5 Best College Towns To Retire Worldwide

Ready to retire in style? Explore the best college towns that offer a vibrant retirement experience and combine the charm and buzz of a college atmosphere.

Retiring to a college town can be an appealing option if you want a new place to call home. These towns offer a wide range of benefits, from lower living costs to access to cultural events and educational opportunities.

In this article, we will explore the five best college towns worldwide that can be a smart choice as a retirement destination.

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The benefits of retiring in a college town

Whether you’re looking for a new adventure or simply a change of scenery, retiring to a college town can be a great way to enjoy your golden years.

Retiring to a university town can be a pretty good idea. Let me break it down for you:

Great culture: These towns are buzzing with artsy vibes and cultural events. You can catch lectures, performances, art exhibitions, and all sorts of cool intellectual stuff. It’s like a never-ending learning party for retirees who want to expand their minds and keep things interesting.

Learning is a piece of cake: Living in a university town means enjoying all the perks of educational resources. Think libraries, research facilities, and other brainy stuff. So if you’ve got a craving for knowledge or want to explore new hobbies, this is the place to be.

Top-notch healthcare and amenities: Thanks to the university’s medical center and research institutions, these towns have top-of-the-line healthcare and all the fancy amenities you could wish for. Good health and convenience are pretty important when you’re looking for the perfect retirement spot.

Staying active and fit is easy: University towns are all about the active lifestyle. Walking, biking, sports—you name it, they’ve got it. You’ll find parks, trails, sports facilities, and fitness centers galore. It’s a playground for retirees who want to stay fit and have a blast doing it.

Social connections: These towns attract a great mix of retirees, students, faculty, and staff, very often from all over the world. That means a diverse and welcoming community where you can make new friends, socialize, and have a blast at various events. Retirement doesn’t have to be boring when you’ve got friendly people around.

1. San Pedro de Montes de Oca, Costa Rica

San Pedro de Montes de Oca, affectionately known as San Pedro, was a quaint and humble town east of San Jose.

However, with the growth and accomplishments of the University of Costa Rica and other educational institutions, San Pedro has transformed into a highly sought-after residential area within the Central Valley.

the Central Valley of Costa Rica
Sunset in the Central Valley

Today, it has earned its reputation as one of the region’s most desirable places to live.

San Pedro is an excellent town to retire for multiple reasons. First, it provides a tranquil and safe environment, offering retirees a peaceful and secure lifestyle. The low crime rates and welcoming community contribute to safety and well-being.

Second, the town’s proximity to essential services makes it highly convenient for retirees. Healthcare facilities, shopping centers, restaurants, and recreational areas are easily accessible, ensuring that retirees have everything they need within a short distance.

Lastly, San Pedro offers a rich cultural and recreational scene. With its art exhibitions, theater performances, live music, and festivals, retirees can immerse themselves in the vibrant local culture and enjoy a variety of entertainment options.

If you love the great outdoors, the town’s natural surroundings, including parks, nature reserves, and green spaces, provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities and a close connection to nature.

You can find more information on the area in our Living In The Central Valley Of Costa Rica guide. For detailed guidance on moving to Costa Rica, check out our Living In Costa Rica guide.

2. Tampa, Florida, the USA

Tampa, Florida, is a fantastic place to retire for many reasons!

First off, the weather is amazing. With an average of 246 sunny days per year, you can enjoy outdoor activities like golfing, fishing, and boating all year round. Plus, Tampa is home to some of the best beaches in the world, including Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach.

Downtown Tampa

With its array of colleges, Tampa is a proper university town with a very international vibe.

There are at least 14 colleges, including ten private colleges and universities, three public colleges and universities, and one community college. The University of Tampa alone enrolls students from 130 countries.

Another great thing about Tampa is the fact that Florida doesn’t have a state income tax so you can keep more of your retirement income.

Tampa is also a great place to stay active and healthy. The city has a variety of parks and outdoor spaces, as well as plenty of opportunities for exercise and wellness, like yoga studios and gyms.

Tampa is famous for its vibrant cultural scene. Events and festivals are always happening, from the Gasparilla Pirate Festival to the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival. So plenty of entertainment is guaranteed!

Read more about the area in our Living In Tampa guide. Alternatively, check out other popular destinations in our Best Places To Live In Florida guide.

3. Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaíso, often referred to as Chile’s college town, owes a significant portion of its economy to its thriving higher education institutions. While there are three other universities in the city besides UV (University of Valparaíso), these are primarily campus-based compared to UV.

Valparaiso streets

As Chile’s principal port and a historic center, Valparaíso exudes a vibrant atmosphere while maintaining a relaxed vibe. It offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and a multitude of activities, especially for admirers of Pablo Neruda, the renowned Chilean poet who lived and worked in Valparaíso.

The cost of living in Valparaiso is another advantage. It’s much more affordable than other popular retirement destinations, both in Chile and around the world. Check out the numbers in our Living In Valparaiso guide.

Chile is known for its delicious and affordable wine, so you can enjoy a glass of vino tinto without breaking the bank.

A short bus ride away, you’ll find Viña del Mar, affectionately known as Chile’s “garden city.” It is where you find some of the most amazing beaches. One of them is Playa del Sol.

This beautiful two-mile (three-kilometer) stretch along Viña’s coast is where all the action happens. It has outdoor gyms and a lovely bike path to keep everyone in shape and stoked.

You’ll also find beautiful gardens lining the promenade and a bunch of beach bars serving up amazing sunset cocktails. It’s the perfect spot to get fit, chill, and have a blast by the beach.

If this picked your interest, start planning your move to Chile with our guide on moving to and settling down in Chile as an expat.

4. Coimbra, Portugal

First off, the city is absolutely gorgeous. It’s known for its historic architecture, winding streets, and stunning views of the Mondego River.

An old elegant university building on to of the hill in the dusk across the river
Coimbra, the university building facing the riverfront

Coimbra is more affordable than other popular retirement destinations in Portugal, like the Algarve or the neighboring Aveiro.

Coimbra is also a great place if you are into an active lifestyle. The hiking trails in the nearby Serra da Estrela mountains will take your breath away.

The town has easy travel connections with Porto and Lisbon. So having a day out in a city is not a problem. It is also convenient when planning international travel.

Coimbra is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, the University of Coimbra, which gives it a vibrant and youthful energy. There are always events and festivals happening, from concerts to theater performances to traditional fairs.

Museums and galleries are abundant when you want a quiet and reflective time in a cultural environment.

Read more about the area in our Living In Coimbra guide. If you are interested in moving to Portugal, our guide to Living In Porugal As An Expat is an excellent place to start planning your move.

To research retirement opportunities, read our Retiring To Portugal guide.

5. Verona, Italy

Verona is a perfect place if you are looking for a warm climate without extremes all year round.

You can expect mild and pleasant temperatures, from the mid-30s in winter to the mid-80s in summer. It’s the perfect climate to enjoy the outdoors and soak up the sunshine. And let’s not forget about the mouthwatering food and wine of the Veneto region – Verona is right in the heart of it all!

Verona - Arena
Morning in the streets of Verona near the Coliseum Arena di Verona

Verona is a city that truly embraces nature, offering a remarkable number of green spaces compared to other cities in the Veneto region of Italy. From charming little squares to cozy neighborhood gardens, you’ll find plenty of picturesque spots to unwind and enjoy the outdoors.

One of the city’s most famous parks is the Giardino Giusti, filled with an array of botanical wonders and unique attractions.

The University of Verona is very reputable in Europe and Italy in particular. It became the best university in Italy several times in the recent past. It has an extensive Erasmus program (international student exchange), so the student crowd here is very diverse.

The city has a vibrant and youthful energy. You’ll always find exciting events and festivals happening, from rocking music concerts to captivating art exhibitions and traditional fairs. And with its rich history, Verona is home to various museums and cultural institutions that will satisfy your thirst for knowledge and exploration.

Discover more in our guide on Living In Verona. To plan your move to Italy, start with our Living In Italy As An Expat guide.

Final thoughts on the best college towns to retire

Retiring to a college town can be a smart choice for seniors looking for a new place to call home. These towns offer a wide range of benefits, from lower living costs to access to cultural events and educational opportunities.

Whether you’re looking for warm weather, affordability, or a strong sense of community, there is a college town out there that will meet your needs. So why not consider retiring to a university town and enjoying your golden years in a vibrant and stimulating environment?

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Ola Degteva
Ola Degteva

Ola is a Content and Research Director at Expatra. Coming from a teaching and research background, she has been working in online publishing since 2010 when she became an expat. Having done 3 major international moves herself, Ola knows exactly what relocation and settling down in a new country involves and how important it is to plan ahead to make moving abroad less stressful.

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