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Best States for Retirement Lists: Not Much Agreement Here

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

Editor’s note: This is a 2 part article. Part 1 discusses two popular Best and Worst Places to Retire lists. Part 2 explores best retirement states from multiple perspectives – taxation, cost of living, culture, climate, cost of living, property taxes, etc.

May 9, 2017 — To paraphrase something from the news – “Who knew finding the best state for retirement was so complicated?” Eager to attract baby boomer readers for their advertisers, the publishers of these lists sometimes do it “scientifically”, using data to back up their picks, and sometimes whimsically, using 20-something writers for whom retirement conjures up geezers in rocking chairs and old folks homes. The results from these “Best” lists are so all over the place that is hard to take them seriously – each list directly contradicts another.

Best places to retire lists can be useful as a starting place for your retirement planning. But their authors are clueless on your preferences on climate, cost of living, types of locations, areas of the world, transportation, culture, healthcare, etc. You have to take some time and figure out which of these attributes are important, and not so critical, in your retirement. Once you do that there are plenty of resources, including websites like Topretirements, to help you figure out your own best places to retire list.

As an example of far apart some of the most popular best places lists are, consider two recent ones that generated a lot of press. The first is from WalletHub, “2017 Best and Worst Places to Retire“. It ranked states on many factors, but 3 seemed most important: affordability, health care, and quality of life. also has a new list of Best and Worst States for Retirement. It also ranked states on multiple factors including culture, weather, crime rate, and taxes. Although these seem like pretty good attributes to base a ranking on, it is amazing how different their results were. To compare them we have created the chart below, which compares those “best” lists with the actual states which attract the most retirement age moves. Only 4 states made it to both the WalletHub and the Bankrate lists – South Dakata, Iowa, Colorado, and Idaho. Great places to live for some, but for the most part these are not retirement meccas. In fact they are quite chilly – only 3 of the 20 states on the WalletHub/Bankrate lists are in the Sunbelt!


1 Florida
2 Wyoming
3 South Dakota
4 Iowa
5 Colorado
6 Idaho
7 South Carolina
8 Nevada
9 Delaware
10 Wisconsin

1 New Hampshire
2 Colorado
3 Maine
4 Iowa
5 Minnesota
6 Virginia
7 Massachusetts
8 South Dakota
9 Wisconsin
10 Idaho

Where Retirees Actually Move
1 Arizona
2 California
3 Florida
4 Nevada
5 Texas
6 North Carolina
7 Georgia


Sioux Falls, South Dakota. SD is one of the few states that made it to both the Bankrate and WalletHub lists. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Worst states for retirement
It is also interesting to compare how and rank the states for worst place to retire. The only state on both lists is Alaska. Topretirements last rated the 10 worst states for retirement (in 2014), and the results are very different from Bankrate and WalletHum. The only one that Topretirements had in common with either WalletHub and Bankrate is Rhode Island.

1 Hawaii
2 Connecticut
3 District of Columbia
4 Alaska
5 Rhode Island

1 Alaska
2 West Virginia
3 Arkansas
4 New Mexico
5 Louisiana

New Jersey
Rhode Island
New York


More perspective on best and worst places to retire
We conclude Part 1 with a recommendation not to be a slave to anyone else’s best places to list. Figure out your retirement priorities, and then use these lists to help guide you. Remember also that generalizing about a state or even a city is unwise. Crime rates in states and even cities are not evenly distributed so an overall figure rarely makes sense. Likewise so is culture, even weather. We urge you to dig down to the local level and not make sweeping generalizations.

An article from the New York Times,”The Best Places to Move in Retirement: They’re All Over the Map“, makes interesting reading on the sometimes silly and inconsistent choices that show on up on “Best Places to Retire” lists. It is a good article worth reading with a lot of background on best places to retire lists.

For further reading:
Part 2: Best States for Retirement from Multiple Perspectives
Best States for Retirement 2014
Money Savings Pro: Best States for Retirement (analyzes by many interesting factors)

Comments? Please share your thoughts about the best and worst states to retire in the Comments section below. Did any of the results surprise you or change your mind – please let us know!

Posted by Admin on May 9th, 2017


  1. Even some of the blurbs TR publishes about places are confusing. For instance, we live in the Richmond, Va, REGION, not the city. While there are interesting things to do in the city of Richmond, retirees live in the surrounding counties. Your snapshots show Richmond as a high crime city, which it is, but the places where retirees settle are not.
    For some reason, you failed to mention local hospitals like Bon Secours and HCA facilites, but just mentioned the Medical College of Virginia and the local VA hospital.
    As I am familiar with this area, it makes me look at the other listings with a jaundiced eye. It also refinforces the notion that you must visit and stay in a place for an extended period before calling the moving van.

    Editor’s Note: Thanks Sandie for the inside info. We have updated our Medical Section in the Richmond review. You are right about crime rates (and a lot of other aspects) that can differ tremendously by area – overall ratings for a city or state are not likely to be too useful. That was the point we were trying to make in the article. Best of all Topretirements thrives when folks like you give us the benefit of inside info on the places you know well. We can’t possibly know an area as well as you can.

    by Sandie — May 10, 2017

  2. With so many variables it’s almost impossible to compile a list. You can weigh positives and negatives forever but it many cases they cancel each other out– a tax free pension is offset by lower real estate taxes, etc. It can be too warm and humid in the summer or windy and cold in the winter or prone to natural disasters which seem to be occurring with more widespread frequency. One guideline I’m using to narrow down our choices– where do we keep returning too? Where have we been that we want to and do go back too ( and more than once)? You have to love where you live. If you do, often, you can make the other things work or find a way that makes them work for you.

    by Staci — May 10, 2017

  3. These lists are amusing. Minnesota as a best place to retire? Surely they jest. If you don’t mind the soaring property and income taxes (Minnesota is one of only a few states that taxes your Social Security income in addition to a high tax rate) and frigid winters, guess it would work for you. I prefer to have a few dollars left in order to travel and enjoy my retirement.

    A Minnesota refuge happily retired in Florida.

    by Linda — May 10, 2017

  4. Lists are fun to look at but basically silly. Wouldnt the best place to retire depend on the person or couple retiring? Even showing the states with the most retirees moving in only tells part of the story; it would be good to see a list showing hiw long people actually state in that state. At least half the people I know who moved to Florida stayed only a few years and moved back to the northeast ( and some who remained in Fl. would like to leave but have had difficulty selling their Florida houses). I would love to see resources to find long term rentals in different states so people can ltry living in a new area prior to buying.

    by Jean — May 10, 2017

  5. Again, Topretirements posts wonderful info for those that like/read such. Your ideal choice to retire is answered as soon as you can figure the length of a string. Read, comment, visit,, enjoy….love this site.

    by Gregory — May 10, 2017

  6. Great article! It makes the obvious point beautifully. We all have different priorities in retirement and will weigh the decision based on what’s most important to us as individuals. It also seems obvious that despite all the lists, the choices most retirees make are sunny and warm.

    We all read the lists with amazement as a result of the different priorities. No disrespect to Sioux Falls, but I hate snow so it will never be on my top list for anything.

    by Bruce — May 10, 2017

  7. I believe the best places to retire are North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Vermont and Maine. Why, because I retired to the “Deep South” and don’t want any more Yankees coming down here and crowding the place up. I am not going to tell you where I retired specifically because then you might move here because it is so peaceful with great weather, wonderful medical facilities, low taxes, great golf courses, Great Lakes for fishing and recreation, wonderful farmers markets, low traffic, great ” foodie” reputation and did I say low taxes where they don’t tax you to death. Please don’t come!

    by Jack — May 10, 2017

  8. I live in Arizona, but I think Costa Rica beats them all!

    by Chuck — May 10, 2017

  9. I too find these attempts at best and worst amusing. There are too many assumptions on what people find important as well as the hierarchy of that importance. I agree with comments that doing this by state can be quite misleading. Although some things are impacted at the state level many are local. I now live on the Big Island in Hawaii and have recently been quite amused at ‘analysis’ of Hawaii as a place to retire. In particular the state wide generalizations that are actually driven locally. And when you live on different islands, reachable only by air, it becomes even more amusing.

    I must note also that TR’s list of worst also shares another state, besides Rhode Island, with one of the other lists…..Connecticut. After 30 years I moved from there to Hawaii and must say on a comparative basis, on nearly all levels, I am way happier here….Aloha to all and best to you wherever you retire!

    by Mejask — May 10, 2017

  10. I agree with Sandy and Mejask – it’s the area within the state, more than the state, itself. Too broad, too many differences between areas.

    by ella — May 11, 2017

  11. Mejask, do you get ‘rock fever’ — a sense that you need to leave the islands often? I, too, live in Connecticut and am looking west, Arizona included. Thanks!


    by Ed LaFreniere — May 11, 2017

  12. The “Best” place to retire is an individual experience. This decision is based on many factors unique to those seeking retirement. First what is important to you? Make a list! revisit this list several times. Frist factor for me is the money aspect! We live on a fixed income so costs matter. Second for us is quality of life! This includes access to good medical facilities, entertainment and recreation facilities. Third is climate, as global warming is rising the daily temperatures this is a huge factor. Fourth is proximity to friends and family.
    Once you have a firm list go visit the areas you think meet those criteria. This is not a knee jerk reaction this decision is important very important.
    Lists compiled by some twenty something writer is usually useless.

    by Ron — May 11, 2017

  13. Sandie, Your last point in that first comment to this article remains, for me, the most important advice for anyone looking to move to a new place to retire: “reinforces the notion that you must visit and stay in a place for an extended period before calling the moving van”. (Removed minor typo.) After lengthy stays (several weeks/months) in various places, ALL were eliminated for us as retirement options. One lengthy stay (25 years in central NC) has proved almost ideal, yet several week-long stays (all in Southern locations) continue to provide us with lots of “what if” possibilities.

    I used to say, “never north of the Mason/Dixon line”. My “never line” has now moved permanently south of the northern state borders of NC/TN. There is a weather/temperature gradient that crosses the center of these two states that anyone interested in the area should get to know. IMO, lists by “state” are virtually worthless — local research is critical.

    by Rich — May 11, 2017

  14. I’m virtually “forced” to reply to Ron’s comment which was made while I was writing the above (as well as watching TPC Sawgrass coverage :<). We are not far off in either our state of choice (NC vs SC) or priorities — we totally agree on his priority list. From reading Ron's past posts, I know his top priority (costs) strongly influences his choice. I tend to over the differences in the cost aspect of the two states — basically inconsequential to me despite our fixed income.

    Frankly, as a “region” NC/SC is difficult to beat

    by Rich — May 11, 2017

  15. My apologies for a third post in a row. I left a word out of the start of the last sentence — should read: “I tend to gloss over the differences in the cost aspect of the two states”.

    by Rich — May 11, 2017

  16. Hi Rich,
    I always appreciate what you have to say, so i’d like to re-visit something we discussed a while back. Virginia! Although i’m living in Jonesborough TN right now, i will be checking out a few towns within 30 minutes of Roanoke, VA. When i study the climate in Troutville, VA and Jonesborough in Sperlings Best Places, they are almost identical. Am i missing something? Any input or suggestions???

    by ella — May 12, 2017

  17. Hey, ella. I almost answered you question incorrectly simply because at first I mistook Troutville for Troutdale. (Check Google Maps and you can see the difference.)

    The assessment from Sperling’s is likely fairly accurate. A fairly obvious difference would be that Jonesborough has the backbone of the Smokies in the backyard, and Troutdale is splayed out between two “lesser” ranges as the Appalachians are generally not as high and certainly do not have the “bulk” as the huge range farther south.

    After that, it is probably a difference between states and what you might prefer. I have a “thing” for the Smokies that does not extend to the northern Appalachians. I doubt most could understand that subtle feeling.

    Good luck on this. I enjoyed living and playing in both areas.

    by Rich — May 12, 2017

  18. Please use dynamic scoring to create the lists. That is, take 10 criteria, e.g., total taxes, crime, affordability, etc., and let each user prioritize them from most important to least important. Then, for each user, supply them with the list based on their priorities – all with the touch of a button. I don’t want your list – I want you to supply me with my customized list.

    by Michael — May 12, 2017

  19. Hmmm Rich, are you referring to Troutville or Troutdale???
    As for the Smokies, i think they begin about a 1 1/2 hours away in Cosby; so i don’t think of them as being that close. Went to Townsend, TN last week-end, and , yes, they are spectacular! And as for Troutville, it is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Do you not consider them massive? I don’t want you to think i’m arguing with you; just want to clarify our discussion. Thanks!!!

    by ella — May 13, 2017

  20. To Michael – here is a start on your dynamic scoring approach. 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. The spreadsheet is from 2012 so some of the info might be a little stale, but it is mostly correct. You can use the sheet to change or add criteria and weightings so it works for you. Also see the Money Savings Pro: Best States for Retirement (analyzes by many interesting factors) which we mentioned at the end of the article.

    by Admin — May 13, 2017

  21. Hmm… (Ella) Troutville, not Troutdale (which is a small town in a high gap from NC to VA). And I was thinking of Greenville’s location as opposed to Jonesborough.

    As to the mountains, Troutville is in the Great Appalachian Valley near the spine of the Blue Ridge. As you go south (Jonesborough area), the Appalachians sprawl out to a massive expanse of mountain that can take hours to cross as opposed to a faster trip up and down over that spine. From my perspective, it is a difference of ridge after ridge of rugged mountains vs basically one major spine. So it’s more a matter of massive in breadth as opposed to height. To the south, the Appalachians break up into several mountain ranges including the Iron Mtns and the Nantahalas. That was very daunting travel for the early settlers and, if you venture off the new main roads, it remains so today.

    (Believe me, you definitely can get challenges when off the main roads near Troutville also! We once ventured off the Blue Ridge Pkwy in as small car towing a camper trailer down a dirt road to Cave Mtn Lake. Today I can only wonder as the brass cojones and foolishness that allowed me to get away from it. But road challenges have always been part of my makeup. Look up Hell’s Backbone UT. No longer quite so challenging, but in a sedan two years ago it was still “interesting” . Sorry for the diversion, but it may offer some perspective. 30 years ago, I would have hiked into these areas — now I’m just happy to get there.)

    by Rich — May 13, 2017

  22. This is for Ed LaFreniere …I have lived here for nearly 2 years. I haven’t gotten ‘rock’ fever yet. As far as size, the Big Island is about as large as Connecticut and Rhode Island together. When I lived in CT I never drove that far anyway. If I wanted to travel far it was generally by plane. Having said all that you need to understand that Hawaii has pluses and minuses, just like anywhere. It is very dependent on your ‘list’. I’ve visited Arizona a few times and personally see why you might like it. But it is very different than Hawaii. Sometimes there is more than one place you might like but if you set your criteria and weigh the items by importance it will help you. Not sure if we are suppose to give out contact information but if you have any specific questions, I’ll check back on here in a couple of days. Good Luck!

    by Mejask — May 13, 2017

  23. Mejask, can you tell us what it is like to live in Hawaii? Where do you shop for groceries and how do they compare to CT? I also live in CT.

    Also, what does average housing cost, is car and home insurance comparable? How about electricity costs?

    Do you have seasons? How about hurricanes?

    Would be very interested in hearing what life is like in Hawaii. How about dealing with tourists? I think if you can afford to live in CT you probably can afford to live in Hawaii! Do you rent a home or condo or Did you buy something?

    by Louise — May 14, 2017

  24. Thanks, Rich! What a great description of a spine as compared to ridge upon ridge. Now, i’ll know what to look for upon visiting Virginia. I’m not sure if it will matter to me as my love for the mountains developed in the Green Mts. of Vermont. More of spine country, wouldn’t you say? So, we’ll see. Thanks, again. I’ll let you know what i think of VA.

    by ella — May 15, 2017

  25. To MEJASK_Big Island.

    My requests(questions) agree with Louise’s of 05/14/2017.
    Been to HAWAII several times on business trips during the ‘9o’s. LOVED IT BUT so expensive!? If able, my wife & I would relocate to the big Island in a heartbeate.
    EAGERLY await your response.

    by Barry — May 15, 2017

  26. Mejask: thank you kindly.

    by Ed LaFreniere — May 16, 2017

  27. As Rich indicated above, state by state comparisons and rankings are “virtually worthless.” “Best of” lists are nothing more than a way for web sites and magazines to generate subscriptions and ad revenue. There are wonderful areas to retire to in the Carolinas, for example, but also some pretty mediocre places. Averaging out the data for an entire state is of no use to those looking to live in one town. Again, as Rich wisely said, local research is necessary to make the best decision. One other caution: Do not trust an anecdote in a magazine that touts a particular town or community; people who have invested six-figures in a home tend to self-validate their choice. And, of course, when other people move to their community, it stabilizes their home values. While this could certainly happen as well at a site like Top Retirements, the sheer number of anecdotes here and personal reflections makes it a better source of considered opinions than any “best of” lists.

    by Larry — May 17, 2017

  28. I agree with Linda (formerly of Minnesota).
    The lists are all over the place and one on even lists mostly northern states to retire to. Really?
    I need warmer weather and that definitely rules out those states.

    by Curt — May 17, 2017

  29. Louise, Barry and Ed…Wow I didn’t realize so much interest in Hawaii! This is just a quick note to say I will post a detailed response later today…well if you are on the East coast it is 6 hours later already! Check back. I will do my best to organize it so it isn’t a ‘ramble’! Aloha…Mary Ellen

    by Mejask — May 17, 2017

  30. Here is further information some of you wanted on Hawaii. A little about me so you have some gage as to my views. I grew up in Illinois, lived some time in Washington state and the Southeast and then most of my career in Connecticut. I moved to the Big Island in July 2015. I have been to the Honolulu area on Oahu but not to Kaui or Maui which are the other islands people may choose to locate. My input on the islands that I haven’t visited will be brief and is mostly from what folks here have told me.

    The Islands

    Maui, Kaui and Oahu are much smaller in size than the Big Island and their land mass could easily fit inside the Big Island with room to spare. All of these islands are more expensive than the Big Island. The biggest expense difference is real estate. Each island is a county of Hawaii. You will not find typical adult retirement communities in Hawaii like you will in Arizona or Florida. There may be something similar on Oahu.

    Oahu of course is where Honolulu is located so over 90% of the population lives on Oahu. If you want to retire in Hawaii and want continual access to urban living then Oahu is where you would choose to live. There are communities outside of Honolulu as well as urban living. I briefly considered getting a condo in Honolulu so I could mostly walk to things and enjoy the urban life style. I have a friend who just moved here from Oahu a few months ago. They lived there several years and enjoyed it but were tired of the faster paced life style.

    Maui and Kaui have been extremely popular tourist destinations and I have been told that Maui is getting over crowded now.

    The Big Island is the most diverse geographically and as mentioned has more territory to cover so you may not feel restricted as much. This island has just about any climate and geography you want. They say it has all the micro-climates of the world but one. I could take you places here that you would never guess you were in Hawaii if you didn’t already know! The active volcano is here and there are four other identified (mainly dormant) volcanos. You need to be aware of that when looking at places to live. We also experience earthquakes here. Most of them you don’t feel or if you do it isn’t anything major. Years and years ago one happened that did knock things off of shelves I am told. If you are looking for urban living or a shopping mecca this is not the place to live. Folks here do sometimes take a weekend in Honolulu to get their fix.

    Climate and Locations on Big Island

    First let me say that Hawaii’s weather is not like Florida. It can get somewhat humid here and that depends greatly on where you live but it is nothing like Florida humidity. Also, we generally get trade winds that make a big difference.

    I live on the Kona (dry / leeward/ west) side of the island. This is where most tourists visit and stay. There are places in Kona, to the south and further north are the resorts. There are locations north of Kona where folks choose to live. They vary in the climate, terrain and facilities available. Waikoloa and Waimea are the two larger areas but there are others. Hilo is the largest town and is on the wet/ windward/ east side of the island. It has its own charm but is not as popular with visitors as it rains more often. There are retirees that love it over on that side and there are many smaller places beginning to become popular. It is less expensive to buy real estate on that side of the island. The other main area is the south side of the island. This is generally more rural and you begin to get closer to lava flow zones that are riskier. I could go on and on about details of places but this gives you some sense of things.
    The other aspect of location is elevation. I live at 1500 feet and am about a 10 minute drive to sea level. There is up to a 10 degree difference in the temperatures and generally precipitation and afternoon cloud cover. There are places at higher elevations where it can get into the lower 40’s at night. So, many choices.

    Real Estate and Property Taxes on Big Island

    Cost of real estate is expensive. However, compared to many places in Connecticut, other East Coast locations or say San Francisco it is not. I won’t venture an ‘average’ cost as that is misleading. It depends on the life style you want. Rentals can be difficult to find but are available. I built a home and while I was purchasing the property and then construction was underway I lived in a furnished condo in south Kona (Keauhou) for a year. Housing prices continue to increase here and the Big Island is becoming more and more popular. Condos are an alternative but you will find that condo fees run from $500 to $1200 or so a month. It may be a good trade off, you just have to do the math. Also, many condo complexes on the west side of the island are available and used as vacation rentals so you need to really understand what it will be like if you choose condo living. Again, too many details to write here but that is a bit different than what you might be use to in your area. Property taxes here for full time residents are very low and there are breaks for seniors. If you live in a high tax state you should find this a big cost savings.

    Life Style, Shopping, Taxes, Health Care, Costs etc.

    Life style here is pretty laid back. If you are an impatient person you will struggle here. In general people are very nice and will give you any kind of information or help you need. However, the culture is such that people may feel it rude to assume you need help so you need to ask. There is plenty of diversity here and if that is uncomfortable for you then you need to rethink coming here. You will find little pretense or anybody even asking about your background, job, etc.

    If you need a shopping mecca this is not the place to be. But we do have the big box stores like Target, Walmart, Kmart, Macy’s and Costco, Pier One, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. There are also furniture stores, drug stores, all the type of things you expect including options for groceries as well as farmers’ markets or friends who grow fruit! But you won’t find shopping malls like on the mainland unless you go to Honolulu. Things are somewhat more here and you have to remember we are on an island so most things are flown or shipped in. Amazon prime is great!

    There are cinemas and there are local theater groups and many other local volunteer or activity groups. Ocean activities, golf, biking, hiking, walking, beach, gardening, senior group, on and on. You will need to reach out and join in though. I currently volunteer one day a week at our local snorkel beach helping visitors understand reef safety and identify sea life. I meet all kinds of interesting folks from all over the world. It is actually easy to avoid tourists if that bothers you but even doing ‘tourist’ activities I haven’t found that a problem. I suppose if you frequent the resorts you will feel more of that. And tourists are a big contributor to the economy so we like to have much Aloha spirit toward them!

    Health care could be an issue if you have any major ongoing health needs. Nearly all the coverage here will take you to Honolulu for any major surgery etc. I am fairly healthy and utilize the HMO here so I am happy. You just need to understand your situation. If you need constant care for some critical condition I would not move to the Big Island.

    Income taxes are high here for wage earners but for retirees can be pretty good. There is no tax on Social Security and almost all pensions are not taxed (regardless of what some websites seem to indicate). Anything you contributed to, like IRA or 401k, will have some tax liability upon withdrawal. But depending on how much you withdraw you could end up with a minor amount of taxes.

    Generally, insurance rates are not more than I found in CT for home or automobile. But if you require hurricane coverage or earthquake cover that will be more. There are storms here and have been tsunamis…mostly on windward side… but devastating storms are very infrequent. I would be more worried in other areas of the US than here.

    Electricity is expensive and water can be expensive. If you can use solar you will greatly reduce electric costs. I guess you have to know your usage and understand what trade- offs you are making. I don’t have air conditioning or heat like I did in Connecticut. I pay more for electric and water but I save way more on property and income taxes.

    It would be wise to look at your overall picture when it comes to costs. As everyone has said on this blog you need to consider each aspect of what you want for retirement. I love it here and think overall my costs are at most even with Connecticut, maybe less and Hawaii and Connecticut are two very different places!

    Some issues you find here: Vog – produced from the volcano…it bothers some…does diminish the views on occasion. Homelessness is a problem constantly being addressed in Hawaii. The biggest crime issue is theft. I haven’t experienced an issue but you have to use common sense….really like anywhere.

    There is a community website called that has a forum for visitors and residents alike. Folks just ask a lot of questions about many topics. You can’t search it but I look at it every day to see if there is anything I am interested in or can help with. If you sign up on the site you can email someone who asks a question or just answer on the site. I usually email through the site if I can provide any detail.

    I’m sure I forgot something. There is so much detail that could be provided but hope this gives you some information to consider. Best of luck to all of you. Aloha, Mary Ellen

    Editor’s Note: Wow, thanks Mary Ellen, this is very helpful and interesting. We are going to create a new Blog post for this on its own, we know lots of people will find it useful. We just love inside reports like this – thanks! (PS, we tried contacting you but your email address bounced)

    by Mejask — May 17, 2017

  31. Mary Ellen, What a great synopsis of Hawaii! Thank you very much!

    by Louise — May 18, 2017

  32. Editor, why don’t you create a blog post for each state where people can report on the good, bad and the uglies of the state they live in. Maybe you could come up with a format to address particular issues. Like cost of housing, cost of utilities, grocery shopping, big box stores, weather issues such as inches of rain, volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, restaurants, etc. Could be very fun to read and get a perspective of people who actually live in certain parts of a state. The Hawaii piece was very interesting and the author really put a lot of her time and energy into it.

    by Louise — May 18, 2017

  33. Louise has a great idea. Too often, your posts about a specific state seem to be ads for various senior communities. Most states are fairly large with differing virtues and challenges. Take Virginia, for instance. The Washington, DC suburbs and southwestern part of the state are verry different. Lumping them together provides little useful data.

    by Sandie — May 19, 2017

  34. Sandie:

    I live in NW DC and I agree with you. Northern VA is a totally different area from the Southern parts of Virginia south of Charlottesville and Richmond. A whole different world. Life is slower and less hectic. One feels like they are truly in the south there. The DC Metro area is very expensive and has a lot of traffic. We live at a breakneck pace. They need to be considered as two separate areas. As long as one is within driving distance or train distance in my case, you can still benefit from the activities of the DC area and live a fair distance away. I would not hesitate to move to southwestern Virginia since I am a history buff and I love the mountains.

    by Jennifer — May 20, 2017

  35. These Comments about Maine were moved here from another Blog :

    Jeff raises a very important point – it is important to understand the the scope of the state income tax and local taxes. In Maine – everything is taxed: all sources of income, state pensions, SS, you name it! We retired to SC just over a year ago – no tax on SS at all, generous credits for state pensions and retired folks. State income tax is less than 10% of what it would have been as a retired resident in Maine. In addition, local homesteading deductions on property tax and not paying the school tax once you reach the age of 65, keep our property tax about 15% of what it was in Maine! Also, services here are not as heavily and broadly taxed as they were in Maine. The sales tax is 1% higher, and more in surrounding southern states, but you will probably buy much less in retirement. Less “stuff” is a common theme in our circle of friends… Do all of your research in your comparison of states to retire to – from the state to particular localities you are considering. No surprises is the way to go!?by SandyZ — July 18, 2017 |

    SandyZ – (currently in SE TN) We are getting ready to retire and move to Maine. From the Maine gov’t website – the state does NOT tax Soc. Sec.. Is that wrong? I understand the higher property taxes but it still seems to be the best deal in New England. We’re going for cooler weather and Maine Medical. Would love your input, or anyone else’s from Maine ( HEF — July 18, 2017 |

    HEF, you are correct. Maine does not tax Social Security income. I did not know the answer to this, so I checked out the state’s website. What a useless piece of you know what! So, I emailed the tax division and received a prompt answer.?My husband and I are Maine natives who returned to Maine in January 2015 after spending 12 delightful years in the Memphis area (yes, I am being sarcastic). We are so happy to be home! We felt like fish out of water there. Thankfully, his employer transferred him back to corporate headquarters.?One thing we have both learned since returning to Maine is that we do not plan to retire here. The winters are so darn long and depressing. We plan to sell our house here in Maine and live in Florida for 7-8 months a year and spend summers in Maine in an RV until we get too old for that. Then we don’t know what we’ll do in the summers, but we’ll figure it out once we get to that point. We still have four years until we retire – DH at 64 and me at 63. ?Norma?by Norma — July 18, 2017 |

    Norma – please e-mail me – would love to chat more about Maine. We are actively looking for a house – lets talk.?HEF?by HEF — July 18, 2017 |
    I stand corrected – yes, Maine is no longer taxing your SS. Please understand that local taxes are very comprehensive and will surprise you in their scope. Check it all out carefully!?by SandyZ — July 19, 2017 | Edit This
    States That Exempt Social Security – The Balance? link may be helpful for those of you researching….?by SandyZ — July 19, 2017 |

    Please post information here as we are also very interested in Maine. We’ve taken many vacations to NE and are not big on the hot humid summers in the southern states. We still need to explore more areas. Our priorities are high quality healthcare along with active outdoor walking trails, pet friendly, easy access to the coast (love fresh seafood) and food stores with plenty of organic options.?Based on some of the conversations I’ve read here I don’t see us in “some” of the southern areas. We have visited FL many times and the only areas with appeal was near Sarasota visiting Anna Maria Island and Long Boat Key. We did not care for Clear Water, Sanibel or Fort Myers areas and Naples did not impress either. Everyone is different so various destinations will work for some but not others. We do love the PNW another area high on our list.?by JoannL — July 19, 2017 |

    JoannL – Living in Maine is a very broad subject. Do you have any particular questions you would like answered??by Norma — July 20, 2017 |

    JoanneL – there are many differences in specific areas of Maine – you like the coast…southern Maine, where I lived for 38 years has gorgeous coastal towns and beaches, but is getting a bit crowded and super pricey. However there are a few manufactured home communities in southern Maine. Portland is a fun, walkable small city – again very pricey. Mid-coast is lovely and quieter. Downeast along the coast – from say north of Bar Harbor to Canada is remote but stunning! All have long long winters and short but spectacular summers – no place better in July and August! Mainers are a hard-working and reserved bunch, very family oriented and slow to warm to those “from away”. But there are a few retirement communities that bring in new folks. There is a good magazine titled Maine that you could order to give you more info. Good luck!?by SandyZ — July 20, 2017 |

    JoanneL – we are getting ready to retire to Maine. Happy to share the info we’ve collected. Write to me directly – my e-mail is above.?by HEF — July 21, 2017 |

    by Jane at Topretirements — July 22, 2017

  36. Very interesting comments about Maine. Would it be possible to make a separate page for Maine? We would like to know much more from those who are retired or are getting ready to retire in Maine as we are very seriously considering this beautiful state for our retirement.
    Is there any 55+ community that does not charge an astronomical entry fee (besides a high monthly cost) that they promise to refund when you leave, eg Falmouth (we are looking around or South of Portland). We don’t have heirs therefore we could care less about this refund.
    Also does Maine have the same type of help for senior than the Michigan Waver Program? Assets protection for the one whose spouse has dementia and must live in a Memory facility?

    by Brigitte — July 24, 2017

  37. Re: Virginia (Sandy and Jennifer comments):

    I too am a history buff and would love to spend my retirement combing the halls of Smithsonian museums. Throughout my life I’ve vacationed in Washington D.C. Alexandria would be perfect but very expensive. Any suggestions about other places in the area near the metro? Charlottesville seems like it might be a bit isolated but would be interested in hearing more about it? Have lived in downtown Chicago for the last 30+ years and would be interested in something a little slower pace and but am concerned about culture shock just the same.

    by Karen — July 25, 2017

  38. Hi Karen:

    I love Charlottesville and the mountains and there are now trains daily from there to DC so you could still see all the museums you wanted. I do not feel Charlottesville is isolated in the least. It has a wonderful university and still retains some of the southern charm in spite of all the building there. There are no really cheap areas worth living in in the metro area. It is all expensive just less so in the suburbs BUT you wear our your car driving and the costs go into the car tank and for insurance and maintenance. What I would do is find a small apartment in a condo in DC and get rid of the car–use Uber, cabs, or the metro and bus system. Most people do this and take the train and planes to travel out of the area. This way they do not need car insurance, inspections etc. and what I pay to have the car which I plan to sell soon) could buy a lot of Uber rides. To have a care in NW DC is very expensive.

    by Jennifer — July 27, 2017

  39. Ladies, As a 20 year DC condo & car owning resident … I claim it’s too expensive anymore to even rent

    by Rich — July 28, 2017

  40. Rich, I have owned my one bedroom in a co-op since 1997-twenty years and I feel the way you do. Way too expensive here, Owning a car now is just a very expensive proposition with insurance and maintenance that can buy a lot of Uber rides. I looked at the rents and they are way too high. I am really glad that I bought my home 20 years ago. I have no idea how renters save to buy a home–IF they even want to buy these days. If you can really live small that would be the way to go.

    by Jennifer — July 29, 2017

  41. Ms J – I disagree on the car scenario BUT, I could understand from where you’re coming.Of course 20 years ago the NW quadrant was preferred and today it’s still the higher end but you guys can afford it – (:>)) “some DC Council type snark” And although I have, as a dutiful urbanite, Uber, Lyft, Zipcar, C2G and a rental agency 1 block away as well as having membership numbers on the other 2; but when I want my car – I want my car! Yet the new DC car ownership numbers follow your thoughts on your very valid point.

    My condo (same year as yours) has increased 7X its ’97 price. We both know the outlandish taxes (11% on store bought prepared foods) here as to do we know the Beltway. (2nd worst in the country – takes me 45-60 minutes on a normal day to go < 20 miles to Rockville) YET, for all of its "crap", I'll not move! It is not a slow pace here and maybe that's what ma this soon to be octogenarian's blood flowing?

    by Rich — July 29, 2017

  42. Sorry for the download burp in my not finishing my previous:

    So Ms Karen, unless Ur that very, very special type, I think you might want to plan on $275/day on a visit doing your ‘history buffing’

    Don’t forget a Metro card.

    And remember that there are ONLY 59

    and they don’t allow you to buy bottled water while on the Mall

    by Rich — July 29, 2017

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