Top States To Spend Your Retirement In

According to GoodReads, President George Washington said, "Every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more, that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome." Ultimately, he retired to Virginia, a state which rates highly among the top-ranked retirement destinations for seniors.

There are an estimated 50 million adults above the age of 55 in the United States, more than half of whom have retired, according to Pew Research Center. Besides having to juggle reduced income, retirees face health-related issues, restricted mobility, more free time to fill, isolation, and loneliness. Most who retire actually stay put or remain within their state should they decide to relocate. Only 1.6% change states, per Investopedia. Whether retaining their home, moving nearby, or completely changing locales, retired adults remain concerned with their quality of life, housing affordability, and general living costs. Health care, crime and safety, weather, culture, and recreation are other focal points. States scoring well in those areas earn consideration as the best options for retirement.

Few states rank well in every category. For example, Retire Guide rates Mississippi as lowest regarding quality of life and health care. At the same time, its inexpensive median home cost makes it the most affordable state for retirees. Personal needs or preferences also determine which state is best. Delaware is the most tax-friendly state, according to Kiplinger (no sales tax, favorable property taxes, no estate or inheritance penalties). However, it may not be retirement-friendly overall.

The winner is ...

Brutal humidity, extreme weather events, and the threat of alligators notwithstanding, Florida is the winner on most lists of retirement havens. US News & World Report lists no less than eight Florida cities in its top 10 for retirees: Pensacola, Port St. Lucie, Fort Myers, Tampa, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Naples, and leading the pack, Sarasota. Not surprisingly, the Sunshine State is the oldest state, and also the one with the most retirees. Retirement communities are prevalent, including The Villages, where four-fifths of its residents are older than 65. In fact, more than a quarter of Floridians will be over 65 in less than 20 years, as reported in Consumer Affairs.

Florida is among the most affordable states. It lacks estate taxes and there is no state income tax, a bonus for retired individuals who wish to work part-time there. Bear in mind some states compensate for this shortfall with heavier assessments elsewhere. Florida's balmy weather and the easy walkability of many communities contribute to its high quality of life. However, the state's financing priorities may help explain why it fared somewhat poorly in a Wallet Hub survey regarding the quality of its health care. That study placed Virginia just behind Florida as a retirement spot, and Virginia's health care system narrowly missed being in the top 10.

Other retirement possibilities

The Mountain West region, including Colorado and Utah, has surged as a retirement destination. Retire Guide deems the latter as the model for senior health care, and Minnesota also scores highly in terms of medical cost, quality, and access. Once again, Mississippi fares poorly in the medical category. It is thought to provide the worst overall health care in the United States. Some surveys consider Oklahoma to have the lowest quality elder care.

Retirement Living designates Arizona as a fast-rising state for retirees. It also cites two unexpected states far from the Sun Belt. New Hampshire's abundance of independent living facilities is a lure, but its wintry weather is not. Alaska's economics are favorable to retirees; it is tax-friendly and Alaskans even receive an annual state stipend as residents. North Carolina is another state gaining in popularity for the 55 and up. Hawaii has a spectacular reputation for quality of life and wellness (and the highest life expectancy), perfect in most respects for retirees. However, dollar for dollar it is the most expensive state to live in, disqualifying it as an accessible retirement destination. Your savings will stretch the farthest in Arkansas, but the state lags in many areas essential for retired seniors. No single state meets all of one's retirement needs, but several check off many of the boxes. Sadly, though, the Wallet Hub retirement study includes this fact: More than a quarter of pre-retirement adults have not set aside any money for their golden years.