The Best Places to Live: Top Planned Communities in the US and Beyond

Whether you are looking for the perfect retirement destination or a new active lifestyle, you can find any amenity you desire in these top communities. Discover ideal-LIVING’s best places to live in the US and beyond, carefully curated for their top-tier amenities and lifestyle offerings. Our selection spans seven regions within the United States and internationally, offering a perfect destination for everyone.

Each year ideal-LIVING assesses the most popular destinations and sought-after amenities to determine the best places to live in the US and internationally. The following are the top communities from waterfront to mountain and lake communities with golf, tennis, pickleball, watersports, hiking and biking trails, fitness centers, and spas. We invite you to choose a region, then explore communities to visit.

Top 10 Benefits of Planned Communities

A planned amenity community is a residential development where careful thought has been given to the lifestyle of its residents, enabling them to lead active, fulfilling lives.

  1. A Variety of Amenities: You'll find a diverse range of amenities from golf, tennis, and pickleball, to marinas, boating, pools, fitness centers, spas, and more.
  2. A Strong Sense of Community: When asked what residents like most about a planned community, the answer is almost always “the people.” Planned amenity communities have a strong sense of community where people get to know each other well and form close friendships. 
  3. Walkability: The top amenity requested by Ideal-LIVING readers is walking trails, and the good news is that almost every planned community has a network of walking trails to help residents stay in shape.
  4. Healthy Living: It’s easy to stay healthy when you are surrounded by world-class amenities that encourage a healthy lifestyle, from golf, tennis, and pickleball to pools and workout facilities with fitness classes and even fitness directors.
  5. Security: Enjoy peace of mind in our gated communities with round-the-clock security.
  6. Social Clubs: Some communities have 200+ social clubs. Join any club that interests you. If there isn’t one, you can always start one, and others will join you. 
  7. Self-contained: Planned amenity communities are often designed to be self-contained so that residents have everything they need within walking distance or a short drive, including restaurants, grocery stores, and doctors’ offices.
  8. Proximity to Health Care: As planned developments attract many retirees, quality medical centers and hospitals are generally nearby.
  9. Maintenance-free Living: Many luxury retirement communities offer maintenance-free living, which means that residents don’t have to worry about yard work or home repairs. This can be a great way to reduce stress in retirement.
  10. Beautifully-Maintained Homes and Landscaping: Planned communities have architectural guidelines that ensure the home’s design integrity and a community filled with beautiful flora and fauna.

Find Your Ideal Planned Community

Choose from among ideal-LIVING's best places to live to discover the perfect community for you and your family to call home. Each destination boasts a breadth of amenities that foster a sense of community and support an active lifestyle.

The Carolinas

It’s easy to see why retirees are flocking to the Carolinas. The kind of blue skies that people write songs about. World-class universities and medical care.

Georgia & Florida

From the end of the Appalachian trail to crystal clear waters, Florida and Georgia have it all. These two Southern states are known as retirement destinations for more than one reason.


Looking for a four-season climate, a halfway point between the warmth and charms of the South and the cool breezes and cities of New England, and a place to call home? Mid-Atlantic states have you covered.


From the Appalachian Mountains in the east to the banks of the Mississippi River in the west, Tennessee truly is a land of natural wonders and truly is one of the best places to live.

The South

Beaches, barbecue, bluegrass, and beyond. The South has its own culture, and it’s known for its own brand of hospitality. From more popular destinations like Florida and the Carolinas to up-and-coming states like Mississippi and Arkansas, everyone can find something to love about the South.

The West

Picture yourself surrounded by mountains and blue skies in every direction. The American West is a frontier full of wonder. National parks abound with opportunities for camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, and so much more.


What is the best thing about living internationally? Affordable health care? Low tax options? Warm tropical climates? The fact that the weight of the world seems to lift itself off your shoulders? We'll let you decide. Every day is a new chance for exploration when you are living abroad.

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