A comfortable retirement is a lifelong goal common to people of almost any age, in any profession and from every state.
But that isn’t to say retirement has equal value across state lines. Taxes, cost of living and even climate give certain states an upper hand when it comes to retirement; the same income and investments can have much different values in different parts of the country. We’re ranking the top states that can be ideal for retirement.
Before making any plans, we recommend speaking with a financial advisor, who can help you find the state that makes the most sense for your financial situation. Our free quiz can match you with up to three fiduciary advisors in just a few minutes, each obligated to work in your best interest.
The value of working with a financial advisor varies by person and advisors are legally prohibited from promising returns. However, research suggests people who work with a financial advisor feel more at ease about their finances and could end up with about 15% more money to spend in retirement.
Best States for Minimizing Taxes in Retirement
If shrinking your tax liability is high on your list of priorities, a few states stand out. The winners on our list below either have no state income tax, no tax on retirement income or a substantial discount on the taxes levied on retirement income. But that’s just the start.
While several additional states have no state income tax, the states that made our list also have favorable sales, property, inheritance and estate taxes.
- South Dakota
If those seven locations aren’t ideal, consider the next tier of tax-friendly states. Tax benefits aren’t quite as high as those above, but they do stand out in one specific category: no taxes on social security income.
That’s not to say they don’t make up for it in other areas, however. Washington State, for example, has no state income tax, but does have a 6.5% state sales tax. Still, it’s always beneficial to avoid income tax when possible.
- New Hampshire
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Top States Favored by Retirees
While Alaska may have favorable tax policies, lounging in Anchorage may not be your idea of a relaxing retirement. To uncover where retirees actually want to live, let’s dive into another set of numbers.
Six states are the standout favorites among the over-65 crowd, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Statistics. No other states surpass their density of residents over the age of 65.
- Maine (20.6%)
- Florida (20.5%)
- West Virginia (19.9%)
- Vermont (19.4%)
- Montana (18.7%)
- Delaware (18.7%)
Best Overall State for Retiring
Now, let’s compare. By cross-referencing our list of “Best States for Minimizing Taxes in Retirement” with our list of states most densely populated with retirees, we find that only one state makes both lists.
The Sunshine State offers favorable taxes, pleasant climate and reasonable cost of living.
The Bottom Line
Wherever your retirement dreams take you, it’s important to keep the above in mind and make the right decision for your financial situation.
A fiduciary financial advisor can help you consider not only the tax implications of a move, but also other factors specific to your situation.
Not sure where to start? We created a free quiz to help Americans find vetted, qualified financial advisors who serve their area.
This quiz asks you a few questions, then matches you with up to three fiduciary financial advisors. You even earn a free consultation with each of your matches, so you can compare them and be fully prepared to pick a financial advisor.
22 Thoughts on “The Best States to Retire in 2022”
“To uncover where retirees actually want to live, let’s dive into another set of numbers.
Six states are the standout favorites among the over-65 crowd, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Statistics. No other states surpass their density of residents over the age of 65.”
This is false statistical reasoning. There are many other reasons why states have a greater over-65 population than because of “where retirees actually want to live”. Montana, for example, has a larger percentage of over-65 residents because they have a much higher percentage of younger residents leaving the state to find work.
My wife and I share 70 as the closest round number to our ages and we both come from very large families that live all over the US, so this “senior life optimization” conversation has been in our daily dialogue for over a decade. In 2021 we bought a house in northeast FL after looking at the West Coast, Rockies, Southwest, Southeast and New England. Taxes and lifestyle were two among many factors, family was the biggest factor and climate was a factor we could manage. So, it’s FL from October to April/May, New England in the summer, and trips for one week to one month to those other places, depending on climate and family.
It would be great if you could retire stress free. State and income taxes aren’t as bad as being in a stressful situation. Your health is your wealth!
Thanks, everyone, for these wonderful insights. Keep them coming!
I know New York is never mentioned, but outside of the city area, the price of real estate and taxes is much less, and they do not tax social security or public pensions. So if you worked for a city state, federal agency, there is no tax. Just saying. Now, if people are moving to Maine then they can deal with the cold weather so NY is just as viable an option.
Taxes aren’t the only criteria that must be considered in determining the best state for retirement. I have family both in Alaska and Florida. Due to the climate, I wouldn’t want to live in either state. Florida would keep me confined to air conditioned environments most of the day. My relative in Fairbanks, Alaska, tells me that night time temperatures in winter can go down to -40° F. Too cold for me.
Next would be the people you would meet on a daily basis. For example, a liberal might have difficulty dealing with ultra-conservative neighbors and vice-versa. We would like to think that intelligent conversation leads to mutual respect, but unfortunately, entrenched biases exist everywhere and compromise may be elusive. Attitudes may vary greatly between rural versus urban areas. A area with a diversity of ideas can be ideal. Think College Town.
Food might be another problem. I know that most ethnic ingredients can be obtained through internet sources, but that is not always suitable. If cooking is important, look for local availability.
My suggestion is to go on an extended vacation in the areas that seem promising. Talk to the locals and get a feel for the way they think and act. If you can accept each other, you might just find a congenial retirement homestead. Be sure, because moving is expensive and nerve-wracking.
Florida is a joke. It’s expensive, the medical care is abhorrent, and I have never seen such business incompetence in my life. There is nothing redeemable about that state for anyone of any age and certainly not a retiree.
Seems to me thousands who relocate, and love every aspect of Florida would disagree with your feelings . Just saying !!!
Have you actually been to Florida? The state is chock full of NEW YORKERs!
Arizona also does not tax Social Security income – https://smartasset.com/retirement/arizona-retirement-taxes
Pleasant climate? Have you been in Florida in the summer? It’s only pleasant if aren’t fond of breathing. Staying indoors for 1/4 to 1/2 the year doesn’t seem pleasant to me
It is Connecticut, Connecticut or Connecticut for livability. It is NOT all about the money.
It is the best place to live your whole life and requires no other promotion.
Income tax rates can change in other states and within a few years pensions will probably be taxed at next to nothing. States with no income tax find other ways to get their revenue.
CT has a 42% exemption for pension income in taxable year 2021. 56% exemption in taxable year 2022. 70% exemption in taxable year 2023.
We have wonderful people, a wonderful climate and lots of skilled jobs. What else do you need?
Disclaimer: I am retired and do not work for anyone.
Thanks, John, for bringing up Connecticut. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t on the list at all. It is a beautiful state with fabulous cultural resources and many interesting places to visit. Taxation is certainly more favorable than our next-door neighbor, New York. And we are told that our climate is slowly moving toward that of North Carolina.
I was born and raised in Connecticut and I loved it. Left the state for college and then career but would love to return for the summers. As far as full time though, property taxes are a show-stopper. Rhode Island is a better deal and mostly only an hour away.
There are plenty of cheap places to live where life wouldn’t be particularly worth living for me. Taxation is not the only criterion to consider. Thriving music and art communities would be first on my list, as well as states that aren’t doing their best to curtail voting rights.
Assuming you could afford to live there and you had access to decent medical care and other necessities of life, a state that isn’t constantly in the news because of radical politics would be ideal.
I know “radical politics” is subjective, but parts of this country are going in some very odd directions.
Florida has had an increase in population by over 2 million in the recent couple of years. This has significantly raised the cost of living, even if taxes are still at the same rate. I would not be surprised if this eventually changes, as a result of the strain to the state’s resources that will be incurred by these dramatic changes. Home costs have increased dramatically. Coupled with other issues that were not discussed in this article, it’s possible that Florida may no longer be the best, overall option for retirees. Just something to consider, although the remaining options may not be top ones either.
And sure, Florida’s climate is pleasant if you like high temperatures and high humidity for 9 or 10 months out of the year.
That’s not my idea of a pleasant climate.
Access to good healthcare and social services are just as, if not more, important than income taxes. The states that don’t have income taxes do not offer social services which means if you need assisted living or housing/food assistance, you are out of luck. Florida has one of the worst healthcare systems in my experience. Massachusetts has the best. Most seniors do not make enough income to pay income taxes, so it shouldn’t be the first or only factor to consider when retiring.
Although I was living in California at the time of my retirement I decided I did not want to stay there and so I moved back to Massachusetts and am very happy here. I live near a lake and there are also some walking paths so good things to keep me active and in shape. CD
Absolutely. Florida is not a sterling place for good health care for seniors. You have to be very careful. And the services are terrible for seniors in need. Not a panacea. My dad lived there. He got much better care when he came back to NY.
Absolutely agree! Taxes are NOT the most important factor in selecting a place to retire. As people age, access to quality care makes a HUGE difference in quality of life. Things like inadequate or subpar healthcare will cost you far more in the long run than any taxes you might save. So many other factors to consider too. Some of the states in the “top tier” of this analysis might be some of the worst.