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Best States for Retirement – 2012

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

Note: This list was updated in April, 2014. Here is the link to our “Best States for Retirement – 2014“.
June 5, 2012 — When it comes to the best states for retirement the southern states dominate our new 2012 list. Every one of the top 10 states was from the southern part of the U.S., from Tennessee at number 1 (the northernmost state to make the list) to Nevada, the westernmost state. This year we’ve tried to make our selection process more objective. This list of the 10 best states for retirement uses a numerical scale with up to 1 point awarded on each of 7 factors related to economic issues, climate, and health care costs.

As always, we want to caution that your best states to retire list might look completely different than this one. For example, this list might not work for you if:

– Your children or grandchildren live in another state
– Your income isn’t high enough to make taxes an important factor
– You won’t receive a pension
– Cold weather doesn’t bother you
– You have a strong preference for a geographic area like the mountains or city living
– You have enough money to retire anywhere you want.

Note that some of the states on our top 10 list do not have as many attractive places to retire as do others, which might make them less desirable for you. Every state has resort areas, places near the coast or a lake, or college towns. But states on our list like Florida and Texas offer more choices on places to live than Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, or Mississippi. This might particularly apply to someone from the northeast who is looking for a more familiar environment to live in.

Fairhope Alabama attracts retirees from around the country

The seven factors we rated each state on were: Income tax, Taxation of Social Security, Taxation of Pensions, Property Taxes, Cost of Living, Health Care Insurance, and Climate. In most cases a full point was awarded for each positive applicable factor (e.g.; no tax on pensions), although a few states earned partial points. Warmer states received 1 point for more favorable climate. None of our top 10 states tax social security. All but Florida and Nevada have a very low cost of living.

The 10 Best States for Retirement – 2012
1. Tennessee – Taxes interest and dividends only, otherwise very tax friendly including low property tax. Lowest cost of living in the U.S. Contiguous to sunbelt. Has active program encouraging retirees to move here
2. Texas – No income tax, low cost of living, warmer climate. Property taxes higher than others in this group, although it offers some protections for seniors. Texas has 40 Certified Retirement Cities, including towns like Nacogdoches.
2. Louisiana – No tax on pensions. Lowest property taxes in the U.S. Low cost of living and warm. Louisiana used to have a program encouraging retirement districts but it appears to be inactive. The charming town of St. Francisville attracts a lot of retirees from everywhere in the country.
2. Mississippi. Pensions are not taxed, and property taxes are 4th lowest in the nation. There are 20 Certified Retirement Cities including towns like Hattiesburg and the college town of Oxford
2. Alabama – Pensions not taxed. Per capita property tax is 2nd lowest in the country. Fairhope and Huntsville are 2 interesting places to retire.

6. Arkansas – Taxes some pensions but not SS. Cost of living is 4th lowest in U.S. Hot Springs and Eureka Springs are 2 popular towns for retirement.
7. Florida – No income tax, good property tax protection for full time residents against increases. Florida has dozens and dozens of nice towns for retirement.
8. Oklahoma – Taxes many pensions but low property tax. Cost of living is 3rd lowest in country. People looking for a low cost retirement by a lake might enjoy living in Lake Eufaula.
9. Georgia – Property tax higher than other states on this list. Generous income exclusion for retirement income
10. Nevada – No income tax, property tax higher than some

Please note that were several ties, which is why the ranking numbers look a little unusual. Kentucky and South Carolina were close at 11th and 12th. This link to our spreadsheet (best states retirement-2012) provides you with an excel doc that also allows you to customize the rankings/change the weightings in the event you want to use different criteria.

A word about each ranking consideration
Income tax. States that don’t have an income tax are triple winners, because they also get points for not taxing SS or pensions. It is difficult to generalize about state income taxes because most states have differing exemptions for very low income earners and/or for people over 65. Others have fairly low or high thresholds before income is taxed. Tennessee has a flat tax of 5%, other states have progressive rates based on income. Investigate before you make a decision based on income tax – in many states you might not pay any state income tax – or you might pay a lot.

Social security. It is no surprise that none of our top 10 states tax social security benefits, which supplies the bulk of most retiree income.

Taxation of pensions. This is one of the most complex areas for retirees to get good information on. Most of our top 10 states exempt all or most pensions. Some states exempt in-state, military, or federal pensions – but not private or out of state pensions. If you will receive a sizable pension — check before you move.

Property Tax. We used data from the Tax Foundation to develop our list. The 15 states with the lowest property taxes per capita got a positive point, the highest 10 states got a negative point.

Cost of Living. We used data from, awarding a positive point for being in the lowest 15 states, and a negative point for being in the 10 states with the highest cost of living.

Health Care Insurance Costs. Thanks to HVS Financial for providing us data on state by state cost of health insurance premiums. Their data estimated premium cost for a couple currently 65 years old, both of whom live to age 85. Premium includes Part B, D, and Medigap insurance. Although there are not tremendous differences between most states over this 20 year period, the top and the bottom are different (and they are all high!). Hawaii is the lowest with a total cost of $271,284, and New Jersey is the most expensive at $362,844. Florida was 2nd most expensive, at $362,544. We awarded .25 points to the 15 states with the lowest premiums, and a negative .25 points to the 10 highest states. Note that HVS Financial has an online health care expenses calculator that you might find useful. Thanks also to Robert Powell of WSJ MarketWatch, who suggested that we include this factor in our ratings.

Health care insurance costs are an example of yet another factor to take in consideration if you are shopping for a retirement state. And we need to point out that if you are not currently covered by an employer, COBRA, or Medicare – health care costs can be wildly different! Some states allow insurers to charge very high rates for individual policies, while others are more regulated. Check before you move!

Climate. States in or contiguous to the Sunbelt received a positive point.

We have done our best to make this list accurate and up to date. The states sometimes change their taxation policies which could affect these rankings without notice. If you are aware of something that affects these rankings, please let us know.

For further reference
Worst States for Retirement – 2014
10 Worst States for Retirement – 2012
10 Best States for Retirement – 2011
Tax Friendliest States for Retirement
Customizable Spreadsheet

Comments: As always, we love to see your comments and insights. Please share them below.

Posted by John Brady on June 5th, 2012


  1. Uhhh, I believe that Nevada is further west than Texas. Just saying….:shock:

    Editor’s note: Thanks for pointing that out, now corrected.

    by Jim Paulsen — June 5, 2012

  2. where is the sspread sheet?

    Editor’s comment: It’s a link in the article in the first para after the rankings.

    by Paul Elkins — June 6, 2012

  3. Please share the full spreadsheet with all 50 states.

    Editors note: we’ve had a lot of requests for a doc with the full 50 states on it. We’re working on it, although please realize the rest of the states got very few points using our criteria, so there isn’t a whole lot to learn. You might get more value from our “Worst States for Retirement” article.

    by Mark B. — June 6, 2012

  4. If this is the spread sheet, This link to our spreadsheet (best states retirement-2012) provides you with an excel doc that also allows you to customize the rankings/change the weightings in the event you want to use different criteria.
    my computer won’t let me open it.
    Any other way to get it?

    by kathy — June 6, 2012

  5. I don’t see my favorite place to retire – Arizona. Where were they lacking?

    by DrJCA1 — June 6, 2012

  6. I suspect that for many seniors crime rates – particularly violent crimes – might also be an important factor.

    by John Shuey — June 6, 2012

  7. There is more to retirement than taxes/costs with a small factor for healthcare. What about activities, education (yes!), access to healthcare and other services. Some of us

    by Mark A — June 6, 2012

  8. The excel spreadsheet I receive has only 16 states listed, where are the others?

    by Len — June 6, 2012

  9. please include home/apartment rentals as a factor. I can’t be the only one who doesn’t want to buy another home!

    by Trish — June 6, 2012

  10. “Taxation of pensions. This is one of the most complex areas for retirees to get good information on.”
    Go to for an interactive map, or a three part list, in exhaustive detail, of each state’s imposed taxes – income, pension, sales, estate, gasoline, cigarettes – each type itself broken down.

    by OldNassau — June 6, 2012

  11. I am from California and our rules for smoking in public places is important to me. Also, our smog requirements on vehicles and fueling restrictions. If you can tell me that Memphis and the other top retirement communities has these requirements and restrictions too, I would consider retiring somewhere else.

    by Christine Denton — June 7, 2012

  12. Why no mention of state estate taxes?

    by XRayD — June 7, 2012

  13. I found a site called This gives a good comparison of state income, property and sales taxes. It also has an estimator of what your taxes are.

    by Locobill — June 7, 2012

  14. As a transplanted southerner, I need to add some details. These are hot, often muggy, states in the summer which starts in May. Prepare to spend a lot on air-conditioning bills. Also, if you live closer to the cities and colleges there, you can enjoy some of their cultural offerings, although the real estate is cheaper out in rural areas ….

    by NightTrain — June 7, 2012

  15. Useful for financial info but I agree with previous person who noted importance of cultural and educational resources. To that I’d add natural beauty.

    by joan — June 7, 2012

  16. As many are retired military, access to military facilities is important as well.

    by RJG — June 7, 2012

  17. Delaware may be tiny, but how about No sales tax, low property tax, low cost of living for a Mid-Atlantic state, 2 hour proximity to DC and Phila. for culture and other advantages. I’d like to fiddle with a geographically comprehensive spreadsheet when you get there, as the concept is very sound looking.

    by James Cochrane — June 7, 2012

  18. Guess factors like size and frequency of bugs, snakes and spiders, hurricanes,earthquakes, and lack of access to homeowners insurance don’t count!

    by Juanita Murphy — June 7, 2012

  19. Regarding Tennessee as the top rated, I saw no mention, and usually do not, of the secret “Hall Tax” which is a tax on one’s investments. It amounts to 6% of your investments. Many retirees live on or supplement their SSA benefits from their investments and at a 6% penalty, that is a large hit on earnings. There is an exempted amount which by the time you are retired does add up to much of an exemption. But the weather is great!

    by Michael Sams — June 7, 2012

  20. James Cochrane:

    My husband and I are seriously contemplating retiring to Delaware – do you live there? If so, any info about towns, communities? We are thinking of looking in the Lewes area. We are from the northeast (NJ) and cannot wait to escape the heat of Texas and move back home to be closer to family and enjoy some cooler weather.

    by Fionna — June 7, 2012

  21. To Fionna and James — My husband and I are also looking to Delaware. Around the same area, too. We liked the builders of the Independence 55+ community — Schell Brothers. We are from Maryland and like the proximity to home but a lower cost of living and more relaxed lifestyle. There are a lot of communities in Delaware for retirees, some like Independence that are 55+ only and some that are mixed but still have a large number of retirees.

    by Kathy Jackson — June 8, 2012

  22. Jane, Kathy,
    Friends of mine live in a community called Woods on Herring Creek. It is a nice area with community pool and five miles from Rehobath Beach. I hope to retire there in the next few years after I return from Germany.

    by Rusty — June 8, 2012


    by kathy — June 8, 2012

  24. To Juanita Murphy – I have children/grandchildren in Florida and the snakes are horrible! Think if the python crises plus all of the other snakes. They are migrating north from the Everglades not to mention the high humidity, alligators and bugs. I would rather pay a higher cost of living than settling for this!

    by Debbye — June 8, 2012

  25. Debbie, where will you go? I want out of FL. also and NC & SC have just as many bugs. So thats out for me to….

    by kathy — June 9, 2012

  26. My Aunt winters Nov-April in Tarpin Cove near Vanderbilt Beach in Naples and she owns a villa–however she really wants a single family home with a pool somewhere else in Naples, not sure where yet ,maybe the Audobon. To do this she will sell her lovely summer home on a lake near Bloomington, IN as well as the villa in Tarpin Cove. I have warned her about the fact that I know people who built a home in naples in Pelican Bay —and HATED year round living there. My friends (here in DC) sold their home and moved back up here to our co-op. They spend December after Christmas through March in Fr. Lauderdale–where they rent. They told me year round living in Naples was a bor because all the interesting people left to go back north to their homes for the summer. I feel my Aunt will be making a BIG mistake and have urged her not to sell the lake home, in addition those PYTHONS make me crazy. Indiana has its share of snakes, but the Burmese pythons are really large and nasty! Here in DC we have so much press in the Post and on Television about how the pythons are leaving the Everglades and migrating north. They could survive in South Carolina and South Georgia as it does not get cold enough in the winter to kill them. I have told my Aunt that I will probably one day be reading about her–finding one in the swimming pool she feels she must have. Her friends live in Indiana and Georgia and go home each late Spring for the summer. I feel she will be isolated and am worried. I have considered one day moving to Florida to be near her, but I hate snakes!!

    by Jennifer — June 9, 2012

  27. Kathy – my husband and I have no idea where to move. We are now in the Pacific Northwest and we do love Spokane. The summers are fantastic and yes so etimes we do get a lot of snow in the winter however if retired you do not have to venture out on bad days. I am from Pennsylvania and do miss the east coast but do not miss the humidity. it is hard on my lungs due to asthma and Texas and Arizone too hot. I don’t know may stay here but we are planning to jump in an RV and just check out the country to see if we like something better.

    by Debbye — June 13, 2012

  28. Kathy Jackson-
    I just recently looked at Independence as well in Delaware. Beautiful homes but a bit expensive. There is also no golf course there. That doesn’t bother me, but maybe other people would like to know.
    My question is – how do you really know if you would be happy there? That community does not encourage two to seven night stays. Any ideas? Thanks.

    by Kathy Moyer — June 13, 2012

  29. Jennifer – my kids have found a couple of black racers in their swimming pool and this is a fenced totally enclosed pool in Florida. They just had a 4 foot black snake in their living room and we know people in Orlando who had a large black racer in their house. Too many for me to be around – no thank you.

    by Debbye — June 13, 2012

  30. Debbye: I know I would have a panic attack on the spot if I saw one in my own home. My aunt has close friends in Bonita Springs who own a lovely condo and they typically go for the winter from Atlanta every year. One year they found that a large black snake had taken up residence in their absence behind the dishwasher. They have NO idea how it got inside their home. This terrifies me, as it can probably happen again if they did not seal the port of entry. I assume they are harmless but it would not matter to me–a snake is a snake and I could not tolerate that.

    by Jennifer — June 14, 2012

  31. Most of these states listed as best retirement places in 2012 have high crime.
    Did these people do any homework on this??? NOPE!!!

    by Lou — June 14, 2012

  32. Remember that Delaware is a state with a very low elevation….thus it is
    a candidate for flooding nearly everywhere.

    by Lou — June 15, 2012

  33. I recall that there was information on determining healthcare availability in a specific area, especially in regards to medicare usage. Any tips on how to determine this?

    by Locobill — June 15, 2012

  34. Texas: The four months (June-Sept.) are very hot and quite humid but the other 8 months are very nice. Property taxes are higher but they have no state income tax. I believe Texas is one of the few states that still has very affordable housing and a low cost of living.

    by Jan — June 15, 2012

  35. […] January 10, 2012 — There are plenty of best places to retire lists. But how about the places where it’s not such a good idea to retire? Last year our “worst 10 states” list caused quite a sensation, so we are back at it again for 2012. The purpose is to try to help baby boomers understand where, all other things being equal, they can enjoy their hard-earned retirement without taking on more problems. To make sure you don’t miss updates to this and other lists like it, sign up for our free weekly “Best Places to Retire” newsletter. And of course, don’t miss our 2012 list of the 10 Best States for Retirement. […]

    by » Worst States to Retire 2012: Northeast and Midwest Come Up Losers Topretirements — June 20, 2012

  36. Could someone who lives or has lived in Asheville, North Carolina please write a little about the area, the climate, the cultural events available, cost of living, taxes, health care, etc. Any information from someone who has experienced life in the area would be appreciated. Thanks.

    by Rory — July 2, 2012

  37. There needs to be more information for seniors that only want to rent. Many seniors want a simpler life with less responsibility. Also, crime rates are a important factor for seniors to consider. How can areas be a “Best Place” when crime is a major factor?

    by Bob — July 3, 2012

  38. Dear Bob,
    They are great rentals in college towns and in states where they are several snowbirds, i.e. bungalows and like are typically available during off season for reasonable price (including utilities and such).

    NOW, to Everyone else:
    Let’s be real about crime… Boomers/Active Adults want to live near medical facilities (priority #1). Living conveniently near a variety of healthcare providers, requires a variety of healthcare workers, thus the area will be diversified in residents. What do I mean?..

    1) Rentals are typical located in busy, congested areas to meet a population demand. 2) Medical fields require several employees. Those employees require homes and neighborhoods that are close to their jobs; thus, a home for their family, i.e. children/teenagers.

    When a boomer/active adults desires medical, conveniences, and rentals, chances are you will live in a high traffic area. I recommend: ALWAYS have an alarm system placed in your home; and be wise, look over shoulder, and don’t leave your purse in your grocery cart unattended — don’t take your purse to the grocery store — start carrying a wallet (in your front pocket) or an over-the-shoulder-strap purse.

    Even in the wealthiest retirement communities, there is crime. The “associates” (wandering types) of hired-help, seek homeowners who leave doors unlock simply because it’s an “exclusive community”. (Sad, but true.) Residents in exclusive community have a tendency of being relaxed about the world, and unfortunately that’s when they fall victim, i.e. leaving doors and cars unlocked.

    We live in an agressive and economically challenged world: the gap between the “Haves” vs the “Have Nots” grows bigger every year.

    I only say this, because it’s the reality of our world. My friends in law-enforcement tell me, “it doesn’t matter where you live anymore. Bad kids and troublemakers live everywhere.” The best thing to do today, is have your home alarmed with a system (ADT, Brinks, etc), and be aware of your surroundings — and especially, don’t think “it can’t happen to me” because that’s when it will.

    In my opinion.
    – Neil

    by Neil S. Schuster — July 4, 2012

  39. To Neil S.: great advice in your comment above about crime/safety and about caution at all times. Thank you for taking the time to write a short, to the point post with direction that, if followed, can save us much time and heartache if we fall victim to a crime. Thanks again.

    by Dave Coughlin — July 4, 2012

  40. While Neil is correct about crime, the fact is there are much safer places with much less crime in this country. Political correctness tries to make unequal things and people equal, but I prefer the real world to the one created by the media. I happen to live in an affluent suburb of a crime ridden city. While their crime rates are through the roof, ours are way down in the basement. The places I’m looking at to retire to in the Phoenix or Tucson areas have very little crime. Obviously no place is 100% crime free, 100% of the time. Do your homework and talk to the police in areas that you’re interested in. They will tell you exactly where the safe and lousy places or developments are. Don’t ask realtors, they are useless in this respect as they are “not allowed” to tell you which areas are safe or dangerous. A good site is For a small fee you can look up any city, suburb and nearby places for many things, including crime rates.

    by DrJoel — July 4, 2012

  41. How does the state of Wyoming look for retirement, pensions, social security, cost of living. cost of apartment living (1 bedroom). How cheaply (dollars per month) can a person live in Cheyenne, Laramie, Casper or Rock Springs…

    by Lawrence-Papa Bear — July 5, 2012

  42. Putting Kentucky up against Tennessee for a retirement state, which has the better retirement value. (1)for owning property (2) renting a apartment, 1 bedroom (3) pension (4) social security (5) cost of living. Say I had only $2,500 to live off per month can I retire in one of these states and where at in each state

    by Lawrence-Papa Bear — July 5, 2012

  43. Hey Everyone, There’s a free resource online called SpotCrime, you can research crime activities by state, city or zip. Here’s the link:

    I suggest create a bogus email (like within Yahoo or Google/Gmail) so that you don’t get inundated with ‘sales’ emails.
    (FYI: I have 1 email address for family & friends, and than 1 for bogus online registrations like this — it keeps my email inbox clean.)

    In my opinion.
    – Neil

    by Neil S. Schuster — July 5, 2012

  44. My bet is on Wyoming, but check out everything before you commit.

    by Masey Clark — July 10, 2012

  45. Nix Kentucky. Tennessee maybe.

    by Bee Ware — July 10, 2012

  46. Try this site. Compares cost of living in other places with where you are now. Or compares two places you are considering against each other.

    by Barb — July 11, 2012

  47. Interesting site, but does not include state and local taxes. For example, SS is taxed as ordinary income in MN and not in Delaware. MN also has a very high sales tax. Is there any site that considers state and local taxes when they calculate the cost of living.?

    by Bruce — July 12, 2012

  48. Bruce, try Lots of good info re taxes.

    Jan Cullinane

    The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)
    The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (John Wiley & Sons)
    Retire Happy! (Hallmark)

    Editor’s Note: Agreed, TaxFoundation and both are excellent sources for tax info. You should also check out our mini retirement guides for each state. In addition to an overview of retirement issues for each state we attempt to summarize the major tax implications of that state for retirees. See

    by Jan Cullinane — July 13, 2012

  49. Some if not all will be working some after retirement, I am thinking; so, income tax in a high income state-tax state like Hawaii should have a negative value i.e -.25 on your spreadsheet, don’t you think??

    by curtis — July 14, 2012

  50. Hawaii’s top tax rate is a factor if you are high income otherwise there are many other things that offset that. There is a significant property tax break for retirees and as you age the tax break increase. Government pensions and most private pensions are exempt. If you watch your buying habits it may not be that bad. Power on the Big Island is quite high…0.31 cents per kwh, however most say your consumption is about half what it is on the mainland.

    by Mark — July 15, 2012

  51. I looked at Independence in DE as well and agree with the statement above. It is discouraging that the development does not allow renters for a shorter time than 6 months. How do you know for sure that living in a particular community will really b right for you?

    by Kathy M — October 15, 2012

  52. My husband and I rented a place for a week in the Rehoboth/Bethany area to house hunt. We came home to Pa discouraged and not happy. We too looked at Independence – beware of water issues, overbuilding in that part of Delaware, no long term plan on how to deal with the fast growth and development going on there. these communities are popping up everywhere and flooding is a #1 issue there now and is escalating. Also, gas heat???> It is propane and there is a tank for each community and the trucks deliver the propane. Prices are ok now with propane but…..I have a feeling that won’t last and if there is a problem and the line breaks, flooding prevents delivery……the community is stuck. I believe the HOA fees in these communities are going to skyrocket once building is complete. Read local newspapers and talk to local residents always when looking to move to a community.:???:

    by Monica — October 16, 2012

  53. […] Now Flocking to Texas and this one, from 2012 has the best states for retirement ranked.. Topretirements Texas came in tied for 2nd with other Gulf Coast states, Florida was 7th. Not that there's […]

    by Are retirees still retiring to Florida - Page 2 - City-Data Forum — January 29, 2013

  54. It might be worth noting, all you Texas fans, that according to the National Weather Service, the most dangerous places in the country for bad weather are in Texas. I think Dallas was number one, and Houston was number two. There is a reason housing is cheap there. The gulf area is very susceptible to hurricanes, Dallas is in the tornado path, and they both have periods of draught, periods of flash flooding, etc. Just sayin’….

    by Ginger — February 21, 2013

  55. Where is So Carolina in all this? We live in Du page County Illinois and are dealing with outlandish property taxes, sales tax, highest gas prices in America etc… right now we are focused on So.Carolina. Is there anything that I should know before we start to house hunt… we could always go to Savannah or Athens GA

    by Frank Baron — February 21, 2013

  56. While this has been stated much better than I can ever hope to do, there are serious and important aspects of your retirement location choice other than taxes, property costs and weather. Having “like-minded friends and neighbors” should be a deal-breaker. We came to South Carolina as our last military assignment before retiring and starting another 20 year career. Finally, it’s time to really retire. Many say just sit still – problem is we find (comments deleted) the south to be oppressive. Now we have tough trade-offs. We simply cannot afford to move to areas where we would find a predominance of like-minded folks or weather that won’t complicate our health issues. For some, South Carolina could be heaven – not us.

    by stevelevan — February 22, 2013

  57. Steve, sounds like your retired militery and may want to look at Indian River Colony Club in Melbourne, FL. I came across it yesterday while looking over the best places to retire 2013, it may have the kind of people your looking for.

    by Pat Harkins — February 22, 2013

  58. Steve, Where in SC were you located? I find some areas of SC more appealing than others. I have not lived in SC, but think that I might like the area of SC just south of Charlotte, NC. It really is hard to categorize a whole state. Think NY state! NYC is very different than upstate. That is the hardest part of trying to interpret various posts. I want to live where I am comfortable and know you have to visit for a longer period. I do find these blogs useful to gather some information

    by eric — February 22, 2013

  59. I live in Camden, SC, 25 miles east of the state capital, Columbia. Camden is the oldest in-land city in the state and was not burned to the ground in the Northern War of Aggression. Parts of Camden are breathtakingly beautiful. The “edit” to my previous message has made it more difficult to understand my dissatisfaction. The suggestion of areas just south of Charlotte or the Melbourne, FL locations are probably the antithesis of what I seek. I am a retired USAF pilot who then had a 20+ year career in arts administration (now there is some diversity!). I would love to live in Massachusetts where you can be small town rural yet an easy trip to urban and city life. If I can mention with out getting edited, I would enjoy the like-mindedness of the MA general population. But with the cost of living in MA and the severe weather, it’s not a player. While Asheville, NC, is certainly not an inexpensive location, it might be the best combination of like-mindedness, moderate weather and cost of living. Being a college town may be of great advantage. I have a son and his wife living in MA and on visits I was surprised to find grocery prices to be significantly lower and the quality of merchandise better at stores in my son’s area than in my small (but historic) old rural southern town. If you can read between the lines on my request, where else should I investigate?

    by stevelevan — February 23, 2013

  60. stevelevan- Have you looked at Chattanooga? Chattanooga is a diverse college town with a combination of moderate weather and is less expensive than Asheville. It has water and mountains, shopping, a variety of dining choices, great healthcare and convenient to two airports. It might be to your liking??

    by LisaJ — February 23, 2013

  61. Wow, hearing and reading all these comments, I am getting more confused as I go. We currently live in NJ and were affected and anticipate being more economically affected by the costs of Storm Sandy and future flood insurance rates and higher taxes. Not such an easy task now that we have these other factors in our decision making process as well.

    by g. Sands — February 24, 2013

  62. Steve, I wasn’t necessarily suggesting the area of SC south of Charlotte, just mentioning that it is very different than Charleston or Columbia. I ery much enjoyed working in NYC for the culture and restaurants, found that my interests have completely changed (so has NYC) so I do not have suggestions for you. I will probably end up in the research triangle area of NC myself. But still want to visit the north west (Washington and Oregon) to see if I want to explore that area further. I have never even visited those areas.

    by eric — February 25, 2013

  63. My husband and I moved from NJ to TN in 2004, and we love it. We live in the northern part of Knoxville. We chose TN because of the property taxes and cost of housing. An added bonus is the weather. Yes, it gets hot in the summer but I think NJ was more humid. For the most part the winters are much shorter and easier.

    by Heidi — March 7, 2013

  64. How about Queensland Australia for retirement? I can get dual citizenship (Mom was an Aussie). I like the NSW border area: great climate/beaches/people. I like Australia for it’s sensible government, and relatively healthy economy…and not bad beer. My big question: Can you use Medicare there?

    Editor’s Note: Queensland probably is a great place for retirement. But Medicare won’t work there. Most other country’s health care systems arent as crazy expensive as ours, and that probably includes Australia

    by Mike — November 2, 2013

  65. Wyoming is where I plan to go. Wide open beautiful country, yes it can get cold in the winter but you just prepare for that kind of weather. I look at it as an exciting adventure! I plan to buy 40+ acreas on the edge of BLM land where no one can build close to you. I want to be able to ride my horse for miles without seeing any signs of civilization! Wyoming is on the TOP TEN list for retirement states too (I just don’t remember who’s list!)

    by Rina — November 4, 2013

  66. Stevievan….really sad you were edited in that way. Don’t agree with that policy. You might want to think about Pacific Northwest. Many small towns around Seattle and same for Portland. However, if money is not a big problem, Marin County Ca would be perfect for you. Lovely small towns near San Francisco. One final thought is Tucson area. Tombstone is nearby, or Mariana, and Tucson is very cool. Great university. Very like-minded.

    by Ginger — November 5, 2013

  67. Seevlevan, Have you looked at Greenville SC? Not a typical southern city (the Seattle of the South?), but not sure if it has what would suit you. I am judging more from reading than my one short visit.

    Also almost any state has some atypical locations. College towns are often different. Having a large med school is different both from typical college town and other cities. Is there a high tech concentration? Different again. etc., etc. I lived in Birmingham AL for several years and loved it. Too hot and humid and too much of an island for my retirement…but you get my drift of the location not the whole state. Also true for weather, culture, etc. Very few states can be given a broad brush. Look at little NJ…very different micro environments.

    Good luck with your search and let us know where you are considering at this point and why!

    by Elaine — November 5, 2013

  68. […] Reading: Worst States for Retirement 2014 Best States for Retirement 2012 Most Tax Friendly States for […]

    by » Best States for Retirement – 2014 Topretirements — April 8, 2014

  69. I have studied this topic extensively for two years, both foreign & domestic destinations. For all it’s worth this is my conclusion in as few words as possible:
    No one is factoring in ALTITUDE. Regardless of your fitness level, you may have Mountain sickness and not even know it if you have never lived at altitude for any length of time & only huffed & puffed up a mountain on vacation. Be careful moving to the U.S. West where CO, ID, NM, UT are considered the highest altitude states in the union. Lack of oxygen is a real problem causing headaches, nausea, dizziness, and even death (HACE). So be cautious, especially if purchasing a house that you likely will have a hard time re-selling in depressed real estate markets (especially NM)!
    Next, if you have a hard time breathing, lung problems, etc…you need to check the ‘Air Quality Index’ for these ‘Top Rated’ areas and see the FACTS. A high-humidity state will do your lungs NO favors; the very reason that many older people move to a more dry/arid climate. Please don’t be deceived by Phoenix, AZ. It USED to be OK DECADES ago, but NO MORE ~ it is one of the HOTTEST most polluted cities in the U.S. and YES, HUMID due to over-development, countless golf courses, and irrigation canals all over the city! You can NOT open your windows at night due to the intense heat and if you do spiders, black widows, and scorpions find a way to enter the house! You RARELY breathe FRESH air in Phoenix and must live in perpetual air conditioning day and night. Please trust me on this, I made the mistake of moving to the PHX valley for two years (which many call ‘The Valley of HELL), never felt well living there, and couldn’t wait to LEAVE! Also, moving to a humid Eastern state like ‘Top Rated’ Tennessee may not be your answer. To me, Texas is also a nightmare for unbearably HOT summers, humidity, and smog.
    Do your homework and for heaven’s sake DON’T take a Realtors word for ANYTHING!

    by McKaila — January 4, 2015

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