Are you counting down the days to your last day of work? Retirement can be a thrilling and daunting time. You have a few big decisions to make now that your job isn't tying you down, including whether you want to move. Maybe you like the idea of a college town, or the very thought of hordes of youngsters makes you break out in hives. If you've got the means, you might be leaning toward snowbirding between a winter state and a summer state. Whatever your choice, you need to be mindful of moving somewhere where your standard of living won't drop drastically. The budget-conscious shouldn't venture to the Northeast permanently, but the states on the East Coast aren't the only ones to be wary of.
If you're brave enough to retire in Alaska, more power to ya. Sure, there are tax breaks, but ask yourself whether you really want the Last Frontier state to be the locus of, well, your final frontier. Apart from the fact that it's freezing, it's also lonely and far away from the rest of the country. Your golden years should be spent fraternizing with fellow boomers, and Alaska's senior population is the second lowest in the country. The cost of living is high because goods need to travel far to get to you, crime rates are high, and there are wildlife risks as well, to add the cherry on top of this frosty cake.
If Illinois had a dictionary definition, the words heavily taxed would appear early on. Property, sales, and gas taxes are through the roof. Outside of Chicago, there's not much to do in your free time; something retirees have a lot of. And the Windy City itself has a reputation for being America's rat capital. It has areas rife with poverty and crime, and air pollution is a problem.
Retirees may want to skip over the tristate area when considering potential forever homes. New Jersey is just as crazy expensive as New York, but without the Empire State's charms. Between the underwhelming healthcare, whether that's meh, a middling quality of life, and a poor elder abuse record, you can do better than the Garden State.
Perhaps you envision hitting the jackpot with your disposable income or attending concerts and shows in Las Vegas. That novelty may wear off quite quickly, especially if you're exposed to the crime here. You'll need at least a million dollars to retire here, and buying a house in the first place could cost you a pretty penny. Nevada is also desert terrain, and the dry heat of the summer could make you feel like you're roasting, which isn't ideal in a place with less-than-stellar healthcare access.
Maryland is expensive. The taxes in Maryland will have you shaking your head, as will the housing prices. Cities like Baltimore have high crime rates but excellent healthcare, so make of that what you will. The weather in the Old Line State also leaves much to be desired, and you can take it all in while sitting in heavy traffic.
Connecticut has one of the highest life expectancies in the nation, so the Constitution State could be good for your constitution. Here's the problem—it has one of the highest retirement costs in the country. Housing and utilities are off the charts, and you'll need about $66,543 annually for a decent quality of life. The Nutmeg State isn't tax-friendly, either.
You want the energy in The City That Never Sleeps to seep into your bones and give you longevity. But this vibrant fantasy could grind to a halt if you run out of dough. The cost of living in NYC is notoriously high, and the cost of elder care will make your eyes water, even upstate. New York has a fantastic healthcare system, and quality of life is high, but in the Big Apple, you'll have to dodge rats and other vermin to get where you're going.
New Mexico's nickname, the Land of Enchantment, sounds attractive enough, and the relatively low cost of living is not easily dismissed. But dig a little deeper, and you'll realize it isn't a retiree-magnet. For one, there are taxes on retirement income. And the altitude can make the simple act of breathing a challenge.
The Magnolia State is tax-friendly and the cheapest to retire in, but it comes at a significant cost—poor quality of life. The poverty in the state means high crime rates and a public service that's wanting. Healthcare access, including for older adults, is dire, and life expectancy is low. And this is the most humid region of the country, where you'll need multiple showers per day to feel fresh, and the natural disaster risk is high with possible tornadoes and hurricanes.
You may think you want to eat sweet and salty Nebraska kettle corn with a low carbon footprint every day for the rest of your life. But, and we hate to be the bearer of bad news, you need a reliable set of teeth for that—something you might not have in 15 years. Corn aside, pockets of Nebraska get super windy, which is not fun slap bang in the middle of winter at any age, let alone old age. In addition, taxes and insurance premiums are high.
The First State is beachy and just peachy if you've got the money—you'll need more than $55,000 per annum to make ends meet. Delaware is close to three major cities: New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. It has numerous retirement communities, so you can mingle and make buddies, but population density and congestion is through the roof, and driving is par for the course due to limited public transport. Plus, 41 residents die every year because of air pollution in the state.
The Great Smoky Mountains are stunning, and Tennessee's tax-friendliness and cost of living look promising. But the Volunteer State ironically has one of the highest rates of elder abuse and gross neglect. If you've got allergies, give Tennessee a wide berth—it's not a good idea for seniors to take antihistamines every day. The weather is often miserable too, and the state's musical bent likely won't make up for it.
Louisiana's culture and low cost of living (including for in-home care) are drawcards, but you'll feel swamped with health insurance premiums in the Bayou State. Property crime per capita is worrisome, and so is the looming possibility of a hurricane and flooding. The sweltering weather takes some getting used to.
If you're moving from somewhere less affordable, tax-friendly Oklahoma will make you feel flush. Your bubble will burst as soon as you realize that the quality of goods and services in parts of the state simply isn't up to scratch. Elderly healthcare doesn't get much worse either, and the crime rate is high.
There are pros and cons to living in every state in the U.S. You have to take some time to research and figure out what works best for your unique needs. For example, Michigan is affordable but so cold, and Hawaii is the opposite—it has gorgeous weather and a carefree lifestyle, but only if you have the moola, as it's the costliest state to retire in. California has loads of natural beauty, but it's polluted and too expensive for most folks to buy a house. The following states also have undesirable elements for retirees:
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