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Where to Go, Where to Go? Top 10 Best States for Retirement

Your coworkers have feted you with cake and champagne toasts, and now you’re retired. What’s next?

You’ve spent the last few decades caring about what your employer wants, but now it’s time to focus on what you really want. That starts with figuring out the best state to retire in.

Warm weather and low taxes are important, but they’re not the only factors. If they were, every list would start and end with Florida.

Here are 10 of the best states for retirement, listed in no particular order.

Tennessee

The Volunteer State has no personal income tax, which makes it an attractive option for retirees on a fixed income. Cities like Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville all have their own version of Southern hospitality. It all comes with a cost of living that’s a lot cheaper than what you’ll find on the coasts.

What about the weather? Like many Southern states, it’s hot and humid, but the bright side is that the sound of cicadas will sing you to sleep at night.

Snow is a rare event in most of the state, but if the urge to go skiing hits, head to the mountains of Gatlinburg. This eastern Tennessee town is home to the only ski resort in the state.

Idaho

Idaho’s nickname is The Gem State, which is a reference to the gold and silver that exists within the state. However, it’s also a gem for retirees looking to live among natural resources without paying out the nose.

Idahoans are famous for their distrust of Big Government, which might explain why there’s no estate or inheritance tax. There is a state income tax, but Social Security benefits aren’t taxed.

There’s not much crime, but there’s also not much population. If you need to be near people, head to Boise, which is the biggest city in the state with a population of about 225,000.

Alabama

The cost of living is low here, and, perhaps more critically, so is the cost of healthcare. There is an income tax, but it’s reasonable enough that Alabama still ranks as one of the best states to retire in financially.

The warm weather means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to go golfing, too. If beaches are more your thing, head south to Orange Beach. It’s located a few miles from the Florida state line, which means you get the top-notch beach life without all the crowds that flock to Florida.

Colorado

Colorado is more expensive than other states on this list, but the extra money is worth it for mature adults who want to stay in top physical shape.

Retirees here are less likely to be obese and more likely to exercise, which might help explain why health care costs here are lower than average. It’s one of the best states for retirees who want to keep moving.

If you like having a bit of landscape to look at while you go biking or jogging, then it doesn’t get much better than viewing the Rocky Mountains at sunrise.

South Dakota

Speaking of mountains, the Mount Rushmore state has sneakily become one of the best states to retire in. Why? For starters, there’s no state income tax.

There is a sales tax, but it’s manageable, as are the property taxes.

One of the biggest downsides, though, is the climate. South Dakota is one of the few states that experiences both significant snowfall and a relatively high risk of tornadoes. Eastern South Dakota is even part of Tornado Alley.

Pennsylvania

The Keystone State is the only place on the list of best states for retirees that are not located in either the West or South. If you move to this Mid-Atlantic state as a retiree, the majority of your income will not be subject to taxes. That includes IRAs, pensions, and 401(k)s.

Health costs in Pennsylvania also come in below the national average. It also ranks pretty low for crime. As one of the 13 original colonies, this is also a great place for retirees who are history buffs.

Watch out for property taxes, though, as they can be particularly high in some parts of the state.

Montana

Back to the West we go to a state with a low population but a lot of heart. You will, however, have to give more of your money back to Uncle Sam here, as Montana does levy a tax on Social Security benefits.

However, you’ll have plenty of company if you decide to retire in Montana, as it has the fifth-highest share of people aged 65 or older. That means lots of chances to visit popular national parks with your fellow retirees.

Georgia

The Peach State has options: You can live by the ocean in a place like Savannah, or you can head Atlanta for all those big-city amenities. Either way, you’re not going to have to fret about either a high cost of living or high healthcare costs.

Georgia’s low tax rate also makes it one of the best states for retirement, as you won’t need to pay Social Security taxes here. A certain amount of retirement income is also exempt beginning at age 62.

Washington

Washington has a reputation for being expensive, but the costly places are mostly on the west side. If you stay east of the Cascade Mountains, you’ll find a relatively low cost of living in places like Spokane and the Tri-Cities. If you like wine, head to the Columbia Valley, where most of the state’s grapes are grown.

Did we mention there’s no state income tax? The natural beauty of Washington combined with the low personal income tax burden makes the Evergreen State a great under-the-radar option for retirees.

Florida

Finally, there’s the Sunshine State, aka the state most people think of when their mind turns to retirement. It has a well-deserved reputation for mild weather and low taxes.

In fact, mature adults aren’t the only people who like to settle in Florida. Celebrities also like to move there due to the small tax burden, including no state income tax.

Weather-wise, the biggest drawback to Florida comes during the Atlantic hurricane season that peaks in August and September, though some years are more active than others.

Best States for Retirement: Bottom Line

We believe that the best retirement is the kind that you pick for yourself, regardless of if that means traveling across the country in an RV or living in a remote cabin in the Mountain West.

Now that you know a little about the best states for retirement, check out our blog for more tips on making your golden years memorable.

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