Which State Should You Retire In? Let This Ranked List Guide You

Retirement is a time for many to start a new chapter in life. It can mean finally starting a new hobby, going on more vacations, and even moving to a new state to be closer to (or farther from!) family. If you or someone close to you is looking for ideas on where to retire, this list will guide you.

Elderly woman drinking a cocktail
Source: Shutterstock

This ranked list has statistics from a number of sources and the ranking is based on five categories that affect retirees’ decision as to where to live: affordability (40%), crime (5%), culture (15%), weather (15%) and wellness (25%).

Which state sounds most promising to you?

50. Maryland

Cost of living: 17% above the U.S. average

Population: 6.043 million (2018, Sources: United States Census Bureau)

Best city: Columbia

Columbia, Maryland
Columbia, Maryland Source: Shutterstock

PRO: The average household income in Maryland for people 65 and up is the second-highest in America, which on average is about $70,874. Maryland is home to the city of Baltimore and very close to Washington D.C.

CON: While people do make more money here, their income gets taxed heavily in Maryland. Social Security isn’t taxed, though, but distributions from individual retirement are. There’s also estate and inheritance tax.

49. New York

Cost of living: 22% above the U.S. average

Population: 19.54 million

Best city: Great Neck

Great Neck, New York
Source: Realtor

PRO: Great Neck is one of the top retirement spots in the country, located on the northern side of Long Island. It’s also the #1 place to retire in New York.

CON: The affordability is 50 out of 50, which is why it’s placed as 49 on this list. So while it’s a popular retirement spot, it looks like it’s more for the wealthy folk.

48. Alaska

Cost of living: 32% above the U.S. average

Population: 737,438

Best city: Anchorage

Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage, Alaska Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Alaska is very tax-friendly to retirees, but apparently not many elderly take advantage of this. Alaska actually has a small population of seniors.

CON: Cost of living is pretty high; affordability was 38 out of 50. Health care costs are above the national average as well.

47. Illinois

Cost of living: 4% below U.S. average

Population: 12.74 million

Best city: Leland Grove

Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Illinois’ economy has been on a decline, but that means that the cost of living is below the national average, so it’s very affordable. Leland Grove is ranked as the best place in Illinois to retire in.

CON: Illinois is in the second-lowest ranking for “fiscal soundness” (economy). Tax breaks on different retirement incomes aren’t assured, and there are also high sales taxes.

46. Washington

Cost of living: 21% above the U.S. average

Population: 7.536 million

Best city: Vancouver

Vancouver, Washington
Vancouver, Washington Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Washington isn’t the cheapest state, but those who crave a Pacific Northwest lifestyle at lower-budget prices might like Vancouver. Retirees will find more affordability with no state income tax.

CON: The cost of living might be an obstacle for some seniors. But the average household income for those 65+ plus is over $55K, which can help.

45. Nevada

Cost of living: 4% above U.S. average

Population: 3.034 million

Best city: Winchester

Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Nevada has no state income tax. Poverty rates for seniors are pretty low. Oh, and it’s home to Vegas, baby! And we all know how seniors love their slots.

CON: The cost of living is over the nation’s average, and temperatures can be quite extreme, ranging from 50 to 120 degrees. Nevada’s desert climate means it’s dry, which can be good or bad (good for those with allergies, bad for those with dry eye!)

44. Oregon

Cost of living: 18% above the U.S. average

Population: 4.191 million

Best city: Gold Beach

Gold Beach, Orgeon
Gold Beach, Oregon Source: Expedia

PRO: Healthcare costs for retired couples are lower than the nation’s average. For the outdoorsy type, there’s lots of nature to enjoy. And for those who like rain, Oregon has an eight-month rainy season.

CON: Oregon isn’t tax-friendly. While Social Security is exempt, most retirement income isn’t. Oregon has one of the highest state income taxes in the country. Income for seniors is pretty low, too, with an average of just over $45K.

43. California

Cost of living: 52% above the U.S. average

Population: 39.56 million

Best city: Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills, California
Beverly Hills, California Source: Shutterstock

PRO: It’s easy to list the reasons to live in California: the forests, beaches, deserts, and more. And it’s home to many big cities for those who like fast-paced living.

CON: California is ranked 49 out of 50 in affordability. So, if you want the sunny weather, you’ll have to pay for it! Unfortunately, 19% of California’s population lives in poverty.

42. New Jersey

Cost of living: 27% above the U.S. average

Population: 8.909 million

Best city: Long Beach Township

Long Beach Township, New Jersey
Long Beach Township, New jersey Source: YouTube

PRO: There’s lots to do in New Jersey in your golden years, like walk the boardwalk and check out the ocean views or take a train ride into New York City.

CON: New Jersey is ranked 48 out of 50 in affordability, so it’s not a cheap place to live. Medical care is expensive, and so are property taxes. It’s not a great option for low-income retirees or anyone looking to save money.

41. South Carolina

Cost of living: 7% below U.S. average

Population: 5.084 million

Best city: Bluffton

Bluffton, South Carolina
Bluffton, South Carolina Source: Shutterstock

PRO: South Carolina has mild weather all year, making it an attractive retirement destination. The cost of living is good, too, and below average. Taxes are also friendly to retirement incomes.

CON: Summers are hot and humid, and the overall health isn’t the best with high obesity levels, many smokers, and low consumption of vegetables.

40. Minnesota

Cost of living: 4% above U.S. average

Population: 5.611 million

Best city: Osseo

Osseo, Minnesota
Osseo, Minnesota Source: LinkedIn

PRO: This is a good state for health-focused retirees. Minnesota was ranked by the United Health Foundation as the “healthiest in the country for seniors.”

CON: It’s got the less appealing combination of a higher cost of living and low annual income. Minnesota taxes Social Security as much as the Feds do, so taxes are an issue.

39. Virginia

Cost of living: 7% above U.S. average

Population: 8.518 million

Best city: Roanoke

Roanoke, Virginia
Roanoke, Virginia Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Cost of living is a tad high, but it should balance out with the higher than average incomes. Healthcare is generally inexpensive, and Social Security isn’t taxed. Also, those 65+ can deduct $12K of their income.

CON: Seniors in poverty might have a hard time dealing with above-average living costs. This is also far from big city living.

38. Arizona

Cost of living: 3% above U.S. average

Population: 7.172 million

Best city: Green Valley

Green Valley, Arizona
Green Valley Arizona Source: YouTube

PRO: The Grand Canyon State is a popular retirement destination for those sick of winter. The cost of living is somewhat affordable, too.

CON: Arizona’s dry heat makes summer almost unbearable, with temperatures reaching between 104 and 107 degrees. The average household income for seniors is 10.8 % below the national average.

37. New Mexico

Cost of living: 5% below U.S. average

Population: 2.095 million

Best city: Taos

Taos, New Mexico
Taos, New Mexico Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Don’t let ‘Better Call Saul’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ scare you (they’re set in Albuquerque). New Mexico is actually a gorgeous and mostly peaceful place to reside.

CON: Kiplinger ranked New Mexico as the “Least Tax-Friendly” state because retirement income is taxed. Low-income seniors might be able to get some benefits, though.

36. Louisiana

Cost of living: 10% below U.S. average

Population: 4.66 million

Best city: Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Baton Rouge, Louisiana Source: Shutterstock

PRO: The cost of living is low, and lots of sights and activities keep seniors busy. New Orleans and Baton Rouge alone have enough to keep you entertained.

CON: Living costs might be low, but so are the incomes. The average for people 65 years and up is $50,744. Healthcare costs are also higher than average.

35. Utah

Cost of living: 4% above U.S. average

Population: 3.161 million

Best city: Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Utah’s healthcare is ranked second for seniors, according to the United Health Foundation. There are lots of outdoor activities with five national parks, five national forests, and 43 state parks.

CON: It’s not a tax-friendly state, taxing Social Security. Income levels are average, which won’t help its struggling retirees.

34. Pennsylvania

Cost of living: 3% below U.S. average

Population: 12.81 million

Best city: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Forbes called Pittsburgh “the best city in the U.S. to retire in.” There’s a high number of doctors per capita the state is good to retirees with inexpensive healthcare and tax breaks.

CON: Pennsylvania’s economy isn’t sturdy. Financially unsound states like this can raise taxes, which could affect senior citizens.

33. Colorado

Cost of living: 17% above the U.S. average

Population: 5.696 million

Best city: Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs, Colorado Source: Shutterstock

PRO: The United Health Foundation ranked Colorado fourth in senior health rankings. The rates of obesity and physical inactivity in its senior populations are low.

CON: The real estate market is very competitive in places like Denver. The state’s high altitude can also make it hard for some to adjust to.

32. Delaware

Cost of living: 11% above the U.S. average

Population: 967,171

Best city: Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware Source: Shutterstock

PRO: It’s a tax-friendly state that doesn’t tax Social Security. Investment and pension income for people 60 plus can be exempt.

CON: The cost of living is pretty high, and seniors have below-average incomes, making it difficult to afford life’s necessities.

31. Maine

Cost of living: 2% below the U.S. average

Population: 1.338 million

Culture: #1 (out of 50)

Best city: Portland

Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine Source: Shutterstock

PRO: If you’re a fan of lobster, this is the place for you. Both the cost of living and healthcare are below the national average.

CON: The tax situation is okay as most retirement income is taxable. Income levels aren’t high, as senior households make 25.2% below the national average.

30. Connecticut

Cost of living: 24% above the U.S. average

Population: 3.573 million

Best city: Darien

Darien, Connecticut
Darien, Connecticut Source: Realtor

PRO: Seniors’ income is some of the highest in the U.S. Even with the high cost of living, retirees can afford it if they pick up a retirement job.

CON: It’s not tax-friendly to retirees with real estate taxes – which are some of the worst in the nation. Most retirement income is fully taxed.

29. Indiana

Cost of living: 15% below U.S. average

Population: 6.692 million

Best city: Meridian Hills

Meridian Hills, Indiana
Meridian Hills, Indiana Source: PanaViz

PRO: Indiana’s cost of living is low, making food, housing, gas, and everything else more affordable.

CON: The state is best for seniors with lots of savings as the annual income is below average (at 21.4% below).

28. Georgia

Cost of living: 7% below U.S. average

Population: 10.52 million

Best city: Athens

Athens, Georgia
Athens, Georgia Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Georgia has a great combination of low living costs and warm weather. Healthcare is inexpensive for retirees, and the low state taxes are also very appealing.

CON: Georgia has long, hot, and humid summers, so most people avoid the outdoors around noon. because it’s way too sticky. An added nuisance: All the mosquitos!

27. Rhode Island

Cost of living: 22% above the U.S. average

Population: 1.057 million

Best city: Jamestown

Jamestown, Rhode Island
Jamestown, Rhode Island Source: Shutterstock

PRO: It’s one of the original 13 American and thus has plenty of history for history buffs and lots of ocean views for nature lovers.

CON: The taxes are high, and the high cost of living might make a dent in a retiree’s wallet.

26. Ohio

Cost of living: 12% below U.S. average

Population: 11.69 million

Best city: Bellbrook

Bellbrook, Ohio
Bellbrook, Ohio Source: Realtor

PRO: Ohio’s central location makes it easier to travel to either coast to visit family members or go on vacation. The cost of living is low, and Social Security isn’t taxed.

CON: The average household income for seniors isn’t so high, at an average of $42,667.

25. West Virginia

Cost of living: 17% below U.S. average

Population: 1.806 million

Best city: Lewisburg

Lewisburg, West Virginia
Lewisburg, West Virginia Source: Goodwinhammond

PRO: The cost of living isn’t bad, and the state is known for its scenic views, rich history, grand resorts, and more.

CON: West Virginia isn’t tax-friendly to retirees and ranks low for fiscal soundness, according to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Healthcare is poor for 65-plus individuals.

24. Michigan

Cost of living: 12% below U.S. average

Population: 9.996 million

Best city: Farmington

Farmington, Michigan
Farmington, Michigan Source: Shutterstock

PRO: The low cost of living and the low poverty rate is appealing to many retirees. Social Security isn’t taxed either.

CON: Come 2020, folks over 67 must choose between deducting their Social Security income or $20K of all income sources for single seniors.

23. Massachusetts

Cost of living: 38 percent above the U.S. average

Population: 6.902 million

Best city: Northampton

Northampton, Massachusetts
Northampton, Massachusetts Source: Yankee Magazine

PRO: The state has loads of history — the Boston Tea Party, it’s one of the 13 original colonies, the landing place of the Mayflower, and other stuff.

CON: Massachusetts has high living costs, healthcare costs, and it isn’t tax-friendly. Also if you hate the cold, this isn’t the place for you.

22. Tennessee

Cost of living: 12% below U.S. average

Population: 6.77 million

Best city: Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain, Tennessee
Lookout Mountain, Tennessee Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Tennessee is tax-friendly to retirees and doesn’t levy state income taxes. The living costs and healthcare are affordable.

CON: Summer temperatures can reach 92 degrees in July. The traffic annoys many drivers. Especially around bigger cities like Nashville and Memphis.

21. Oklahoma

Cost of living: 16% below U.S. average

Population: 3.943 million

Best city: Nichols Hills

Nichols Hills, Oklahoma
Nichols Hills, Oklahoma Source: Find Homes in Oklahoma

PRO: Low costs of living are great for seniors, and it’s also one of the states that doesn’t tax Social Security.

CON: Oklahoma ranks as the third-worst for senior health. There are high levels of physical inactivity and smoking, as well as a lack of geriatric care and good nursing homes.

20. Wyoming

Cost of living: U.S. average

Population: 577,737

Best city: Cody

Cody, Wyoming
Cody, Wyoming Source: Shutterstock

PRO: The Mercatus Center rated the Wyoming fifth in its economic health. There’s also no state income tax which makes things easier on a retiree’s wallet.

CON: The state has one of the smallest populations in the country at 577,737 with hardly a large city in sight.

19. Mississippi

Cost of living: 15% below U.S. average

Population: 2.987 million

Best city: Hide-A-Way Lake

Hide-A-Way Lake, Mississippi
Hide-A-Way Lake, Mississippi Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Seniors like the state’s tax breaks and low costs on everyday items. Social Security, IRAs, 401Ks, and other retirement incomes won’t be subject to taxes. And the property taxes are the lowest in the country.

CON: Mississippi ranks last for senior health, according to the United Health Foundation. It also has the worst poverty rate for seniors at 13%.

18. Idaho

Cost of living: 5% below the U.S. average

Population: 1.754 million

Best city: Sandpoint

Sandpoint, Idaho
Sandpoint, Idaho Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Nature lovers will love Idaho for its rugged landscape, mountains, lakes, and canyons. Its cost of living is also low.

CON: it’s not a place for those who love big city living, though. Its taxes can be an issue for seniors: state tax is 6%, and state income tax is over 7%.

17. Texas

Cost of living: 10% below U.S. average

Population: 28.7 million

Best city: San Marcos

San Marcos, Texas
San Marcos, Texas Source: GoUSA

PRO: Living costs are low, and the average income for folks 65 and older isn’t bad. Incomes aren’t taxed heavily, so your dollar can stretch further.

CON: Texas is affordable except for its healthcare, which is a strong consideration for most retirees. Texas is also high in poverty, with the 6th highest senior poverty rate at 10.8 percent.

16. Alabama

Cost of living: 13% below U.S. average

Population: 4.888 million

Best city: Orange Beach

Orange Beach, Alabama
Orange Beach, Alabama Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Alabama is budget-friendly. Most people spend 4.4% less than the average retired couple on healthcare; income taxes are from 2 to 5%, and Social Security benefits are exempt.

CON: Storms can be intense, with lots of rain and thunderstorms. Alabama is also extremely hot during the summer.

15. New Hampshire

Cost of living: 18% above the U.S. average

Population: 1.356 million

Crime: #1 (meaning the lowest) and tied with Vermont

Best city: Gilford

Gilford, New Hampshire
Gilford, New Hampshire Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Taxes are pretty good in New Hampshire as it doesn’t tax any retirement income. The state ranks fifth for senior health, according to the United Health Foundation. The New England landscapes are an added benefit.

CON: You need to pay up for the breathtaking landscapes because New Hampshire’s cost of living is pretty high. The winters are cold, and the summers are humid.

14. Vermont

Cost of living: 12% above the U.S. average

Population: 626,299

Crime: #1 (meaning the lowest) and tied with New Hampshire

Wellness: #1 (out of 50)

Best city: Hartford

Hartford, Vermont
Hartford, Vermont Source: Karl Zahn

PRO: The state ranks high for its senior healthcare, according to the United Health Foundation. Nature lovers will love the many trees, lakes, rivers, wildlife, and scenic views.

CON: Kiplinger says Vermont is the “Least Tax-Friendly.” There’s also quite a high cost of living, making it a bit harder for low-income seniors.

13. North Dakota

Cost of living: 1% above the U.S. average

Population: 760,077

Best city: Rugby

Rugby, North Dakota
Rugby, North Dakota Source: North and South Dakota

PRO: Kiplinger says North Dakota is tax-friendly to retirees and it has a low cost of living.

CON: The state does tax retirement income. It’s also not for the city folk — its population is just 760,077.

12. Wisconsin

Cost of living: 4% below U.S. average

Population: 5.814 million

Best city: Madison

Madison, Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Cost of living is low, and there are tax breaks for low-income seniors’ retirement income. Cheese lovers will appreciate being close to some of the best cheese in the nation.

CON: Wisconsin isn’t tax-friendly and has the lowest household income for people 65 and up in the country. Social Security is exempt, but other retirement income is subject to taxation. Oh, and healthcare costs are higher than the U.S. average.

11. Arkansas

Cost of living: 17% below U.S. average

Population: 3.014 million

Best city: Bella Vista

Bella Vista, Arkansas
Bella Vista, Arkansas Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Quite a low cost of living in the Natural State, as well as average health costs being the third lowest for retired couples. Arkansas is known for its wildlife, hot springs, mountains, and rivers — hence the name the “Natural State.”

CON: State taxes aren’t that easy on the wallet. Top income tax rates can get to 6.9% if the income is higher than $75,000. Poverty rates among seniors are the eighth highest in the U.S.

10. Hawaii

Cost of living: 87% above the U.S. average

Population: 1.42 million

Weather: #1 (out of 50)

Best city: Maunawili

Maunawili, Hawaii
Maunawili, Hawaii Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Hawaii is home to popular hiking spots and close to the state capital, Honolulu. It’s also full of nature and water sports.

CON: The cost of living is high, even higher than in California. The average income for 65+ individuals is over $71K.

9. Montana

Cost of living: 3% above U.S. average

Population: 1.062 million

Best city: Glasgow

Glasgow, Montana
Glasgow, Montana Source: Shutterstock

PRO: It might be cold there, but it’s beautiful with its natural wonders like Glacier and Yellowstone national parks. Kiplinger says it’s one of the highest populations of seniors.

CON: Montana is “Not Tax-Friendly.” Income levels are below average, and most retiree incomes are taxed, including Social Security. There isn’t much to do if you’re not into nature.

8. North Carolina

Cost of living: 5% below U.S. average

Population: 10.38 million

Best city: Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina Source: Shutterstock

PRO: North Carolina has mild weather year-round compared to most of the country. Most living costs are pretty low, and Social Security isn’t taxed.

CON: Income levels are also low, with an average of $43,616 for seniors. Retirement income is taxed at a flat rate of 5.9 percent.

7. Kansas

Cost of living: 14% below average

Population: 2.912 million

Best city: Eureka

Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Cost of living is pretty low, and the scenic plains and prairies are also appealing to the nature lovers out there.

CON: Kansas isn’t in great financial shape, and so they’re raising taxes to rectify the budget deficit. Most retirement incomes will be subject to state taxes with rates at 3.1 to 5%.

6. Kentucky

Cost of living: 14% below average

Population: 4.468 million

Best city: Lexington

Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Retirees can enjoy low living costs and many tax breaks. Social Security and $41,110 of income are exempt from taxes.

CON: Senior health costs are at the U.S. average. Kentucky ranks poorly in senior health, with high rates of smoking, physical inactivity, and poverty. There aren’t enough good nursing homes to care for seniors either.

5. Florida

Cost of living: 1% above U.S. average

Population: 21.3 million

Best city: Jacksonville

Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Florida is one of the most tax-friendly states in the country. That and the endless sunshine is why Florida has the highest amount of seniors in the U.S.

CON: The weather can turn nasty. Heat and humidity can be dangerous for seniors with poor health. There’s also hurricanes and intense thunder and lightning storms to worry about.

4. South Dakota

Cost of living: 4% above U.S. average

Population: 882,235

Best city: Hot Springs

Hot Springs, South Dakota
Springs, South Dakota Source: Shutterstock

PRO: The state is the “Most Tax-Friendly” according to Kiplinger. Besides affordability, nature lovers will love the mountains and prairies.

CON: You better love the cold, because it gets really chilly! There aren’t any big cities wither, and it’s one of the least populated states.

3. Missouri

Cost of living: 10% below U.S. average

Affordability: #1 (our of 50)

Population: 6.1 million

Best city: Columbia

Columbia, Missouri
Columbia, Missouri Source: Shutterstock

PRO: Missouri’s low living costs are very appealing for retirees.

CON: Household income levels are pretty low (for 65 plus folk, it’s a little over $43K). The tax situation is mixed, and it has poor healthcare for seniors.

2. Iowa

Cost of living: 12% below U.S. average

Population: 3.156 million

Best city: Iowa City

Iowa City, Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa Source: Shutterstock

PRO: No state income tax on Social Security and there’s a state income tax break for pension income. Iowa City is called the “City of Literature” by UNESCO and has a vibrant cultural scene.

CON: Taxes aren’t easy on seniors. Retirement income can be hit by up to 8.9%. But, people 55 and up can exclude up to $6,000 of their retirement income in taxes.

1. Nebraska

Cost of living: 12% below the U.S. average

Population: 1.929 million

Best city: O’Neill

O’Neill, Nebraska
O’Neill, Nebraska Source: Addiction Resource

PRO: Retirees can enjoy the very low cost of living in addition to a state with good economic health. Niche.com gave the city of O’Neill an “A” for retiree living.

CON: Cost of living is low, but it’s not so tax-friendly to seniors. Most retirement income is taxable. Social Security is exempt if you make $43,000 or less for single seniors and $58,000 for joint filers.