Those who retire to Cape Cod find it the perfect place to spend their golden years. The region is quaint and charming yet packed with amenities and activities. There’s a wide range of recreational activities, sports, tourist destinations, fine dining, beautiful views, cultural events, and surprisingly affordable housing options.
Niche.com’s 2023 list of the Best Places to Retire in Massachusetts features many Cape towns at the top of the list, including Chatham (#1), North Falmouth (#2), West Dennis (#3), Harwich Port (#4)Wellfleet (#5), and West Yarmouth (#6)
How Cold Does Cape Cod Get?
The Cape has comfortable year-round weather thanks to its coastal location. The ocean’s moderating effect keeps temperatures on the Cape relatively cool and breezy in the summers and warmer in winters compared to areas further inland. Temperatures generally range from lows in the ’20s in January and highs near 80 degrees in August. These mild winters and beautiful summers make it the perfect spot for those who retire to Cape Cod and can take advantage of the good weather to be out and about in all seasons. Some golf courses are even able to operate year-round!
Scenic and Cultural Attractions
Most who retire to Cape Cod are looking to spend time outdoors, the Cape features iconic sandy beaches, forested nature preserves, serene gardens, great walking, biking trails, and plenty of boating options in both fresh and saltwater. Consider a stroll on the hiking trail at Sandy Neck Beach, a bike ride on the Shining Sea Bikeway, or a stop at the Spohr or Heritage Gardens.
Those looking to learn more about the Cape’s past will love the historic sites and museums covering a wide range of topics that dot the peninsula. Be sure to visit the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum, and Cape Cod Maritime Museum. You also won’t want to miss all the historic lighthouses that can be found standing sentinel on the Cape’s shores.
Those interested in the arts will fall in love with the Cape’s many art museums, galleries, theatres, and performing arts centers. There’s lots going on in the art scene on Cape Cod and plenty of opportunities for aspiring artists to get involved. Take a class at the Cotuit Center for the Arts, visit the Cape Cod Art Museum, or enjoy a tour of the artists’ dune shacks in Provincetown.
Property Tax and Housing Market
While Massachusetts has a fairly high residential property tax rate at 1.17%, the municipal property tax rates vary across the Cape’s towns. Kinlin Grover Real estate notes that “They reach a high of $14.31 per $1,000 of assessed value in Sandwich and a low of $4.82 per $1,000 in Chatham.” They also advise researching town and water district taxes, as these are combined in towns like Mashpee to create a Real Estate Total Tax.
The housing market is still thriving on the Cape at the moment, continuing to be great time to sell a home, though a tricky time to buy one. House prices vary from high-end properties in Chatham to more affordable options in Barnstable.
Data released by the Cape Cod & Islands Association of REALTORS® (CCIAOR) in July, reports that “342 homes were sold in June, 2023: 273 single-family homes, and 69 condominiums. The median sales price was $735,000 for single-family homes and $449,900 for condominiums.”
If you’re not looking to buy a property of your own, renting is an option as well. A retirement community is also a great choice if you’re looking to be around other folks your age, don’t want the hassle of homeownership and property maintenance, want extra support as you age, and are looking for lots of amenities and activities.Assisted living costs on Cape Cod vary but average $7,000 per month, according to the Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey 2021. This is slightly higher than that state average and over $2,500 higher than that national average. While the cost may be slightly higher, the benefits of living in this beautiful area can certainly be worth it.
In addition, all Cape Cod’s towns offer various housing options for people on all kinds of budgets; however, the year-round rental market is becoming more challenging with the lack of affordable housing.
While the Cape has expensive high-end options like multi-million-dollar estates and beachfront mansions in Hyannis and Chatham, it also has cheaper options in the same or nearby towns. Expensive housing generally provides additional advantages, like a private beach or water access.
Shopping markets and fine dining at short driving distances are abundant in most areas of the Cape.
Nearby beaches and conservation areas provide scenic beauty whenever you seek it. Most of the Cape is quiet in the winter and bustling in the summer. There are beaches on either side and plenty of nearby local Cape Cod restaurants and vibrant nightlife.
The Best Healthcare and Retiree Living
Cape Cod also provides state-of-the-art healthcare. There are hospitals located in Hyannis, Falmouth, and Orleans and a number of specialists, outpatient care, and rehab centers. The Cape has a number of Cape Cod Healthcare-run urgent care centers, emergency rooms, primary care doctors. It is not far from the wealth of specialists in the greater Boston area.Many independent living options for seniors can also help you ease into assisted living and skilled nursing care as the need arises. Those seeking care can get support and resources from their local Senior Center or town‘s Council on Aging.In addition, the nonprofit Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation is an organization providing free healthcare for those who need it.
Fitness centers and group exercise sessions help you keep up with your physical health, and many residences provide these facilities. Lots of towns run vibrant senior centers that offer a range of classes and clubs from walking, Zumba, water aerobics, gardening or even keeping your mind active with chess and book clubs.
In addition, the numerous trails running through all the towns are an excellent way to get your daily exercise!
Cape Cod has several retiree communities for older residents.
Communities like Southport in Mashpee offer two-bedroom attached homes ranging from 1,333-1,952 sq ft in size with numerous amenities like a fitness center, a card room to play a game of bridge, a sports lounge, library, nail salon, and even a woodworking station.
Living in these communities allows you to reconnect with your hobbies and develop new ones while getting personalized healthcare and assistance, in a tight-knit community that feels like home.
Is it expensive to Retire to Cape Cod?
There are some aspect you may want to consider before you retire to Cape Cod. Besides high property values, Cape Cod also has higher insurance rates due to wind and hurricane risk.
For more pricing details, contact a realtor in the Cape Cod area. With constant fluctuations in pricing and the market, having a good realtor can be your best resource in finding your ideal location to retire to Cape Cod.
Where should I Retire on Cape Cod?
With temperate weather (high 70’s and low 40’s) and low property tax rates that balance out the house prices, you can retire anywhere on Cape Cod. If you prefer quieter towns, you should retire in the northside of Dennis or Yarmouth, and if you like louder, bustling areas, the southside of these towns is ideal. Dennis is generally quiet during wintertime.
Best Cape Cod Towns to Live in Year-Round
Mashpee is an ideal place to settle if you’re looking for reasonable prices and a number of attractions (like Nantucket Sound/Vineyard Sound), shopping places like the Mashpee Commons, eateries, and cultural and historic locations.
While Mashpee gives you a comforting, rural vibe, it also has everything you could need without being heavy on your wallet. s.
Shopping and fine dining are also abundant and also conveniently located to the nearby towns of Hyannis and Falmouth.
Yarmouth and Dennis
Yarmouth and Dennis offer all kinds of living options–if you want a more homely, friendly environment, you should choose to settle in the Southern side of these towns.
The Northside is quieter and more peaceful if that’s what you’re looking for.
Yarmouth is less populated, and so the traffic there is also calmer. There are also golf courses around if you’re looking for some recreation!
There are also numerous accommodations for people who retire to Cape Cod from assistance for older people looking to age in place to assisted living and nursing homes.
Dennis has lower property taxes at $4.67 per $1,000 assessed property value than some other Cape towns. Its location near the central Cape is the perfect place to retire, offering stunning views and a plethora of dining options, museums, and historic sites.
Located on the Lower Cape and near the Atlantic Ocean, Harwich is a friendly, peaceful town that’s just a half-hour trip from the gorgeous Nauset Beach.
If you’re looking for a place that is lively year-round, Falmouth is it.
With their numerous businesses that run all year, like the restaurants, theater, nightlife, skating rink and the Woods Hole Science Aquarium, this place is never shut down for business and is always bustling and crowded! And you can also take a boat ride to Martha’s Vineyard from here!
Wellfleet & Truro
Located on the Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet and Truro are prime spots for tourists and the most picturesque of all. But the luxury dream houses come at a price.
However, each town provides a variety of pricing options for houses. Whichever village you choose to settle in, you can happily budget accordingly.
What is the least expensive town on Cape Cod?
While the cost of living to retire to Cape Cod is above the national average, in areas like Hyannis or Eastham, the cost of living is only 9-11% higher than the national cost of living.
Local realtors are the best resource for more information regarding rental laws and the taxes of the towns you’re interested in. Since tax rates keep changing and prices fluctuate, this will give you a better picture of managing your finances.
Cape Cod offers cheaper amenities like food, energy, and transport when compared to retiring in busy urban areas like New York or California. If you’re looking for the bustle of a city, Boston is also a short trip away, either driving or taking the ferry from Provincetown.
If you’re looking for a quieter spot to spend your golden years, many areas on the Cape will fit that bill. There are endless local events to keep you busy when you retire to Cape Cod, and you can’t beat the scenic views from the hiking trails and all the Cape beaches!
We hope this guide helps you narrow down where to retire to Cape Cod and choose a housing option that suits you best.
Good luck and Happy Retirement!
Check out our Senior Living Guide for more information.