Factors like affordability, health care, weather, and more were all considered when putting together this list of best states to retire in the United States.
According to data from The Motley Fool, in 2019, nearly 400,000 Americans moved to another state to retire. Many retirees relocated to more affordable locations, while others sought a comfortable lifestyle with milder weather, outdoor activities, and appealing surroundings. All had a variety of details to consider before making their life-changing decision.
Several research organizations approached the topic using criteria that included affordability, quality of life, and availability of health care and senior services. WalletHub, for example, based their findings on 47 indicators within those three overall topics. Bankrate took a similar approach, establishing their recommendations on cost of living, taxes, cultural offerings, weather, crime rates, and retiree population. And MoneyRates considered data in four major categories: economic factors, lifestyle, crime and safety, and health care.
The Motley Fool followed a different method, first surveying 1,500 Americans ages 55 and over about their opinions on the most crucial elements when deciding where to retire. They found that quality of life, housing costs, health care, and crime were most important, followed by taxes, non-housing costs, weather, proximity to family, and walkability.
Considering the data from these studies, these are the best states to retire.
It’s called the Sunshine State for good reason. The weather is warm most of the year — yes, it’s hot in the summer, but there are plenty of beaches, golf courses, air-conditioned malls, theaters, and museums to explore. As a tourist destination, Florida offers abundant restaurants, shops, and entertainment opportunities for residents. There’s no state income tax in Florida, and property taxes are reasonable.
This state offers natural beauty as well as a range of affordable homes, senior care facilities, and an excellent health care system. With about 21 percent of its population over the age of 65 (the third highest in the nation), retirees will find plenty of other residents with similar interests, plus services directed toward seniors. And retirees who enjoy the changing of the seasons will appreciate the West Virginia climate.
The Bluegrass State ranks high in affordability, with a low overall cost of living and sales tax rate. The state does not tax social security income, and certain forms of retirement income are exempt from state taxes, too. Housing is relatively affordable, and property taxes are below the national average. When it comes to climate, Kentucky residents experience the changing of the seasons, with winter temperatures as low as the 20s.
Maine topped The Motley Fool's list of best U.S. states to retire, with high marks for quality of life, safety, and health care cost and quality. The state has the highest percentage of residents over age 65, so retirees can find like-minded neighbors who enjoy the outdoors, natural beauty, and reliable health care. Naturally, winters here are cold, and heating bills add to living expenses.
With no state income tax on social security benefits and deductions for retirement income, Virginia is an excellent option for retirees seeking low taxes. The state received high marks from WalletHub for access to health care and overall affordability. What's more, Virginia is home to coastal destinations, countryside, and cultural opportunities with proximity to large cities.
Retirees who enjoy the outdoors and an active lifestyle will find much to do in Colorado. Residents can choose small towns or big cities with access to museums, restaurants, and universities. Colorado is considered tax-friendly for retirees, with all federally taxed social security and a portion of income exempt from state taxes.
Affordability is just one of the factors making Georgia a great place to retire. Mild weather, beaches, cultural opportunities in cities like Savannah and Atlanta, and geographical diversity are also advantages. Social security benefits are not taxed, and taxpayers over 65 can exclude up to $65,000 of their retirement income from state taxes.
This state topped the list from MoneyRates, tied with West Virginia, scoring points for nursing care capacity, a strong economy, and a low crime rate. Social security benefits are not taxed by the state, and beginning in 2023, retirement income is exempt for taxpayers over age 55. Overall cost of living is below the national average, and outdoor activities are plentiful year-round.
Delaware offers the cultural opportunities of big cities nearby — Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., and, of course, its own Wilmington — as well as beautiful coastline and beaches. It’s considered the most tax-friendly state, with no sales tax, no state inheritance tax, no tax on social security income, and an exclusion for part of retirement income.
Missouri's overall low cost of living, quality health care, and tax advantages placed it on several lists of best states for retirees. Residents can choose from rural towns or big cities, plus there’s a wide variety of outdoor recreation, thanks to an abundance of lakes and parks. Vineyards, craft breweries, and barbecue restaurants add to the state's appeal.
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