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The Top 5 States To Retire In (And Why)

retirement

Say you utilized the FIRE system down to a T and finally got to retire before you hit your mid-life crisis. You have everything planned out for the longest vacation of your time, except, you don’t exactly know where you’re going to settle.

And that’s understandable. The US is a diverse region and offers different things for different individuals. No one state is like the other.

So, how does one choose where to retire permanently? 

You’d think that some of the best states to retire would be the ones we hear about most. Maybe the austere modernity of New York would suit you best, or the warm beaches of Miami (which does have quite a large retiree community). Certainly, a state with the biggest cities would be the ideal place, right?

But turns out, that isn’t the case at all. In fact, most of those places are actually the worst options for retirees.

So, I’m here to cut all that guesswork out and provide you with the top states you should consider retiring in, and why they might be beneficial for you in the long run. We’ll be going through:

  • What makes for a comfortable retirement state
  • The top 5 states for retirees
  • Why choosing where you settle matters

The Rules Of Retirement

Being in the fast paced world of medicine, it is hard to really give thought to anything beyond that initial idea of retirement. Sure, we all have our dream retirement, a place we can call home permanently. But you can’t just choose this kind of stuff on a whim.

Here’s the deal: No state is going to be perfect. There is no such thing as the absolute ideal city to live in, let alone the perfect state to retire in. But there are ways to filter out possible options by weighing their pros and cons, which is what we’ll be doing here.

The three main things to look at when finding your dream retirement state are the cost of living, taxes, and how secure that state is. 

Cost of Living

The cost of living is an obvious one. There is no point moving to a place you can’t even afford to live in, especially when you won’t be working anymore. You need to think of amenities, how much groceries and traveling costs are, how accessible everything is to the location, etc.

The point is to relax and not keep grinding for the rest of your life to afford a specific lifestyle.

Taxes

Then there are taxes. Obviously, certain states come with much more heavy duty taxes compared to others based on their distance from the mainland, how much they export their labor, and so many other factors.

Taxes can eat away a huge chunk of your nest egg if you aren’t careful, so be warned.

Security

You also have to consider security. While the US is a fairly safe country, there are discrepancies when you shift from one major city to another. Security and accessibility to resources are important, whether that’s in the case of natural disasters or otherwise.

Of course, there are other factors to consider here. Some people don’t want to spend the rest of their days stuck in a winter wonderland so weather comes up a lot. And healthcare at our age? That’s kind of a big deal too. And before you decide to retire to a lavish new home, you need to know if you can even buy it.

This might sound like a lot of things to weigh in when deciding, but it is a retirement, after all. Lucky for you, we’ve done all the hard work and listed down our favorite retirement states.

Top States For Retirees

1. Iowa

A Midwestern state being our top pick for the best state to retire in? That might sound shocking, but there are quite a few reasons why Iowa is shaping up to be the place to hit for retirees wanting downtime.

For one thing, it is the ideal state for actually living off your retirement money the longest. 

Iowa has some of the most affordable housing available in the US, and living here isn’t exactly expensive either. The cost of living is more than manageable, meaning you won’t be running through your savings before you know it.

In addition to that, Iowa summers can be pretty beautiful, while the winters are charming for that quintessential holiday vibe. Couple that up with excellent healthcare, and it’s no wonder Iowa ranks at the top here.

2. Mississippi

The food alone should be enough to make you want to settle in Mississippi. I mean, who doesn’t want to live by the river, feasting on the best that Cajun and Creole cuisine have to offer? But there are a lot more reasons to keep you in Mississippi.

Let’s start out with housing affordability, which is very high. The same chunk of money that would get you a basic apartment in New York could get you a riverside villa in Mississippi. It will be absurdly humid, but it’s worth it for the views.

Mississippi residents also enjoy a lot of tax breaks, especially for retirees because they don’t have to pay social security or retirement account fees.  

The only thing that would keep you from moving here is healthcare. As physicians, we know just how important accessible healthcare is, especially in old age. But Mississippi sadly has the worst healthcare ranking in the entire country.

So, you would need to consider your health when planning to settle there.

3. North Dakota

If health is a deal breaker for you but you still want the views, North Dakota might be a better fit. A midwestern state that borders Canada, North Dakota is known for its gorgeous national parks and scenery.

It’s also known for being the coldest state on this list. But that pain is easily soothed once you see how beautiful North Dakota is when the seasons start to turn. Plus, it’s not like you’ll be stranded out in the cold there – it’s a fairly modern state with little to no extreme weather events.

However, the pull for many retirees here is just how safe North Dakota is. It ranks fourth when it comes to the most secure states in the country, meaning you can go about without much fear of anything happening.

And the healthcare sector is great, with affordable but excellent medical facilities at your doorstep.

4. Oklahoma

Perhaps you like staying fit after retirement, wanting to keep your good health going by frequenting the gym regularly and embarking on nature hikes. If so, Oklahoma’s gorgeous hiking trails just can’t be beat.

In terms of living, however, it is more than just acceptable. Oklahoma has some of the lowest housing costs in the entire country, with $200,000 snatching you a nice home to spend the rest of your days.

And the cost of living is also surprisingly low, meaning you can stretch out your savings nicely.

Really, the only con of living in Oklahoma is the fear of tornadoes, which are a frequent problem of the windy state. But thanks to its low rain stats and beautiful mountain ranges, Oklahoma is still favored by retirees.

5. Wyoming

Wyoming is the state to settle in if you want to escape the busy city life. Not that it doesn’t have everything you’d need from a city, but rather that Wyoming’s scenic beauty makes it the perfect escape.

Known for its national parks and ski resorts, Wyoming is a landlocked state with a huge benefit: it does not have individual taxes. Which, when combined with the cost of living there is relatively affordable, means existing without a regular income won’t break the bank.

The healthcare is okay, honestly. The biggest issue is the higher costs of admission but some of the hospitals there rank in the top 10 for geriatric care, meaning senior citizens are well cared for.

But to be able to ski a stone’s throw away from your home? That alone makes Wyoming a top destination for those wanting to get out of the hustle and bustle of regular city life.

The Verdict

Clearly, the midwest wins when it comes to the top states to retire in. Which is insane when you consider how little they are advertised as such.

The point is to find a balance between having a comfortable retirement life and retiring in a place that will feel fulfilling and lively.

But hey, you’re the captain of your retirement plan. Just make sure to anchor yourself in a place you won’t regret!



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6 thoughts on “The Top 5 States To Retire In (And Why)”

  1. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  2. Really? Every one of these states is “ruby red” in their state government and voting patterns. All of them severely restrict access to reproductive healthcare…especially Mississippi, Oklahoma, and N Dakota. As a retired ObGyn, that’s a on-starter.
    The 3 criteria (cost of living, taxes, and security) are important, but there is no mention of being able to set up social networks with your new neighbors. I doubt that I would be able to make many friends if I didn’t go to the same church that they do…which would not be a part of my plan.

    Reply
  3. As physicians, finding excellent medical care is easy in any state. In fact, if you are traveling, and need a surgeon, just call the anesthesiology department at the local hospital: they will tell you who to see, and that doc likely ISNT the one on ER call that day. He/she will see you regardless because you are a doc.

    The reality is that you retire where your friends are or where your oldest daughter lives. Finally, Wyoming where the ski resorts are is extremely expensive

    Reply
  4. Hey man, great post. Interesting that only Wyoming is the only no income tax state on the list. I thought some of the other no income tax states would’ve made the list given that state income taxes play a huge role in eating your retirement nest egg. do you think actually that state income tax actually only plays a minor role in making a retirement nest egg last and that I’m wrong that it’s not a huge deal as a retiree to be in a state that charges income tax? I’m a high income doc use to a high level of lifestyle, so I’m planning to be spending at least $160,000 in retirement and would seem detrimental to be in an income tax state.

    Reply
    • My two cents on this: While state income taxes are important – many no income tax states have higher property taxes, higher sales taxes, and higher housing costs. All states need income to function – it’s just a matter of whether they derive it from – income taxes or other taxes. Something to keep in mind when you get to that point.

      Reply

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