10 Best States to Retire to in the U.S.
What are the important factors to consider when planning for retirement? How much Social Security will you receive? Do you want to be close to family? What hobbies and interests will you want to pursue? Generally, the best places for those 65 and over are in the South and Midwest. Coastal states like California and New York have such a high cost of living that it’s exceptionally difficult for those transitioning onto a fixed income.
These 10 states offer retirees everything from special tax deductions to quality affordable health care. As such, they are widely considered the top places to retire in the United States.
Arizona — The Good
If you’ve spent your entire life enduring freezing cold Northern winters, Arizona seems like a pretty good place to retire in the sun. And it is. The country’s very first planned retirement community, Sun City, is located just outside Phoenix.
Arizona — The Bad
However, Arizona is not all sunshine and national parks. One thing to keep in mind when considering Arizona as a retirement destination is the fact that the state collects income tax from its residents. There are five brackets that range from 2.6 percent to 4.5 percent.
Arizona — The Bottom Line
Arizona’s incredible natural beauty and warm desert climate (which can be a game-changer for those who suffer from allergies) make it one of the most popular retirement destinations in the country. Cities like Scottsdale, Phoenix and Flagstaff offer a variety of different urban living environments for seniors who want to enjoy the freedom and relaxation of retirement while still having access to great hospitals and doctors.
Florida — The Good
For many Americans, Florida is the ideal place to retire. There’s beautiful weather 365 days a year and incredible beaches to sip mojitos on. There’s no state income tax or estate tax, and for new retirees, you’ll be in good company: Florida has one of the largest senior populations in the entire country. There are an estimated 4.2 million Floridians over the age of 65 and that number is expected to grow as more Boomers come into retirement.
Florida — The Bad
There are some drawbacks to retiring in Florida. Although the gorgeous year-round weather is a huge draw, Florida is no stranger to devastating hurricanes and is at the center of the climate change conversation with cities like Miami facing rising sea levels.
Florida — The Bottom Line
Let’s face it: The Sunshine State is practically synonymous with retirement. From assisted living facilities to senior-focused cultural organizations, Florida’s massive senior population means retirees can expect a level of comfort and service that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country.
South Dakota — The Good
Sometimes choosing a place to retire isn’t about enjoying sunshine all year-round. South Dakota consistently ranks highly as one of the most affordable states for those 65 and over. This is due to a lower-than-average cost of living that’s 4 percent lower than the rest of the country, lower health care costs and no personal income taxes.
South Dakota — The Bad
South Dakota is the 17th largest state by land area, but with less than 1 million permanent residents, the Mount Rushmore State is also the fifth smallest by population. For those retirees coming from bigger states or coastal cities, the change in the pace of life of the sparsely populated region can take some getting used to.
South Dakota — The Bottom Line
If the financials of your retirement are the driving force behind where to relocate, then South Dakota is an excellent option for retirees. Its rugged beauty is sure to appeal to those looking for an active, outdoorsy lifestyle. Life in South Dakota is simply less expensive than in most parts of the country.
Idaho — The Good
If you’re looking forward to a laid back yet active retirement, Idaho could be the place for you. There’s plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities thanks to the Gem State’s high concentration of national parks and forests, as well as the scenic mountain ranges that crisscross the state.
Idaho — The Bad
Like many of its neighbors, Idaho is a big state with a relatively small number of residents (1.7 million people). That can be an adjustment for those coming from the Northeast or other places with higher population densities.
Idaho — The Bottom Line
Idaho can be a great place to retire if low taxes, easy access to high-quality health care and maintaining an active lifestyle are priorities to you. The state’s relatively low cost of living is beneficial for seniors who need to make their dollars go the distance.
New Hampshire — The Good
New Hampshire’s state motto is “Live Free or Die.” If you’re a free-thinking retiree who values independence, individuality and the great outdoors, the Granite State might be a great place to consider for retirement. For those who are politically active, New Hampshire is famous for being the first presidential primary state, and many of the state’s retirees volunteer with various local and national campaigns.
New Hampshire — The Bad
Of course, there are a few other things to consider when looking at New Hampshire as a possible forever home. The winters can be cold...very cold. In January, the temperature can get down to around 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Even in March, temperatures often fall below freezing.
New Hampshire — The Bottom Line
New Hampshire gives seniors a lot to consider when looking at states to retire. The incredible natural beauty and easy access to outdoor recreational opportunities can’t be beat and the state excels at delivering accessible, affordable health care. Plus, it’s easy to make day trips to Boston, Providence and other major New England cities.
Utah — The Good
Like other states in the West and Southwest, Utah has experienced record population growth over the last few years. Much of that growth has been concentrated in cities and towns along the Wasatch Range, including Salt Lake City — a popular destination for new retirees due to its affordability and abundance of cultural activities.
Utah — The Bad
Keeping an eye on your finances through retirement is critical for long-term financial well being, and Utah has one major strike against it in this department. While the state levies a relatively low 5 percent flat-income tax, some cities and counties have higher-than-average local taxes. Additionally, the state is one of the few in the country to classify Social Security benefits as taxable income.
Utah — The Bottom Line
With some careful financial planning, Utah can be a great option for those considering where to retire. Its abundance of national forests, parks and monuments, along with cultural activities in the major cities and towns, meaning outdoorsy-types have lots of great activities to get into in the free time.
Virginia — The Good
Virginia isn’t exactly on Florida’s level as a go-to retirement option, but, the state can be an affordable alternative with plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Nicknamed “Old Dominion” because of its status as the first colony established by the English, Virginia offers a variety of senior-friendly tax policies.
Virginia — The Bad
Finding the right town or city is crucial to making the most of your retirement. The gorgeous natural landscape, which covers everything from the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains to the sandy shores of Virginia Beach, makes the state a popular tourist destination.
Virginia — The Bottom Line
With a temperate climate year round, Virginia can be a great option for seniors who want to avoid the heat and humidity of Florida while still enjoying the charm of the South. Low taxes and an affordable cost of living are also worthy draws for retirees who need to make their budgets last.
Colorado — The Good
There’s a lot to love about the Centennial State, which has which has consistently ranked as one of the best options in the country for retirement according to Forbes, Yahoo Finance and USA Today. Of course, there’s its incredible natural beauty. For those who love living close to nature, Colorado’s proximity to mountain ranges and extensive national parks can’t be beat.
Colorado — The Bad
One thing to take into consideration is that while Colorado offers a high quality of life, the cost of living in and around the state can run higher than other states. Since public transportation isn’t viable in most towns and cities, having a car or access to some form of personal transportation can become expensive and time-consuming.
Colorado — The Bottom Line
Depending on your priorities, Colorado can be a great place to enjoy your golden years. If access to outdoor recreation and a healthy quality of life are important, then Colorado should be high on the list of places to consider. If that doesn’t convince you, the state’s commitment to equitable, accessible health care might just tip the scales.
Wyoming — The Good
Wyoming might not be on your radar for great places to retire, but for those who want to spend their golden years quietly basking in the beautiful wilderness, it should be. Over half the land in the Equality State is owned by the federal government in the form of national forests, monuments, parks and wildlife refuges, including the massive Grand Teton and Yellowstone park.
Wyoming — The Bad
If the great outdoors aren’t your thing, you may have a hard time adjusting to life in one of the most mountainous states in the country. Almost two-thirds of the state are covered by the grasslands and ranges of the great Rocky Mountains and the elevated High Plains.
Wyoming — The Bottom Line
If your ideal retirement involves the quiet contemplation of fly fishing or hiking for hours in the majesty of the Rocky Mountains (or their foothills), then Wyoming just might be the place for you. Aside from resort towns like Jackson Hole, the cost of living is far lower than most other places in the country. The state’s hands-off approach to taxation means you’ll get to keep most of your savings.
Iowa — The Good
Iowa might not be the first state that comes to mind when thinking about retirement options, but it’s a good one for folks who wish to enjoy a comfortable quality of life and easy access to recreational and cultural activities.
Iowa — The Bad
Iowa doesn’t count Social Security as income, but it does have a personal income tax, which can run as high as almost 9 percent. Not to mention the state’s sales tax tops out at 6 percent. Folks accustomed to a more cosmopolitan environment may find life in Iowa a bit sleepy.
Iowa — The Bottom Line
Iowa has a lot to offer those who are looking to enjoy their golden years in a friendly Midwestern state that also makes the most of their savings. Cities like Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City are experiencing an influx of residents.