While I was looking for the best states for retirement, I found that there were lots of opinions for what places were good, and what places were not so desirable. I found that a retirement location can be totally different from person to person. It’s totally subjective! So I put together a post of some of the best places, plus a list of things to consider when you’re looking for your place. Hopefully this article will help you decide your best retirement location
You will want to make a list of criteria for your retirement place. Some things to consider would be:
Climate conditions: What kind of weather do you want to live in? Do you mind the cold? Do you want to shovel snow? Are you comfortable with cool and wet, or do you want hot and dry? Don’t forget to look into air and water pollution factors. Be mindful of locations of airports and other noise situations such as a long hill on a highway where you might hear a lot of trucks braking. Areas near schools are usually pretty noisy. I have a relative that lives near a large drag racing venue, and every weekend there’s a loud drag race. You might look into all of these factors included in your search about weather and climate.
NOTE: One thing that I’m not sure retirees think about, is elevation. I live in the mountains at around 7000 feet, but I work in a town 30 miles away that is roughly 9000 feet in elevation. As my husband and I have gotten older we have had more difficulty with our oxygen levels at such high elevations. We have both had to go on oxygen therapy to help with our situation, and at some point, we will have to move to a lower elevation. We both know people who have had to move for this reason. So please think about that when you are looking at retirement places. A long term visit to a high elevation location is recommended before you move, and a visit with your doctor will help you decide if high elevation living is right for you.
Personal safety: What is the crime rate in the area where you want to live? What type of police and fire coverage does the area have? Are there neighborhood watch organizations? Is there community and police interaction, and is that interaction positive? Are there prisons, half-way houses, drug rehab installations, or psychiatric hospitals in the vicinity? Are there former sexual predators registered in the area? It’s best to look into all of this when you are looking for a location to live in once you retire.
Health factors: Consider the health costs in the state you want to move to. Also, look for locations of doctors, dentists, urgent care, emergency rooms, and hospitals in the area. Think about things such as ambulance coverage. Think about the availability of in home health assistance.
Economic situation: Even for retirees, the unemployment rate is a relevant indicator of an area’s overall economic well-being, especially for seniors who want the opportunity to work part-time. Along with unemployment, the study also considered cost of living and property tax rates.
Popularity with seniors: The percentage of each state’s population aged 65 and older is an indicator of how well a state attracts and retains older residents. Look for senior community centers or a YMCA in the vicinity. Also, look for the availability of transportation. Some communities have a senior shuttle that will take people shopping or to doctor appointments. Look for senior-friendly activities with the parks and rec departments of places you would like to move.
Think about what is important specifically to you. These factors may include:
- Geographical closeness to family and friends
- Your lifestyle: Do you like city life, or rural laid back life? Do you love nature? Do you want to be near a lot of people your age, or do you want solitude? Do you want to participate in lots of group activities, or do you want to go solo? Do you want pet friendly places or do you want to be away from other people’s pets? Do you prefer a family environment, or do you not want to be bothered by children in the area? Do you have specific needs or limitations that need accommodations? Do you want giant mansions around, or do you want tiny houses? There’s a lot to consider.
- Think about your religion and/or politics. Would you be comfortable living in an area where your beliefs and views clash with the people living there, or would you feel more welcome in an area with like-minded individuals?
The Best States
I found the best states were totally subjective. I looked at several different lists of best states, and tried to come up with a sort of average that would appeal to everyone Your best state might be someone else’s worst state. So take this with a grain of salt, and make up your own mind based on our own personal criteria.
1 Florida: I am surprised that Florida’s state motto isn’t “The Retirement State”. So many people retire there, that Florida has naturally evolved into a place where seniors want to live. Florida has no state income tax, therefore retirement income is exempt from state tax. Cost of living is right at the national average. There’s also a “Homestead Exemption” on property taxes for low income seniors who have lived in the state for a period of time, saving seniors a great deal of money. And the best of all, if there’s no hurricane a-coming, the weather is ideal.
2. South Dakota: Low tax rates and low cost of living top out the reasons why South Dakota ranks high on the list of states in which to retire. Add to that the natural beauty, the amount of parks, and the wide range of outdoor activities. All of these, plus high health care quality rankings outweigh the low score South Dakota gets for its winter weather.
3. North Dakota: North Dakota is basically a twin of its neighbor to the south, South Dakota. The only real difference is that you will be more secluded, as North Dakota isn’t the tourist attraction that South Dakota is. North Dakota has many natural wonders to explore, and offers the rural lifestyle many seniors are looking for.
4. Iowa: With low cost of living and low unemployment, things are great in Iowa. Iowa’s rural lifestyle makes it easy to make friends, and therefore easy to join activities. Housing prices are low. And contrary to popular belief, Iowa has more than flat farming plains: There are thousands of lakes, rivers, and streams for fishing. Also, there’s a hilly area of Iowa called the Driftless region that is a haven for mountain bikers. Iowa can have some tough winters, but not as bad as the Dakotas.
5. Delaware: Delaware doesn’t’t seem like an obvious choice for retirement, but it ranks high for health care and climate. Delaware has the sixth highest population of senior citizens in the country. The state offers a lot as far as interesting things to do, such as going to Delaware has natural beauty in its beaches, nature reserves and parks, and offers a lot of history to study and explore, nearly 400 years worth! It’s a tax friendly state for retirees. And living there, you are close to the action with Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. within easy reach.
6. Vermont: If you are looking for the quiet life, the rural setting and closeness to nature of Vermont is right for you. Vermont is famous for its season changes, from rustic camping in summer, leaf peeping in the fall, skiing in the winter, and maple sugar production in the spring. It has the second lowest crime rate in the country. Although the cost of living is high compared to the rest of the country, it is one of the lowest in New England. World class medical care is available through a satellite relationship with the best hospitals in New Hampshire, and Boston’s renowned health facilities are a short drive away.
7. New Hampshire: New Hampshire and Vermont stack up about the same when it comes to being a good place to retire. The only real difference is that the health care costs are lower in Vermont. Both have lower crime rates, exceptional natural beauty, and the rural home town charm seniors love.
8. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania doesn’t often come to mind when you’re thinking about retirement, but the population of seniors in Pennsylvania is in the top ten, Like Vermont and New Hampshire, Pennsylvania has the rural appeal, the natural beauty, and the low crime rates. There is no tax on retirement income. And historical sites about from Philadelphia to Gettysburg.
9. Connecticut: Connecticut has the second-highest healthy life expectancy and fourth-highest overall life expectancy. It helps that the state is among the ten safest based on property and violent crime rates. This is coupled with excellent health care. If you are into nature, you will enough the hills and forests, as well as the coast along the Long Island Sound. Connecticut is close to the bigger New England cities and offers a short trip to New York City by train while you still enjoy the New England rural life.
10. Virginia: Virginia has a moderate climate, low crime rates, and low unemployment. The state is chock-full of historic sites, national monument, and parks. You are close to Washington D.C.and the Chesapeak Bay area, full of seafood and incredible natural beauty. Virginia is also tax friendly and has easy access to health are.
Finding a Place to Retire
Here are some steps to consider when you are looking for a place to retire:
- Make a list of your own retirement criteria.
- Make a list of where you want to go
- Narrow it down using your set of criteria
- Visit the places you like but don’t put down roots right away. Don’t buy a home right off; rent or take an RV to your top places. That way, if you end up NOT liking it, you are not tied down.
- Talk to friends and family to get their opinions
- Research, research, research! Read up on anything you can on the states you would like to retire in.
Go Where the Work Is
It will help to research jobs for senior citizens when you are looking for a place to retire. Look here for a list of jobs that might interest a retiree.
Don’t forget the work camper jobs.
Or perhaps you don’t need to worry about where the jobs are, because you had started affiliate marketing, and you can work in any location with a WiFi signal and a plug with which to charge your laptop. Don’t forget to try the free membership at Wealthy Affiliate to decide if living the laptop life is right for you. See my review of Wealthy Affiliate by clicking here.
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The best state to retire in, is going to be different for every person. Research, visit, and critique your favorites and come up with a place that will truly make you happy. Don’t go by what everyone else thinks. Go by what you think. And enjoy the journey, because deciding where to live can be a really fun and fulfilling experience. So, take your time, think of all the criteria, and pick a place that’s right for you.
Please add your comments and questions below! And thank you for reading!
Your list is quite interesting and nice to know.
Although I am far from my retiring age, I had a few states in mind where I would possibly want to retire.
I was surprised with Iowa and the Dakotas making it to be honest, but that actually made reading your information more enjoyable.
When at work, the most popular state I hear that people want to go for retirement is Florida. I can’t blame them. Weather is absolutely beautiful when it cooperates.
I liked your notes about things to consider when finding a place to retire and your advice of checking these places out first before making a final decision to stay at a state.
Sometimes when making big decisions such as retiring and finding a place to retire to, people tend to be hasty disregarding little things that turn out to be big things when it is already too late. So I think it’s smart to advice people to try it out first and to do their research.
Wonderful article!! (Few typos but overall idea, content, and flow are all there.)
Thanks for visiting my site! And thanks for your helpful comments. Yes, I was surprised about Iowa and the Dakotas as well. I’m not much for wanting to retire in the snow, since I’ve dealt with snow all my life, but I’m sure a summer place in those states might be pleasant.
As far as my notes on what to look for in a retirement state, I’m not sure I thought of everything, but I did come up with criteria that me and my husband would need to consider. It all comes down to what you can live with and what you can live without.
Thanks again for reading and commenting! I really appreciate it! Rhonda
I commented on your article talking about the worst States to retire in and wished you had written one talking about their counterparts, not knowing that you had already actually done so.
Just commenting to say that I found it. Great job. You have some interesting articles on your website indeed!
Glad you found it. I have since fixed the post so it links the two articles. I am so glad you like my site! I am having fun and learning a lot while I create the posts. After all, I am a grandparent that will be retiring soon. So I need all this information and it’s really important to me. Thanks again for perusing my website, and be sure to share it with any retiring grandparents you know. Rhonda