How to Pick a State for Retirement

Retirement can be a very exciting time. Whether you are saying good-bye to a lifelong career and planning to fill your time with retirement hobbies and travels, or shifting focus to a new working adventure, chances are this new stage in life will come with numerous possibilities.



If one of those new possibilities is the opportunity to move somewhere new, you may be wondering, “How do I choose where to live?”. While there are plenty of great places to retire across the country, it’s important that your new home fits exactly what you are looking for, after all, you plan on being there for a while. To help you find the perfect locale, here are our top tips for picking a retirement state, plus some of our favorite places to retire.



Tip 1: Understand Cost of Living

One of the first things you should consider when picking a state for retirement is the general cost of living for that state. Whether you are moving to a fixed income or still plan on working but anticipate a smaller paycheck, you want to make sure that your retirement budgeting is set to handle the expenses for your new locale. Of particular importance, you will want to keep an eye out on the following:


  • Cost of Housing - generally your largest expense, the median price of a new home can be a major determining factor for the area’s overall cost of living and can make the difference between enjoying your “Golden Years” or worrying about the house payments.


  • Cost of Transportation – while you may not be commuting regularly, understanding the cost of transportation in your area is still an important consideration when picking a state for retirement. Trips to visit family, explore your new locale or just get to and from the grocery store can still add up so it is good to have a handle on what transportation might cost.


  • Cost of Utilities – depending on where you decide to call home, the cost of utilities can play a large role in your overall cost of living. Whether it is heating your home in the winter or cooling it in the summer, the cost of utilities should come into play when evaluating the cost of living.


While housing, transportation, and utilities all impact the cost of living in different retirement states, they can vary dramatically depending on the city you decide to retire to. That said, one other aspect of the cost of living that you should consider when picking a state for retirement is taxes.


Some states are considered very tax-friendly towards seniors and feature benefits like no state income tax or no tax on retirement income; while others, may offer minimal to no retirement income tax benefits. It’s always a good idea to find out how tax-friendly your state is for seniors before picking a new place to call home.


So, what states should you pick for retiring if you want to focus on the cost of living and affordability? Well, here are our top picks.



Top States for Retirement With a Low Cost of Living



While the cost of living can vary across the state, Florida is considered very tax-friendly towards seniors with no state income, estate, or inheritance tax. Overall, Florida is a great state to pick for retirement for those looking to keep more money in their pocket.



Like Florida, Texas also does not levy a state income tax, which can make it very attractive for active adults. That said, the state’s relatively high property and sales taxes make Texas “only” tax-friendly towards seniors versus very tax-friendly. With various costs of living depending on where in the “Lone Star State” you decide to call home, Texas can still be a great retirement state for active adults focusing on a low cost of living.



While active adult communities in Las Vegas may come with a higher price tag, and Nevada’s overall median house price is above the national average, the “Silver State” still makes our list of top states for retirement for those looking for a low cost of living. That is because the state does not levy an income tax and has relatively low property taxes. If you are willing to live a little farther away from major cities, for example in a 55+ community in Mesquite, then you can take advantage of Nevada’s low taxes AND a more affordable cost of living.


Tip 2: Evaluate the Quality of Life

After looking at the overall cost of living, the next step in picking a new state for retirement is to evaluate the quality of life that the state can offer. After all, you want to make sure you can enjoy retirement with things that interest you! Whether it is discovering new cultural experiences like the theatre or museums, picking up outdoor hobbies, or just finding ways to make new friends after retirement, taking time to learn about a state’s different activities and attractions can help ensure you pick a retirement state that offers you a good quality of life.


While different folks may be attracted to different activities during retirement, here are some of our top picks for retirement states based on the quality of life they offer.



Top States for Retirement With a High Quality of Life



While it may come as a surprise, given the state’s legendary harsh winter, Minnesota, and in particular Minneapolis can offer a high quality of life for active seniors. Beyond offering tightknit communities, those looking at active adult living in Minneapolis can enjoy the city’s rich cultural landscape with numerous theaters, museums, and entertainment venues. With yearly activities like the Minnesota State Fair, and plenty of beautiful natural vistas intown and statewide, active adult communities in Minneapolis offer a lot of opportunities for a high-quality life.




Whether it is retiring among Boston’s history or setting up shop along Cape Cod, there is no denying that Massachusetts is ideal for those looking to retire in New England. With plenty of historical sites to explore and local clam “chowda” to enjoy, active adult communities near Boston are a great place to call home.




With a higher concentration of senior adults and plenty of sunshine for outdoor activities, 55+ communities in Florida can offer plenty of activities to help you stay active. Whether its golfing along the Treasure Coast, exploring Florida’s waterfalls, or just hanging out by the beach, Florida’s overall quality of life is one of the main reasons people pick it as their top retirement state.



Tip 3: Don’t Forget Healthcare Accessibility

One of the last considerations you want to take into account before picking a state for retirement is accessibility to quality healthcare. While we all want to stay active after retirement and hope for the best possible outcome, it is wise to prepare for the possibility that at some point you may need regular intensive healthcare. If you are in a state that offers that advantage, even if you don’t need it right away (or at all), you are in a much better position to enjoy your life after retirement.


So, what are some of the top states for health care accessibility? Well, here are our top picks.



The Top States for Retirement with Great Healthcare Accessibility



Home to the renowned Mayo Clinic, Minnesota has a strong network of top-class healthcare providers and some of the country’s most affordable healthcare costs. On average, healthcare costs for the state index at 20% lower than the national average, and the state boasts some of the highest percentages of insured adults 18-64. For seniors, Minnesota also offers the Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO) which can help streamline the provision of healthcare for seniors leveraging Medicare and Medical Assistance (Minnesota’s Medicaid program).


With so many options, Minnesota is a great state to pick for retirement for those looking for affordable healthcare.




Boasting some of the highest percentages of adults 18-64 who are insured and some of the lowest monthly insurance premiums in the country, Massachusetts is a great state to pick for retirees who want to watch overall healthcare costs. When you couple the high insured rates with Massachusetts’ high physicians per capita – there are over 400 doctors for every 100,000 residents – you can rest assured that you will find quality healthcare in Massachusetts.




Like Massachusetts, active adult communities in Connecticut have some of the country’s best access to healthcare professionals. According to the US News and Report, Connecticut is ranked number one for healthcare access which is a composite score that looks at healthcare affordability, health insurance enrollment, and adult dental and wellness visits. With institutions like Yale and a high concentration of physicians throughout the state, Connecticut is another top retirement state for adults looking for quality healthcare.


While picking a state to retire to is ultimately a personal choice, it is important to evaluate your decision carefully. Whether you put more weight on the cost of living, overall quality of life, or healthcare accessibility, you want to make sure your new home is suited for what you want to get out of your retirement.


With active adult communities across the country and many in some of the top states for retirement, Del Webb has the experience in helping active seniors find their perfect new home. Visit one of our 55+ communities near you today and learn more about all we can offer.



Contributed to The 55+ Society

Looking for more Society tips and learnings? Return Home here.

Published 12.1.20

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