Indian Blanket wildflower meadow, Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Canyon. Amarillo, TX
Amarillo, Texas fields. (Credit: Holger Leue/Getty Images)

Using a variety of sources to cultivate a list of places that offer retirees the most bang for the buck, Finance Buzz settled on Amarillo, TX, as tops on its list of 10 best retirement cities in the South.

Senior living operators looking to attract prospective residents might be interested in the factors most appealing to older adults, including low cost of living, lifestyle options and access to activities and amenities, along with the warm weather.

Amarillo’s overall cost of living was 14% lower than the national average, according to factors including housing, utilities, groceries and transportation, as measured by

Amarillo also has average home values — $186,069 — well below the national average of $337,560, according to Zillow. The state also has no income tax.

The city’s proximity lies within the midpoint of historic US Route 66 and is close to the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. 

Coming in at No. 2 on the list is Augusta, GA, where cost of living and home values also fall below the national average. Located on the Savannah River along the border of South Carolina, Augusta has all the amenities of a big city and is home to the Masters golf tournament, list organizers said.

Birmingham, AL, claimed the No. 3 spot for affordable housing, a low cost of living and its civil rights history, Alabama barbecue and outdoor activities.

No. 4 on the list, Chattanooga, TN, is located across the northern border of Georgia and is surrounded by mountains, parks, rivers and forests, providing bountiful access to outdoor activities. But it’s a fairly large city with home values lower than the national average and a high score when it comes to healthcare, list compilers said. As a bonus, the state does not tax income from wages, retirement, Social Security income or pensions.

Rounding out the top five southern cities is Durham, NC. Its proximity to multiple large universities — including home to Duke University and close to the University of North Carolina — could prove helpful in finding a retirement gig. Home values hover just above the national average, but the low cost of living and high healthcare ranking make up for it.

The remaining cities in the top 10: Greenville, SC, at No. 6; Lafayette, LA at No. 7; Raleigh, NC, No. 8; Spartanburg, SC, No. 9; and Vero Beach, FL, No. 10.