Thinking about spending your golden years in a retirement-friendly state? You've got plenty of company — baby boomers moved more than any other age group in 2019, and 24% of them said that retirement was their main reason for relocating, according to a 2020 survey by United Van Lines.
The South, Southwest and the Pacific Northwest are popular retirement destinations. However, there's more to choosing retirement-friendly states than regional preference. Your financial situation, lifestyle and recreational, cultural and climate preferences matter, too.
If you love the outdoors, maybe you're drawn to a state flush with hiking trails, lakes, beaches and mountains. After year-round balmy weather? Many states offer moderate climates — but they're not all affordable. And if you want to stretch your retirement income, moving somewhere with a low cost of living could top your relocation requirements list.
With 50 states to choose from, narrowing down the best states to retire can be daunting. But it doesn't have to be. Cruise through this list of retirement-friendly states to learn what makes them enticing to various types of retirees.
Beach Lovers on a Budget
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi
If you want to comb the beach at sunrise and share cocktails with friends around a fire pit at sunset, you don't have to empty your savings with a move to California, which has a high cost of living. You can get a lot more house for your money — along with miles of beautiful beaches — in retirement-friendly Southern states, such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, each of which boasts a lower cost of living than other coastal states.
Seeking a Lower Cost of Living
Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, New Mexico
Want to make your retirement income last longer? Consider moving to a state with a lower-than-average cost of living. Mississippi has the lowest cost of living in the United States (84.8, compared with an average score of 100), according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. Retirement-friendly states Georgia (89.4), Alabama (89.4) and New Mexico (89.6) also rank in the top 10 most affordable states.
Tired of Paying State Taxes
Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Alaska, Washington, Wyoming, Texas, Tennessee, New Hampshire
Retirees looking for a big tax break can catch one in the retirement-friendly states of Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Alaska, Washington and Wyoming, which have no state income tax. New Hampshire and Tennessee, meanwhile, tax only interest and dividends, not income. Don't make your move on state tax collection alone, however. Check out your target city's cost of living index to ensure that you won't blow your tax savings on more expensive housing, groceries and health care.
Florida, Washington, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico
If you want to be in the midst of your favorite outdoor recreational activities — whether it's boating, hiking, fishing or skiing — you'll find your slice of paradise in Florida, Washington, Wyoming and Nevada. (Reminder: These four states don't levy a state income tax, either). Arizona and New Mexico also offer abundant outdoor activities, like hiking, kayaking and camping, and many of their scenic neighbors, like Colorado and Utah, are just a road trip away.
Snowbirds Ready to Nest
Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina
If you're tired of flying to warmer climates every winter, consider settling down in Florida or Arizona. Looking for more affordable housing and a more moderate climate? Consider Alabama, Mississippi or North Carolina, which, depending on the region, have milder summers and moderate winters.
Keep in mind, however, that no state has perfect weather. Depending on where you live in Florida, the weather could be balmy year-round but stormy during hurricane season and chilly on winter nights. Arizona can be brutally hot, topping 110 degrees during summer and fall, but it's pleasant and sunny the entire winter.
Now that you have an idea of several retirement-friendly states, continue your research with an online search for your favorite cities' cost of living. Remember to factor in your target cities' health care and housing costs. Before you know it, you could be packing for a move to the retirement destination of your dreams.