After years of hard work, picking a place to finally settle down and retire in can feel like a job itself. Luckily, each year Bankrate releases its annual list of the best states for retirees. The rankings are based off of public and private data sets that relate to retirement and weighs five important categories: affordability, crime, weather, wellness and culture. So which state is the best place to live out those golden years? The answer might be surprising.
25. West Virginia
Usually when people think about retirement, many imagine spending time at the beach. But for those who would prefer mountains lined with changing autumn leaves rather than beaches lined with palm trees, consumer financial services company Bankrate says that West Virginia is one of the best options.
West Virginia made it onto this list of best states for retirement mostly based on its scores when measuring affordability and crime. And while it may not be the most affordable state in the nation, or even on this list, across the board, West Virginia delivered when it came to other prompts like culture, weather and wellness.
The Mitten State might also not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about retirement, but it should be one of them. Between the breathtaking landscapes and its access to four of the Great Lakes, settling down in Michigan seems like a dream. Especially for anyone trying to save their hard earned retirement money.
Michigan has become an incredible option for retirees based on its low costs of living. Out of every single state on this list, Michigan tied with only one other in terms of affordability. Unfortunately, Michigan wound up on the lower end of the list due to its not-so-great weather.
There’s Nantucket, there’s Martha’s Vineyard, there’s Cape Cod, or, hey, maybe Boston. In short, there are so many amazing places in Massachusetts that it makes the state an idyllic location for anyone who is looking to retire. From its beautiful scenery to its beaches, Massachusetts earned high scores from Bankrate and made it onto this list of best states for retirement.
The Bay State has its great scores in health, wellness, and culture to thank for ranking among the top 25 retirement states, along with its relatively low crime rate. And any retirement that involves eating clam chowder by the bay sounds pretty great to us.
NEXT: This southern state has become a retirement destination. And it’s not what many might assume.
Tennessee landed itself on this list of best states for retirement because of its incredible affordability scores. Bankrate notes that the Volunteer State is tax-friendly for retirees, including a system that does not levy state income taxes. So all of that retirement savings can go towards something a little bit more fun than paying taxes.
Unfortunately, while retirees might save on taxes, they might have to pay in other ways, including giving up some senses of safety. The state did not receive great scores under the crime category, as crime rates have been climbing over the last few years, rising above the national average.
Looking for an affordable place to retire? How about some good weather? Well, then consider spending some retirement years in the center of the country, specifically in Oklahoma. Not only is the cost of living a full 16 percentage points below the national average, but it is also one of the few states that does not tax Social Security.
It might come as a surprise that Oklahoma would also receive great scores when it came to weather. But Oklahoma benefits from experiencing all four seasons, without any of them being too extreme. The winters are relatively mild and the summers aren’t unbearable.
With its low crime rates and particularly good scores when it comes to wellness, Wyoming has made a name for itself among the best states for retirement. The cost of living in the state is pretty much level with the national average, but the state has no income tax.
For retirees, a lack of income tax means that more money can go towards actually enjoying retirement, rather than shoveling out money for taxes. Retirees can use some of that extra cash to soak in the beauty of Wyoming. Might we suggest a trip to Yellowstone National Park, or maybe Grand Teton National Park? Sounds like a great retirement to us.
There’s no question why Bankrate gave Mississippi such a great affordability score. The cost of living in Mississippi is already 15 percent below the national average, and property taxes are among the lowest in the entire country. But there are even more perks to becoming a Mississippian for retirees.
Mississippi law makes it so that Social Security, IRA and 401K distributions and other retirement incomes are not taxed. So why does Mississippi not fall at the top of this list? Likely because of its not-so-great reputation when it comes to senior health care.
Next: This state, known as “The Gem State” is a real gem for retirees.
Looking to retire in a tranquil, safe place. Don’t mind a little snow? Then a move to Idaho might be a great option. The Gem State has stood out as a precious jewel for retirees for its affordability and its low levels of crime.
Idaho’s cost of living falls 5 percent below the national average, and Social Security is not taxed in the sate. Also, when it comes to crime, Idaho ranks above the national average as the fifth most peaceful state in the country. The only downside according to Bankrate’s data comes with the cold, dark weather. But hey, maybe that’s some retiree’s thing.
Everything is bigger in Texas. And apparently that also includes the big benefits that come with being a retiree there. But one thing is smaller in Texas, and that’s the cost of living, which falls about 10 percent below the national average.
Income taxes are not too steep in Texas as well, and the state offers both busy, bustling cities as well as quaint countryside. Something for everyone! And overall, Bankrate gave Texas a significantly high weather score, so retirees can get out of the house and enjoy all that the state has to offer. The downside? Texas experiences one of the highest senior poverty rates in the country.
According to Bankrate, retiring in the Heart of Dixie comes with a lot of benefits. First, those who are not fans of harsh winters can live out their Golden Years not having to worry about weathering the snow. But that does not mean that Alabama does not come with its fair share of storms.
Still, what’s a few storms if that means that retirees get to experience a cost of living that is 13 percent below the national average. The state also gives Social Security benefits a tax exemption.
Next: This New England state is known for its politics, but it should also be known for its amazing benefits for retirees.
15. New Hampshire
If someone can withstand the cold winters in New Hampshire, then the state should be a major contender for a retiree wanting to settle down. On the down side, retirees in the state might enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery that the country has to offer, but it comes at a price. The cost of living in this state is 18 percent above the national average.
But there are other reasons why the Granite State is one of the best states for retirement. Retirees enjoy low taxes – including no taxes on retirement income. New Hampshire also ranks fifth when it comes to healthcare for seniors.
Out of all the states on this list, Vermont dominated the competition in the categories of crime and wellness. Vermont has the second lowest crime rate in the country, behind Maine. Luckily for retirees, the state also ranks as one of the best for senior health care. The beautiful landscapes and hiking trails probably don’t hurt either.
Unfortunately, Vermont would have found itself higher on Bankrate’s list if it had not been for its affordability. The cost of living in Vermont is actually 12 percent above the national average. Kiplinger researchers also ranked Vermont as one of the “least tax-friendly” states in the U.S., so retirees might get less for their money.
13. North Dakota
For any retirees who want to replace some beach time relaxation with some time by a river fishing, then North Dakota offers one of the best alternatives. And while we are here fishing for compliments about North Dakota, might we mention that the cost of living in this beautiful state is 1 percent lower than the national average.
Retirement income is taxed in this state, but there are still some perks. Income taxes in North Dakota are extremely low, ranging from 1.1 percent to 2.9 percent. According to Bankrate, this state also ranks fifth for seniors’ overall wellness.
Next: Cheese lovers will want to book the next plane to retire over in this state.
The weather might not be so great, but there is plenty of cheese. We assume that the cheese had at least something to do with Wisconsin’s high ranking from Bankrate – right? But Wisconsin’s score probably has more to do with its cost of living falling 4 percent below national averages, or its tax breaks for some retired residents.
Still, there are definitely some downsides to living out the Golden Years in Wisconsin. The state has one of the lowest household income averages for residents over the age of 65. But on the bright side, Social Security is tax exempt in Wisconsin, so retirement savings can spread that much farther.
What nature lover would not want to live out their Golden Years as a resident of The Natural State? From the Ozark Mountains to the Mississippi River, Arkansas has so much to offer in terms of scenery and relaxation. And the views are a little sweeter when the cost of living is only 17 percent below the U.S. average. That definitely helps.
Alas, as has been the case with most states, there are still some downsides to picking up and moving to Arkansas. The state has some pretty steep taxes, and Arkansas ranks eighth in the nation for senior poverty rates. But while it might cost more to retire in Arkansas, many retirees find that the benefits make the whole experience worth it.
It will come as a surprise to no one that out of every state on this list, Hawaii received the top score in the category of weather. We guess it might not be fair to the other states, since it is hard to compete with a beautiful island in the middle of the Pacific.
But Hawaii lost a lot of points due to its affordability, or lack thereof. Hawaiians experience a cost of living that is a whopping 87 percent above the national average. That’s because things like grocery shopping will end up racking up a hefty bill. So, for retirees trying to live this dream, just come with a well planned budget.
For a state that is teased for being in the middle of nowhere, Montana got a pretty stellar rating in terms of culture. The prompt is calculated by “using the number of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments per capita, restaurants per capita, and adults 65 and older per capita.”
And surprisingly, according to these prompts, Montana tops the list in terms of culture. Although, all of those recreational activities come at a cost, especially when considering that the cost of living in Montana is 3 percent above the national average. But at least retirees can make friends, since Montana has the highest population of people 65 and older.
8 (tie). North Carolina
According to Bankrate, two states tie for the 7th place position of best states for retirement. First up is North Carolina, which scored better than its other 7th place partner in terms of weather and affordability. North Carolinians benefit from a cost of living that is 5 percent below national averages.
The weather in North Carolina is also an added bonus, as its maintains a pretty mild temperature year round. But there are a few downsides to living in North Carolina as a retiree. Retirement income is taxed at a flat rate of just under 6 percent, even as Social Security is not taxed at all.
Next: See what other state tied for the 7th place spot.
7 (tie). Kansas
While Kansas might not have the best weather, it shot to such a high ranking in this list of best states for retirement because of its affordability. Residents of Kansas, retired or not, get to enjoy the good life since their cost of living in 14 percent less than the national average. But that might change soon.
Over the years, Kansas has not been very financially stable. And while that is a good thing for consumers and retirees now, it might mean that the state could see a tax raise in the near future. In that case, we can bet that Kansas would fall on Bankrate’s rankings.
From horse racing to college basketball to bluegrass music and fried chicken, Kentucky has a lot to offer retirees who are looking to have a little bit of fun in their ample free time. And all of those benefits come with the added bonus of a cost of living that is 14 percent below the U.S. average.
Kentucky also has a ton of tax breaks that help out its retirees. Social Security and a big chunk of retirement income is tax exempt under Kentucky state law. Senior health care is also about the same cost as the U.S. average, but the downside is that there are fewer senior living homes in Kentucky compared to many other states. Self-sufficient seniors are welcome to come on over!
Next: See the top five best states for retirement. Starting with one of the most iconic retirement states.
Florida has pretty much become the most cliche and quintessential retirement state in the entire country. It seems that the joke that almost everyone retires to Florida is, at times, very true. And that massive migration might be because of its weather, scoring almost a perfect score from Bankrate’s ranking in that category.
But weather might not always work in Florida’s favor. The state is known to experience some pretty powerful storms every year, and summers can get really hot. Luckily, those weather costs are balanced out by other costs. The Sunshine State is also one of the most tax-friendly states in the U.S.
4. South Dakota
If South Dakota is good enough to be the place where some of the most famous presidents – or at least their most famous carvings – decided to settle, then it should be good enough for anyone. The Mount Rushmore state landed itself within the top 4 on Bankrate’s list due mostly to its superlative as “Most Tax Friendly” state from Kiplinger.
However, there are other aspects of living in South Dakota that can be taxing in other ways. Anyone looking to retire in South Dakota should be sure that they can handle the weather. It’s freezing weather ranked as one of the worst on Bankrate’s list.
Missouri tied with Michigan for the number one spot in terms of affordability with a perfect score. Missouri’s cost of living is 10 percent below the national average, Social Security is not taxed, and health care costs are below the U.S. averages.
Compared to other states in the top five, Missouri maintains a pretty mild climate, with 200 days of sunshine every year. Not too bad. The problem with Missouri comes in terms of crime. out of all 50 states, Missouri ranks 42nd, making it one of the most crime ridden states in the country. Perhaps that’s not exactly the kind of situation that lends itself to a peaceful retirement.
Iowa has a cost of living that is 12 percent below the national average, and we are just getting started when it comes to retiree benefits that make Iowa the perfect place for settling down. Iowa also has no state income tax on Social Security earnings along with state income tax breaks for pension incomes.
Iowa scored eighth place in terms of affordability, 12th place in terms of wellness, and 15th in terms of crime. When it comes to the weather, Iowa leaves a bit to be desired. With so many tax benefits, not everything can be perfect. But in Iowa, the state is pretty close to being the perfect place to retire.
Next: See which state earned the top spot as the best state for retirement in the entire country.
Sure, Nebraska might not be the first place that comes to mind when it comes to retirement. But according to Bankrate’s calculations, there is no better place in the country to settle down and retire. One of Nebraska’s best assets is its senior health care system, ranking 8th out of all 50 states.
Beyond healthcare, wellness comes in other forms in Nebraska. From its miles of biking and hiking trails to its national parks and nature reserves, Nebraska has a ton to offer for any outdoorsy retiree. And with a cost of living at 12 percent below the national average, retirees can spend more of their savings going to see those spectacular sights.
Honorable Mention 1: Ohio
While Ohio did not make it onto the top 25, the Midwestern state clocked in just under the buzzer and holds onto 26th place. But if Ohio has any hopes of elbowing its way up the list, it is going to have to seriously step up its game in one major category.
Ohio fared well when it came to its score for affordability and crime, which are both important factors for anyone when it comes to considering where to retire. But where the state lost a lot of points was in the category of wellness. It seems that Ohio needs to increase the number of places that provide specifically for the elderly in the future.
Honorable Mention 2: Rhode Island
Anyone questioning how Rhode Island made it onto this list might even think to themselves, “nothing ever really happens in Rhode Island.” And that is kind of the point. The state made it to the 27th sport mostly for its remarkably good crime score, along with an even better culture score (apparently there are things to do in Rhode Island!).
But if it wants to make it into the top 25 in the future, the state probably needs to make their homes a bit more affordable for the elderly. Rhode Island received a terrible score from Bankrate in terms of affordability.
Honorable Mention 3: Georgia
There are some things that a state can control when it comes to Bankrate’s scores. For example, state governments can try to attract retirees to their states by offering better healthcare facilities, tax benefits or more affordable housing. But then there are other things that cannot be changed so easily.
It is for some of the more uncontrollable reasons that Georgia has been able to inch up to number 28 on the list. It’s saving grace? It received one of Bankrate’s best scores in terms of weather. Nevermind the fact that the wellness and culture rates are dismally low, give us some sun and we are there.
Honorable Mention 4: Indiana
Ever wanted to retire to Indiana? Neither did we, until we saw this Bankrate score. According to the website, Indiana stands out as being one of the most affordable places for retirees to live in the entire country. But that is not all.
Apparently, there is a lot for retirees to do around the state. Indiana was given a surprisingly good score in the culture category, meaning that retirees are usually close to bars, restaurants, movie theaters, or other community gathering places. The website also reports pretty low crime rates and fair weather. Just make sure to stay healthy, because the state’s wellness rating is not so great.
Honorable Mention 5: Connecticut
In many ways, Connecticut should have been able to at least rank within the top 25. The New England state received incredible scores in terms of three important categories for low crime, tons of options when it comes to culture and a remarkably great healthcare system for elderly residents. So how did the state only make it to the 30th place slot?
Most of the blame for its low ranking has to do with its affordability. Connecticut is notoriously expensive, and is home to some of the wealthiest towns in the entire country. No wonder retirees find that living there is not exactly the best option if they want to stretch their retirement funds very far.
Honorable Mention 6: Maine
While the state also known as the Pine Tree State definitely did not make it onto this honorable mentions list because of it incredible weather (unless, of course, a retiree loves freezing temperatures), there are plenty of other reasons that Maine deserves a shout out.
First, and possibly the most surprising, Maine was given the best score out of any other state in terms of culture. Apparently, there are tons of things for retirees to do in the state. Second, crime is extremely low in Maine, so a retiree can rest easy knowing that they are safe. Unsurprisingly, the weather and the affordability rankings are what knocked this state down to slot number 31.
Honorable Mention 7: Delaware
Looking to retire? If any of the options above are not so appealing, maybe take Delaware into consideration. The state apparently has a laundry list of things for retirees to do, from restaurants to movie theaters to plays and other community events. That is why Bankrate gave the state such a great score when it came to culture.
But don’t say we did not warn about some of the downfalls. The state did not rank terribly when it came to affordability and crime rates, but it did not rank well either. But by far the worst rating it received was on the terms of wellness.
Honorable Mention 8: Colorado
When it comes to retiring, could there possibly be anything better than relaxing on a porch swing during a perfect day while taking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains in Colorado? It sounds like heaven. So why exactly did Bankrate rank this state so low on its list?
It seems that, according to their ranking methods, Colorado only received a good score in terms of wellness. It seems the state has a lot to offer retirees in terms of healthcare. Otherwise, in the categories of affordability, crime, culture and weather, Colorado , surprisingly enough, was not getting so much love from Bankrate.
Honorable Mention 9: Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania may have hosted the first capital of the United States, Philadelphia, but it apparently has not made itself the retirement capital of the United States. Instead, it only receives on honorable mention in this list. Across the board, the Keystone State did not rank so bad on any of the categories, but it also did not rank that well either.
The state received its best scores when it came to crime and culture. Otherwise, in terms of affordability, weather, and wellness, Bankrate gave Pennsylvania more tepid ratings. Apparently a good cheesesteak is not enough to sway these judges. Too bad.
Honorable Mention 10: Utah
Anyone who is looking to spend tons of outdoor time during their retirement might want to consider a move to Utah. There are tons of national parks, beautiful views, decent weather, and, according to Bankrate, tons of other benefits to moving over to Utah to live out the golden years.
Utah’s best score from Bankrate came for its wellness programs, which are helping benefit tons of retirees in the state. The Beehive State also impressed judges in terms of its affordability and low crime rates. But what score put the state so low on this list? Culture. Apparently there’s not much to do in Utah.
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