Ranked: the best retirement states in America

20. Nevada

Senior watching Hoover Dam
Elzbieta Sekowska / Shutterstock
Nevada offers seniors more than Las Vegas -- including Hoover Dam.

Nevada has been popular with retirees for decades, thanks to its reasonable home prices, lack of a state income tax and warm climate in the south. But Kiplinger says the cost of living is higher than average.

The state struggled on its way out of the 2008 recession but has seen good tourism numbers recently, which translate to a better economy.

Las Vegas is more than a party town: It also has great weather, parks, golfing, arts and a fast-growing community of retirees. Plus, "Sin City" offers Nevada's best health care, and the median price for a home there is $260,000.

For more sun, water activities and a smaller community feel, check out river-bound Laughlin, where the median home price is $148,000.

19. Wisconsin

A woman on the beach with her dog
Lindsay Snow / Shutterstock
Wisconsin has shoreline along not one but two Great Lakes.

Wisconsin is home to more than 500 golf courses, 15,000 inland lakes, 33,000 miles of rivers, two Great Lakes and 5 million acres of public hunting grounds for outdoorsy seniors to enjoy.

Retirees also benefit from a low cost of living and lower taxes, including no taxes on Social Security benefits or government pensions. Bankrate ranks the state high for health care quality.

Madison is among the best cities in the country for culture, entertainment and amenities at a fraction of big-city prices. The median home price there is $250,000, but apartments can be found for less.

Milwaukee offers modern city living, and the median home value is just $113,900, says Zillow. Or, for $160,000 and up, you can settle in quiet, lakeside of Eau Claire, or in popular Lake Geneva.

18. Nebraska

senior male walking on old railroad trestle acroos Niobrara River , now a multi-use recreational Cowboy Trail in northern Nebraska
marekuliasz / Shutterstock
Nebraska is crisscrossed with hiking trails.

Forget beaches and mountains: Nebraska’s got miles upon miles of walking and biking trails, 6,500 acres of parks and 1,475 acres of wild nature to keep retirees active.

Although Nebraska isn't particularly tax-friendly for seniors, Kiplinger points out that the state has a below-average cost of living, great health care and plenty of shopping and entertainment in its cities.

Lincoln offers shopping, dining and the arts in its Haymarket District. Meanwhile, Omaha is home to a fantastic local beer and football culture, a great music scene, and some of the best steak you’ll ever taste.

Your money goes far in Nebraska, with median home prices sitting at $175,500 in Lincoln and $167,500 in Omaha, according to Zillow.

17. Massachusetts

Fall Foliage Plymouth Massachusetts
Michael Sean O'Leary / Shutterstock
Plymouth, Massachusetts, offers spectacular fall foliage.

It may have snowy winters and high living costs and taxes. But Massachusetts has plenty to offer retirees, including nationally ranked hospitals and a whole lot of history and culture. WalletHub says it's near the top for quality of life.

For those who want to reap the state's many benefits, there are still some reasonably affordable towns in Massachusetts.

In Leominster, a smaller community about an hour outside of Boston, the median home value is $250,000. Home prices in Methuen start at around $200,000, says Trulia, and that town also boasts great shopping and a world-class music hall.

And for those seeking the Cape Cod experience on a budget, condos in historic Plymouth start around $160,000, and single family homes can be had for $300,000.

16. Missouri

Senior couple skiing cross-country in the field
LanaG / Shutterstock
Missouri features hot summers and cool winters.

With over 1,000 miles of gorgeous coastline encircling its lakes, highly-ranked hospitals and a strong brewing and wine industry, Missouri has a lot to offer retirees.

You can enjoy laid-back, country living not far from the big-city amenities of St. Louis and Kansas City. Missouri's agreeable climate features hot summers, cool winters and more than 200 days of sunshine.

Bankrate says the cost of living in Missouri is among the lowest. The state does tax Social Security income and pensions, says SmartAsset, but housing is fairly affordable.

Great communities for retirees include Blue Springs, with its many parks, great health care center and a median home value of $175,100; and the college town of Springfield, with a median home price of $131,100.

15. Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pa. USA, Sept. 16, 2017: senior citizens talking at the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Sept. 16, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pa. USA
Fernando Garcia Esteban / Shutterstock
Philadelphia is a great place for senior history buffs.

Pennsylvania has a livable four-season climate with hot and humid summers in the southeast, a pleasant fall and a genuine winter.

With its busy cities, pretty natural surroundings and easy access to New Jersey’s beaches, Pennsylvania will never bore you. Retirees will love the Keystone State's low 6% sales tax and no taxes on retirement income or medication.

The town of Lancaster was ranked No. 2 on U.S. News and World Report's 100 best places to retire in America. It has a bustling downtown core, quaint shopping districts, a high-performing hospital and affordable homes.

For a big city, Pittsburgh has a relatively low cost of living and a ton of history, entertainment and amenities. Philadelphia offers top-notch health care, good public transportation, a major international airport and a highly walkable layout.

14. North Dakota

Campsite with a tent and hunting gear in the badlands area of the border of Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota on an early winter day. Overcast sky. Concept for public / BLM land use
melissamn / Shutterstock
North Dakota offers hiking and camping opportunities.

North Dakota proves that you don’t need a beach to have a great retirement. Even with its cold winters, residents make the most of the state’s natural beauty, culture and entertainment all year ‘round.

The bustling city of Bismarck sits on the Missouri River and offers great fishing, watersports and a vibrant arts scene downtown. Fargo has museums, galleries and shopping to keep you engaged.

Although retirement income is taxed, income taxes are relatively low. Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks all have high-performing hospitals, says US News.

The cost of living is generally affordable, and this extends to housing: The median home price is $271,200 in Bismarck, $225,400 in Fargo, and $206,400 in Grand Forks, according to Zillow.

13. Montana

Elderly man sitting on a tree root chair in the Bob Marshall Wilderness enjoying the evening scenery on summertime day.
Jerry Voss / Shutterstock
Montana's forests and mountains promise a very peaceful retirement in the fresh air.

Why consider snowy Montana for your retirement? Aside from its amazing scenery, cool college towns and cities, and historical attractions galore, mountainous Montana has no sales tax and affordable living costs.

The city of Billings, population 100,000, mixes restaurants, shopping and entertainment with an Old West vibe, and has miles of trails to keep you going. The median home price is $185,900, says Livability.com.

Great Falls (median home value $158,900) has a bustling, historic downtown and is close to some great parks, while skiers will want to head to Bozeman (median home price $256,300).

Given Montana’s massive size and sparse population, it’s important to have a plan for getting to good health care. St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula and Billings' Advanced Care Hospital are highly regarded.

12. North Carolina

Senior man with dog enjoying a morning on a sandy beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Cvandyke / Shutterstock
North Carolina has both mountains and beaches.

North Carolina is one of the few places where you can visit rugged mountains and sandy beaches in the same day.

With its hot and humid summers and mild-to-chilly winters, North Carolina has the perfect climate for enjoying its charming towns and waterfronts, NASCAR racing and amazing barbeque any time of the year.

Health care costs can be high, but Social Security benefits are not taxed, and property taxes are comparatively low. The state's median home value is $173,800, and the cost of living in North Carolina is 5% below the national average.

In light of all this, it should be no surprise that North Carolina is among the top retirement destinations in the country. SmartAsset found that more than 14,000 people over 60 moved the the state in 2017.

11. Washington

Nature landscape of mountain Baker in Washington State during sunset with a couple lovers watching
Patrick Tr / Shutterstock
Washington's attractions include two mountain ranges.

With more than 3,000 miles of coastline and two mountain ranges, Washington state is perfect for an active retirement. The west coast is rainy and temperate, while eastern cities like Spokane and Chelan have drier four-season climates.

Seattle has it all: great health care, culture, entertainment and safety — but it’s not ideal for retirees on a budget. Kiplinger says the cost of living in the city is 49% above the national average.

According to Zillow, Seattle has a median home price of $764,200, versus $194,500 in Spokane.

Washington has no state income or inheritance tax on property under $2 million. And while medical costs can be high, the state comes out on top for quality of life and health care, says a Caring.com study.

10. Minnesota

Canoer on Kekekabic Lake in the Boundary Waters in Minnesota
Wildnerdpix / Shutterstock
Minnesota offers natural beauty and waterfront fun.

The land of 10,000 lakes (really more like 11,000!) is beloved by residents for its natural beauty and endless miles of waterfront fun. The winters can be genuinely cold, but the snow’s just great for skiing and sledding, dontcha know?

This friendly state is best in the nation for quality of life and health care quality for seniors, says WalletHub.

Kiplinger found that the cost of health care for a retired couple is close to the national average. Given the state’s highly-rated hospitals, your health care dollars will be well spent.

Retirees have been flocking to Minnesota in recent years, and the state has been working to add more services for them. Developers have been busy constructing more senior-friendly buildings where older people can live independently.

9. Arizona

Elderly couple in Grand Canyon National Park - North Rim
Elzbieta Sekowska / Shutterstock
Retirees in Arizona have the Grand Canyon in their backyard.

Arizona is a wonderland of great cities, mountains, canyons (including that Grand one), waterways and even sandy beaches along lakes and rivers.

Where else but Arizona can you tan by the pool in Phoenix, play world-class desert golf, and then go skiing in Flagstaff a few hours later?

Bankrate says the state has the second-best weather in the country, after California. Arizona's major cities enjoy around 250 days of sun every year.

Housing costs are not astronomical. You can rent a one-bedroom in the center of Tucson for $675, or in Phoenix for $1,100 a month, Numbeo says. And while Arizona’s average sales tax is a high 8.25%, there's no tax on Social Security.

8. Idaho

Healthy Active Senior Photographer Hiking Outdoors. Copy space.
Denise Lett / Shutterstock
There are lots of outdoor activities in Idaho, thanks to its mountainous geography.

Idaho’s got a whole lot more going for it than potatoes! Try a livable four-season climate, a low cost of living and tons of outdoor pursuits, thanks to mountainous geography.

Bankrate notes that Idaho is the fourth-safest state in the nation, while Kiplinger says the cost of living is 5% lower than the U.S. average.

Some of the state's most affordable places are also the loveliest. In Idaho Falls, rent for a one-bedroom averages $560 a month. Twin Falls has comparable housing costs, and you can find as much peace and quiet or adventure as you want!

Retiree health care in Idaho is cheaper than average. And, as the cherry on top, Social Security benefits are nontaxable.

7. Virginia

Couple Enjoying The View From Their RV Campsite
Jim Vallee / Shutterstock
Virginia's mountains are magical.

Given Virginia's manageable four-season climate, the state's mountains and beaches are best enjoyed during the magical spring and autumn months.

If you’re into festivals, racing (horse or car, take your pick!), delicious down-home cooking and taste-testing wines from any of more than 230 local vineyards, then you might just enjoy settling here.

In 2014, Forbes named the mountain town of Blacksburg the top spot in the nation for retirees, thanks to its lower cost of living, reasonable housing costs and safety. You can rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city center for $1,033.

Tax benefits are a huge plus if you retire in Virginia. Kiplinger says retirees 65 or older are allowed to deduct up to $12,000 worth of income per person.

Need to save more for retirement? Find out how much you need to put away each month to reach your savings goal.

6. Utah

Seniors couple enjoying the beauty of Delicate Arch, Utah, USA
Ukrolenochka / Shutterstock
Utah is a state of stunning natural attractions.

Thanks to Utah's magnificent mountain ranges, endless natural activities, and amazing local produce and foods, it’s no wonder that the state has one of the nation’s fastest-growing populations of all ages.

The Beehive State is home to 17 national parks, monuments and forests to keep you active, plus it boasts high-quality health care.

Having the nationally ranked University of Utah Hospital in town is one of the major benefits of living in Salt Lake City. The state capital also has an affordable cost of living, a walkable downtown and a reliable light-rail system.

It’s important to note that Social Security and other kinds of retirement income are taxable in Utah. But seniors can claim a tax credit of up to $450 per person, and property and sales taxes are fairly low.

5. Florida

Senior Couple on a bike ride
Brocreative / Shutterstock
Its warm weather and beatiful beaches have been drawing retirees to Florida for decades.

The Sunshine State has been a popular port of call for North American retirees for decades. And it’s no wonder: With so much waterfront and beach action, fantastic seafood, and tons of history and culture, what’s not to love about Florida?

Orlando remains one of the most affordable destinations for transplants of all ages. Here, you can find condos selling for $70,000 to $170,000, or you can rent a one-bedroom apartment for under $1,000 a month.

If you'd rather not deal with all the tourists drawn to Orlando and its theme parks, other great places to settle include quiet and scenic Palm Coast on the Atlantic side, and the canal-filled fishing haven of Cape Coral near the Gulf Coast.

Florida also is essentially a tax haven for retirees: There's no state income tax, estate tax or inheritance tax, and there's no tax on Social Security and other retirement income either.

4. Iowa

Fishing Iowa summer 2017
Melissa L Oltman / Shutterstock
Iowa's rivers, lakes and woodlands beckon retirees.

Iowa is more than just cornfields: The state is home to hills, rivers, lakes and woodlands just waiting for you to explore them.

Iowa's eclectic towns welcome you to enjoy bountiful farmers markets (NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids), local theater culture (at Englert Theater in Iowa City), savory treats (the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines) and much more.

Cedar Rapids offers a vibrant arts scene and lots of outdoor activities, and you can rent a one-bedroom apartment for $470 to $625. The median home price is $171,000, according to Zillow.   Kiplinger says Iowa's cost of living is 12% below the U.S. average. The cost of health care for retirees is 5.6% below average, and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City is nationally ranked.

3. Colorado

Man hiking in the mountains
Paul Knowles / Shutterstock
Colorado's mountain terrain can help you stay fit in retirement.

Colorado really has it all. Mountains? Check. Breweries? Check. Big-city amenities and small-town charm? Check and check.

Add too this a fantastic quality of life, good health care and some of the highest senior citizen tax deductions in the country, and it’s no wonder so many retirees are settling here.

Although cities like Denver and Boulder can be expensive, there are many smaller towns that are far more affordable and provide the same access to the state’s natural wonders. In Greeley, a one-bedroom rents for around $1,000 a month.

WalletHub ranks Colorado as second in the country for health care quality and clinical care. The state has three nationally ranked hospitals, plus nine other high-performing medical centers.

2. South Dakota

2013-08-04 Mount Rushmore in South Dakota
Paul Quesnell / Flickr
South Dakota offers natural beauty and man-made wonders, like Mount Rushmore.

What South Dakota lacks in year-round tanning weather, it makes up for with some of the best hunting, fishing, hiking and camping around. The small-town life is relaxed and perfect for retirees looking to settle somewhere quiet but active.

You’ll definitely find a home in your price range in affordable South Dakota. In Sioux Falls, which has ubiquitous natural beauty and a vibrant downtown, a one-bedroom in the center of town goes for $750 a month, on average.

In smaller Rapid City (population: 74,000) and Aberdeen (population: 27,800), housing costs are even cheaper. You can find one-bedroom apartments renting for around $650 a month, says Numbeo.

Seniors will be happy to note that South Dakota doesn’t tax Social Security income or pensions, there’s no inheritance tax, and the state sales tax is 4%.

1. New Hampshire

Handsome middle aged man in woods
Johanna Veldstra / Shutterstock
New Hampshire provides a peaceful New England lifestyle at affordable prices.

New Hampshire takes the top spot as our best retirement state — and it really has the whole package.

U.S. News reports that If you retire here, you’ll enjoy low taxes, great health care, gorgeous natural surroundings, peace and quiet, and plenty of ways to get the most out of life.

New Hampshire might just be the place if you’re looking for a peaceful New England lifestyle at a fraction of Boston's prices. In pretty Portsmouth, on the Atlantic coast, a one-bedroom apartment rents for $1,100 to $1,300.

With no sales tax, New Hampshire has the best deal on clothing, alcohol and tobacco in the Northeast. Retirement income isn’t taxed, but there is a 5% tax on dividends and interest that might snag retirees with investment income.

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About the Author

Esther Trattner

Esther Trattner

Freelance Contributor

Esther was formerly a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.

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