Americans are ever on the hunt for active, comfortable and affordable places to retire.
Low taxes, great access to health care, nice weather, access to activities and low crime rates are all important factors for folks deciding on where to settle in their post-working life.
These ten states offer retirees the best chance of having financial smart and fulfilling lives once they call it a career.
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Editors' pick: Originally published Sept. 14.
Arizona residents over the age of 65 comprise 14% of the state's population, according to 2016 U.S. Census Figures, but expect that number to grow as more Baby Boomers retire and call The Grand Canyon state home in retirement. "Arizona, specifically Phoenix, is a great place to retire," says Irene Hammond, a home sales specialist at eXp Realty, in Peoria, Ariz. "It offers low taxes, easy access to wherever grandchildren may live around the country, easy to drive to the mountains or to the Pacific Ocean, and has great weather." Add in all types of major sports teams, baseball spring training "cactus league" games in March and no snow to shovel, and it's easy to see why so many retirees call Arizona home.
This scenic state, located in the heart of the American South, offers retirees great weather, low taxes and a relaxed, homespun lifestyle. Better yet, it also provides a highly affordable lifestyle for U.S. retirees worried about a crunched retirement budget. "You can save thousands of dollars a year in real estate taxes and on home and food costs by moving to middle America, where the cost of living is lower," says Adrian Nazari, CEO at Credit Sesame. "The median household income in Auburn, Ala., for example, is only $21,630, and the winters are mild."
Yes, West Virginia may have cold and snowy winters, but there's a reason legendary singer John Denver wrote a famous song about its fabled country roads and hearty Mountain Mamas. A dollar goes much further in the Mountain State, with the average cost of a new home under $100,00. The chances are good that home will be in a gorgeous, leafy mountainside town with gorgeous vistas of the Appalachians, and some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet. "In a beautiful college town like Blacksburg, Va., the median household income is only $26,792, and it tends, like most college towns, to offer lots of cultural and educational events, often priced low," says Nazari.
Besides catching a relative "it could have been much worse" break from Hurricane Irma, Southwest Florida in particular seems tailor made for retirees looking for palm trees and sandy beaches inside of a two-or-three-hour airplane ride from New York or Chicago. Aside from seemingly endless strings of 80-degree cloudless winter days, Florida's Gold Coast offers easy access to airports, a quick trip across Alligator Alley to Fort Lauderdale and Miami, and a wide array of restaurants, shopping, golf courses, and, in Naples, a tony downtown that some call "Beverly Hills East". Add to the mix Fort Myers, Bonita Beach, Sarasota, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and the Florida Gulf Coast becomes a mecca for sun-worshipping retirees looking for the full golden years experience.
CNBC ranks Wyoming as its second-ranked "best U.S. state to retire" (behind Florida), giving it high marks in key retiree areas like affordability (ranked No. 4 among U.S. states) and health care services (No. 19 among all U.S. states.) The "Cowboy State" is also the second-most "tax friendly" state in the U.S., according to Kiplinger (it has no state income tax, nor does it have a state inheritance tax). Two of Americas greatest national parks, Yosemite and Grand Teton, also are located in Wyoming, giving retirees a magical natural landscape to go along with its low cost of living.
If you want to retire to the beach in an affordable manner and still be within an easy drive of major metropolitan areas like New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., then Delaware is your state. Delaware has 381 miles of coastline and some of the most underrated beaches in the U.S. Financially, retirees earn some solid breaks by moving to Delaware. Unlike many Northeastern states, Social Security benefits aren't taxed, and total income taxes in the state are capped at 6.6%
Not paying state income taxes is a big advantage to a retiree living on a fixed income, and that's where a tax-free state like New Hampshire can fit the bill. "Not paying state income taxes on IRA distributions can make portfolios last longer," says Pedro Silva, a money manager at LPL Financial in Shrewsbury, Mass. "That's why logically, a retiree would look at a state like New Hampshire." Plus, you're close to Boston, a major metropolitan center, while still living in a state with some of the most beautiful mountain vistas in the U.S.
While neon-lit Las Vegas is a major attraction to retirees, Nevada offers retires a lot more than just gaming, entertainment and $5 casino buffets. It also offers fixed-income residents no state income tax, no inheritance or estate taxes and a dry desert climate where the only ice you'll see is filling your cocktail glass at happy hour, after a great day on the golf course.
If you want to mix a cosmopolitan life style with access to beaches, hiking trails and high-end learning opportunities, take a closer look at Maryland. "The stereotype that retirees stop working and play shuffleboard all day is completely antiquated," says Jonathan Murray, managing director, wealth management at UBS Wealth Management in Baltimore. "In fact, retirees nowadays are living more active lifestyles than ever before, and want to live near colleges and universities in order to further their education and take courses in art, music, and more."
Maryland offers all that in droves, Murray says, along with access to unique treasure -the Chesapeake Bay. "The bay offers retirees a rich mix of animals and wetlands and allows for fishing, hiking, and a plethora of outdoor activities," he says. Toss in access to great health care facilities, and the fact that Washington, D.C. is right down the road, and Maryland could a great retirement landing spot for any retiree.
Besides towering pines and magnificent coastal views, Maine is rated number one in the U.S in health care services, according to a recent study by Bankrate.com. It's also ranked second in the "lowest crime per state" category, and it also ranks high on lifestyle satisfaction surveys. Plus, relative to often-pricey New England, Maine offers retirees access to affordable land and housing, along with a vibrant outdoor living lifestyle, with skiing, hiking, boating, and fishing.