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These Are the Best States for Your Golden Years

These Are the Best States for Your Golden Years

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Getaway Staff
Updated: Nov 28, 2022

Getting older isn't always easy, but retirement can mean a new lease on life. If you've fantasized about moving across the country, you likely have a checklist for potential destinations for your golden years. Which states can make your savings go further, have a pleasant climate, offer tax breaks and solid healthcare, arts and culture, and natural splendor? Resources like the AARP Livability Index and the Milken Institutes Best Cities for Successful Aging can help, and we've done some of the homework for you.

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01Florida

Senior Woman on the beach Angelo Cavalli / Getty Images

No surprises here—retirement in Florida is the dream, and not just for snowbirds. It's relatively affordable and promises a high quality of life if you can look past the summer humidity and hurricane insurance premiums. Approximately 21.3% of Florida's residents are over 65. Florida's older population is set to grow by over a million people by 2030, which may be a pro or a con depending on your perspective—perhaps you're looking for love or a new social crew? St. Petersburg is an excellent town for housing costs, choices, and accessibility. And Naples is a perennial fave for its golf courses and dining options.

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02Wyoming

A mature fly fisherman fishes while enjoying surging river waters from the surface of a rock.RELATED IMAGES: strickke / Getty Images

Look west beyond the Sun Belt states. Wyoming is one of the top places for retiring folks. The state offers loads of outdoorsy opportunities in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park, so you can stay active and enjoy the wilderness. It also has notably low taxes, a low crime rate, a commendable transport network, and good weather with four identifiable seasons.

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03Colorado

Attractive active senior couple look and one another while smiling. They are enjoying the city on a beautiful day. SDI Productions / Getty Images

Scenic mountainous views and fresh air are part of the Colorado package, but so is fantastic health care. Colorado's mild winters make it ideal for year-round walks in the park and hikes in the Rocky Mountains, and indoor cultural experiences are abundant too. Colorado is affordable in some respects, but housing can be pricey. Consider Colorado Springs with its quaint feel and friendly locals or Boulder for the wellness scene. Fort Collins and Denver are great, although the latter's traffic can be off-putting.

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04Tennessee

Female visitor smiles, she is sitting quietly on a log besides PoplarTree Lake in Meeman-Shelby State Park near Memphis, Tennessee

The Volunteer State could be your forever home, and yes, you could volunteer in one of the parks here if that's your kind of thing. Consider a city like Jackson or somewhere more rural such as Sevier County, where the Smoky Mountains and Dollywood tourism keeps taxes low. There's a low cost of living, an active senior center, and the slow pace facilitates community connection and less stress. The moderate climate and chances for outdoor recreation are major draws.

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05Texas

Grandfather and grandson posing for portrait after family dinner Thomas Barwick / Gett Images

The low taxes and lower cost of living compared to Florida make Texas a top Sun Belt contender with many attractions, mild winters, affordable housing, a low crime rate, and world-class doctors. There are also job opportunities if you want to start a second career, and seniors in Austin can take six tuition-free credit hours per semester.

Fredricksburg is popular for its proximity to two big cities, but you can nest in towns like McAllen (where birdwatching is big) and Brownsville for half the amount you would need in bigger metros. And the inland lakes are a magnet in Texas, as they are in other states.

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06Virginia

Couples kayaking on river Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

The Old Dominion is a top retirement spot. The cost of living is above average, but you can make up for that with health care costs that are below average. The state is also tax-friendly. Outdoor leisure runs the gamut from beach days to mountainous adventures, and you can expect a high quality of life in coastal hubs like Virginia Beach.

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07Missouri

Senior man taking photos of sun going down over Missouri River floodplain from wooden deck overlook. Lana2011 / Getty Images

Missouri is affordable and generally has lower housing costs. Big cities like St Louis aren't overwhelming, and Barnes Jewish hospital ranks high for geriatric healthcare. In addition, there are many benefits for military veterans in the state. Take your pick from waterfront retirement in Jefferson City or opt for a rural town like Branson in the heart of the Ozarks with recreational lakes and family entertainment. You can also look forward to many parks, caves, and barbecue restaurants in the Show-Me state.

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08Pennsylvania

Grandfather and granddaughter playing in garden Zave Smith / Getty Images

For starters, Keystone state has a low cost of living with cheaper housing and low taxes for retirees. Outside the big cities of Pittsburgh and Philly, crime rates are super low. Pennsylvania has the Latin word for woods baked into its name, so you can expect many forests and waterways with trails for strolls, sedate biking, horse riding, fishing, and winter sports. Pennsylvania's also big on pretzels, ice cream, and potato chips if you're a snacker, sports are a big deal here, and history buffs have much to explore. Consider towns like Chesterbrook and Penn Wynne.

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09Georgia

senior couple walking in the woods MoMo Productions / Getty Images

Where do people from Florida retire? Some make their way over to the Peach state. Georgia skews younger than the Sunshine state if you like your crowds on the sprightly side. Georgia's tax rules favor retirees, and houses are affordable. The earthquake risk is low, but the cyclone risk is not insignificant. But with four distinct seasons, mountains, beaches, and a low cost of living, there's lots to love about this particular corner of the Sun Belt.

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10South Dakota

A woman possibly a grandmother or aunt takes a little girl out for a wagon ride at sunset. Annie Otzen / Getty Images

Look, South Dakota is not the toastiest place in the country. But the strong economy, fiscal soundness, low crime rate, and great health care should warm your heart. You can have a high quality of life in the Mount Rushmore state. If you're a loner, you'll have lots of space at your disposal and a sparse population if that's what you seek, but also welcoming village vibes if you're more social.

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11Michigan

Senior woman photographing through smart phone at beach with grandchildren in background Cavan Images / getty Images

Michigan and Minnesota are famously snowy places, but the tax burden in the Great Lakes state is low, and it's one of the most affordable sections on the U.S. map. There are plenty of wellness opportunities too. Ann Arbor, a college town, is a fab choice if you like culture and a big city meets small town atmosphere. Rural Grand Traverse County near Lake Michigan offers a slower pace.

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12Ohio

Baby Boomers Walking Together in Ohio Cavan Images / Getty Images

The Buckeye state is an underrated Rust Belt retirement haven. It's an affordable part of the Midwest and doesn't score poorly in most categories relevant to retirees. Athens, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Norwood are highly walkable, and nature beckons between Lake Erie and the Appalachians.

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13Arizona

Couple outside Trailer Home Sean Justice / Getty Images

The Grand Canyon state is warm, dry, and diverse. It has favorable tax laws, a manageable cost of living, and many luxury retirement communities and golf courses. The desert terrain works wonders for allergies if coughs and sniffles bother you. Arizona is where the Mayo Clinic is based too.

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14Idaho

Senior man hiking by mountain in Stanley, Idaho, USA Steve Smith / Getty Images

The Gem State rounds out the top 5 states that senior citizens moved to recently. And with low crime rates and insane scenery, it's not hard to see why. If you're keen on culture or an active lifestyle, there's loads to do in Boise and beyond, and the state is tax-friendly towards retirees.

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15Honorable mentions

Taking advantage of a beautiful day at Bandon Beach, Oregon.  Our Goldendoodle puppy and Golden Retriever ran around like this for over an hour. Photo by Jules Clark / Getty Images

There are 50 states in our great nation, and chances are, the state you're in is perfectly fine for retirement. If you like the idea of downsizing, you could consider moving to another city that fits your budget or needs better. Besides the 14 states we've listed above, here are some we think are worth your research because they score well on factors important to seniors.

  • Illinois
  • Hawaii
  • Kentucky
  • Oregon
  • Nebraska
  • Iowa
  • Vermont
  • Rhode Island
  • Wisconsin
  • Delaware
  • Utah
  • New Hampshire

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