN 91.8 7.6% $490 5.6 4.0 8.8
Miami, FL 111.5 9.1% $488 4.6 3.4 7.8
Milwaukee, WI 94.9 10.9% $466 4.9 3.2 8.8
Minneapolis, MN 102.9 12.1% $337 4.5 2.8 7.6
Nashville, TN 96.6 7.6% $490 5.6 3.8 8.3
New Haven, CT 105.4 15.4% $648 4.7 3.2 7.9
New Orleans, LA 93.6 9.1% $548 5.9 3.9 8.1
New York, NY 113.0 15.9% $719 4.5 3.1 8.1
North Port, FL 101.4 9.1% $488 5.0 3.3 7.4
Ogden, UT 94.2 12.1% $500 5.2 3.7 6.5
Oklahoma City, OK 91.4 9.0% $505 5.4 3.6 9.8
Omaha, NE 92.1 11.5% $570 4.3 3.0 7.3
Orlando, FL 100.4 9.1% $488 4.5 3.5 7.1
Oxnard, CA 114.4 13.5% $438 4.9 3.6 7.9
Palm Bay, FL 99.3 9.1% $488 5.2 3.5 7.5
Philadelphia, PA 100.7 10.6% $434 5.1 3.4 8.8
Phoenix, AZ 103.7 9.5% $373 5.2 3.4 8.7
Pittsburgh, PA 93.9 10.6% $434 5.0 3.4 11.7
Portland, OR 108.8 10.8% $479 5.4 3.3 7.5
Poughkeepsie, NY 110.0 15.9% $719 4.7 3.5 6.6
Providence, RI 103.9 11.4% $380 4.9 3.4 6.8
Provo, UT 94.8 12.1% $500 5.0 3.6 6.5
Raleigh, NC 98.4 9.9% $493 4.2 2.9 9.8
Richmond, VA 97.7 12.5% $370 5.1 3.4 7.5
Riverside, CA 106.4 13.5% $438 5.0 3.9 14.1
Rochester, NY 95.2 15.9% $719 5.1 3.5 6.6
Sacramento, CA 109.9 13.5% $438 5.2 3.5 8.0
Salt Lake City, UT 95.7 12.1% $500 5.5 3.6 8.8
San Antonio, TX 95.1 8.6% $468 5.2 3.9 9.2
San Diego, CA 114.5 13.5% $438 4.8 3.4 13.8
San Francisco, CA 117.9 13.5% $438 4.7 2.9 8.1
San Jose, CA 115.3 13.5% $438 4.0 2.5 9.1
Scranton, PA 91.9 10.6% $434 5.1 3.8 7.5
Seattle, WA 113.7 10.7% $403 5.2 3.4 8.3
Spokane, WA 102.7 10.7% $403 5.7 3.9 7.7
Springfield, MA 99.5 11.5% $397 5.7 3.5 7.1
St. Louis, MO 96.7 9.3% $498 5.1 3.6 9.3
Stockton, CA 108.5 13.5% $438 4.7 3.7 9.8
Syracuse, NY 93.4 15.9% $719 5.5 3.8 6.5
Tampa, FL 99.7 9.1% $488 4.9 3.3 7.8
Toledo, OH 90.2 10.0% $431 5.7 3.7 9.0
Tucson, AZ 93.8 9.5% $373 5.2 3.8 3.8
Tulsa, OK 90.5 9.0% $505 5.4 3.8 9.5
Virginia Beach, VA 98.0 12.5% $370 4.9 3.4 7.1
Washington, DC 111.3 12.0% $481 4.4 2.8 7.9
Wichita, KS 89.2 11.2% $485 5.1 3.4 6.6
Winston-Salem, NC 92.4 9.9% $493 4.8 3.6 9.2
Worcester, MA 105.1 11.5% $397 5.0 3.1 8.0
Source: DepositAccounts analysis of BEA, Tax Foundation, KFF and County Health Rankings data.
 

Preparing for FIRE: Top expert tips

No matter where you want to eventually settle, there are some things you can do to prepare yourself for FIRE. Here are three strategies:

  • Save and invest. Saving and investing should be important priorities for those considering FIRE. Tumin says a high percentage of your income during your working years should go into investments. “After 10 to 20 years of making large and consistent contributions to your investments, you’ll likely achieve enough savings to retire early,” he says. “Having a financial plan and a budget can be useful to make sure you’re able to save and invest enough to meet your early retirement goals.”
  • Plan. Tumin says people considering moving to a different location for retirement should keep the aging process in mind. “Does the place you’re looking to move to offer activities and opportunities that you might enjoy when you’re older and possibly less active and/or less healthy than right now?” he asks. “You want to make sure the area you move to continues to provide you with physical and mental enrichment throughout your retirement.”
  • Assess your needs. Be realistic about what you want your retirement to look like and how much money it’ll take to help you achieve your goals. A financial planner can help. A free online FIRE calculator can also help determine how much you need to save.

Methodology

DepositAccounts evaluated the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the U.S. to find the places most hospitable to financially independent early retirees utilizing different FIRE strategies. The two criteria to determine the best places were cost of living and quality of life. All data is the most recent available.

Cost-of-living component measures

  • 2022 regional price parity (RPP) from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis for MSAs. This considers RPPs for goods and services to measure the relative purchasing power of a dollar in different communities. (Double weight)
  • 2022 state-local tax burdens in the state of each metro, according to the Tax Foundation. (Half weight)
  • 2024 cost of health care premiums in the state of each metro, as measured by the cheapest Silver plan available on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange to a typical 40-year-old, according to KFF. (Half weight)

Quality-of-life component measures

  • Average number of poor mental health days each month reported by residents, as reported by the 2024 County Health Rankings, utilizing 2021 data. (Double weight)
  • Average number of poor physical health days each month reported by residents, as reported by the 2024 County Health Rankings, utilizing 2021 data. (Half weight)
  • Air pollution, or the average daily density of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in micrograms per cubic meter, as reported by the 2024 County Health Rankings, utilizing 2019 data. (Half weight)
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