What Are the Best States for Retirement?

When you retire, you’re no longer tied down to a location by your employer. You’re free to move wherever you want, depending on your financial situation. Let’s take a look at some of the best states for retirees, so that you can decide which features appeal to you as you prepare for the “big R.” 

What Makes a State “the Best” for Retirees

Deciding on where to retire requires more thought than simply throwing a dart at a map and seeing where it lands. Where you choose should be based on numerous factors, from finances to family to how senior-friendly a state is. Following are several criteria to consider for each state, so you can avoid ending up in a state of confusion.

Best States to Retire Criteria

Climate 

It may seem obvious, but climate is an attribute that’s sometimes overlooked when deciding on where to retire. Warmer regions, such as the South, often come to mind. Dry regions, such as the Southwest, may appeal to those with joint conditions or allergies. Consider whether you ever want to have to worry about snow again, or if you love having all four seasons.

Taxes 

Taxes usually play a big role in this decision. For seniors with no children in public schools, high state taxes can be a deal breaker.

Activities and Amenities

What are your favorite hobbies? Do you want to visit museums or become a regular at the local theater? Do you want to be able to travel to other nearby locations? Medical, cultural, and geographic elements should all be factored in. Consider that there’s strength in numbers: states with a higher percentage of senior citizens will likely have more services and benefits for that demographic.

Family

This may be the most important factor of all. We can help you choose the place where you’ll feel the most comfortable and engaged (for the least amount of money). But your decision may come down to one single consideration: where does your family live and how close do you want to be?

Acts’ Best States for Retirement

While we’re highlighting our favorite states for retirees, we realize that every person’s situation is unique. Take a look at the states listed below, and see if you could picture yourself retiring there. At the very least, you’ll discover features to look for as you begin your own search on where to retire. Note that, according to Kiplinger, none of the states listed have a tax on Social Security, and all have property tax breaks for seniors.

  • Alabama: There’s no denying that Alabama is a southern state, and that’s exactly why many retirees find it so charming. For those seeking life with a slower pace, Alabama is a perfect choice. Of course, it also is home to the city of Birmingham for those who prefer a more cosmopolitan locale. While Alabama is considered a tax-friendly state, its tax rate is 9.15 percent, including groceries. Alabama comes in 19th in terms of percentage of senior population. 
  • Delaware: Delaware is one of only five states (along with Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon) that do not have a sales tax. It also has no tax on inheritances and estates. If you love beaches, check out Rehoboth, Bethany, Dewey and Lewes. Delaware comes in at number seven in terms of states with the most seniors. 
  • Florida: When it comes to beaches, Florida can’t be beat. You’ve got plenty of choices, from the East Coast to South Florida to the white-sand Gulf Coast. Its warm weather is what draws many seniors to the area. Like to golf? Take your pick in Florida, with the most golf courses of any state (more than 1,000). Florida is also considered one of the most tax-friendly states. And there’s a good chance your family will want to visit, a lot. Without a doubt, the Sunshine State is one of the best states for retirement. 
  • Georgia: Like Alabama, this state is part of the south — but you wouldn’t know it if you visited Atlanta, the ninth largest metropolitan area in the United States, where 37 percent of residents are not originally from Georgia. Considered one of the most tax-friendly states, its tax rate is 6.8 percent, and municipalities determine whether groceries are taxed. 
  • Maryland: Maryland is a sports lover’s paradise, with popular teams in all four major sports. The state’s famous beaches include Ocean City and Assateague Island National Seashore. Maryland is more than just resort towns and vacations homes. The Baltimore Aquarium, Camden Yards, the Chesapeake Bay, and Annapolis make the state a popular tourist destination for those looking to step back in history or learn more about the world around them. Maryland also has an award-winning public transportation system that allows residents to easily enjoy the many amenities and attractions the state has to offer. 
  • New JerseyDoes it surprise you to learn that New Jersey is a popular destination for retirees? Those who enjoy gambling will appreciate Atlantic City and the renaissance its currently experiencing. And its beaches, made famous by the Monopoly board game, are still extremely popular recreation destinationsYou also gain easy access to Philadelphia and New York City. The state ranks 28th in percentage of seniors and offers tax exemptions on certain types of retirement income. 
  • North Carolina: North Carolina may not be overly tax friendly, but that doesn’t stop plenty of seniors from becoming “halfbacks.” The term refers to Northerners who, instead of retiring in Florida, come halfway back to settle in states such as North Carolina. And for good reason — ideal weather, gorgeous scenery, and friendly residents. The Blue Ridge Mountains are a big draw. The Raleigh-Durham area, known as "the Triangle" because of Research Triangle Park, ranks among the best places to live and retire in the country. North Carolina comes in just ahead of New Jersey, at 27, in numbers of senior citizens. 
  • Pennsylvania: One of the most tax-friendly states, Pennsylvania is rich with history. Its largest cities are located at either end of the state: Pittsburgh to the west and Philadelphia to the east. Those who live in Philly say it offers all the big-city advantages of New York, without its overcrowded and overpriced drawbacks. The Pocono Mountains offer year-round fun, with skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. Pennsylvania comes in fifth for percentage of seniors living in the state. 
  • South Carolina: South Carolina is considered a tax-friendly state, and Hilton Head is a haven for golf enthusiasts. Myrtle Beach is a popular resort town, with a boardwalk, variety shows and more. Charleston is another favorite, thanks to its vibrant cultural offerings. The state ranks 14th in terms of senior population.  

Determining the best state to retire is a uniquely personal decision. What makes a location perfect for one person may make it undesirable for another. That’s why you need to weigh all the factors and decide what works best for you.

Good luck with your decision!