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Top 10 Best States to Retire in the USA

Sa El7-Minute Read
August 12, 2020

Retirement is in the back of all our minds, that's of course until it's staring us in our faces and asking questions like, "Where will you live?" or "Should you get a part-time job?"

But here's the thing:

If you plan ahead, it's pretty easy to answer most of your retirement questions, especially when it comes to deciding where to live.

Here we’ll cover the top 10 best states to retire so that your journey to figuring out what to do in retirement is one step easier.

Our Methodology

It's funny because what makes a place suitable for retirement is going to be different for everyone; however, there are a few things that are probably very important to you when it comes to the location you finally choose.

We have evaluated these top 10 states based on a few different criteria:

Affordability

While it's nice to know that certain states have some meager tax rates, we wanted to focus on how much you really need to make to live a comfortable life when it comes to determining what the cost of living in a particular state maybe be.

Weather

When it comes to weather, instead of giving you averages of temperatures, we went based on how consistent the weather is for its particular location.

Is this state known for their weather always being the same, or are they like some states that can have all four seasons in 1 week?

Average Life Expectancy

Finally, we used the average life expectancy of each state to have a better understanding of what quality of life could look there.

10. Hawaii

Elderly couple walking on the beach

We have clocked Hawaii as being the 10th best state for retirement in the United States, primarily because it has one of the highest costs of living and most expensive housing. 

To live a comfortable life in Hawaii, you would need to spend around $117,000 per year and be ready to shell out over $600,000 on average to purchase a home.

Fortunately, if you do buy a home in Hawaii, your property taxes are going to be lower, and on average, you could even live to be 81.5 years old.

With the warm temperatures, beautiful scenery, great food and no taxes on Social Security, it's easy to see why Hawaii would be a great place to retire … If you can afford it!

9. Colorado

Older man standing by a mountain bike with a mountain behind him

Colorado is known for its local breweries and gorgeous mountains, but it also has a fantastic quality of life, with the average person living to be 80 years old.

Now, there are some expensive cities in Colorado, but on average, you can find smaller towns that are much more affordable.

We ranked Colorado No. 9 because the weather can be pretty cold depending on where you live, and there is a tax on your Social Security income if you receive any.

While it will only cost you about $65,000 a year to live there comfortably, the average cost of a home is going to run you almost $400,000.

So, it's probably best to start saving for your home sooner than later if you plan to move there.

8. Missouri

Couple standing in a field in the country of Missouri

Missouri has some great weather with over 200 days of sunshine, and there is a ton of stuff for retirees to do like fishing and going to local wineries. But what makes it even better is that it costs less than $55,000 per year to live there comfortably.

And with houses only costing about $164,000 on average, you can find a beautiful home and get to country living without the price of the big city, but not too far away from it either.

Another downside to living in Missouri is that they will tax your Social Security, so if a majority of your income is dependent on that, Missouri might not be the state for you to move to in retirement.

7. Virginia

Couple sipping wine in a vineyard in Virginia

We have placed Virginia as the seventh state to move to when it comes to retirement because of its nostalgic scenery and because they don't tax your Social Security. 

Virginia is also one of the most festive states on the list, so if you enjoy vineyards, great cooking, and well-balanced weather patterns, then you might be calling Virginia home when you retire.

You are going to get a low crime rate state where the average person lives to be 79.1 years old. It only costs you about $63,000 per year to live comfortably, and buying a home is only going to run you around $264,000 on average. These stats, along with significant tax incentives, make Virginia a state to consider.

6. New Hampshire

Senior woman relaxing by a waterfall in New Hampshire

In position six for the best state to retire in, we have New Hampshire. The East Coast state because it does have a higher than average cost of living, but doesn’t tax your Social Security. The average person lives to be 79.1 years old, which is impressive. 

New Hampshire is often called the Granite State and is known for its peace and quiet lifestyle with amazing natural surroundings.

It's only going to cost you about $68,000 per year to live there comfortably, but the fact that there is absolutely no sales tax makes things even better.

Let's also not fail to mention that the average cost to buy a home there is only $280,000, which means you should be able to find an affordable home if you decide to move there.

5. Wyoming

Couple sitting on a bench in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming admiring the view

If you love the outdoors, then Wyoming is probably going to be a shoo-in for you when you start thinking about where to live for retirement.

In fact, most of the Yellowstone National Park is located there, along with the Old Faithful geyser.

While those things are fantastic, what's even better is that you get to live in a state with low crime and absolutely no taxes on Social Security.

You’re only going to need to spend about $56,000 a year to live there comfortably and can expect to live until you reach 78 years old on average.

And guess what, the average cost to buy a home there is less than $250,000, so finding a reliable place to live should be pretty straightforward.

4. South Dakota

Senior men fishing in the swamplands of South Dakota

With an average cost of living at 4% below the national average, it's easy to see why South Dakota ranks position four for the best state to retire in.

It's only going to run you around $60,000 per year to live there comfortably, they have no state tax, and they don't tax your Social Security.

Along with some of the best fishing and hiking, the quiet lifestyle in South Dakota helps people live to be 78.2 years old on average.

And guess what, the average home in South Dakota is going to run you less than $200,000, so it should be easy to find a house in your price range.

To push things over the edge for South Dakota, we also wanted to mention that they have the second-highest number of entertainment and recreation businesses per capita, so there's a ton of things to do there.

3. Florida

Retiree relaxing in a beach chair in Florida

There probably isn't any list out there that won't place Florida in the top 10 when it comes to places to live in retirement.

Florida has the highest proportion of people aged 65 or older than any other state, and the average person lives to be 79.2 years old.

The violent crime rate in Florida is a little higher than in most states; however, it doesn't seem that way when you're looking at the waterfront beaches, experiencing consistently great weather, or eating some of that great seafood.

Florida has absolutely no income tax or Social Security tax, and it costs less than $62,000 per year to live there comfortably.

Buying a house in Florida won't be too expensive either, because the average home only costs around $238,000, making Florida a great option for retirement living.

2. Nebraska

Retiree walking on a bridge in northern Nebraska

With all those acres of wild nature, think of Nebraska as a nature lover's dream state to live in during retirement.

We picked Nebraska as the No. 2 state for its low cost to live comfortably coming in at less than $60,000 per year, and the average person living to be 79.2 years old.

And while buying a house will run you less than $170,000 on average, we have to mention that Nebraska isn't the most tax-friendly.

However, they do make up for it by being 12% below the average cost of living and having below-average health care costs.

The one thing that also makes Nebraska great is that it has a constant temperature of just under 50 degrees, so if you prefer to stay in cold weather, then Nebraska is the place for you.

1. Iowa

Senior couple picking out vegetables in a farmer's market in Iowa

We have chosen Iowa as our No. 1 state based on overall lifestyle and because the average person can expect to live 79.4 years if they are in Iowa.

This longer-than-average life expectancy partly comes from how well the state does in the healthcare field.

Most people think of cornfields when they think about Iowa, but the truth is that our top pick is full of culture from theater, has a growing arts scene, and is full of local farmers' markets that you can't find anywhere else. 

Best of all, Iowa doesn't tax your Social Security, and the cost of living comfortably is only $57,000 per year.

But wait, it gets better; the cost of living in Iowa is 12% below the national average, and it's going to run you less than $150,000 to buy a home if you decide to move there.

If you want to stretch your retirement, enjoy some great food and culture, then Iowa is probably where you want to be.

Finding The Best State For You To Retire

It's easy to see that every state has its pros and cons when it comes to things like weather, scenery, cost of living, and so on.

However, finding the best state to retire in is going to be very personal.

Having as much free cash at the end of the month could be your reasoning to choose one state over another, while for someone else, it could be staying in a place with constant good weather.

Of course, no matter what state you decide to retire in, you should contact a real estate agent, so they can help you find your dream home.

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    Sa El

    Sa El is the Co-Founder of Simply Insurance & Credit Knocks. Along with being a licensed real estate agent, he is also a licensed Insurance Agent with over 11 years of experience in the industry. He is an entrepreneur, insurance educator, and freelance writer.