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What are the Best States for Retirement?

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

If there was ever a subjective question, “what is the best state for retirement” must certainly rank right up there. After all it is a very personal question, almost as personal as your preference in mates or sports teams. To try to avoid too much controversy we shall answer the question in terms of what you, our Topretirements visitors, seem to prefer when it comes to retirement states. Note: Don’t miss our late 2010 piece on the other side of the equation, “10 Worst Retirement States“. Or the 2011 edition of this story, “Best States for Retirement – 2011“.

For most people the best state to retire question is easy – some 80% or more retire in the state where they live now. But for those folks who are thinking about moving on down the road in later life, the reasons why some

states are better for retirement than others generally boil down to:

Climate. If you are looking to escape the cold winters of the northeast or Midwest, the Sunbelt might be appealing
Cost of living. The coasts of the U.S. tend to be a lot more costly than the inland states. You can usually sell your expensive house in the Boston suburbs, move to a nicer one in the Carolinas or Tennessee, and still end up with money in the bank
Tax-friendly. Although this shouldn’t be your only reason for moving to a new state for retirement, there are cost savings in states with low property taxes and no income or sales taxes. In addition, many states treat retiree income such as pensions and social security payments more favorably than other states (see links at end of article for more on these tax-friendly states)

Lifestyle opportunities. Different states provide different lifestyle opportunities. From exciting cities to college towns to better and different recreational opportunities, some states can offer a superior lifestyle than the one you might have. For example, if hiking or skiing is your thing, moving to a western mountain state might be your personal answer to the question.

Friends or family. The opportunity to be near children, grandchildren, and friends often trumps other reasons for moving anywhere. And it’s a good reason!

Our List of the Best States for Retirement
Based on visits to the popular retirement guides at, these are the most popular states to retire (in order). Follow the links to see the state guides:

1. Florida. Florida is blessed with the warmest winters in the U.S. and no income tax. There is property tax protection as well. Our visitors visit the Florida state retirement guide twice as often as they do #5 California’s.
2. North Carolina. A smart choice for a milder year round climate. Great variety in terrain – from the ocean to the mountains
3. Tennessee. One of the lower cost states for retirement with great mountain scenery
4. South Carolina. Warm winters and wonderful towns like Beaufort, Hilton Head, and Clemson. Generally lower cost than up north. This was our guide to the Low Country.
5. California. People from the east tend to forget how big and varied this state is. From the ocean to the deserts, from the mountains to the Central Valley, there is sure to be something for everyone.
6. Arizona. Warmer winters and less humidity in summer. The state is loaded with active adult and 55+ communities
7. Texas. Lower cost of living in friendly towns. Texas has the most active program of Certified Retirement Communities of any state.
8. Colorado. Features many newer livable cities with expansive public parks and bike trails. The mountains and recreation they provide are a big part of the allure.
9. Oregon. Good year round climate and perfect for outdoors minded people. Our guide to southern Oregon towns.
10. Delaware A low tax state with coastal communities and fast-growing towns and developments on the Delmarva Peninsula.
11. Washington. Live in an exciting big city or a smaller college town. The mountains are always nearby, and there is a very long coastline.
12. Georgia. Lower cost, warmer winters. Great variety with towns on the coast and inland too.
13. New Mexico. One of the most under-rated states for retirement. Most of the state is at altitude so it never gets too hot. Don’t miss the guide we wrote recently on New Mexico retirement towns.
14. Virginia. For people who don’t want to move too far from the northeast Virginia might be a good choice. Pick from a long list of interesting historical towns and others near the water.
15. Kentucky. This growing state has a lot going for it when it comes to retirement. It has some of the lowest costs of living in the U.S. Many college towns, plenty of mountains, friendly people.

Most tax-friendly States for Retirement
Worst States for Retirement

Posted by John Brady on December 21st, 2009


  1. […] more from the original source: » What are the Best States for Retirement? Topretirements Share and […]

    by » What are the Best States for Retirement? Topretirements | Today Headlines — December 21, 2009

  2. […] » What are the Best States for Retirement? Topretirements […]

    by Real Estate Montana Bozeman | Montana Real Estate — December 31, 2009

  3. Central Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region has some gorgeous and quaint small towns. Towns with colleges and Regional Medical Centers, golf courses and lakes. Look up Danville, KY as a starting point. All the shopping and medical and recreation you could ever want – and just a 40 minute drive to Lexington, KY’s airport.

    by Brad Simmons — January 14, 2010

  4. […] further reference: What are the best states for retirement Be Careful about worst states to retire Posted by John Brady on February 15th, 2010 Entries […]

    by » 4 Reasons Why Not to Retire in These 7 States Topretirements — February 15, 2010

  5. Can you publish something on where single retirees can go. From 55-70, not really older people. Everything seems to be about younger singles and those of us on our own at retirement would like more information.

    by Lynette — February 17, 2010

  6. […] Shines on the 100 Best Places to Retire List for 2010 7 Reasons Not to Retire in These 4 States What Are the Best States for Retirement With Some States in Trouble, Be Careful Where You Retire Top 10 Tax-Friendly Towns All Blog […]

    by » The Best of the Best Places to Retire Topretirements — May 18, 2010

  7. I believe that Florida is still the #1 retirement state. We retired to Del Webb Orlando from the northeast and just love it.

    by SusanMelton — July 30, 2010

  8. […] For your reference: The Best of the Best Places to Retire How North Carolina Climbed over Florida as #1 Retirement State Best States for Retirement […]

    by » Dueling Retirement States: Arizona vs. Florida Topretirements — August 25, 2010

  9. […] For your reference: Arizona vs. Florida Retirement The Best of the Best Places to Retire How North Carolina Climbed over Florida as #1 Retirement State Best States for Retirement […]

    by » Dueling Retirement States: DE vs. VA vs. MD vs. NJ Topretirements — October 5, 2010

  10. […] Best of the Best Places to Retire How North Carolina Climbed over Florida as #1 Retirement State Best States for Retirement State Retirement […]

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

  11. […] due to complexity of rating criteria and what gets rated!) Topretirements Worst Places to Retire Best States to Retire in 100 Best Places to Retire List of the Best Places to Retire Lists Look for future articles on […]

    by » The Worst of the Worst Places to Retire Lists Topretirements — November 23, 2010

  12. How can California be #5 on the Best Places For Retirement list but also be #2 on the Worst Places For Retirement list?

    by robrj — December 9, 2010

  13. Why hasn’t anyone mentioned Hawaii. I live in Vegas now but am seriously thinking of going Back to HI. Having lived both places on my SS income I find HI the better of the two and about the same as far a cost of living. Also been to FL and AZ (still have family there) not an option for my tastes

    by Rand — December 10, 2010

  14. How can California be #5 on the Best Places For Retirement list but also be #2 on the Worst Places For Retirement list? Hmmm?

    by Eric — December 19, 2010

  15. I did not see health care services/medical specialist/hospital and or long term care facilities listed as something one would look for in a retirement state. Many people ‘retire’–actually stop working and collect social security/pensions–due to an illnesss/injury. Why are “college towns” considered such a great place to retire? Farmland and quiet smaller communities are what I see people retiring to. Also, wherever their children and grandchildren live is often where people choose to live after retirement.

    by Wanda — January 6, 2011

  16. The best place for retirement, IMHO, is The Villages, FL. It is a city of approx. 78, 000 people which has homes in all prices ranges (just under $70,000 to over a million), outstanding health care (a great hospital and Moffitt Cancer Center soon to be opened), just about every major retail store and restaurant found in the USA, many local stores & restaurants, over 40 swimming pools as well as a like number of golf courses which are free for Villages residents, 2 bowling alleys, more than 500 activities available each week (most are free), 2 cineplexes – each has 8 theaters, live music every night (it’s free, too) in each of 2 town squares to dance to, listen or just people watch, AND we can get to most places on our golf carts as well as in our cars. Can you tell I LOVE the lifestyle in The Villages? The Villages is located a little over an hour from Orlando Int’l Airport just off I-75. I do NOT work for The Villages. I just think it’s a super value for retirement.

    by Kay — January 15, 2011

  17. […] Reference: Topretirements Most Popular States for Retirement (where the only criteria was how many page views that state received on our website) Tax Friendly […]

    by » How Can A State Be the Worst… and the Best for Retirement? Topretirements — January 17, 2011

  18. I think, that South Carolina is the best place for retirement.

    by The Sanctuary at Hampton Lake — February 7, 2011

  19. Maine is the best place to retire…. Four Seasons, Lakes and Mountains. Bar Harbour, Camden and downeast very scenic coast.. Low crime rate…

    by Guy — March 29, 2011

  20. “The coasts of the U.S. tend to be a lot more costly than the inland states. You can usually sell your expensive house in the Boston suburbs, move to a nicer one in the Carolinas …”

    Last time I looked, the Carolinas WERE on the coast.:grin:
    But as a native Tarheel, I have to agree. A WONDERFUL state!!!

    by Ann — March 29, 2011

  21. I moved from NY/NJ ten years ago for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex Texas in the city of Bedford, a burb of FW. I have been my happiest here. There is plenty to do and plenty for seniors. Rents and prices of homes are among the most reasonable in the nation. There is something for everybody, including climate, beach front, lakes, deserts, countryside and attractions. Fort Worth is the gateway to the west with the stockyards, rodeos, etc. Summers can be extremely hot, but winters are mild. There is enough snow during the year to enjoy, but it lasts no more than one day on the ground. Extreme cold occurs, but not as rabid or lasting as in the northeast. Two drawbacks about the weather are tornadoes and hail. They occur mostly between April and June, but this does not discourage me.

    by JOSEPH MCGOOKIN — March 29, 2011

  22. […] further reference: Most Tax-Friendly States 2009 Best Retirement States Worst States for […]

    by » Best States for Retirement – 2011 Edition Topretirements — March 29, 2011

  23. The above list of the Best States for Retirement is great money wise but when compared to crime they are some of the worse states to live in. I think I’ll state in New York.I was thinking about Florida but it ranks 45 in the hit parade of bad states.

    by Frank — August 22, 2012

  24. I need to rent a apartment, condo, or home in the Tampa area for march, April 2014 to begin finding out what where and when we retire to Florida. Any ideas, websites, any help thank you. Fordan

    by Fordanbonardi — July 7, 2013

  25. […] Best of the Best Places to Retire How North Carolina Climbed over Florida as #1 Retirement State Best States for Retirement State Retirement Guides California Retirement 101 Florida Retirement 101 Comparison: Retirement in […]

    by » Retirement in the Mid-South Comparison: Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama - Topretirements — December 9, 2014

  26. I medically retired from the US Navy after 20+ years and returned to my home just north of Chattanooga Tennessee in 2005. Life was great the VA was a great resource for medical care, Various taxes other states have ie. Personally property tax on cars , and other amenities were plentiful. Especially in South Carolina. Too many items were overlooked especially for the military. However thier love of my life was there. I had 2 special needs children who I adopted and many supprt services that we received in Tennessee were no more on South Carolina Carolina for Autism. I’ve had to purchase supplemental medical policies to cover medical issues that were service connected which I was 100% service connected disabled. It was unbelievable the difference behind in VA health care in the upstate of SC and south east Tennessee. Er just relocated to middle Tennessee and it is welcoming. My wife sees the difference in the cost of living without all the miscellaneous taxes not to mention the beauty. We’re home and happy now. Big difference.

    by James Ritchie — November 2, 2018

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