Below is the list of states which Moneywise believes are the best places to retire, with the best states at the top of the list and the rating dropping from there. All of these states are in the top twenty of those in the United States, according to the Moneywise research.
If your home state is not listed below, you may want to check the article "Worst States for Retirement" to see if it is listed there. If it is not on either list, consider it a neutral state for retirement.
Top Ten States for Retirement
New Hampshire - According to both Moneywise and U.S. News, this is the best state for retirement, although you will still have to deal with cold weather in the winter. However, it has low taxes, including no sales tax or state income tax, beautiful scenery, and high quality healthcare. In addition, housing prices are lower than that in other nearby states in the Northeastern U.S. You should know that there is a 5 percent tax on dividends and interest.
South Dakota - If you are looking forward to spending time in the wild outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping and hiking, this could be the ideal state for you. There is an abundance of affordable housing in both the small towns as well as the cities of Sioux Falls and Rapid City. The state does not tax Social Security or pensions, there is no inheritance tax, and the state sales tax is only 4 percent.
Colorado - Do you love the mountains? Enjoy skiing or other winter sports? This state has a high quality of life, good healthcare, and high senior tax deductions. Many of the small towns are quite affordable, although the major cities can be expensive.
Iowa - You may be starting to see a theme in this list of the best retirement states. It seems that many of the states with plenty of outdoor activities are also great places to retire. Housing in Iowa is affordable. In fact, the cost-of-living in Iowa is approximately 12 percent below the national average. Healthcare is also less expensive than in many other states.
Florida - Florida has long been considered a mecca for retirement, especially for people who lived along the East Coast during their working years. On the Moneywise list, it is ranked as the 5th best state for retirement. There are miles of beaches and plenty of delicious seafood. The photo of the sunset at the top of this article was taken in Florida. Grandchildren will want to visit on their way to Disney World and the other theme parks in Orlando. Homes are very affordable, whether you buy or lease. There is no state income tax, estate tax or inheritance tax. There is also no tax on Social Security or other retirement income. My parents retired to Florida and lived there for three decades until the last few years of their lives, when they returned to their home state to live with family. They loved Florida and hated to leave. Of course, if you retire there, you will need to deal with some of the less pleasant wildlife there, including mosquitoes and alligators!
Utah - This state has one of the fastest growing populations for people of all ages. There are many reasons why people find this state appealing, including beautiful scenery, national parks, and other amenities. The state is rated high for its healthcare system, Salt Lake City is affordable, and the city also has excellent public transportation. Social Security and other types of income are taxable, but seniors get a tax credit of $450 per person and other taxes are low.
Virginia - This state has both mountains and beaches, with numerous small towns, yet parts of it are in close proximity to Washington, DC and other large cities. Blacksburg, which is home to Virginia Tech University, was ranked by Forbes in 2014 as the best place in the nation to retire. My college roommate, who is now a retired English professor, lives there and loves it. Housing throughout most of the state, except for the area close to Washington DC, is quite affordable. There are also special tax benefits for retirees.
Idaho - Another great state for those who love the outdoors is Idaho. It is rated the 4th safest state in the nation and the overall cost-of-living is 5 percent lower than the average in the United States. Social Security is not taxed and healthcare is also less expensive than in other states.
Arizona - This state has become popular for some people moving out of California but who want to stay close enough to easily visit friends and family in their home state. There are a wide variety of activities in Arizona, including trips to the Grand Canyon. Golf courses are plentiful and can be enjoyed the year around (although you will want to play early in the morning during the summer). The state gets 250 days of sunshine every year. You can choose from the desert areas around Phoenix or the mountain communities surrounding Flagstaff. My sister-in-law and her husband moved from California to Flagstaff and love it there. Housing is generally affordable and Social Security is not taxed.
Minnesota - Minnesota is well-named as the state of 10,000 lakes. There are actually more lakes than that! On the other hand, the winters can get extremely cold. The state has a high quality of life, including its healthcare system.
Other States in the Top Twenty Best States for Retirement
The states listed below are also ranked in the top 20 for retirement. You may want to explore a few of these, as well, before making your final decision about where to retire.
If the state where you are currently living is one of those mentioned in this article, you may be best off staying right where you are. If not, you may want to consider moving to one of the states on this list, especially if you are struggling financially or you do not feel safe or happy with the healthcare in your current location. Do your research before making a major move, so you feel confident you will be happy with the change.
If your state is not on the list above, check out this article to see where it ranks on "The Worst Places for Retirement."
For more information on where to retire in the U.S. or overseas, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, or common medical issues, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.
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