NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Retiring in Hawaii could be the best choice people make, not because of its irresistible weather but rather because the life expectancy of retirees living in the state ranks at the top.
That's according to MoneyRates.com, which ranked the top ten states to retire in the U.S. The best states made the list not only for their weather and low crime rates, but also because of tax rates, the cost of living, how many of their peers seniors can expect to find and life expectancy. To check out the full rankings, click here or continue reading below.
"We looked at a range of five different factors, because we recognize that a number of things go into these decisions, but how you weigh those factors is an individual decision," said Richard Barrington, senior financial analyst for MoneyRates.com, a personal finance website based in Foster City, Calif.
Of course, there is a difference between wanting to find a place to retire and a place that is a good for vacation, said Chris Kahn, a research and statistics editor at Bankrate. While retirees are drawn to the weather in Florida and Arizona, both states have higher costs of living and taxes, which can siphon into their hard-earned savings.
In the MoneyRates.com study, Alaska earned the bottom spot in the study and ranked below average for all five factors the study measured. The high cost of living doesn't help and most people don't want to retire where few seniors live in the state.
One of the main drawbacks affecting both Louisiana and Tennessee is its high crime rate and low life expectancy, dragging both to the bottom ten in the survey.
Illinois ranked as the fourth worst state to retire and its proportion of older people compared to the state's population is well below average. Its tepid job market is a definite drawback as more older Americans are seeking a part-time job to supplement their retirement income.
Between property taxes, personal income taxes and a high cost of living, an Illinois lifestyle can be taxing during retirement, said Nicole Mayer, a partner with RPG-Life Transition Specialists in Riverwoods, Ill.
"In comparison to many other states, Illinois has high property taxes and an estate tax," she said. "There are many other states in which retirees can get more for their money. This translates into residents saving less for retirement and burning through their savings faster."
Nevada, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Michigan and Alabama made the list of the worst places to live in retirement because of their high taxes and crime rates, weak economies and low life expectancy for older residents. To check out these states, click here.
Income taxes can be important depending upon your level of retirement income, said Clarence Kehoe, a CPA with Anchin, Block & Anchin's tax Department in New York.
"Certain states have no income tax and are retirement havens, especially for those in higher tax brackets," he said. "Some states have special tax breaks for retirees and their income."
Ensuring that your retirement savings outlasts your life expectancy can be a big draw in choosing where you should retire.
"If moving across a state line materially affects the cost of living or your tax rate, you might be able to improve your retirement conditions while still living fairly close to your loved ones," said Barrington.
If high taxes or crime rates or the lack of many retirees living in a state bothers you, then moving may not be such a bad idea, he said.
"One reason we do this kind of study is that people tend to talk about the American economy and the American condition as if things were pretty much the same wherever you go," Barrington said. "They are not. Conditions vary greatly from state to state and people should know that there are alternatives."
Investing for your retirement when you are young is the best strategy, said Bill DeShurko, a portfolio manager on Covestor, the online investing platform with offices in Boston and London.
"Wealth is created from income and rarely from investment gains," he said. "When you are young, most expenses are purely discretionary. You may not want to save, but you can by making tough choices."
Learning to invest wisely is more important than trying to time the market, said DeShurko.
"Don't be greedy," he said." A 7% return on $10,000 at age 30 turns to $160,000 at age 70. At 9%, the same $10,000 would be $320,000 - twice as much from just a net 2% better return. You can get rich slowly when time is still on your side."
While the cost of homes and access to doctors are important, people should think about if they want to move away from their friends and family or live closer to their children, Kahn said. "You need to have a support system and you can't rank for that," he said.
As for how the states stacked up according to MoneyRates.com, continue reading...
It's off the beaten path, and the state's rugged terrain and cold climate can wear on old bones. And yet, there's a happy senior population in Montana with low taxes and low cost of living. Sometimes money does talk.
The senior population is not large here, and the life expectancy is not encouraging -- ranked tenth worst nationally for people aged 65 and over. But the climate is temperate, and crime rates are low. That's enough to make this an appealing hub for retirees.
7. Maine (tie)
Retirees are bucking the trend, or at least certain stereotypes, and headed for cold, coastal Maine. Maine has one of the biggest percentages of seniors, and that demographic is rising at the fastest clip among all states. Of course, there are some challenges retirees have to contend with: a high cost of living and intimidating property taxes. Of course, some may be willing to stomach the economic challenges for fresh lobster.
7. Colorado (tie)
A robust, growing economy and high life expectancy gave Colorado a boost, while maintaining average rankings in every other category.
In contrast to cold Vermont, the dry desert air in Arizona is palatable for the typical retiree's disposition. Further appeal of the state lies in its sizable senior population and long life expectancies. Of course, on the negative, there's the high crime rate.
Retirement may not be all about sunshine and golf, after all. Vermont has one of the fastest-growing populations of senior citizens and a low-crime rate, coupled with the second-lowest rate of violent crimes.
It's no surprise that Florida would rank as the #4 state since it boasts the highest percentage population aged 65 or older of any state. Retirees appear to flourish since the state's life expectancy at age 65 is one of the best in the country. Its one downfall is that Florida is one of the ten worst states for crime.
Idaho may also appear to be an out-of-the way place to retire, but it can be a preference for people who want to get away from violence and property crime. For people who prefer the low cost of living and booming job market, especially if they are planning a second career, this state could be a consideration.
The #2 nod for Iowa is likely to come as a surprise, as cornfield central is not often thought of as the ideal bastion of retirement bliss. Iowa ranked number two on the list not because of one factor, but its low crime rates and low property rates gave it a score of well above average in four out of the five categories examined.
Hawaii topped the list of MoneyRates.com's best states to retire based on the fact that its property tax is the lowest. The only weak spot for retiring in Hawaii is its cost of living, which is higher than in any other state. The average 65-year-old in Hawaii can expect to live more than four years longer than the average 65-year-old in Mississippi.
--Written by Ellen Chang for MainStreet
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