4 Best Places to Retire for Artists

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One advantage of retirement is that it gives you wings. You can drop your shackles and old responsibilities and find your real home. So retirement is a huge blessing for many retiring professionals, including artists.

There are artist-friendly retirement locations out there that love and support art. Some of the best retirement spots for artists include Santa Fe in New Mexico and Lisbon in Portugal. Cincinnati, Ohio, and Barcelona in Spain are amazing artist retirement options as well.

Arts are a civilizing influence on society. Giving pleasure and contribute to the overall wellbeing, health, and development of the community. That said, most artists earn little from their work to live large on retirement. This article explores cities and towns that recognize art as a force of change and are affordable. 

Why Retiring Artists Need Art-Friendly Retirement Spots

Artists are creative thinkers who provide inspiration, joy, interaction, and thoughtful critique of most of humanity’s systems. They love to live within like-minded communities of artists for warmth and collaboration.

Unfortunately, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fine artists have a mean annual wage of $63,030. Sculptors, painters, and illustrators that create magic from their minds, hearts, and hands often have to keep second jobs. 

When it comes to unleashing their creativity, artists flourish in areas where there is the freedom to express themselves. Cities like Berlin, New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Paris that have a strong cultural influence can be beautiful to the retiring artist.

Unfortunately, the standard of living in these urban art spaces has become too high for most artists. Say New York City. The Big Apple was once a gritty hothouse of underground culture. Here artistic and social life would fuse to create various artist initiatives that drew more content creators by their numbers.

Broadway became the “Great White Way” for actors, musicians, producers, fans, and writers. Street art and Graffiti have been synonymous with New York streets since the early 70s, with famous murals such as “Crack is Wack” by Keith Haring becoming a predominant part of its cultural connection with hip-hop.

Back then, you could rent a chic artist three-bedroom flat for $660 per month. Today, that same living space costs an upward of $4000 per month, bringing to life the infamous trope of the struggling artist.

As rent costs escalate in areas full of blue-chip galleries, the retiring artist seems bereft of affordable artists’ friendly retirement locations. Fortunately, other artist-friendly retirement locations can ensure that artists without huge trust funds still make art in their sunset years.

4 Best Places to Retire for Artists

Factors to Consider When Choosing Where to Retire

Before making the giant leap to your new retirement adventure, there are a few factors you should consider:

  • The quality of life
  • The town’s or city’s cost of living
  • The climate of the region
  • Proximity to your family and friends
  • Tax regimes

The Quality of Life

If your perfect retirement destination should be peaceful and calm, go to rural areas and small towns. However, if you want quick access to art galleries and exhibitions, you will need an urban location.

Of vital importance, whichever location that you settle on is access to other retirees and artists. They will become your new friends. Retirement communities for artists are the perfect places to meet your peers.

Cost of Living

How do you plan to spend your retirement time? How much will these activities cost you? What about the cost of housing, energy, travel, and food? Some of the best retirement cities for the artist often look pricey but have low costs of living. Think about the cost of medical care and its quality too.

The Climate of the Region

Retirees who spent most of their lives in snowy weather often go for the beach life on retirement. If you love the mountains or the beautiful landscapes of the desert, retirement is the best time to satisfy the longing of your heart.

Go for a spot next to a lake or river if you love fishing. Like Mabel Dodge, go for Santa Fe’s wide-open spaces and skies if the urban lifestyle is choking the free flow of your creative juices.

Proximity to Your Family and Friends

Would you like to have your family over during the holidays? If so, move to an area where they can get to you with ease. A car ride or a short distance plane ride should be all that separates you from family and friends if you would like to see them often. Should you live far away from them, you will only force more travel between your new home and your family.


Some retirement locations are tax-friendly havens for retirees. Some states hardly tax retirement Social Security funds, meaning that your tax status will significantly change if you relocate there for retirement. If you choose to live abroad, you will have to file your returns each year. The tax amount you have to part with is influenced by the location, income source, and investments made. So choose wisely.

The Best Places to Retire for Artists

Santa Fe

In 1917, when Mabel Dodge, the famous art patron, came to Laos in New Mexico, its allure charmed her. Speaking of its sunshine, she said that it has such powers that it could “do almost anything” to a person. It could change dark moods to light or make an ill person all better.

The sun in New Mexico, according to Mabel, could get into the deepest of places, melting every dense thing, and making one feel alive. Mabel is not the only artist to fall in love with the region’s wide-open skies and spaces.

In Santa Fe, the pressures of modernity that dodge artists in urban art centers are nonexistent. Retire here, and you will veer from set norms and trends as New Mexico’s pervasive sense of freedom liberates you.

Georgia Totto O’Keeffe is another famous artist that fell head over heels in love with New Mexico in the late 20s. A painter of breathtaking close-up flowers O’Keeffe, the mother of American modernism, said that New Mexico had “one perfect day after the other.”

The region of New Mexico has been a haven for artists, giving them enough room to become who they are. Women artists have been especially love-struck by the outlaw territory. Artists that could not fit into the East Coast’s social structures found many comforts.

Over 250 other art galleries in the area make Santa Fe the US art’s third-largest market. This American Southwest jewel’s art market bounty only competes with large cities like Los Angeles and New York. Because of its large tourist industry, most Santa Fe art galleries run all year round.

Retirees that make Santa Fe their home will enjoy its 365 days of art fairs. Some of its best quirky art spaces include the Thoma Foundation, Railyard District, and Museum Hill. Its arts revolve around the century New Mexico Museum of Art.

Why Is Santa Fe Great for Retiring Artists?

Santa Fe in New Mexico is a city with a population of 84,000. Its median home value is $380,000, while the average rent price is $993 per month. It is, therefore, an inviting community for the retiring artist on a budget. The city is also supportive of artists.

Its Arts Commission, for instance, funds programs that promote excellence in arts. It also has fantastic events and has a community gallery for the local artist display. The city also has an Art in Public Places Program where residents can exhibit their works on civic buildings, public parks, and the transit system.

What is even more heartwarming is that when the city renovates or constructs new buildings, 2% of the costs go to purchasing and placement of artwork.

Lisbon, Portugal

4 Best Places to Retire for Artists

Lisbon is Europe’s piping hot art scene. Young galleries are thriving in this coastal yet hilly city as international art dealers set up their lookouts for the next big piece. Droves of artists flock to Lisbon’s affordable homes and studio rents, making this charming city a haven for artists.

There is an excellent mix of nonprofit and commercial art spaces here. This charismatic city has become the ‘New Berlin’, a nirvana for artists to devote their lives to developing art.

Besides the city’s glorious climate, an artist retiree will find a friendly, open, and unpretentious location welcoming all types of artists.

Why Retire in Lisbon?

Portugal attracts many retirees because of its pleasant climate. Its coastlines are beautiful, and real estates have reasonable pricing. Once Europe’s superpower, Portugal has a warm and cold climate, sleepy fishing villages, and lively bustling cities. 

Most expats love the coastal areas of Algarve for its Atlantic beach life and beautiful golf resorts. Because of this, Portugal has eased its retirement tax laws. It is, therefore, massively attracting retirees making it one of the best retirement spots abroad.

In Lisbon, the monthly living expenses range around $2200 for larger cities. You can also live on thousands of sunshine hours every year and have a warm artist community by your side. The taxes are low, and the cost of living is one of the cheapest in Western Europe.

This blazing hot art capital offers fantastic opportunities for all artists in a small city that makes it easy to travel to your favorite spot fast with ease. The city’s historic architecture, murals, and striking Graffiti make Lisbon the best city for an artist to retire to Europe.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati exquisitely combines affordable living and bright city lights. Best of all, it has a thriving theater, music, and art scene. Art is synonymous with the city’s identity as an 18th-century frontier settlement. Back then, music was the sore civilizing and social influence that made the backcountry habitable.

It follows then that Cincinnati has a progressive and resilient art scene that welcomes all five major disciplines of art. This growing economic hub in the Midwest has a vast community of artisans and artists and several orchestras.

The Cincinnati Opera company, for instance, is the second oldest in the country. It also has a wide range of theaters and museums and the world-renowned Cincinnati Ballet. For the retiring visual arts artist, Cincinnati has several unusual collections, art, and history museums. 

The largest of them all is the Cincinnati Art Museum, with objects that span 6000 years of history. The city’s Contemporary Arts Center has its roots in 1939 and devotes its existence to the 20th century and 21st-century art.

Why Is Cincinnati Great for Retiring Artists?

Cincinnati is a city with a population of 301,000. Its median home value is $142,400. To this end, this city ranks in the bottom half of the US house affordability index. It is the 55th, most affordable real estate market in the US.

Retirees on a budget will find life in Ohio manageable and fun. Besides its flourishing art scene, Cincinnati has other attractions for the artsy retirees. The Newport Aquarium, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, and the Krohn Conservatory will be exceptional places to go with the grandkids when they come calling.

These spots are also amazing relaxation spots for the artist in need of rejuvenation. Some of the best retirement neighborhoods in this historic steamboat city include Indian Hill, Mount Adams, and Mariemont.

Indian Hill is quiet and safe, with multiple parks, tree-lined streets, and walking trails. There are playgrounds and recreational facilities for sports such as lacrosse and football. Indian Hill is a green neighborhood, but a costly one. Mount Adams has gorgeous views of the Kentucky hills and the Ohio River.

Breathe clean mountain air as you walk on the winding lanes that give it a European village feel. Mount Adams is a favorite retirement spot for empty nester artists and young professionals.

Mariemont is a colonial-style suburb that honors the days gone by. It has won many best places to live awards and is a popular retiree spot. Mariemont is perhaps the most walkable neighborhood for any retiring artist that wants to maintain an active lifestyle.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is an old city whose story is over 2000 years old. The Romans established it in the 1st century, building a defensive wall around it. The wall’s remains are still visible today, around the Barcelona Cathedral. It is a city of many conquests by Arabs, Visigoths, and the French, amongst others.

Barcelona is a heaven of food, has lovely beaches and exciting nightlife. One outstanding feature of this tourist destination is the quality of its architecture and art. The artistic eye will love the city’s MACBA, the Museum of Contemporary Art. It not only houses some of the world’s most provocative exhibitions, but its architecture makes it a work of art.

The beautiful museum morphs as the sunlight hits its walls, a spectacular sight for the sore eye. The Design Museum of Barcelona is the city’s other unique art destination for design-focused exhibitions. The Picasso museum in the Gothic Quarter is a gem, while the Barcelona Pavilion is the spot to taste modernist architecture. 

Barcelona sits between the mountains and the sea with all year round tropical sun and beaches. This beautiful city has people flocking to its beaches even in its winter days. You will find them warming themselves up with heaters along the coast for a taste of the beautiful water and views.

Why Retire in Barcelona?

Barcelona is a cultural melting point, with diverse nationalities from all over the world. You can speak English in Barcelona and not have to learn Catalan or Spanish immediately. You can therefore understand the local dialect at your pace, unlike other cities in the world.

Spain’s healthcare is excellent, and the Premiums are lower than those of the US. All a retiring artist needs are private healthcare insurance. Commuting within the city and other regions is easy since there is ample bus, metro, and aboveground rail systems.

Flights are also easy to hop on if you want faster travel to other towns. Barcelona’s real estate prices are very dramatic. Rent prices in the city’s popular areas such as Gracia, Gothic, or El Borne can range between $1,350 and $4000. Home purchase prices range between $260000 and a million.

The retiring artist will love Barcelona’s endless art festivals. Miró, Picasso, and Dalí’s home has lots of street art stalls and live painting spots, making it a great place to live. Its local scene has a keen interest in urban art and illustration, and the graffiti movement is taking root as well.


Artists crave constant cultural stimulation more than most other people. They also need moments of isolation for creativity and introspection. Santa Fe, Barcelona, Lisbon, and Cincinnati offer the retiring artists’ unique inspiration, warmth, and acceptance, as well as a fantastic quality of life.



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