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Dueling Retirement States: DE vs. VA vs. MD vs. NJ

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

Updated March 28, 2016 (Original article was October 5 – 2010)–
This is the second in our extensive series comparing various states and regions as retirement destinations. You can find links to all of the comparison articles under “Further Reading” at the end of this article.

Our approach in this series is to evaluate various factors for each state, letting our readers draw their own conclusions from the facts. As always, reader input is extremely important. We encourage you to use the Comments section below to tell your stories and express your preferences. Note that since this article was written in 2010 there has been a steady stream of comments and suggestions about various towns and communities in these states, as well as other issues.

A note about taxes as a retirement consideration. Comparing taxes between these states illustrates the perils of a simplistic approach. NJ, MD, and DE are among the top half of high tax burden states. But if you focus on taxation just for retirees, Delaware and MD become more attractive. The type of tax is what should be focused on, and how it affects you. See rest of article for more.

Population (Data from American Fact Finder-U.S. Census Bureau).
With the exception of tiny Delaware, all 4 of these states have fairly high populations. Maryland’s population is 6,006,401 with 12.3% of its population over 65. New Jersey has 8,958,000 residents; 14.7% are over 65. Virginia has a population of 8,382,993 with 13.8% over 65. Delaware’s estimated 2015 population is by far the smallest at 945,934, but that was a 5.3% increase from 2010, the highest increase in any of these states. It also has a relatively high proportion of residents over 65 (14.4%). These states attract most of their retirees from within their own borders or the northeast.

Economics and Home Prices.
All 4 states have higher home prices than the national 2010-2014 median of $175,700 (Census Bureau) or the Zillow 2016 median of $184,600. The national household income median was $53,482 in 2010-2014; all of these states were higher. Of the 4 states compared here, Delaware has the lowest home prices and household income. Home prices in all of these states had not yet recovered in 2010-2014 from what they were in the pre-recession area 4 years previously.

Delaware’s median home value in 2010-2014 was $232,800 (Census Bureau). According to the Zillow Home Value Index the value of a home was $210,900 in 2016. DE household income is $60,231.

Maryland’s 2010-14 home value was $287,500 (Census Bureau), a significant decline from 2006-10. HH income was $74,149.

New Jersey’s 2010-2104 US Census reported home value was $319,900, declining from a few years previously. Median HH income was $72,062.

Virginia homes had a median value of $243,500 in 2010-2014, according to the Census Bureau. HH income was $64,792.

There are no significant differences between these 4 states are far as climate goes. New Jersey has the coldest winters, but only by a few degrees. Source:
State (City) Avg. July High Avg Jan Low
Delaware (Dover) 87 27
Maryland (Baltimore) 89 29
New Jersey (Trenton) 86 24
Virginia (Richmond) 90 28

Tax Environment
Delaware generally has a reputation as a tax-friendly state for retirees among this group, although it has a fairly high overall tax burden. Delaware was ranked in 2012 ( as having the 16th highest tax burden in the nation. The highest individual income tax rate there is 6.6%. It does have several pieces of good news for retirees: It has no sales tax.; it is the 48th highest for per capita property taxes; social security income is not taxed; and $12,500 of pension income is not taxed. DE does not have an estate tax.
Maryland is a high tax state with the 7th highest 2012 tax burden in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. It has a top income tax rate of 5.75%; sales tax is 6%. On the plus side for retirees, it is the 25th highest for property taxes, and does not tax social security. Some residents over 65 can deduct up to $27,100 of their pension income (out of state income not included). Military personnel can deduct up to $5,000 of their military pensions. MD and NJ are among the few states that have both an estate and an inheritance tax.
New Jersey has the dubious distinction of being the #3 highest state for its tax burden, according to the Tax Foundation. Its top income tax rate is 8.97%; sales tax is 7%. Particularly hurtful for retirees, NJ has the highest per-capita property taxes in the nation. Fortunately, social security is not taxed. Some taxpayers may get exemptions from certain pension income. It has both an estate tax and an inheritance tax.
Virginia could be considered tax-friendly, at least compared to NJ and MD. It has the 27th highest state/local tax burden. The top income tax rate is a relatively modest 5.75%; sales tax is 5.3% (plus localities must collect an additional 1%). Residents who are age 65 may be entitled to $12,000 deductions, up to some income restrictions. Social Security income is exempt. It is ranked 18th highest in per capita property taxes. There are no inheritance or estate taxes.

For more facts about each state see our various State and Country Retirement Guides.

Physical Environment and Diversity
All 4 of these states are approximately the same from a geographic basis. All have a long coast line and/or waterfront on large bays. All are close to major cities in the Northeast. Virginia is the most distinctive and diverse of the 4, thanks to the mountains in its western half,

Places to Live
All 4 states have at least one important city, and all offer wide choices of college towns, beach communities, or livable small towns. Delaware and Virginia had towns that made our 2016 list of 100 Best Retirement Towns. Virginia had 3: Charlottesville (the highest ranked of these at #19), Williamsburg, and Winchester. Delaware had 2 towns on the top 100 list: Rehoboth Beach and Lewes.

Choice of Active Communities
Virginia and New Jersey seem to have the widest variety of active adult communities. At Topretirements we count 55 communities in our Delaware Directory of Active Communities, 54 in our Maryland Directory, 80 in the New Jersey Directory, and 91 in the Virginia Directory of Active Communities.

Retirement Popularity
Based only on the number of towns making the Topretirements’ list of 100 Best Retirement Towns, one could conclude that Delaware and Virginia are the most popular states for retirement among these 4. Delaware’s low tax property taxes and no sales tax are among the important reasons for its popularity; its beach towns like Rehoboth are another. New Jersey, as expensive as it is, does have many, many retirees living there and some attractive retirement towns like Princeton and those on the South Jersey shore (such as Toms River and Brick). In our opinion Maryland is an under-rated retirement destination. It might have high taxes, but it does have many charming and historic towns like Annapolis, Chestertown, and Leonardtown that make great retirement spots.

Aesthetics and Intangibles
All of these states have their admirers and each has its detractors. But all of them contain some wonderful places to retire, if the mid-Atlantic region is the region where you would like to retire. Rather than take sides on the issue, we recommend that you visit cities and towns in these states and see if you can’t find the place of your dreams. The region is not that big – in a few trips you should be able to get a good idea of the places that could offer you a happy retirement experience.

For your reference:
State Retirement Guides
Gulf Coast Retirement: Sun, Tax-friendly, and a Lower Coast of Living
Retirement 101 Mid-Atlantic States: MD, DE, VA, NJ
Florida Retirement 101
Dueling Carolinas: NC vs. SC
Dueling States: Arizona vs. Florida
California Retirement 101
Retirement in the Southwest: AZ, NM, and Utah
The Mountain States: CO, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY
Dueling States Mid-South: TN, GA, KY, AL
The Pacific Northwest: Oregon vs. Washington

What state do you prefer? Let us know in the comments section below.

Posted by John Brady on October 5th, 2010


  1. […] your reference: Part II: Comparing Mid-Atlantic States – DE, MD, NJ, VA The Best of the Best Places to Retire How North Carolina Climbed over Florida as #1 Retirement […]

    by » Dueling Retirement States: Arizona vs. Florida Topretirements — October 6, 2010

  2. There are many ‘tax friendly’ lists published for those who wish to move, but few especially for the retiree. A pretty long time ago I saw a Kiplinger’s article that specifically compared all states as regards to retiree finances, and Delaware was by far the winner. Of the three counties, the bottom two were preferable.

    Of course, there are other variables, such as proximity to a good teaching hospital and perhaps a college.

    by Joan Dalton — October 6, 2010

  3. I’m originally from NJ and am thinking of going back to retire there. Family is there. South NJ, Pine Barrens, Whiting area. In your “Dueling States, NJ, MD, VA, DE” article, DE is very enticing for retirees; especially with all the tax advantages etc. NJ is high. But to visit family the travel from DE to NJ is long. Is it worth it? Help! Comment/suggestions from any one?

    by Vincent Sabath — October 6, 2010

  4. @ Vincent Sabath: Depends on what you mean by “long”. Two possible alternatives to Delaware that would be within a reasonable drive to southern NJ would be the upper counties of Maryland’s eastern shore and southeastern PA. MD is a high tax state and the trip would be as long as from Delaware. Conversely, PA is more tax-friendly and if you retired to a community north of Philadelphia, a road trip over to the Whiting area would be a lot more doable. And the SEPTA rail system in SE PA would give you a lot of public transportation access all over the Philly area.

    by Glenn — October 10, 2010

  5. Hey Vinnie! I’m originally from Jersey. Retire in Lewes, DE, take the ferry and a short NJTransit train ride and you/re there! Good Luck. I’m thinking of DE as well!

    by Marie — October 13, 2010

  6. […] » Dueling Retirement States: De Vs. Va Vs. Md Vs. Nj Topretirements […]

    by Baltimore City Property Tax | Maryland | County Property Tax — October 19, 2010

  7. […] » Dueling Retirement States: DE vs. VA vs. MD vs. NJ Topretirements […]

    by Retirement Communities – Why Live in a Retirement Community — October 26, 2010

  8. […] retirement destinations. Don’t miss the first, Florida vs. Arizona Retirement, or the second, Delaware vs. Maryland vs. Virginia vs. New Jersey. We welcome ideas for future […]

    by » Dueling Carolinas: North Carolina vs. South Carolina As the Best Retirement State Topretirements — November 15, 2010

  9. Hey Glenn, I live north of Philadelphia. It is a very nice area. But we will
    not be able to retire here because the taxes are very high. I have lived here
    all my life.

    by Ken — February 2, 2012

  10. Southern Delaware is wonderful and has tons of things to do. We live just above Lewes DE right off Coastal Highway. Easy trip to the beaches without the traffic hassels. (about 11 minutes from Milford) we have great food stores, Tanger Outlets, Hundreds of restaurants of all types, (we are the ‘Culinary Coast’), Classes for adults at University of Delaware, Lewes Campus, and of course, our gorgeous clean beaches. Retired here 6 years ago from PA to TAX FRIENDLY DE! Downsized and bought a beautiful new condo. Could not be happier!

    by Coastal Lady — August 29, 2012

  11. To Coastal Lady – thanks for the comments about DE. My husband and I are looking around the Lewes/Rehoboth area as our destination, sometime next spring. Hadn’t seen many comments here from DE retirees so yours were a welcome sight, especially since they were so positive!

    by KathyJ — August 30, 2012

  12. Coastal Lady, thanks for the DE update. I hope to fly up early next year to look at various communities – will probably start looking in the Lewes/Milton area. My husband and I are from NJ originally and are currently living in Houston (which I will be so glad to leave due to HOT HOT summers, high property taxes and terrible traffic.) We originally considered PA but decided on DE due to low property taxes and overall tax friendliness to retirees. Do you live in Milford? What is the name of your community? Thanks again for your positive comments.

    by Fionna — August 30, 2012

  13. I also live in Nj and looking at DE as a tax friendly state to retire. I love saltwater fishing and need beaches close to where i will live.Has anyone visited coastal DE community’s? I think i would like a all age community rather than 55 and over.

    by Snapper05 — August 30, 2012

  14. My wife and I have been investigating where our “best place to semi-retire” will be. We’ve used topretirements extensively, as well as many other sources – lots of them were gleaned from comments posted on this website. Our criteria are complex – family, home prices, taxes, weather, access to water/beaches, healthcare, and so on.

    Three criteria – home prices, access to water/beaches and family led us to focus on FL and DE. We both have lived in the MD/DC area most of our lives and much of our family is in the area. Over the past year, our research gave us insight.

    I favored it partly because one of my brothers lives in FL and I attended college for a year and lived in Boca Raton. But, for the past year, I kept records for temperature and dew point for Annapolis, MD and Melbourne, FL. [Dew point is a humidity measure of comfort/discomfort. Any dewpoint over about 70% is not comfortable.]

    The results were revealing. For FL, the DP was 70% or over 50% of 263 days (didn’t recored results all 365 days) whereas MD was 70% or over 17% of 263 days – and MD/DC is considered humid. And it is, but for far fewer days].

    We have decided to move to DE. Low taxes, most any town in Sussex county is close to the beach. Taxes of all kinds are very low. Home prices for a given floor area are higher on average than FL homes but not substantially so, and Annapolis is about 1.5-2.0 hrs away. Lots of other reasons too. We like DE.

    by Roger — August 31, 2012

  15. Concerning the information about Maryland Tax: you forgot to mention the additonal, up to, 3% county income tax which you must add to the 6% state income tax. 8.5% to 9% is probably more accurate.

    by Brent Cole — August 31, 2012

  16. Thanks for sharing your very interesting research. Delaware has come up as tops on tax-friendly screens, but I’d never before seen facts on humidity or the dew point. I’m not a major fan of humidity.

    by Linda — August 31, 2012

  17. For me the only down side for DE is winters same as NJ.Guess i can go to warmer climate for a long 3 month weekend.:lol:

    by Snapper05 — August 31, 2012

  18. As you can see, we live in NJ. Just got another tax hike 😥 and we are done with NJ. We too are looking at DE. For those of you who made the move any suggestions on how/what/where did you find your fav location in DE. Any suggestions on a real estate agency? We plan to visit Sussex county this month to look around.

    by Bernadetteinnj — September 1, 2012

  19. We live in Minnesota but my wife’s children reside in New Jersey. We have visited DE and fell in love with Lewes, but did not spent much time there. In addition to concerns about medical care, I am very concerned about public transprotation. I know about the Lewes-Cape May Ferry and the trolley service from Lewes to Rohebeth Beach(but nothing about the frequency). Can anyone give us information about other forms of public and private transprotation? Thank you.

    by brutae — September 2, 2012

  20. All the info above is great. My husband and I are young retiree’s (59) and are looking to move closer to our grandchildren, currently have a 10 hr drive. DE sounds the best to us and will only be a 2-3 hour drive.
    We’re looking for 55+ communities with many activities; any suggestions?

    by leavingduxma — February 16, 2013

  21. Stay out of Maryland taxes and hidden fees going up all the time. We live in MD but cannot wait to retire and get out Just got hit with rain tax

    by skinsfan — June 17, 2013

  22. i believe nj is the best place to retire base on things to do and place to go . since i love the theater and art nj, with its access to new york , atlantic city, phyli , the beach,all one to two hours away . however with its tax burden new jersey have lots of room for improvement

    by roy b — September 11, 2013

  23. We live in Red Bank Nj ( and love it here. I’m retired 3 years and my wife retires next month. We would love to stay here but the real estate taxes are 9,000 a year. Plus state tax and sales tax. Roy B is right there is so much to do here. We are 6 miles from the beach, an hour and a half car ride to Atlantic City and Philadelphia, an hour and a half train to Penn Stataion NYC, an 8 mile drive and 45 minute ferry to South Street Seaport in NYC, Jets and Giants, Yankees and Mets, Rangers and Devils, Knicks, all close by. Red Bank has very walkable downtown ( with lots of restaurants and stores. Lots of events in the town: a food wine walk 5 times a year, Riverfest festival, Oyster festival, Classic Cars weekend, Street Fair, concerts in the park. Within 6 miles of Monmouth University which has Division 1 basketball and Brookdale Community College which offers classes at very reasonable prices. Lots of parks in the area for hiking (, 2 dog parks within 6 miles, 1 mile from a Trader Joe’s and 3 miles to Whole Foods. A great area to live in. So why are we thinking of moving? I would love to have warm weather year round and the cost of living is high.

    by Mike Sinark — September 12, 2013

  24. There are also 2 theatres in town for plays and concerts.

    by Mike Sinark — September 12, 2013

  25. skinsfan-I too am a Skins fan – we will survive:) Okay, I have never heard of a rain tax before…could you explain that in more detail, all I can think of is now they are taxing water? Wow! The powers that be may add a tax to water bills, okay, but a RAIN tax? Really? I am just curious…

    by DianaF — September 12, 2013

  26. Can’t wait to escape NJ – as fast as possible. Property taxes are userous and traffic is omnipresent. Yes, there is lots to do, but I would gladly trade more boredom for less mass confusion and governmental control.
    We can move to practically any other state (with the exclusions of California and NY)and give ourselves a big raise. We;ll find things to do – not worried about that. Just hoep we find someone desperate enough to buy our house in NJ.

    by Kelly — September 12, 2013

  27. Kelly we moved from CT to Florida and then Texas and could not believe how much cheaper it was! We would never move back to the North East! Talk about a rat race! CT taxes you on everything although I heard taxes are worse in NJ! If you like the warm weather look south if you like the cold look into Co. Good luck where ever you end up.

    by Skip — September 13, 2013

  28. […] » Dueling Retirement States: DE vs. VA vs. MD vs. NJ Topretirements says […]

    by » How North Carolina Climbed over Florida as Favorite Retirement State Topretirements — September 30, 2013

  29. We too are looking to retire. I really love the jersey shore. My husband wants DE. The HOA fees in DE are high. Many rules and restrictions. No trees in the newer communities. Would like to be closer to the beach, but houses more expensive than jersey

    by Loretta Swope — July 31, 2014

  30. Still working and live in Va. Bought a short sale house in Frankford (1.5 miles from Bethany Beach ..a hidden gem). Can’t wait to fully port over out of Vriginia to Delaware. The winters are cold down there but the money you save in taxes you can rent a place in Florida. No brainer. Delaware is cheaper than Florida too (as far as full time living ). Something to consider.

    by pete — December 6, 2014

  31. Can some of you who go South for the winter explain how you can leave your house unoccupied for 3-6 months of the year? We have a boiler in our home and although brand new, anything can happen to knock it out, not heat the house and the pipes could bust and flood the interior of our home? Sometimes when we lose power, the boiler may need to be manually restarted. Not to mention, a pipe under your sink could bust and it would be gushing water and flood the house and basement. It happened to my Mom where the kitchen pipe busted and she was bailing water while trying to call a plumber. Fortunately they rushed to her house and turned off the valve. Not to mention when my Mom passed and we sold her car that tipped off the insurance people and they would not insure an unoccupied house once the policy expired. This was AARP insurance. We had to pay HUGE insurance bills through another insurance company till the house was sold. If the insurance company should find out you had not occupied the home for months, and it got damaged, they may not pay if a disastrous event occurs. Another person I know had a fully electric home and turned off his thermostat and went away for a few weeks in the middle of the winter. When he got home, his pipes had busted somewhere in his house and when he came back his house was really a mess and he had many thousands of dollars in damages. A major renovation occurred to repair the disaster. Not to mention, burglars target houses that appear unoccupied. These are just a few worries I would have if I left my home for month’s at a time. On our previous vacations we put timers on lights all over the house to come on and off to make it look lived in and of coarse stopped newspapers and mail.

    by Louise — December 7, 2014

  32. Oh, and one more thing, during the winter we have had some particularly harsh winters where snow on the roof builds up, turns to ice and can be potentially bad as iced up gutters hold all this snow in place. Ice can cut into the roof and cause leaks through the ceilings in the house. About 4-5 years ago we had a long span of freezing weather and everyone was trying to buy ‘roof rakes’ to try to get some weight (snow) off the roofs. The hardware stores had never had so many requests for the rakes…we have two! We had a very tiny leak in our kitchen but it was nothing compared to others who were losing their minds while their ceiling were falling down! Winters are a challenge and always unpredictable. You can plan for everything then Mother Nature changes the rules!

    by Louise — December 7, 2014

  33. Sorry that you didn’t include Pennsylvania in the mix! Would like to see how that stacked up.

    by Joy — December 7, 2014

  34. Hey Pete,
    Is Delaware less expensive than all of Virginia? I’m interested in the extreme SW area. Have you compared it to Tenn., No. Carolina, or Georgia?

    by ella — December 8, 2014

  35. When we owned a house (now live in a townhouse condo), we had a plumber come in within two weeks after we left. Steve would turn off the water, the gas, and the electric (to the house, but would leave it on to the meters); then within two weeks of our return, he would turn everything back on, make sure there were no problems (there never was). We live in New England so the winters were harsh, but we never had a problem, ever. The key is to get a very good reliable plumber. Now that we live in a condo, we cannot do that. We can only turn off our water and turn our heat down to 55. Gas stays on and electric stays on (along with the condo fees with go on forever). Oh, and we’d be gone for 4-1/2 to 5 months.

    by Gail — December 8, 2014

  36. Pete: You make a good point. The savings in real estate taxes (or income taxes, if applicable to 401k withdrawals or other income) in some locations over the cost of taxes in another state could cover the rent for a place in FL or somewhere else warm for a month or two a year. Or free up disposable income for living expenses. We keep coming back to the same issue about trying to figure out the net cost of living in each state.

    by Ted — December 9, 2014

  37. Virginia is a big state. Hard to see how statewide averages have any useful meaning. Relocating is one part careful cost analysis and several parts intuitive response to a place. The cost of being miserable in an “affordable” retirement locale cannot be measured.

    by Sandie — December 9, 2014

  38. […] your reference: South Carolina North Carolina Arizona vs. Florida Retirement Dueling Retirement States: NJ vs. DE vs. MD vs. VA How North Carolina Climbed over Florida as #1 Retirement State Best States for Retirement State […]

    by » Retirement in the Mid-South Comparison: Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama - Topretirements — December 10, 2014

  39. […] further reference: State Retirement Guides Retirement 101 Mid-Atlantic States: MD, DE, VA, NJ Florida Retirement 101 Dueling Carolinas: NC vs. SC Dueling States: Arizona vs. Florida California […]

    by » Dueling Retirement States: The Pacific Northwest (OR and WA) - Topretirements — February 16, 2015

  40. We are wrestling between Lewes, DE and Cape Coral, FL. We currently reside in MN. It is extremely difficult to figure out the differences in the cost of lving between these three diverse states. I would appreciate any imput from anyone. Thanks

    by Brutae — February 23, 2015

  41. I too would be interested in a comparison between SW VA, Tenn., and the Carolinas as potential retirement locations. I currently reside in NV but kids and grandkids are in VA. I worry that moving from a non-income tax state to one with state income tax along with all the other taxes will be to expensive for what my income will be in retirement. Also, I am amazed that housing prices (at least in VA and TN) appear to be about the same as NV. Finding the right place seems like a daunting task.

    by bev — April 15, 2015

  42. Bev – we live in SW VA – the Shenandoah Valley. Check out Bristol – It has both TN and VA addresses. Not sure where your family lives in VA but TN has some beautiful areas and great tax breaks.

    by Liz — April 16, 2015

  43. Recommend that the article be updated as five year old data is too old for meaningful comparisons.

    Editor’s note: Time flies! We will put an update on our editorial calendar, thanks for the reminder.

    by kaj4 — April 25, 2015

  44. […] further reference: State Retirement Guides Retirement 101 Mid-Atlantic States: MD, DE, VA, NJ Florida Retirement 101 Dueling Carolinas: NC vs. SC Dueling States: Arizona vs. Florida California […]

    by » Dueling Mountain States for Retirement: CO, ID, MT, NV, UT, and WY - Topretirements — June 22, 2015

  45. One thing I found very interesting from some of my coworkers that moved to tax friendly delaware is that their heating bills this past winter were upwards of $600 a month because there are no natural gas lines in many of the neighborhoods. What they save on taxes they are spending on propane.

    by june — June 22, 2015

  46. Can anyone recommend a 55+ community near Rehobeth Beach & Bethany Beach in Delaware?

    by Mary Ann — June 23, 2015

  47. June- We live in Lewes, DE and have propane heating. We are on a $130/month budget billing and will be receiving a credit in August when this year ends-not a big one, but a credit nonetheless.

    by jdk — June 23, 2015

  48. June, I would like to find a more “greenish” home no matter where I decide upon. Not looking ultra green, just moving in the right direction.

    by EMA — June 23, 2015

  49. Liz, My husband and i are considering SW VA (Galax, Marion, Floyd, Damascus, Abingdon) as well as SW NC, N GA, and E TN. We recently read about the Shenandoah Valley and are wondering if we should consider that area as well. Any comments you have would be much appreciated!
    With thanks,

    by ella — June 24, 2015

  50. June..We live in a large new development just above Lewes, near Milford DE..we have natural gas..most of the developments do in our area. Heating bills are very low in the winter, which makes living in Coastal Delaware very very affordable for retirees. We love it here. 🙂

    by sunlovingal — June 25, 2015

  51. Sunlovingal,
    What is the name of the development near Milford? Is it 55 & over?

    by tomfromSC — June 25, 2015

  52. Hi Ella.

    Galax and Floyd are very pretty but very “country/rural.” It just depends on what you are looking for. The Shenandoah Valley is beautiful and very reasonable and safe. If you would like to get a feel for activities, festivals, etc. check out the Virginia is for Lovers site at:

    Let me know! Good luck.

    by Liz — June 25, 2015

  53. Tom: It’s Hearthstone Manor. Just off Coastal Hwy. right below Milford. Not 55+ but almost all who live here are retired. Scaled down one story single homes, villas and condos with elevators. Pool, clubhouse with many activites year round, golf course next door and 11 min. to Lewes and 20 min to Rehoboth. Milford is lovely Art town with shops, farmers market weekly and nice restaurants….carefree living on the Coast.

    by sunlovingal — June 26, 2015

  54. Thanks, Liz. I do know that Galax and Floyd are rural. That’s what i think i’m looking for. I need to visit to know if this is right for me.

    by ella — June 26, 2015

  55. I have been looking for a ‘small college town’ and am considering Chestertown, MD. Does anyone have any thoughts/experience living on Maryland’s Eastern Shore?

    by Sheila — June 27, 2015

  56. Sheila, at one time I would occasionally work in Chestertown, Md – small town with great sea food BUT I am orig from Md – moved to get away from the taxes. I do not know your age nor finances but my advice to you would be DO YOUR HOME WORK BEFORE MOVING THERE. Gov & taxes are crazy in Md.

    by Robert — June 27, 2015

  57. We are retired and planning on moving out of WNY because of high taxes and very cold and snowy winters. We were thinking of Virginia. Colonial Beach VA was mentioned as a good place to retire. Looking for feedback.

    by Carol — June 27, 2015

  58. Ella, I might suggest that a “visit” might not be enough. My wife and I enjoyed many visits and mini-vacations to the Galax area(currently reside in Wytheville), but it truly takes living here to understand the culture. We bought a house 2 years prior to our move from NJ and spent many long weekends here. Much of your perceptions and thoughts of the area will be shaped from where it is you are coming from. If it is a more populated, urban locale similar to our past address, you might not be quite prepared for the difference-which is HUGE! Not necessarily bad, but you must understand and appreciate the people and culture to effect a happy change. Good luck, Doc

    by Doc Stickel — June 27, 2015

  59. Thank you Sunlovingal. I’ll make sure to visit Hearthstone Manor when I come up.

    by tomfromSC — June 27, 2015

  60. Sheila,
    Everyone I know in Maryland can’t wait to get out because of the taxes. We all plan to retire elsewhere.

    by Nancy G — June 27, 2015

  61. Thanks for the feedback about MD. The thing is, I am from CT where property taxes will be my single biggest expense in retirement. Almost any place else will be a huge relief!

    by Sheila — June 28, 2015

  62. Sheila, I too am from CT and almost anywhere would be better for taxes. Almost everyone I know talks about moving out of CT when retired. Hub just retired in April and we have not made any decisions on that yet. We have always talked about leaving now we have to make decisions. Like everyone else, it is a big decision on where to move. We have no children so there is no force drawing us to be near children or grandchildren. We have no close friends we would like to be closer to either. So, it is like spin the wheel of fortune to find a new less costly State to live in. Even though it is always on my mind to leave CT, familiarity of where we live is hard to abandon too. It would be nice if it was like a game where you could put all the puzzle pieces just where you wanted them. Such as a good hospital within 2 miles of your home, grocery, doctors, theaters, museums, adult activities, public transportation, bike riding, golf cart community, low taxes, low cost homes…all the amenities within a short radius from your home. Most times you will find some of the things on your list of ‘wants’ but not all! That is why this forum is good because there have been trail blazers that have gone before us, have done the work and gone through the trials and tribulations before us!

    by Louise — June 28, 2015

  63. I may be biased….I am a native Pennsylvania, and take great note that PA does not tax pension income or Social Security. There are many services available to assist seniors. Yes, school property taxes might be considered “high”, if you’re only accustomed to paying $1,000 a year for taxes, but that amount also varies depending upon where you live in PA. Lancaster County is very nice, and Pittsburgh in the west is very “senior-friendly.” The only drawback is the cold weather.

    by Cindie — August 26, 2015

  64. Cindie: I am biased in favor of PA too, having lived there for 30 years (former CT resident too). I’m now in the Carolinas. I do like the weather here, although I miss crisp Falls, Steeler games and the promise of cozy winters by the fireplace while the snow comes down gently outside. My taxes are less than $2000 now, and I was paying about $8000 for a house with the same assessed value. I pay a tax on my car here, which I didn’t pay in PA…ok, that means tax burden is about $2500. I don’t have inspections (SC), so that tax number could be dropped back to $2400…Homeowners, auto & umbrella policies are the same. Utilities have averaged about $100-$200 a month less here, but I’m also paying sales tax on clothing and other items that were tax-free in PA. Gas is a lot cheaper here, and I’m saving about $100 month for gas. My family is back in PA, and I figure we spent about $2000-$3000 on trips back and forth a year. Both SC and NC will tax my 401K withdrawal. In my opinion, it was easier to find great doctors, dentists, hairdressers, handymen, mechanics etc. back in PA. On the other hand, winters are really, really hard on the elderly. I was in an emergency room in PA with a kid once and saw multiple elderly patients being brought in by ambulance in the winter with slip & fall injuries on ice. I only needed to wear a sweater when I was doing Christmas shopping here last year, and January was the only month that felt like true winter. What will I decide? I don’t have a clue yet…but I don’t think the net extra cost from high real estate taxes in PA is going to stop me from considering returning there.

    by Sharon — August 27, 2015

  65. I know everyone will think I’m crazy, but I now live in Philadelphia and am seriously considering moving to NJ, probably Ocean County. There are plenty of 55-up options up and down the state and taxes are not as outrageous as what has been reported. You just have to be careful and do your homework. I grew up in NJ and my parents lived in Silver Ridge in Toms River before they both passed away – there’s something to be said for returning to a familiar area. I’m also considering Florida but I’d be down there by myself, as all of my family is in Pa.

    by Linda — August 27, 2015

  66. Linda, you are crazy. Reconsider N.J., it’s getting worse.

    by Billy — August 27, 2015

  67. I’m interested in Delaware. I Haven’t seen anything related to hurricanes and flooding. Are those concerns?

    by Cheryl — August 28, 2015

  68. Sheila and Louise- I too am from CT. We used to make fun of Massachusetts as Taxachusetts but not anymore. CT is more expensive. Yes familiarity is definitely hard to overcome in a decision to leave. The housing prices haven’t rebounded as in other area, and the business environment is so bad I don’t expect a lot of people moving in. From my research, DE and NH are the least taxed states in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic area. DE is very flat so if you are used to hills, it isn’t there. DE was also many farms that have been subdivided into 55+developments, so little infrastructure such as nice libraries. NH is more established. Just my 2 cents.

    by john schmidt — August 28, 2015

  69. Would you mind doing something on Prescott AZ retirement?
    Would like to hear from others who have made the move and how it currently ranks.
    Thank you.

    by diane — August 28, 2015

  70. We have lived in Southern NH for 26 years. It has beautiful scenery and a nice quality of life. However the winters are very harsh and we have had major snow storms as early as Halloween. Last year we had 4 feet of snow in the yard most of the winter. Power outages are not uncommon and we invested in a wired in generator. We have had outages last 1-2 weeks. Heating costs of course are very high. If you are in good physical shape, ski, ice fish, etc. the winters can be enjoyable. Otherwise getting the trash to the dump, clearing and salting the walkways and driveway and getting chores done can be treacherous tasks. I know last winter all we did was get supplies from one storm to the next. We have plans to move to DE in the next several years.

    by Connie Perry — August 29, 2015

  71. Connie, Sounds like a great plan. Wishing you many happy years!

    by ella — August 30, 2015

  72. Cheryl,

    Re: Delaware and flooding. I think it depends on where you live in Delaware. Closer to water=Potential problem. We almost built a house in a subdivision close to Rehoboth Bay. We were even willing to pay for some flood insurance. What killed the deal (among other things) was when we spoke with a neighbor who said water was slowly “creeping” towards the back of the house during a Nor’easter. Say what? How about something worse, like a hurricane? My advice would be to try to get as much info. as you can to make sure you are not in a potential flood zone. I think there is a map that can be accessed online (from Army Corp of Engineers. possibly). You may also be able to get info. from the town engineer and potential neighbors. I wouldn’t count on a realtor to be completely honest with you, as he/she may not know if the area is in a potential flood zone (although you would think they would make it their business to know?!) Good Luck!

    by Fionna — August 30, 2015

  73. Have to add something to my post about PA. A possible negative against PA isn’t cost, but the fact that PA’s Medicaid program may pursue children for support of parents, such as for nursing home care. Most states don’t do this. If checking out estate planning and possible laws affecting retirement in a states, this is a question that could be worth considering depending on your personal circumstances.

    by Sharon — September 1, 2015

  74. I live in the far northeast Philadelphia, and have looked into staying in Pa. to be close to my daughters. However, the 55-up communities in the state are incredibly expensive – hard to find any homes under $150,000 and property taxes are pretty hefty. A friend just bought a new home in a 55-up community in Yardley and his taxes are $6,000 a year! Not sure where I will move to, but it seems Pa. has priced itself out of my range.

    by Linda — September 10, 2015

  75. I am thinking the same way as Linda. I live in Pa for years, but I am originally from NJ. As far as real estate prices and the Hoa frees and Taxes are concerned, I cannot find a more affordable alternative than many of the 55 communities in NJ. I do realize NJ has changed. I lived in NJ for 30 years, and moved to Pa and now I’ve been in Pa for almost 30 years. In 4 years when we hit retirement age, and we just may make the move back to Jersey and downsize there in a 55 community. My grown kids are here in Pa and I want to stay fairly close to them. The 55 communities in Pa are way too pricey. I have searched and searched, and especially the overhead ( Hoa and Taxes) for 55 communities in Pa are out of my range for retirement affordability.

    by Donna — November 29, 2015

  76. Donna, I’m pretty sure I’m making the move back to a 55-up community in NJ, too. I’m originally from NJ – born in Bayonne and lived in Toms River for 20 years – and I miss it. There are many, many 55-up communities to choose from, the housing prices are affordable, and property taxes in many cases are less than Pa.’s.

    by Linda — November 30, 2015

  77. I spent the first 30+ years of my life in north NJ and as an adult worked in Manhattan. Loved it, but would probably not move back. However, I would love the names of some of those communities…just in case.

    by elaine — November 30, 2015

  78. My wife and I have lived in NJ since 1976 and are debating whether to stay when we retire in 2017 or move south to the Carolinas. We have a lot of friends and one son in NJ. We looked at the new 55+ retirement communities and found taxes in the Ocean County ones to be in the $6,000/yr area with HOA fees in the $200/mo range; making the outlay just over $8,000 annually. Anything in the Monmouth County area is over $10K/yr. More than what we are paying now. Some of the communities have home prices near $250k but the majority are over $300K and in some cases $400K to $500K. A lot for someone entering retirement. There are a number of well established communities in the Toms River (Liesure Village) and Monroe Twp (Rossmore and Clearbrook) areas but since these are well established the average age of the resident is over 75 so it is something to think about with us being in our mid-sixties. There is one 55+ in the Monroe area built by Toll Brothers called the Regency that advertises houses in the $400K+ range with taxes near $8000 annually. Their HOA fee is over $400/mo. KHovnanian has developments in Manalapan, Howell and Jackson with the same prices.

    by Mike M — December 1, 2015


    Holiday City in Toms River is an older community and as Mike described has an older population. There are many affordable homes. Last year, my husband sold his Mom’s home for $154K for quick sale built in 1995. The house was 2 bed/ 2 bath, 1 car garage in pristine condition – repainted and new carpets installed. She had very low HOA fees from what I recall.

    by Joann — December 1, 2015

  80. We moved to 55 + community in Ocean County 2 years go. Love the community and the people. Recent re-assessment of taxes have seen a $2,000 increase in our taxes to over $8,000. We are both a few years from retirement and decided to visit Delaware. New housing in the Lewes and Rehoboth beach areas are comparable to Ocean County, but taxes are about 1/4. It has us thinking. I am appreciating the comments in this blog.

    by Ed — December 1, 2015

  81. We moved to DE from NJ 2 years ago for lower taxes. We live in an adult community in Sussex County. Active Adult Realty only works with people looking for adult communities…they are very good. As for Lewes and Rehoboth Beach areas….very nice….but VERY CROWDED now with lots of traffic especially during the summer season. You would do better away from these areas rather than right on top of them.

    by Barbara — December 2, 2015

  82. Ed, I have been looking at 55-up communities in Ocean County, NJ, too, and none of them have properties with taxes over $2,200. What community do you live in? I am looking at Holiday City, Silver Ridge Park, Gardens of Pleasant Plains, among others.

    by Linda — December 3, 2015

  83. Linda, we are in a new development In Forked River, Sea Breeze at Lacy. Prices begin in the mid $300,000. After extras are added, most a selling well over $400,000. That is how you get $ 8,000 taxes. But when we purchased were led to believe taxes would be in the 5,000 range. In Delaware the same house would have taxes under $2,000. Maybe take that savings and head south for a while.

    by Ed — December 4, 2015

  84. Pennsylvania may be a consideration as an alternative to NJ. Property taxes are a bit high but I’m pretty sure most if not all retirement income, including IRA withdrawals are tax free!

    by Warren — March 30, 2016

  85. Warren, I live in northeast Phila. and have been looking for affordable 55-up communities in Pa. There are none. They are all very expensive, on top of high property taxes. As soon as I’m ready, I’m looking to move elsewhere.

    by Linda — March 31, 2016

  86. I am the Broker/Owner of Active Adults Realty. Barbara, I want to thank you for saying that we are very good. However, I need to correct one thing – we only tend to work with PEOPLE who are Active Adults, what I call Boomers & Beyond. We can help our clients with any type of community, active adult, 55+ or all ages. At least 50% of our clients have decided that a 55+ community is not the right fit for them.

    by Kathy Sperl-Bell — March 31, 2016

  87. I don’t know how much I can spend on a retirement home, but I do know that in North Carolina home prices in newer developments are similar to home prices in the Northeast. I had hoped to look there for homes at least $100,000 less than my current home in CT, but so many of the homes start at the base of $250,000, by the time you get through with the “extras”, they run over $300,000. It is no bargain.

    We probably won’t retire in a 55+. We are spoiled by living in a neighborhood in the woods, where each house sits on at least an acre, most of them at about 2 acres. I don’t think I could stand living 15 feet away from another house. In my mind I might was well be in an apartment. I also don’t want to live in a community with a golf course, the HOA fees are generally to high for those of us who like the place, but don’t play golf.

    Florida and other humid locations are impossible due to health conditions. I may not want to, but I’ll probably retire in a northern climate – perhaps New Hampshire, northeastern NY, western MA, or even in PA or CO. Taxes are important, but having privacy while living in a neighborhood is as important.

    Any suggestions from the forum?

    by Lynne — April 1, 2016

  88. Lynne, I feel the same way. I love feeling nature around me, and those communities with 1/4 acre or less or suffocate me! There are communities with more land. However, you must travel a distance to get to town for any needs. I hope you find what you’re looking for.

    by ella — April 2, 2016

  89. Ella,

    I know about the travel. We currently are 30 minutes out of the state capital, Hartford. The best doctors and hospitals are 20 – 30 minutes away. We have a hospital and doctors no more than 15 minutes away, but I wouldn’t trust them with my cat – I experienced their emergency room. After 3 hours and one X-ray they sent me home saying that I had just sprained my ankle. Four days later, I received a call letting me know the ankle was broken and I should see an orthopedic doctor. The next emergency I made them take me to Hartford.

    We will look for a place that is in that range away from doctors/hospitals. I hope I can find something, too.


    by Lynne — April 2, 2016

  90. Lynne, I found your comment interesting. As we look for a place to retire and try to be realistic about driving distance to necessary facilities including a hospital, we really have no idea how good that hospital is. Is our move more of a crap shoot than we want to allow ourselves to believe. Does all the research we’re all doing really tell us what we need to know?

    by ella — April 3, 2016

  91. At the risk of being found by my town’s members, I have to state something important. I refer to the “dueling states VA, DE, and MD” only. This is about medical care. If you figure you will need a Dr., especially a specialist, avoid the Eastern Shore of MD and the lower part of DE which is attached to MD. The entire Eastern Shore area is controlled by Family Practice docs who are almost all here because “community health care” groups hire any M.D. who is willing to live so far from “civilization.” Many have had sanctions, malpractice suits, and even licenses revoked from other states — which are deleted on physicians’ profiles by MD lawmakers to ensure there are doctors here. State funding in a necessity, so MD gives any “community group” the right to hire anyone who has graduated from any state’s med school regardless of competency.

    I wish I could reveal the horror stories about not being allowed to see any physicians at all when just one does something very wrong and passes your name along to all of the other doctors not to see you as a patient. MD’s Board of Physicians insists being physically attacked by a doctor is “professional behavior.” If you have taken a med for a longtime health problem, you may be deprived of it on the Eastern Shore. Some family practice docs have no knowledge of proper prescribing….I have heard something similar about lower DE, for many of the Eastern Shore physicians just go over the state line and establish a practice there. It is a popular tactic for some sanctioned doctors when their MD patients finally all leave their practices.

    This may save your life, so I have to let you all know if you move to the Eastern Shore of MD, you will have to go across the Bay Bridge to the mainland (a VERY long ride with a lot of traffic) and hope to find a doctor who is affiliated with either Johns Hopkins Hospital or a few others in Baltimore. If you will need excellent medical care, stay away from MD’s Eastern Shore and from what I’ve heard, lower DE as well.

    I don’t know if anyone else will have the nerve to tell you the truth. Victims live in fear of being told, “Move far from here because you will never receive health care in this area again. We have passed your name to all other physicians.” I expect someone will say I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t be writing this if I weren’t completely honest — and horrified regarding the collusion among MD politicians to deprive citizens of quality health care.

    by Bee Anderson — April 7, 2016

  92. Bee, I’m so sorry for this terrible experience you relate. It must have been very distressing for you!

    by ella — April 8, 2016

  93. Bee – thank you for the reality check and sharing this critical information.

    by Joann — April 9, 2016

  94. You are brave to share this horror. It IS critical information!
    Unfortunately, with the questionable politicians and astronomical amounts of money involved in health care, the politicians get…young are given jobs, the old are given …
    The system will not change. Our only best defense against getting caught up or refused care is to be very cautious with our own health.
    Some health situations require we rely on HealthCare Systems and Politicos. However, many human health conditions are totally under OUR personal control. Boring, but TRUE, if we do not guard our health like we do our wealth…we are at the mercy of others.

    by consta — April 9, 2016

  95. Has anyone done research on Williamsburg, VA? Looking for pros and cons of the area, especially from anyone that selected the area. Looking at it compared to Raleigh, SC Triangle area, Thanks.

    by BeckyN — May 17, 2016

  96. Bee, Very interesting about the Eastern Shore of MD and health care. I love visiting there just spent the weekend in Cambridge, Md.. But your post definitely has me thinking. I guess the same information would apply to Eastern Shore Va. I have health care concerns ( heart and spinal cord issues). I live in South Jersey, a great place to live but high property taxes, high car insurance inheritance and estate tax concerns, I want to retire South. Considering Fl, Eastern Shore and Tidewater Va, De,and both coastal Carolina’s but health care concerns are very important to me. I deal mostly with some great Doctors in Philadelphia.

    by Sam P — February 22, 2017

  97. Is this still the case, as many doctors and hospitals are now affiliated with the University of Maryland which took over many health care systems on the eastern shore?

    by Florence — February 23, 2017

  98. We are looking to retire to delaware from New York
    Any info on healthcare
    We are looking in Kent county don’t want to go too far south
    Also looking at 55+ communities. Any feedback will be appreciated

    by Barbara — February 23, 2017

  99. For those asking about healthcare in Delaware, scroll up to the comments by Bee Anderson — April 7, 2016 on medical care on Eastern Shore of MD and the lower part of DE. I found it very interesting when I first read it and it stuck in my mind.

    by BeckyN — February 24, 2017

  100. Thinking go retirement to either DE or VA next year. We currently live in Pa and the property taxes are too high…We pay almost $10,000 a year! Medical is a big concern for my family so when I read what Bee Anderson had to say I was concerned. Don’t wan to be in a 55+ community since I am 50 but hubby is 62 and we have teenage kids.

    by SusanB — February 27, 2017

  101. Is there someone from the Eastern Shore who can address my above post?

    by Florence — February 28, 2017

  102. Susan–my husband and I are looking to retire to pa or de
    We have been in new york all our lives
    Very interesting what you say about your pa taxes that is what we pay in new york!!!!although it looks like the healthcare for seniors is very good in pa is that true
    Doing a lot of research in delware. Where are you looking in delaware
    Maybe we can compare notes!!


    by Barbara — February 28, 2017

  103. Just been looking at some of the talk regarding the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the positives and negatives. Living on the north side of the bridge(Bay Bridge) in the Baltimore County area now, I have to say we have also lived on the South Shore, have relatives there now and my Mom lived there for years.. We love the South Shore, from top to its long bottom. However, it is like retiring anywhere, what is your comfort level and what do you want.?
    I can say that over the years I have seen a big growth in every way regarding medical facilities. There are those up to speed medical staff and those that aren’t, as one will find anywhere. Truly, it is up to you to be assertive and knowing what you need. Salisbury is smack in the middle of the Delmarva Peninsula and a top rated hospital, check it out online. Peninsula Regional Hospital is also a centrally located trauma center with patients flown in from miles around. I have also known of people being flown out to specialty hospitals in the Baltimore area,ie; John Hopkins etc,, when needed.
    There are many other medical facilities, Berlin Hospital for example right outside of Ocean City.
    There are other wonderful facilities scattered throughout the Eastern Shore and yes, they are smaller and not always so easy to get to, but yes it is all a trade off. The shore is filled with services and special medical need help, for example Coastal Hospice etc.
    We visit the shore area as often as we can and love it. Personally, for tax purposes I would go with the Delaware coastal area, along route 1 especially, As much as we love it we are not going to retire there because for us, the taxes are too high in Maryland and if you get to the point where you cannot drive or wish not to then transportation is a real headache. Nearest Amtrack is in Wilmington, Delaware which is two hours from Salisbury. Salisbury has a decent size airport but a lot of longer flights, say direct to CA, you have to fly to Philly or DC. Their are two great shuttle services which will take you to train station,airports in Maryland or DC so even here there are choices.
    The beauty and charm of the Eastern shore, complete with wineries etc., is something you have to visit and tour to really get a flavor and feel for the area and decide.
    We are almost at retirement, but, my other have is still happily working. We have been looking and visiting sites in Northern Florida. Bottom line, it is all a trade off but be reassured, there are plenty of positives and great medical on Eastern Shore, don’t take my word for it, go check it out and have fun!

    by Edie — March 3, 2017

  104. This question was moved here from a different Blog article:

    Does anyone know about the few retirement communities in BARNEGAT NJ?
    Heritage Bay, Four seasons, pleasant run,
    Horizons and Lighthouse station??

    by Admin — August 15, 2017

  105. This article vastly understate’s Maryland’s income tax. It may have a 5.75% STATE income tax, but the resident is also smashed with a 3.2% county or Baltimore City income tax, which makes it close to 9%. Maryland also has a 9 % sales tax on alcohol. It also has speed cameras every other block, which results in $40 tax bills for each occurrence (received in the mail). Maryland should be known as GOUGER state.

    by Bud Black — December 17, 2017

  106. Does Delaware provide prescription insurance coverage for seniors via Obamacare like Maryland does?

    by Claude — December 30, 2019

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