Best Southeast Georgia Retirement Guide – Coastal Retirement Living on St. Simons Island, GA

If you’re looking for a coastal retirement paradise, St. Simons Island is exactly where you need to be. Located on St. Simons Island, complete with untouched coastal beauty found only in a few other places, St. Simons is home to 15,000 beguiled residents. The island is the largest of the four barrier islands known as the Golden Isles along Georgia’s southern coast. The Southern charm, canopy lanes, and long beaches are a draw for many looking to retire away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities. Intertwined with history, the area’s architectural styles include Spanish Mission, Cracker and Tutor Revival while historical landmarks remain from the attempted Spanish invasions, American Revolution battles, German incursions and slave rebellions. Read on to gain valuable insight from our ultimate retirement guide to Southeast Georgia.

If you’re considering the Golden Isles as your retirement destination, there’s a lot you’ll want to know. Use this comprehensive guide to get you started!

Tax Benefits

One of the many reasons St. Simons Island is a popular retirement destination for seniors is because of the tax friendliness. In fact, when it comes to tax bases and the cost of living, Georgia is one of the best states for retirees. Here are a few reasons why:

Zero Social Security Tax

Georgia is one of the many states that imposes no tax on social security benefits. Taxable Social Security and Railroad Retirement on the Federal return are exempt from Georgia Income Tax. This is important because social security is relied on by millions of older Americans. No social security tax means more disposable income for retirees on St. Simons Island.

Retirement Income Exclusion

A retirement exclusion is allowed provided the taxpayer is 62 years of age or older, or the taxpayer is totally and permanently disabled. Retirement income includes items such as: interest, dividends, net rentals, capital gains, royalties, pensions, annuities, and the first $4,000 of earned income. Earned income is income from a trade or business, wages, salaries, tips, or other compensation.

For those looking to retire on St. Simons Island, choosing a retirement community is an excellent option where residents pay zero property tax altogether. The top-rated retirement community in the area is Marsh’s Edge, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) with available cottage homes and villa apartments.

The information above should function as a starting point for your tax research but not be substituted for direct advice from a tax professional.


A beautiful coastal climate is one of the many reasons people enjoy retiring on St. Simons Island. On average, temperatures range from 43°F to 61°F in January (the coldest month) and from 75°F to 90°F in July (the warmest month). Snowfall is rare in this area with receiving under an inch of snow per year, compared to a US average of 28 inches per year. What winters may lack snow is made up for in rainfall. There are 102 rainfall days per year and on average, the city receives 48 inches of rainfall per year, which is higher than the 2019 US average of 34.7 inches.

People considering a move to St. Simons Island are curious about hurricanes and the island’s infrastructure. Residents experience an average amount of storms throughout the year, and typically not as intense as many imagine. Hurricane season runs from June through November, with the majority of storms occurring in August and September. Local city officials and news outlets notify residents well in advance of major storm activity, and provide detailed instructions of action that needs to be taken.

Health & Wellness

When relocating to a new area, familiarizing yourself with local healthcare options is an important task. One of the most appealing features on St. Simons Island, Georgia is the top-rated healthcare services available to all residents.

The Golden Isles has one premier healthcare system, Southeast Georgia Health System. Their convenient locations and comprehensive operating hours offer a peace of mind for the city’s residents.

Healthcare Systems / Hospitals

Southeast Georgia Health System

Southeast Georgia Health System is a not-for-profit healthcare system that has served residents and visitors to the Golden Isles since 1888. Headquartered in the historic port city of Brunswick, the Health System’s mission to provide safe, quality, accessible, and cost-effective care to meet the health needs of the people and communities it serves.

  • Southeast Georgia Health System – Brunswick Campus

    The Brunswick campus is anchored by a 300-bed hospital with more than 300 physicians on its medical staff representing nearly every major medical specialty. The Health System serves as the regional medical center for residents of five counties in Southeast Georgia. It has been accredited by the U.S. News Health 2020-2021 for being a high performing hospital in Heart Failure and COPD.

Fitness Centers and Nutritionists

Keeping active is one of the best ways to maintain health and wellness. While it’s easy to find a nearby gym through a quick Google search, there’s no guarantee that the first one you find will meet your needs. To aid in your search, we recommend using this tool to find age-friendly fitness locations on St. Simons Island.

Senior Living Communities

Retirement communities are an excellent choice for those looking for 55+ active adult living and those who require care services on St. Simons Island. Eliminate the burdens of home maintenance while indulging in culinary programs, unique social events, activities, daily wellness programs and access to industry-best care services. The top-rated community in this area is Marsh’s Edge, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). Conveniently located in the heart of St. Simons Island, Marsh’s Edge offers 55+ active adult living, independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, senior rehabilitation, and respite care. This luxury senior living community is dedicated to helping seniors live longer, healthier, happier lives.

Food & Drink

A melting pot of unique fare and libations, St. Simons Island offers a wide range of options for residents. From authentic southern cuisine and seafood to pizzerias and local burger joints, there’s a lot to choose from. Here are the top rated restaurants and drinks in St. Simons Island:

Top-Rated Restaurants on St. Simons Island:

Georgia Sea Grill

407 Mallery Street, St. Simons Island, GA 31522

Owned by restaurateur, Zack Gowen, Georgia Sea Grill has been a staple on St. Simons Island for generations. When he purchased it, he took their ‘perfectly good’ cuisine to ‘top-rated’ with fresh locally-sourced ingredients paired with exquisite wine and skills culinary artists.

Sal’s Neighborhood Pizzeria

3415 Frederica Rd. Suite E, St. Simons Island, GA 31522

Comfort food is what Sal brings to his neighborhood pizzeria. His pies and Italian dinners reflect heritage and recipes passed from generations. He believes that Italians truly have a romance with food.

Southern Soul Barbeque

2020 Demere Road, St. Simons Island, GA 31522

Housed in a former gas station, Southern Soul BBQ pulls the best flavors together to astounding effect. The pulled pork and the soul burger juicy are must-orders. For dessert, make sure to order the fried oreos.


549 Ocean Blvd, St. Simons Island, GA 31522

Nashville Hot Chicken meets St. Simons Island! Owners, Palmer and Mills spent over a year coming up with the magical combination of heat, spice, and southern sass.

The Crab Trap

1209 Ocean Blvd, St. Simons Island, GA 31522

A favorite of locals and tourists, The Crab Trap has been a favorite on St. Simons Island for more than 45 years. This island landmark is still owned and operated by the original family. Make sure to try their famous “Blue Crab” cocktail to complete your dining experience.

Top-Rated Drinks in Branford:

Gnat’s Landing

310 Redfern Village, St Simons Island, GA 31522

Centrally located on St. Simons, Gnat’s has a friendly atmosphere and great American fare. Live music is happening on the porch through the week and with over 11 draft beers and cocktails, it’s the perfect place to hangout.

The Rooftop at Ocean Lodge

935 Beachview Dr, St Simons Island, GA 31522

Where old world elegance meets modern luxury. Located on the 5th floor of the Ocean Lodge Hotel, The Rooftop offers the perfect view of St. Simons. A full menu of craft cocktails makes it the perfect place for happy hour with friends!

Castaways Lounge

233 Edwards Plaza PE, St Simons Island, GA 31522

Castaways is an inclusive hangout on St. Simons Island for those looking to have a great time with friends. Their establishment is home to pool, darts, Keno, video bowling, karaoke, and a jukebox for fun games and dancing.

Barrier Island Brewing

1226 Ocean Blvd Suite 1, St Simons Island, GA 31522

Opened in October 2019, Barrier Island Brewing is located in the heart of St. Simons. They offer a unique experience that celebrates craftsmanship and promotes local food, beverages and artisans. All beer is brewed on-site using the innovative SmartBrew system, which, partnered with Brian Watson allows Barrier Island to craft some incredible beers.

Brogen’s South

200 Pier Alley 200 Pier Alley, St Simons Island, GA 31522

If you’re looking for a classic Southern bar, Brogen’s is your place! Its incredible two-story porch near the water is the perfect spot to kick back and enjoy a cold one.


If you’re looking for a place to shop on St. Simons Island, you’ll find a multitude of local boutiques and niche stores! The island shopping scene supports local vendors and those who live in the area, you won’t find any big box or commercial stores. However, if you’re looking for that big store feel, there’s some close by for your shopping pleasure!

Pier Village (In Downtown St. Simons Island)

Downtown St. Simons Island

The St. Simons Pier Village is located in the heart of the island. Along Mallery Street, you’ll see stores like Island Dog, Savannah Bee, St. Simons Sweets, St. Simons Bait & Tackle, Golden Isles Bracelet, and more!

Redfern Village

296 Redfern Village, St Simons Island, GA 31522

One of the most unique and popular shopping districts on the island! Redfern village is the quintessential coastal town hangout. In the village you’ll find great restaurants, locally-owned boutiques and art galleries. Tenants in Redfern include Chadwick’s Jewelers, ALo Naturals, Righton Books, Island Gallery, Crystal Earth, Cutie Patooties Children’s and more!

Glynn Place

219 Mall Blvd, Brunswick, GA 31525

Just minutes from St. Simons is Brunswick, home to Glynn Place Mall. This shopping, dining and entertainment destination is home to over 50 retailers including department stores like Belk, Hibbett Sports, Bath & Body Works, American Eagle Outfitters, and more!


While there aren’t any professional sports teams in the area, those who live on St. Simons are fans of Georgia Sports. They support collegiate teams like the Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and Georgia Southern Eagles. In addition to collegiate teams, residents are typically fans of Atlanta-based professional teams like the Atlanta Braves (MLB), Atlanta Hawks (NBA), Atlanta Falcons (NFL) and Atlanta United (MLS).

Collegiate Sports

While there aren’t many professional teams in the area, collegiate sports reign supreme. They support teams including the Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and Georgia Southern Eagles.

Golf Courses on St. Simons Island

Golf is a mainstay on St. Simons Island and the surrounding areas with some of the most beautiful courses in the nation. It’s proximity to world-class courses makes St. Simons Island one of the best retirement communities for golfers. The Top Golf Courses in and around St. Simons Island include:

Sea Island Golf Club

100 Retreat Ave, St Simons Island, GA 31522

One of the most popular spots to hit the links is at Sea Island Golf Club. The Club is rated #4 of the Best Golf Resorts in the United States, offering three exceptional 18-hole championship courses (Seaside, Plantation, and Retreat). Each year at Sea Island Golf Club, Professional Golfer, Davis Love III hosts The RSM Classic, an official PGA Tour Event.

  • Seaside Course Seaside is an ocean-side links course that combines its beautiful natural setting with a golf course that is both challenging and fun. The beautifully manicured fairways and greens are bordered by sweeping dunes mixed with native grasses, wildflowers, and bunkers. And the wind creates a different golf experience daily. Sea Island’s most dramatic layout, Seaside is routinely ranked among the Top 100 courses in the United States. Along with the Plantation Course, it is the home of the PGA TOUR’s RSM Classic.
  • Plantation Course Inspired by the traditional profile of Walter Travis’ 1928 original nine-hole course, the new Plantation Course has reopened after a complete redesign by Davis and Mark Love of Love Golf Design. Along with the Seaside Course, it is the home of the PGA TOUR’s RSM Classic.
  • Retreat Course Sea Island Touring Professional Davis Love III and his brother Mark redesigned Retreat in 2001. Carefully blending players’ preferences (including their own) from the earlier design, as well as devoting a lot of close personal attention, the brothers created an original design that while dramatic is very playable and interesting. The course is defined by pine trees and bunkers but allows players to swing freely for the target.
  • The Speedway Putting Course The Lodge’s 18-hole putting course, designed by Mark Love and Davis Love III. This creates the perfect pre-dinner activity for you, your family, and friends to enjoy year-round. Open Wednesday-Monday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and Tuesday, 1-10 p.m. Beverage service is available each evening. First come, first served. Reservations not taken.

Frederica Golf Club

150 Frederica Stables Drive St. Simons Island, GA 31522

Frederica Golf Club is among the Top Private Golf Clubs and was designed by Tom Fazio. His attention to detail and scrutiny of every potential shot is what makes his courses – and Frederica Golf Club’s course – a true golfer’s paradise. Each round you play presents a different aspect of a finely crafted course that offers panoramas of the surrounding waterways, shade from massive live oak trees and a glimpse of native wildlife.

Sea Palms Golf Resort

515 N Windward Dr, St. Simons Island, GA 31522

A George Cobb originally designed golf course, renovated in October of 2019, has a challenging track, and offers some of the most breathtaking views on St. Simons Island. Perfect your game under the live oaks and towering pine trees while enjoying sweeping vistas of the surrounding marshes and lagoons.

PGA Tour Courses

In addition to the RSM Classic, there are other PGA Tour courses within 1-3 hours driving distance of St. Simons Island including:

Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass

1 Hour, 45 Minutes from St. Simons Island
110 Championship Way, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082

Located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass (TPC at Sawgrass) is currently the headquarters for the PGA Tour.

It is unique as it was the flagship location of several Tournament Players Clubs (TPC) to be built around the world. TPC at Sawgrass currently hosts THE PLAYERS Championship, an annual golf tournament held in March on the PGA Tour. The Players Championship currently offers the highest prize fund of any tournament in golf, with a purse of $15 million. Designed in 1980 by noted golf course architects Pete and Alice Dye, The Stadium Course is known as one of the most difficult golf courses in the world. The course is known for its signature 17th hole, a par-3, 137-yard (125 m) 17th, known as the “Island Green”, one of golf’s most recognizable and difficult holes.

Harbour Town Golf Links

2 Hours, 15 Minutes from St. Simons Island
11 Lighthouse Ln, Hilton Head Island, SC, 29928

Located on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, Harbour Town Golf Links at The Sea Pines Resort is South Carolina’s only PGA Tour event. The course is one of the crowning achievements of famed designer Pete Dye and design consultant Jack Nicklaus. As a favorite of Tour Golfers, the course places a premium on finesse with a collection of par threes, ranked among the world’s finest. It is also home to a par four 18th hole that is one of the most recognizable holes in all of golf.

Augusta National Golf Club

3 Hours from St. Simons Island
2604 Washington Rd, Augusta, GA 30904

Located in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta National has been home to The Masters PGA Tournament since 1934. This PGA Tour stop ranks among the most prestigious, as a part of the four major championship courses in professional golf. Augusta National Golf Club a private, members-only club/course that is available by exclusive invitation-only. Members are identified by their green sport coat, a hallmark of belonging to the Club (jackets are not allowed to be removed from the grounds). The winner of each year’s Masters Tournament receives an honorary green jacket to commemorate their achievement. The course is renowned for its well-maintained impeccable appearance. It was formerly a plant nursery and each hole on the course is named after the tree or shrub with which it has become associated.

Parks & Recreation

The St. Simons coastline is accentuated by impressive parks, recreation facilities, and beaches in the area for residents and tourists alike to enjoy. The natural splendor of the Golden Isles extends past its golden-sand shores for hiking, history, picnics, dog parks, and more! In addition to public recreation areas, the St. Simons Land Trust is a private organization dedicated to preserving the natural and scenic character of the island.

Here are a few of the top beaches, parks, and recreation facilities on St. Simons Island:

Beach Access Points on St. Simons Island

There are over 20 beach access points on the Southeastern side of the island. Each access point varies in amenities and parking areas. Parking is free.

St. Simons Parks with Public Beach Access:

  • Coast Guard/East Beach 4100 First St., St. Simons Island, GA 31522 Located at 4100 First St. East Beach is the most popular beach on the island. Restroom facilities, beach access with ADA accessible mats, and a seasonal concession facility make it the place to kick back and enjoy that coastal sunshine!
  • Massengale Beach 1350 Ocean Blvd., St. Simons Island, GA 31522 Located at 1350 Ocean Blvd. Massengale is a favorite for families of all ages. There’s plenty of room to spread out and with ADA accessible mats, restroom facilities, picnic tables, grills, and a playground it’s a great spot for a day with the kids!

Demere Park

1219 Demere Rd. St. Simons Island, GA 31522

Home to the first Glynn County skate park, a ball field, community building, and butterfly garden! Demere park is a great spot for a picnic!

Frederica Dog Park

2201 Lawrence Rd., St. Simons Island, GA 31522

Bring your four-legged family members out for a day of fun at this fenced-in play area for pups! Maintained by Glynn County, the dog park is shaded, with a seperate area for big and small dogs to roam, play and make friends!

Cannon’s Point Preserve

560 Cannon’s Point Rd, St Simons Island, GA 31522

Owned by the St. Simons Land Trust, this dirt walking/biking trail includes many stops, passing maritime forests, marshes, and more! It’s a 5-mile round-trip trek through the wilderness with a fun view from the observation tower.

Guale Preserve

110 Lawrence Rd., St. Simons Island, GA 31522

Since May 2016, the St. Simons Land Trust has acquired 258 acres of Musgrove property which has become the Guale Preserve. It is a conservation partnership to protect this rare and beautiful piece that is home to some of the most ecologically significant habitats in Georgia.

Arts & Entertainment

Music Venues

The sounds of music create a vibrant coastal lifestyle; most spots on St. Simons are small, local, and laid back! Some of the top locations to enjoy local performers are:

The TREEBAR in the Club @ Bennie’s

5514 Frederica Rd, St Simons Island, GA 31522

Opened in 1954, Bennie’s is the oldest, privately owned restaurant on St. Simons Island. The Club @ Bennie’s is a rustic, indoor /outdoor venue located just next door to the Red Barn. It is open Thursday – Saturday for live music and dancing each week.

Gnat’s Landing

310 Redfern Village, St Simons Island, GA 31522

Centrally located on St. Simons, Gnat’s has a friendly atmosphere and great American fare. Live music is happening on the porch through the week and with over 11 draft beers and cocktails, it’s the perfect place to hangout.


Each corner of St. Simons and the Golden Isles is filled with history and preserved in museums throughout the area. There are museums for all interests with new exhibits consistently rotating in for residents and visitors to enjoy! Favorite local museums frequented by residents and visitors alike include:

  • St. Simons Lighthouse Museum

    610 Beachview Dr, St Simons Island, GA 31522

    Explore the St. Simons Lighthouse Museum in the Keeper’s Dwelling and discover the fascinating history of Coastal Georgia through colorful exhibits of rare artifacts, historical photographs, and interactives designed for the whole family.

  • World War II Home Front Museum

    4201 1st St, St Simons Island, GA 31522

    Developed by Coastal Georgia Historical Society and designed by Gallagher & Associates, the museum brings to life Coastal Georgia’s contributions during World War II. Located in the Historic Coast Guard Station, The Coastal Georgia home front story reflects the experience of many Americans during World War II – civil defense activities such as blackouts, food rationing and buying war bonds, and sending sons and daughters off to join the nation’s military.

  • Maritime Center at Historic Coast Guard Station

    610 Beachview Drive, St. Simons Island, Georgia 31522

    The St. Simons Coast Guard Station at East Beach was constructed as one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration projects in 1936. The Station’s “First Watch” took place on April 1, 1937. Learn about the fascinating history of the Coast Guard on the Golden Isles at this unique museum!

  • Pinball Palace

    3303 Hopkins Ave, Brunswick, GA 31520

    Located in Brunswick the Pinball Palace is a gamer’s paradise! The collection of pinball machines that once began in a garage have become well-maintained collector items shared with the public. Over 100 pinball machines, 50 arcades, from the 1950’s through current hits are all available to play as a price for admission.

  • Fort Frederica Monument

    6515 Frederica Rd, St Simons Island, GA 31522

    Fort Frederica National Monument preserves the archaeological remnants of a fort and town built by James Oglethorpe between 1736 and 1748 to protect the southern boundary of the British colony of Georgia from Spanish raids. About 630 British troops were stationed at the fort. Today it is preserved by the United States National Park Service.


The main highway through Eastern Georgia is Interstate 95 (1-95). I-95 connects travelers up and down the east coast from Northern Maine to Southern Florida. Main access to St. Simons is via Highway 17 and the Torras Causeway.

On-Island Transportation

While there is no public transportation available, residents and visitors can drive their personal vehicles on the island. Car rentals, private transportation, as well as ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are available. Some residents on the island find golf carts to be a great mode of transportation. Golf carts must obey all traffic laws, must be street legal, and driven on streets where the posted speed is 35mph or less. They are not permitted on sidewalks.


The flexibility in airport options makes it easy to host incoming friends and family as well as head out of town from St. Simons. Located in the heart of the island, is the McKinnon St. Simons Island Airport (SSI) which offers no commercial flights but welcomes private aviation. For commercial flights, about 20 miles outside of St. Simons is the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport (BQK). BQK is the best option for residents and visitors flying directly into the Golden Isles. It offers Delta Connection flights each day to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Atlanta, Delta’s main hub that flies worldwide.

While BQK is close to St. Simons Island, if you’re looking for a larger airport within driving distance, there are two that are in relatively close proximity:

Jacksonville International Airport (JAX)

JAX is a recently renovated airport that is uniquely cool, clean and sensibly laid out, making it a breeze to travel! It is consistently ranked among the top medium-sized airports for customer satisfaction and customer service. The airport handles around 7 million passengers annually on over 10 airlines with approximately 30 non-stop destinations in the United States. Top destinations from JAX include larger regional hubs like Altanta, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Nashville, Tennessee and more.

Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV)

Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is the second-busiest airport in Georgia after Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), the of the busiest airports in the world. The airport handles around 3 million passengers annually on over 10 airlines with approximately 25 non-stop destinations in the United States. Top destinations from SAV include larger regional hubs like Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; New York City and more.

Retirement Neighborhoods

Top Southeast Georgia Retirement Neighborhoods

According to, the median listing home price on St. Simons Island is $425k, while the median sold home price is $472.5k. Median listing home prices are $228 per square foot.

As you’re researching neighborhoods on St. Simons, you’ll find many attractive areas and neighborhoods. Whether your decision is based primarily on location, square footage, or an amenities list, housing on St. Simons has much to offer. Here are a few neighborhoods you’ll find yourself seeing over and over again:

King’s Point

Located near the southwestern tip of St. Simons Island, this gated community is home to scenic marsh and river views on the island. The proximity is great for travel to both the village area of St. Simons and the amenities at The Lodge at Sea Island.

Hawkins Island

Just past a set of private gates off Sea Island Road, the exclusive 70-home neighborhood of Hawkins Island awaits with elegant homes set along winding drives featuring amazing river and marsh views. This southern paradise is minutes away from the shopping and dining on St. Simons to the gorgeous beaches, golf and recreation at The Sea Island Club.

Sea Island

Sea Island is a privately owned island just east of St. Simons Island. Since 1928, it has been known as an exceptional resort that offers luxury and class to its residents. The Island is home to four Forbes Five-Star experiences — The Cloister at Sea Island, The Lodge at Sea Island, The Spa at Sea Island, and the Georgian Room restaurant. This community entices families, outdoor enthusiasts, and those simply wanting to refresh.

Myrtle Beach Awaits

St. Simons Island is an island paradise primed for your coastal retirement. The tax benefits, weather, golf, and ecological serenity make it an excellent choice. You’ll wonder why you didn’t move here earlier.