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10 Best States for Retirement

February 1st, 2016 Facebooktwitterlinkedin
10 Best States for Retirement

To view the original article from Kiplinger click here.

10 Best States for Retirement

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The very best place to retire for you might be on a beach…or in the mountains…or near family…or in the same house you’ve lived in for years. It’s a personal decision that no one else can make for you. However, if you haven’t already settled on a retirement destination, an objective analysis of your options can help narrow your search.

We rated all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on quantifiable factors that are important to many retirees. Our rankings favored states that are affordable and economically healthy, as well as those with low crime rates. We also rewarded states with large but relatively prosperous populations of residents age 65 and up (though if you prefer a younger crowd, consider a college town for retirement). Finally, we weighed the tax situation for retirees in each state.

The following 10 states topped our rankings of retirement destinations. No state is perfect, but within each we identified a city or two that should hold particular appeal to retirees. Take a look. Our picks span the country from east to (far) west and offer a wide diversity of climates and lifestyles. There’s a place for just about everyone.

Populations, household incomes, home values and poverty rates are from the U.S. Census Bureau. Rates for both violent crime and property crime are from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The cost-of-living data is provided by the Council for Community and Economic Research. Tax rankings, based on Kiplinger’s Retiree Tax Map, divide states into five categories: Most Friendly, Friendly, Mixed, Not Friendly and Least Friendly.

10 Best States for Retirement

10. Wyoming

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Total population: 570,134

Share of population 65+: 12.7% (U.S.: 13.4%)

Cost of living: 6.4% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $40,197 (U.S.: $48,665)

Retiree tax picture: Most Friendly

The Cowboy State is a particularly good destination for retirees looking to connect with nature. Wyoming’s unique landscape includes Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Teton mountain range and Snake River. Plus, you can keep a nice slice of earth all to yourself: Wyoming has the smallest population of any state in the country, with just six residents per square mile.

If you’d prefer some company, Cheyenne is Wyoming’s most populous city and home to the state’s largest hospital. It ranks ninth for successful aging among 252 small metro areas, according to the Milken Institute, an economic think tank that credits the capital city’s high ranking to its economic strength. In fact, the entire state has the third-lowest poverty rate in the U.S. among people age 65 and older (behind Alaska and New Hampshire). Wyoming is also one of Kiplinger’s 10 Most Tax-Friendly States for Retirees.

10. Wyoming

9. Kansas

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Total population: 2.9 million

Share of population 65+: 13.5%

Cost of living: 1.8% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $44,165

Retiree tax picture: Friendly

For some retirees, there’s no place like Kansas. The Sunflower State offers affordable housing and health care for the 65-and-older population. The median home value for this age group is $110,900 in Kansas, compared with the U.S. median of $164,400. And lifetime health care costs for a healthy 65-year-old couple retiring this year (and covered by Medicare parts B and D and a supplemental insurance policy) are expected to run about 5% less in Kansas than the U.S. average, according to research firm HealthView Services.

Topeka is particularly affordable, with overall costs for retirees coming in 6.4% below the national average. No wonder the capital city is popular with people age 65 and older, who account for 14.8% of its population. Plus, Lawrence, home to the University of Kansas’s main campus, is less than 30 miles away, close enough to take advantage of the amenities of college life. The university’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers low-cost classes and special events designed for students age 50 and older. Also, KU’s Landon Center on Aging houses clinical and research facilities focused on the treatment of older adults.

9. Kansas

8. Iowa

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Total population: 3.1 million

Share of population 65+: 15.1%

Cost of living: 0.2% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $37,468

Retiree tax picture: Not Friendly

There are retirement destinations of all sizes to choose from in Iowa. For those looking to live in a big city on a small budget, Des Moines is a good choice thanks to living costs for retirees that fall 9.6% below average. Affordability is just one reason the Milken Institute ranked the state capital seventh out of 100 large U.S. metro areas for successful aging. Des Moines also boasts a strong economy, numerous museums and arts venues, and plenty of health care facilities specializing in aging-related services. For similar reasons, the Milken Institute ranks Iowa City first among small metro areas for successful aging. In addition, AARP named Cedar Rapids one of the 10 most livable midsize cities in the U.S. for people age 50+; nearby Marion made AARP’s top 10 for livability among small cities.

As such, it should come as no surprise that older residents account for an above-average portion of Iowa’s population, and an overwhelming majority of them are economically secure. The state’s poverty rate for people 65 and older is 7.4%, compared with 9.4% for the U.S. Iowa’s affordability surely helps. The state’s overall cost of living is on par with the nation’s, and housing and health care costs are well below average. Although the state is the least tax-friendly toward retirees among our top 10, Iowa did recently phase out state income tax on Social Security benefits.

8. Iowa

7. Hawaii

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Total population: 1.4 million

Share of population 65+: 14.8%

Cost of living: 33.4% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $66,288

Retiree tax picture: Mixed

Let’s get this out of the way: Hawaii is expensive. But for retirees who can afford it, it’s a paradise that can be worth every penny—and it’s not necessarily out of reach. As a whole, retirement-age residents of the Aloha State aren’t financially strapped. The average household income for Hawaii’s 65+ population is the highest of any of the 50 states. And the poverty rate for the same age group is 7.4%, well below the national 9.4% rate.

Housing can eat up a big chunk of a nest egg. Hawaii’s median home price for residents 65 and up is the highest in the country at $541,600, more than three times the national median. And state capital and tourist hub Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, is one of the most expensive U.S. cities to live in. Retirees will get more bang for the buck on the island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, where the median home value for 65+ residents is a more reasonable $304,500 and rental costs are about on par with the rest of the nation. Areas to consider on the Big Island include Kona, Waimea and Hilo. And no matter where they live in Hawaii, retirees can at least save on some taxes: Social Security benefits and most other pension payouts are exempt from state income taxes.

7. Hawaii

6. Arizona

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Total population: 6.5 million

Share of population 65+: 14.4%

Cost of living: 6.2% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $43,628

Retiree tax picture: Most Friendly

The Grand Canyon State, with its ample sunshine and beautiful desert landscape, is a popular retirement destination. Prescott, located 100 miles north of Phoenix, has a particularly abundant population of 65-and-older residents, who make up a whopping 24.3% of the metro area’s total. And while the state has slightly above-average living costs, Prescott is one of our Cheapest Places Where You’ll Want to Retire. Its retirees tend to spend 2.1% less than average on living expenses. Younger retirees might consider Peoria, a suburb of Phoenix that rates as one of our Best Cities for Early Retirement.

Retired residents throughout the state can also save on taxes. Arizona is one of Kiplinger’s 10 Most Tax-Friendly States for Retirees. The state exempts Social Security benefits from taxes, as well as a portion of some other types of retirement income. Plus, you won’t face an inheritance or estate tax.

6. Arizona

5. South Dakota

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Total population: 825,198

Share of population 65+: 14.5%

Cost of living: 0.1% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $37,102

Retiree tax picture: Most Friendly

Safety and affordability are two good reasons to retire to South Dakota. Crimes occur at much lower rates in the state than they do across the country. The median home value for residents age 65 and older is just $111,300, about one-third less than the U.S. median. And lifetime health care costs for an average, healthy 65-year-old couple in South Dakota are expected to total nearly $25,000 less than the national average. A favorable tax environment with no state income tax adds to the attractiveness.

Both Sioux Falls and Rapid City rank among the five best small metro areas for successful aging, according to the Milken Institute, coming in second and fifth, respectively. The cost of living for retired people in the former is a bit better, at 1.9% below average, while it’s just below average in the latter. Young retirees may be particularly happy in Sioux Falls with its large population of 45- to 64-year-olds. AARP named Sioux Falls one of the 10 most livable midsize cities in the U.S. for people age 50+, citing the 25-mile walking and biking trail that loops the city. And you’ll be sure to lure the grandkids for a visit with the promise of a day trip to the Mount Rushmore State’s famous memorial.

5. South Dakota

4. Pennsylvania

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Total population: 12.7 million

Share of population 65+: 15.8%

Cost of living: 14.8% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $43,356

Retiree tax picture: Friendly

Economic stability holds the poverty rate of older residents of the Keystone State down to 8.3%, compared with 9.4% for the U.S. And crime rates are safely below average. Though the overall cost of living is above average, housing for people 65+ is reasonably priced. The median home value is $149,300 for this age group, or $15,100 below average. Plus, Pennsylvania’s tax laws help offset some costs for retirees: Social Security benefits and payouts from 401(k)s, IRAs, deferred-compensation plans and other retirement accounts are all tax-exempt.

Retirees on a budget will like Pittsburgh. Rated as one of our Cheapest Places Where You’ll Want to Retire, the metro area’s cost of living for retired people falls 3.7% below the U.S. average. And don’t let the city’s Rust Belt reputation fool you. Enjoy cultural attractions such as the Andy Warhol Museum and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, a vibrant jazz scene, as well as all the offerings of local universities including Duquesne, Carnegie Mellon and Pitt. State College, home to Penn State, is another great university town in Pennsylvania to consider for retirement. But if your heart is set on a major East Coast city, opt for Philadelphia. AARP named it one of the 10 most livable big cities in the U.S. for people age 50+, highlighting the free (or reduced) transit fares for residents 65 and over.

4. Pennsylvania

3. West Virginia

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Total population: 1.9 million

Share of population 65+: 16.5%

Cost of living: 2.0% below the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $37,788

Retiree tax picture: Friendly

Why retire to the Mountain State? John Denver said it best. For retirees hoping to explore the outdoors, West Virginia is almost heaven with its Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah River. If that’s not enough to get you singing “take me home,” perhaps the low cost of living can entice you. For homeowners age 65 and older, the median home value is just $91,400, tied with Mississippi for the lowest in the nation. Rental costs are also rock-bottom for retirees.

Morgantown offers a downtown Main Street to take you off the country roads and give you a small taste of city living. You can enjoy an array of restaurants and pubs, art galleries, and boutique shops. Home to West Virginia University, Morgantown offers residents the opportunity to take in all the concerts, theater performances and sporting events hosted by the school. Plus, the college town provides an excellent health care system and low hospital costs, according to the Milken Institute.

3. West Virginia

2. Florida

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Total population: 19.1 million

Share of population 65+: 17.8%

Cost of living: 4.6% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $45,144

Retiree tax picture: Most Friendly

Nearly 3.4 million older residents can’t be wrong. Florida is famous for its retiree-haven status and boasts a population with the greatest abundance of people age 65 and up in the country. The warm weather and beautiful beaches may not hurt the state’s appeal to people of a certain age, but the tax picture is surely the main attraction. Florida has no state income tax, estate tax or inheritance tax, and it doesn’t tax Social Security or other retirement income.

The Sunshine State may be an obvious retirement destination, but picking where to retire within Florida will prove more difficult. The state is packed with good, affordable options, including Fort Myers, Sarasota and Tampa along the Gulf and Vero Beach on the Atlantic side. And Gainesville is a great college town for retirement. But Punta Gorda tops our rankings for Cheapest Places Where You’ll Want to Retire. The share of Punta Gorda’s population age 65+ is a robust 34.5%, and the cost of living is 3.8% below average for retired people.

2. Florida

1. Delaware

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VisitDelaware.com

Total population: 908,446

Share of population 65+: 14.9%

Cost of living: 6.4% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $47,860

Retiree tax picture: Most Friendly

The First State is tops for retirees. Delaware’s population includes a great number of residents who are 65+, and the retired set can enjoy a life unburdened by heavy taxes. One of Kiplinger’s 10 Most Tax-Friendly States for Retirees, Delaware levies no sales tax and modest income taxes, from which Social Security benefits are exempt. Plus, it’s relatively affordable compared with nearby New Jersey (with living costs 21.4% above the national average), Connecticut (33.4% above average) and New York (52.7% above average), one of our worst states for retirement.

Oceanside cities such as Bethany, Dewey and Rehoboth may be attractive, but they come with living costs between 49.4% and 81.9% above the national average. A more affordable choice: Milford. The small inland city is less than an hour north of the popular beach towns and has living costs just 5.2% above average, according to Sperling’s Best Places. With a population of about 10,000 people, Milford straddles the Mispillion River. Along with the river walk and park, you can find numerous restaurants, boutiques and festivals in the downtown area. It’s also just about an hour south of Wilmington, the state’s largest city, and all its amenities, ranging from museums and galleries to gambling and wineries. Regular Amtrak service via Wilmington can get you to New York or Washington in less than two hours and to Philadelphia in less than half an hour.

But you can stay in town for quality health care. Bayhealth Milford Memorial offers an array of inpatient and outpatient services, ranging from a cancer center to a joint-replacement facility.

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