Watch CBS News

Retirement experts pick these 6 Michigan towns as best places to retire

CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for April 25, 2023
CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for April 25, 2023 02:31

Boasting the longest freshwater shoreline on Earth and top-tier affordability, Michigan makes an unexpectedly strong case for one of the best retirement destinations in the US. But being that it is such a large state, choosing the ideal retirement spot in Michigan can be daunting. Fortunately, retirement experts have weighed in to help.

There are many beautiful places to spend one's retirement in the Great Lake State, and few ways to go wrong. Still, those looking to make the most of their golden years in Michigan should consider some of the state's top retirement destinations, as highlighted by leading retirement experts and Michigan natives.


Anyone looking for a quieter retirement should check out Petoskey. This tiny resort town rests on Lake Michigan's Little Traverse Bay.

Tim Uihlein, MBA and CFP of Vincere Wealth Management, shares his advice: "Two of the best cities in Michigan to retire are Saugatuck and Petoskey, both quaint towns that offer many outdoor activities."

What it lacks in size and big-city attractions, Petoskey makes up for in natural beauty. Not only is the downtown area supremely picturesque, but it also has a hilltop position that offers outstanding views over the bay.

Petoskey sits just a 30-minute drive from Charlevoix Township, another excellent choice for retirement in northern Michigan.

According to Blaine Thiederman, MBA and CFP from Progress Wealth Management, "For retirees who love small towns, Charlevoix Township is a wonderful place to land. It's a charming, quiet town in the winter and bustling during the summer. It's also incredibly safe and has various hospitals nearby. It's also known for its access to Lake Michigan and beautiful parks."

Compared to other places in the Great Lake State, Petoskey isn't cheap. However, the state's northern shores are tough to beat for those seeking cozy small-town charm.


In the southwest of Michigan, you'll find the vibrant student city of Kalamazoo, the seat of Kalamazoo County. The city has a population of around 76,000 residents and offers a lovely combination of small-town charm and big-city buzz.

Much of that buzz comes from the thriving population of students here.

Kalamazoo hosts six colleges, including Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College. The result is youthful energy, a lively atmosphere, and a vast list of things to see and do - including a busy downtown shopping area, a nature center, and a host of galleries and museums.

Kalamazoo was once named the coolest city in the country. It also boasts a remarkably low cost of living. The median value of owner-occupied units between 2016 and 2020 was $113,700.

Grand Haven

Grand Haven is the seat of Ottawa County. Nestled along the shore of southwest Michigan, this beautiful city of almost 11,000 people ranks among the best places to retire anywhere - let alone in Michigan.

Doug Oosterhart, CFP with LifePoint Planning and lifelong Michigan resident, shares his thoughts on this region of the state.

"Another great area is southwest Michigan (Holland, Saugatuck, Grand Haven, South Haven). Michigan is a great value for those that want awesome beaches, all four seasons, and great dining options."

Life here revolves around pristine beaches that have won national acclaim. Grand Haven also offers endless outdoor activities, waterfront festivals, historical museums, and first-rate drinking and dining opportunities.

The city's surprisingly low cost of living, minimal crime rate, and access to healthcare add to the list of compelling reasons to retire in Grand Haven.

Grand Rapids

Approximately one hour north of Kalamazoo sits Grand Rapids - an inviting, cultural, and prosperous city that's as diverse as it is dynamic. With just under 200,000 residents, it's much bigger than Kalamazoo, which may suit retirees seeking the bustle of a major metropolis.

Alongside the city's many restaurants and bars, it offers the Downtown Market, nature center, Meyer May House, Frederik Meijer Gardens, and Public Museum. Grand Rapids was also the childhood home of the 38th US President, Gerald Ford, whom you can learn more about at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

The cost of living in Grand Rapids is relatively low. It also hosts five hospitals and easy access to Lake Michigan, making it a first-rate retirement destination.

Ann Arbor

No list of the best places to retire in Michigan is complete without the college town of Ann Arbor. Its 124,000 residents benefit from excellent healthcare, affordable housing options, an incredible cultural scene, and a bounty of outdoor activities.

Home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor also has a youthful and inclusive energy, a mass of entertainment options, and the vast health care complex, Michigan Medicine. Specific "must-dos" in Ann Arbor include getting out onto the Huron River, exploring the Farmers Market, going to one of the breweries in town, and watching a game at the University of Michigan Football Stadium, known to many as "The Big House."


A small Saginaw County city of fewer than 5000 people, Frankenmuth sits south of Bay City on the Cass River. It's peaceful, safe, full of charm, and brimming with history - with a proud German heritage evidenced by its nickname, "Little Bavaria."

Frankenmuth boasts an impressive list of things to do for such a small place. For those interested in lively multi-day festivals, boutique stores, famous chicken dinners complete with cold German beer, and eclectic dining opportunities, Frankenmuth is worth a closer look.

The cost of living here is higher than in other parts of Michigan, and the nearest major hospital is 18 miles away in Saginaw. If you're looking for a sky-high quality of life, though, Frankenmuth is tough to beat.

Choosing Where to Retire in Michigan

The Great Lake State has lots to offer anyone who chooses to retire there - especially in terms of affordability! Thanks to its low cost of living and inexpensive housing, your savings and retirement income will stretch a long way. Furthermore, from its vibrant college towns to quaint lakeside oases, its diversity ought to help you find the right place to call home.

Prospective retirees in Michigan have many fantastic locations to choose from. If you select one of the locations on this list or any of the state's many other beautiful locales, you'll be enjoying your retirement in Michigan in no time.

This post was produced by Wealthtender and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.