What Are the Best Places to Retire in Michigan?

Many retirees do not wish to spend their golden years in hot spots like Florida or California. Some prefer to live in a place that has all four beautiful changing seasons. Michigan is an idyllic state that has much to offer those approaching retirement age. Read on for details regarding 10 Michigan cities.

1. Ann Arbor

Located in southeastern Michigan, Ann Arbor has both city attractions and a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities such as scenic nature trails, preserved grounds, local parks and the waters of the Huron River to explore.

This urban area boasts a smalltown feel with its own diverse and thriving downtown region along with access to more outdoor pursuits usually only found in rural towns.

Enjoy cold brews from regional breweries or golf with views of Ford Lake. Experience delicious local foods and browse the many unique stores. Ann Arbor is just a short drive from Detroit. This university town is still appealing to seniors due to its lower housing and healthcare costs along with a lower national crime rate.

The city has a long history of being an artist community, and cultural options include museums, numerous art galleries, theatrical productions and plenty of musical performances too.


  • Ann Arbor Concert Band
  • Local Festivals
  • Arbor Opera Theater
  • Barton Nature Area
  • Home to the Big House or Michigan Stadium
  • University of Michigan Museum of Art
  • Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum
  • Metzger’s German Restaurant
  • Visit the Kerrytown District
  • Matthaei Botanical Gardens

2. Grand Rapids

Many outdoor enthusiasts settle down in scenic Grand Rapids situated in the western portion of the state. Retirees are often drawn here due to its affordable housing, thriving art community, cultural attractions and close access to upscale dining venues along with good healthcare facilities nearby.

This town once was considered the furniture capital, but now Grand Rapids is more known for its original brews from its topnotch breweries located here.

Grand Rapids sits near to Lake Michigan with all its amazing water pursuits from fishing, swimming, kayaking, boating and more. Residents enjoy historic landmarks like the famed Heritage Hill District the oldest in America.

There are lots of cultural events and features here such as art galleries, a colorful botanical garden, enticing restaurants, museums to explore and annual city festivals.


  • Grand Rapids Children’s Museum – fun for grandkids
  • ArtPrize – annual city artistic competition
  • Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
  • Blandford Nature Center and Farm
  • Fulton Street Farmers Market
  • Grand Rapids Public Museum
  • John Ball Zoo
  • Meyer May House – historic mansion

3. Traverse City

Traverse City is in northern Michigan right along the Grand Transverse Bay that empties into Lake Michigan. This smaller city boasts many lovely parks, and many love this area due to its splendid water related activities.

These activities include boating, some of the best fishing in the state and swimming, kayaking and canoeing in warmer months. This spot is well-known for its pristine forests and gorgeous sandy beaches. Residents and visitors enjoy outstanding skiing at Hickory Hills Ski Area.

This town is revered for its history, tart cherries and excellent lush vineyards. There are museums, fine dining establishments, great healthcare, lower crime rates and several affordable retirement communities that make this town popular with retirees.


  • Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail
  • Dennos Museum Center
  • Historic site of the Village at Grand Transverse Commons
  • Walk the enchanting Fairy Trails with miniature fairy houses
  • Browse and dine on Front Street
  • Enjoy the view from Mission Pointe Lighthouse
  • Old Mission General Store
  • Clinch Park

4. Grand Haven

Located along the eastern side of Lake Michigan, Grand Haven offers retirees a small-town lifestyle with many outdoor pursuits usually associated with the water.

In summer, many visitors flock to this area to swim, boat, fish and engage in other activities on this city’s famous Grand Haven State Park consisting of the beautiful beach and its iconic south pier.

There are several other terrific parks here, and the majestic Grand River flows through the city limits. The historic Grand Haven Lighthouse and the town’s impressive boardwalk are popular destinations.

Housing costs are a bit more here, but the affordable healthcare, lower crime rate and cheaper cost of living expenses are certainly enticing to seniors.

Ride the Harbor Trolley with narrated tours, enjoy the annual Coast Guard Festival and bike the more than 100 trails or look for vintage pieces, artwork and more in the charming boutiques around town.


  • Lemon Creek Winery
  • Daniel Sport Fishing – charter fishing
  • Community Events – Winterfest, Grand Haven Art Fair and more
  • Tri-City Historical Museum
  • Musical Fountains – synchronized lights and music with waterworks
  • Skiing in winter months

5. Saugatuck

The city of Saugatuck is a charming and peaceful place that is best known for its beaches and laid-back atmosphere. There is much to see and do here such as many intriguing art galleries and studios, museums, fine dining on Butler Street in the clean and friendly downtown area.

This is home to the Saugatuck Sand Dunes State Park where people can opt to try the adventurous dune rides.

The Saugatuck River Cruise is a popular activity and is a fantastic way to see the city from a water view. The meandering Kalamazoo River offers lots of thrills and taking a tour of the nearby Fenn Valley Vineyards is a worthwhile expedition.

Saugatuck is known as a safe city, but housing and cost of living expenses are on the higher side. This is a fabulous town for retirees who have a higher income.


  • Coghlin Park – overlooks Kalamazoo River with picnic areas
  • The Douglass Historical Museum
  • Coral Gables – resort
  • The Laughing Glass – handmade glass treasures
  • Butler’s Street – prime shopping area
  • Mount Baldhead Park – hiking and biking trails
  • Santa Fe Trading Company – southwestern and Native American attire, accessories and more

6. Petoskey

Retirees looking for a smaller retirement place with a quieter lifestyle should consider the northern Michigan city of Petoskey. This town lies along the scenic shores of the Little Traverse Bay that provides residents with many outdoor activities along with some cultural amenities that are surprising for a city this size.

The affordable housing, cost of living expenses and crime rate make this a real opportunity for seniors. Experience spectacular views from Sunset Lake.

Petoskey draws many crowds during the summer months, but there are lots of outdoor pursuits to enjoy all year long for residents.

These include hiking along nature trails and within the beautiful Bear Valley Recr4eation Area, searching for the city’s famed Petoskey stones along the sparkling waterfront parks and shoreline, snowshoeing and skiing in winter months, dining on delicious restaurant foods and playing golf at the greens of the Bay View Country Club.


  • Bayfront Park – a 25-acre nature park
  • Mackinaw Tail Winery, Maple Moon and Petoskey Farm Vineyards for wine tasting and tours
  • Little Traverse Wheelway – cycling
  • Crooked Tree Arts Center – watch performances or take art/dance/music classes
  • Petoskey Cinema – movies
  • Dine along the old-world styled Gaslight District
  • Petoskey State Park
  • Skyline Trail – advanced hiking skills
  • Petoskey Brewing – taste local craft beers
  • Boyne Mountain Resort – skiing

7. Manistee

Manistee is an excellent retirement spot that has lots of outdoor recreation such as hunting, riding snowmobiles, hiking, fishing and other water activities when the weather is warm. The city’s low crime rate, affordable cost of living and stunning scenic locale makes this city stand out.

Enjoy nature and all its splendor at Orchard Beach State Park, Manistee Forest and Manistee River. Tour gorgeous Victorian-era buildings and shop local for unique finds then pick your favorite restaurant for a satisfying meal.

Take a weekend drive through the famed Tunnel of Trees along Bullfrog Highway, tour the historic treasures in the Manistee County Historical Museum or watch a film playing at Vogue Theater.


  • Magoon Creek Park – hiking trails
  • Arcadia Marsh Boardwalk – stunning wildlife and nature scenes
  • See the Michigan Champion Giant Sequoia Tree
  • Manistee Riverwalk
  • Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts – musicals, theater, dance, art and classes
  • Inn Fun Cruises – narrated 2-hour water journey
  • 5th Avenue Beach, Lighthouse and Pier

8. Bay City

Bay City was one a thriving lumber town, and its location at the base of Saugatuck Bay along the shores of majestic Lake Huron still gives residents lots to see and do.

The city boasts many affordable retirement communities, lower cost of living expenses, reduced healthcare costs and a crime rate below the national averages. This is more of a family town, but it could be a terrific place for seniors that are young at heart.

Several waterfront parks and a popular local Riverwalk Pier offer gorgeous places to take a stroll. Visit Veterans Memorial Park which includes several parks and ball fields within its borders. The Saginaw River flows through the city and provides even more breathtaking views, stunning scenic spots and water adventures.


  • Wenonah Park
  • Delta College Planetarium and Learning Center
  • Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum
  • Historic Bay City Hall – dates back to late 1800s
  • Riverwalk/Railtrail Loop
  • Stroll the Center Avenue Historic District – restored buildings with diverse architectural styles
  • Bay Antique Center – large multi-shop area with vintage finds

9. Marquette

Located in the upper Michigan peninsula, Marquette is a charming town that is surrounded by the waters of Lake Superior. Home to the University of Michigan, this city often escapes the notice of seniors looking for a retirement locale.

However, Marquette offers affordable living expenses, lowered housing costs and access to superb healthcare facilities.

Marquette has many cultural draws that include Residents can experience an active lifestyle in this scenic location due to the many nature trails like Noquemanon South Trailhead and the trails along Little Presque Isle. It is sometimes possible to see the Northern Lights from these northern, secluded beaches.


  • Dead River Falls and Wagner Falls – scenic views
  • See boats and more at the Marquette Maritime Museum
  • DeVos Art Museum – on the university campus
  • Shiras Planetarium – shows rotated monthly
  • Marquette Mountain – topnotch skiing in winter
  • Lackenenland Sculpture Park
  • Sugarloaf Mountain and Iron Ore Heritage Trail – hiking trails
  • Barrel & Beam – farmhouse related brewery
  • The Vierling Restaurant – open for more than 100 years

10. Gross Pointe Shores

Gross Pointe Shores is considered one of the most affluent of Michigan cities. Retirees who have funds will find this friendly city a terrific retirement option. There are beautiful, large homes especially on the waterfront, and the city is close to other urban attractions in Detroit situated just 15 minutes away.


  • The Edsel & Eleanor Ford House
  • Osius Park on the lakeshore with marina and docks
  • Gross Pointe Yacht Club – premier American yacht club

FAQs about where to spend your retirement in Michigan

1. Why should retirees consider Michigan as their dream retirement state?

A: Michigan boasts the most freshwater beach shorelines than any other US state except Alaska. This state enjoys milder summers but still has all four seasons plus some of the best outdoor nature scenes in the country.

2. How does Michigan fare regarding taxes and cost of living expenses for retired individuals compared to other states?

A: The state of Michigan boasts a lower than national average cost of living expenses in many of its beautiful cities. It is considered a safe and tax-friendly state for seniors, like Alabama, Minnesota or Nevada.

3. Does Michigan have good healthcare and is it affordable for seniors?

A: Yes, Michigan has some of the best healthcare facilities in the region. There are usually several hospitals within a short driving distance of many Michigan cities. Healthcare in this state can be quite affordable depending on location and other factors.

If you’re interested by another state, read our top 15 states to retire in.