Want to start yourself on a path to success or, better yet, a path to mid-week brunching at noon while everyone else works their day jobs? For most people, retiring in your 40s seems like a feat achievable only by a select few superheroes. In reality, the secret to early retirement all boils down to something quite simple: saving. With thoughtful financial planning and considerable neighborhood economics research, anyone can join the live-the-good-life club well before their 60th birthday.
Inspired by the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) principle outlined in the 1992 bestseller Your Money or Your Life , relocating to one of these top 10 places in the South may assist aspiring early retirees. By purchasing an affordable home , which is a key to FIRE followers' success, in a job market that's robust and high-paying, you can be well on your way to schedule-free days.
Along with Houston and Cape Canaveral, Huntsville serves as one of the few epicenters of NASA's space program. Couple that with a heavy presence from the military and tech worlds, and the job market here is always booming (and not just for rocket scientists). However, the difference between Huntsville and most space and tech hubs is affordability. The median housing prices here are around $300k, with some historic fixer-uppers able to be scored for much less. That's good news for FIRE fans, who should have plenty of their high-paying salaries leftover post-mortgage for stashing away into savings.
Knoxville boasts big-city amenities and small-town vibes and doles out the best of both worlds . It is also an extremely smart place to set down roots: With no state income tax and low local property taxes, residents here can take home a larger portion of their well-earned dough. And, with major employers like the University of Tennessee and the U.S. Department of Energy nearby, the dough is plentiful.
Beaumont has an undeniably rich history as a birthplace of the 20th-century oil boom. In 1901, a well struck oil underneath the city and gushed for nine days. Today, the still-thriving fuel industry is simply making residents rich. As an industrial hub, Beaumont boasts a high percentage of lucrative jobs. You can score a sizable home for a steal ($195k is the median sales price), so early retirement dreams seem a little more in reach.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
In terms of size and recognition, Winston-Salem pales compared to its North Carolina neighbors, Charlotte and Raleigh. Yet, the mid-sized city has it all in terms of quality and cost of living. The average home sale price is $219k, making it affordable compared to other cities. And with nearly 20 percent of the jobs considered high-paying (big employers here include the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Hanes, and Wells Fargo), that leaves a good chunk of cash left over to invest.
Palm Bay, Florida
Why wait to retire to the Sunshine State when you can move there now and smartly save for retirement while living your beachfront dreams at the same time? In the coastal town of Palm Bay, residents have a laid-back lifestyle but are within close striking distance to major employers like the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. And despite Palm Bay's waterfront address, the average home sale price is $305k, making real estate prices reasonable.
Asheville, North Carolina
Often on the list of "best of the best," this Great Smoky Mountain town has the elegance and fanfare of a big city but the charm and comfort of a small town. Nicknames include "Paris of the South" and " Beer City ," helping to underscore this unique balance. Considering the national average, the median home price of around $292k makes this mountain town a contender for long-term home ownership.
Home of the University of Arkansas, this town tucked into the Ozark Mountains provides ample outdoor space for recreational downtime. Meeting the demand of a nature-centric city, Fayetteville supplies plenty of green space, including 108 miles of trails and three lakes. The college-town atmosphere generates a thriving cultural scene supported by the downtown's restaurants, shops, music, and arts scene.
Known as the "Golf Cart Capital of the World" and home to the Masters golf tournament, this town near the South Carolina border is brimming with reminders of a retirees' favorite hobby. In terms of work, employment sectors range from manufacturing to education and even include a military presence. Fort Gordon occupies the area. Flowing through the site, the Savannah River frames the city, permitting boating, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
One of Florida's premier Gulf Coast Cities, the city's walkability and proximity to beaches sets it on top of places for retirees and working families. Known for being the home of America's most famous circus, the Ringling's Ca' d'Zan Mansion and art museum are among the destination spots new discover the city's art and history backgrounds. As the unemployment rate is lower than the national average, the area's medical and hospitality industries keep Sarasota residents busy.
The culinary arts in the "Cajun Capital" are big. Lafayette is a tax-friendly city matched by its flourishing and diverse museums. The design paradise set in the bayou appeals to nature enthusiasts as the marshy wildlife presents birding, hiking, and water sports as readily as festivals celebrated year-round. Food is not the only artform: History materializes in every aspect of this city, from historical home furnishings to folk art and Japanese prints.