How many times have you heard a reference to retiring in Palm Beach or Boca Raton in a TV show or a movie? Retiring – at least part-time – to Boca or Palm Beach has been popular since those cities were built. Palm Beach was the winter home to many American notables starting in the 1920s, and it remains a popular winter getaway today.
But Palm Beach County isn't just Palm Beach and Boca Raton. A total of 39 cities and towns make up Palm Beach County, with West Palm Beach being the largest with about 100,000 residents. Palm Beach itself is actually a tiny community of only 8,300 residents on the barrier island, and the cost of housing there makes it a playground for mostly the rich. Yes, Donald Trump has a home there.
The population of the entire county is about 1.47 million. That makes it large enough to have an international airport, plenty of shopping and restaurants and enough culture that you won't feel obligated to travel to Miami often. But if you want to travel to Miami, two commuter trains make it easier.
The median home price in Palm Beach County was $345,000 for a single-family home and $175,000 for a condo in the first quarter of 2019. But those numbers get much higher and lower depending upon which city and which neighborhood you're searching.
Palm Beach County, like the rest of Florida, offers options in both 55-plus active adult communities and regular all-ages communities. The active adult communities offer activities and shared facilities, such as pools and community centers, and are often less expensive to buy. The all-ages communities offer more options for multigenerational living. New communities in the western suburbs also may offer shared facilities and be part of homeowner associations.
The second big decision will be condo vs. single-family home. If you want to live near the beach or in the urban core of West Palm Beach, a condo can be a much affordable option, though luxury condos that cost upward of $1 million also are available.
Here are seven places to consider retiring in Palm Beach County:
Boynton Beach has long been a popular retirement destination, and it is home to a number of 55-plus communities, including Aberdeen Golf & Country Club, Palm Isles, and Indian Springs. The city of about 73,000 people is in the eastern side of Palm Beach County, north of Delray Beach, and borders the Intracoastal Waterway.
West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach provides the best opportunity for an urban experience. A proliferation of new condos downtown has provided a chance for city living and walkable neighborhoods. West Palm Beach offers a variety of housing options, from historic neighborhoods of the 1920s and 1930s homes to family neighborhoods to waterfront condos. It is also home to the 6,500-unit Century Village retirement condo community, an affordable option for those 55 and older.
Jupiter is the place to go for a small-town, beachy vibe, though it has a population of nearly 65,000. The northernmost town in Palm Beach County, it includes both high-end and medium-priced housing. Its location, near the Atlantic Ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway, and the Loxahatchee River, provides ample opportunity for water views. Nearby Tequesta is also a popular retirement spot.
Briny Breezes is Palm Beach County's most unusual town. It is the only mobile home community on the Atlantic Ocean in Florida, and most of the residents of its 488 homes are retired. The private community was almost sold to a developer about a decade ago, but the sale fell through.
Delray Beach is both a thriving beach town, to the east, and home to a number of planned communities farther west, including the 7,200-unit Kings Bay condo community. Development near downtown has created more of an urban vibe near the city's historic core, though it is still mostly a low-rise town. The town was first settled before 1900 and at one time it was known for its pineapple plantations.
Boca Raton is known as an upscale family-friendly suburb with good schools, but it is also popular with retirees. The southernmost city in Palm Beach County, the town of about 93,000 is one of the wealthiest communities in South Florida. It is home to Florida Atlantic University, a public university that offers classes and lectures for retirees through its Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Boca Raton has historic Spanish-style homes, all-ages planned communities and a number of 55-plus communities, including the affordable 7,500-unit Century Village community. Boca Raton also offers a number of cultural venues for concerts and theater.
Wellington, a town of about 65,000, is another city known for good schools and a family atmosphere. But it is also popular with retirees and was recently named the best retirement community for golfers by Money magazine. The magazine noted that there were 220 golf courses within 30 miles, including the Wellington National Golf Club and Wycliffe Golf & Country Club. The town wasn't chartered until 1995, so most of the housing is newer and in planned communities.