If there was ever a subjective question, “what is the best state for retirement” must certainly rank right up there. After all it is a very personal question, almost as personal as your preference in mates or sports teams. To try to avoid too much controversy we shall answer the question in terms of what you, our Topretirements visitors, seem to prefer when it comes to retirement states. Note: Don’t miss our late 2010 piece on the other side of the equation, “10 Worst Retirement States“. Or the 2011 edition of this story, “Best States for Retirement – 2011“.
For most people the best state to retire question is easy – some 80% or more retire in the state where they live now. But for those folks who are thinking about moving on down the road in later life, the reasons why some
states are better for retirement than others generally boil down to:
- Climate. If you are looking to escape the cold winters of the northeast or Midwest, the Sunbelt might be appealing
- Cost of living. The coasts of the U.S. tend to be a lot more costly than the inland states. You can usually sell your expensive house in the Boston suburbs, move to a nicer one in the Carolinas or Tennessee, and still end up with money in the bank
- Tax-friendly. Although this shouldn’t be your only reason for moving to a new state for retirement, there are cost savings in states with low property taxes and no income or sales taxes. In addition, many states treat retiree income such as pensions and social security payments more favorably than other states (see links at end of article for more on these tax-friendly states)
- Lifestyle opportunities. Different states provide different lifestyle opportunities. From exciting cities to college towns to better and different recreational opportunities, some states can offer a superior lifestyle than the one you might have. For example, if hiking or skiing is your thing, moving to a western mountain state might be your personal answer to the question.
- Friends or family. The opportunity to be near children, grandchildren, and friends often trumps other reasons for moving anywhere. And it’s a good reason!
Our List of the Best States for Retirement
Based on visits to the popular retirement guides at Topretirements.com, these are the most popular states to retire (in order). Follow the links to see the state guides:
1. Florida. Florida is blessed with the warmest winters in the U.S. and no income tax. There is property tax protection as well. Our visitors visit the Florida state retirement guide twice as often as they do #5 California’s.
2. North Carolina. A smart choice for a milder year round climate. Great variety in terrain – from the ocean to the mountains
3. Tennessee. One of the lower cost states for retirement with great mountain scenery
4. South Carolina. Warm winters and wonderful towns like Beaufort, Hilton Head, and Clemson. Generally lower cost than up north. This was our guide to the Low Country.
5. California. People from the east tend to forget how big and varied this state is. From the ocean to the deserts, from the mountains to the Central Valley, there is sure to be something for everyone.
6. Arizona. Warmer winters and less humidity in summer. The state is loaded with active adult and 55+ communities
7. Texas. Lower cost of living in friendly towns. Texas has the most active program of Certified Retirement Communities of any state.
8. Colorado. Features many newer livable cities with expansive public parks and bike trails. The mountains and recreation they provide are a big part of the allure.
9. Oregon. Good year round climate and perfect for outdoors minded people. Our guide to southern Oregon towns.
10. Delaware A low tax state with coastal communities and fast-growing towns and developments on the Delmarva Peninsula.
11. Washington. Live in an exciting big city or a smaller college town. The mountains are always nearby, and there is a very long coastline.
12. Georgia. Lower cost, warmer winters. Great variety with towns on the coast and inland too.
13. New Mexico. One of the most under-rated states for retirement. Most of the state is at altitude so it never gets too hot. Don’t miss the guide we wrote recently on New Mexico retirement towns.
14. Virginia. For people who don’t want to move too far from the northeast Virginia might be a good choice. Pick from a long list of interesting historical towns and others near the water.
15. Kentucky. This growing state has a lot going for it when it comes to retirement. It has some of the lowest costs of living in the U.S. Many college towns, plenty of mountains, friendly people.
Most tax-friendly States for Retirement
Worst States for Retirement