The pace of life typically slows down after retirement. No more stressing over work deadlines, office politics, or trying to make ends meet in a city with a punishing cost of living. The end of your employment also poses new issues regarding how and where you should spend your free time now that you are not bound to a particular place.
Should you relocate to the mountains or the beach? Do you prefer cross-country skiing or golf? The location of your children, grandchildren, friends, and medical professionals may be the most crucial factor. Those are really private inquiries. Bankrate processed a plethora of data on public health, living expenses, and other criteria to come up with some unbiased solutions to the where-to-retire question.
Bankrate examined five key factors for this study: affordability, wellbeing, culture, weather, and crime. We gave affordability the most consideration. Since the COVID pandemic started, home prices have broken record after record, and inflation devastated the U.S. economy in 2022. Many retirees are therefore seeking for strategies to stretch their savings.
We understand that deciding where to live in retirement involves a great deal of subjectivity. Maybe affordability isn’t important to you if you own a paid-off house in a high-priced neighborhood like Boston or San Francisco. Naturally, not everyone enjoys the hot summers in the Sun Belt states that make up the majority of our rankings.
2022 retirement states that are ideal
Florida is the best state for retirement in 2022, followed by Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri, according to a survey by Bankrate. On the other side, Alaska came in last in our list. The state received middle of the pack rankings for affordability and weather. One subcategory in which Alaska scored well was the lowest tax load on citizens.
Why ought retirees to choose Florida? For many years, retirees have found refuge in the Sunshine State. Florida boasts the second-warmest average temperatures, only behind Hawaii, if you want a warm climate. However, Florida’s weather ranking suffers due to the state’s frequent hurricanes and tornadoes.
Our ranking of culture and diversity placed the state at the top. In this state, where 21% of people are 65 years of age or older, you have a high opportunity of finding acquaintances who are in your retirement years. According to Census data, that is the second-highest proportion of people aged 65 and up in any state. Florida, on the other hand, has a sizable LGBTQ population and good racial variety for prospective retirees looking for a cultural melting pot.
For Florida retirees, affordability used to be a major selling feature, but that benefit is dwindling. Although taxes are still minimal, the cost of living in the state has been increasing. According to Bankrate’s affordability index, Florida is ranked 18th.
The remaining top five:
- Georgia: One major draw for retirees thinking about relocating to Georgia is affordability. The state ranks No. 7 in affordability because to a cheap cost of living and minimal taxation. Another significant point is the weather. The state has the fifth-warmest average annual temperature in the country, at 64 degrees. Tornado risk is about normal, while earthquakes are uncommon. The only drawback is hurricanes; due to its narrow coastline, Georgia is susceptible to tropical cyclones. Both both wellness and crime, Georgia ranks in the center of the pack. The Peach State’s sole weakness is in the cultural department; according to a Bankrate analysis of Census data, Georgia has one of the lowest proportions of citizens over 65 and ranks close to the bottom in terms of the number of arts and entertainment venues per capita.
- Michigan: This cold-weather state might seem an unexpected choice for the Top 5, but thanks to a low cost of living and little taxes, Michigan has the best affordability in the country. The state performed well as well, coming in at No. 12 in the category of wellness.
- Ohio: Another unexpected Rust Belt state, Ohio fared well in the affordability category while not seeing any significant setbacks in other areas.
- Kansas: Fifth place Missouri is reasonably priced and boasts a temperate climate. The Show-Me State performs poorly in terms of culture, crime, and wellness.
Experts: How to choose your ideal retirement state
Considering a move after retirement? Experts who guide retirees and those who will soon be retiring offer the following guidance:
Spend some time in the areas where you wish to live before deciding to move there, advises Laura Kovacs, a recent retiree and former director of education at the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors in Arizona. Try out a few of the places you appear to be drawn to, especially those with cheaper property taxes and a cost of living you can live with. If you’re considering moving to Florida, Arizona, or California, consider staying there for a while to determine whether you’ll enjoy the area’s climate throughout the season you’ll be residing there. Make sure the price is as reasonable as you anticipated. While you’re still at work, set aside some time to visit towns and lifestyles of various kinds. And if you’re retired, consider renting for a bit before making a decision to buy.
Author of “Middle-Class Millionaire,” Clark Kendall, CFP, CFA, is president of Kendall Capital Management in Rockville, Maryland. “The largest factor is family. Seventy to eighty percent of the time when I see folks retire and go across the nation, it’s to be near family. Another critical element is the availability of medical care. There are several factors to take into account from a financial standpoint. How is your income going to be taxed? In some states, retirement income is exempt from taxes. In addition to having an income tax, Maryland is one of just seven states with an estate tax. Take a look at your planned spending as well. Despite not having an income tax, Florida and Texas have more expensive homeowner’s insurance due to hurricanes. It’s challenging to create a generalization. It’s a different situation if you’re making $1 million and moving to a $5 million house than if you’re making $100,000 in retirement income and moving to a $400,000 house.
“Sometimes, individuals just want to get out of the snow,” says Ginni Field, a real estate broker in Oceanside, California, who focuses on senior buyers and sellers and holds the Senior Real Estate Specialist accreditation from the National Association of Realtors. Sometimes people desire to be nearer to their families. You need to examine what you still want to do before choosing a community. Do you still want to be able to play pickleball, golf, or tennis? For people in that age bracket, access to healthcare, shopping, and public transit are crucial. One of my 83-year-old clients didn’t want to live in an active adult community because she assumed it would be full of elderly people. She fell in love with the town when I took her there.
Bankrate examined a number of public and private databases pertaining to retiree life. The research looked at five categories: affordability (40 percent), wellbeing (20 percent), culture (15 percent), weather (15 percent), and crime (15 percent) (10 percent). The Cost of Living Index from the Council for Community and Economic Research, released in July 2022, and the property and sales tax rates from the Tax Foundation rankings for 2022 were used to determine affordability. Bankrate used the Sharecare Community Well-Being Index, which was published in July 2022, to rank wellness. The index evaluates a number of variables, such as economic security, food access, physical health, and access to medical treatment. The number of arts, entertainment, and leisure facilities per capita and the population of adults 65 and older were used to determine culture scores. The Movement Advancement Project’s LGBTQ population densities and the Census’ racial and ethnic diversity index were used to calculate diversity scores. We used average daily temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration during three decades to calculate weather scores. Along with earthquake reports from the USGS, we also used NOAA data on tornado hits and hurricane landfalls. In order to assess crime, we used the FBI’s 2019 Crime in the United States report’s rates of violent and property crimes per 100,000 people for each state. (We did not rely on those statistics because the FBI dramatically changed the reporting structure for 2020 data.)