Everyone dreams of an early retirement.

Rather than leaving the workforce at the typical age of 62, there are some retirees who aim to retire in their 40s or 50s. This lofty goal typically requires an aggressive savings plan, as early retirees must live off their savings until they can expect to withdraw benefits like Social Security or dip into their 401(k) or IRA savings without facing a penalty.

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In a new study, MagnifyMoney ranked 217 U.S. cities to find the best and worst places to retire early. The study found Knoxville is the best place to retire early. Memphis finished close behind in second place.

We looked at cost of living, quality of life and access to extra income. Each city was given a final composite score out of 100 possible points. The score was based on those three factors, each weighted differently based on priority: cost of living (50 percent), quality of life (30 percent), and access to additional income (20 percent).

Photo: Thinkstock
Photo: Thinkstock

Cost of Living: The cost of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, and other goods and services.

Quality of Life: Weather (average annual temperature and number of sunny days); access to arts and entertainment; walkability; the proportion of the 55+ age group in the overall population.

Employability: Early retirees may choose to incorporate part-time work into their lives even after they retire to stay active and supplement their existing savings. We looked at the minimum wage, unemployment rate, average commute time, and state income tax for each metro.

With the good must come the bad. Here are the worst cities to try to retire early:

Want an affordable retirement? Head South.

Cities in the South and Midwest dominated the list of best places to retire early, mostly due to a lower average cost of living than any of the four regions studied. Southern and Midwestern cities boasted an average cost of living score of 63 —13 points higher than the average score across all 216 cities studied of (50).

The South and Midwest also boasted the two highest overall early retirement scores (57 and 56, respectively).

The South may be the best bet for early retirees looking for the option of part-time work to supplement their income as well. The region scored the highest employability score of any other area. The employability score was based on the unemployment rate, minimum wage, average commute time and state income tax.

More interested in a high quality of life? Head Northeast.

Early retirees will need to save a pretty penny to retire in the Northeast, but they may find retirement more entertaining at least. Although the Northeast earned the highest score of any region for quality of life (67, well above the national average of 50), the region suffered due to its relatively high cost of living. It earned the lowest cost of living score of any region with a paltry 17.

Western cities had a poor showing in all three categories, barely eeking out a higher final score than the Northeast. But whereas the expensive Northeast was buoyed by its relatively high quality of life score, the West was dragged down on all three fronts.

MagnifyMoney is a price comparison and financial education website, founded by former bankers who use their knowledge of how the system works to help you save money.