The Getaway
These Are the Best States for Your Golden Years

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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01 Florida

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.

Senior Woman on the beach Angelo Cavalli / Getty Images

02 Wyoming

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.

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

03 Colorado

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.

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

04 Tennessee

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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05 Texas

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.

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

06 Virginia

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.

Couples kayaking on river Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

07 Missouri

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.

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

08 Pennsylvania

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.

Grandfather and granddaughter playing in garden Zave Smith / Getty Images

09 Georgia

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.

senior couple walking in the woods MoMo Productions / Getty Images

10 South Dakota

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.

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

11 Michigan

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.

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

12 Ohio

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.

Baby Boomers Walking Together in Ohio Cavan Images / Getty Images

13 Arizona

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.

Couple outside Trailer Home Sean Justice / Getty Images

14 Idaho

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.

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

15 California

California is the epitome of the golden dream, and not just because of its sun-kissed beaches. The state's diverse landscapes offer a smorgasbord of lifestyle options, from the laid-back beach towns to the wine country of Napa and Sonoma, to the picturesque mountain towns. The climate is generally pleasant, and the state's focus on health and wellness can add years to your life. The cost of living can be high in certain areas, but there are also more affordable regions, especially inland.

old couple walking on the beach kate_sept2004 / Getty Images

16 North Carolina

North Carolina is a gem of the South. Its mild climate, affordable cost of living, and access to both mountains and beaches make it a compelling choice for retirement. Cities like Asheville and Wilmington offer vibrant arts scenes and historic charm, while the Research Triangle area boasts top-notch healthcare facilities. Whether you're a fan of outdoor adventures or prefer cultural pursuits, North Carolina has you covered.

senior couple drinking coffee in canoe on sunny mountain lake Hero Images Inc / Getty Images

17 New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment offers a unique blend of cultural experiences, from its rich Native American and Hispanic heritage to its vibrant arts scene, particularly in cities like Santa Fe. The state's natural beauty is breathtaking, with opportunities for hiking, birding, and fishing. The cost of living is generally lower than the national average, and the climate is a dry, high desert one, with plenty of sunshine and blue skies.

Couple mountain bike through the desert TFA/ Ascent Xmedia / Getty Images

18 Maine

For those who enjoy a cooler climate and the great outdoors, Maine could be your retirement haven. Known for its rugged coastline, scenic lighthouses, and abundant wildlife, Maine offers a peaceful, slow-paced lifestyle. The healthcare system is top-notch, particularly in cities like Portland. And let's not forget the delicious seafood, especially the state's famous lobsters.

Mature couple having meal Johner Images / Getty Images

19 Washington

Washington State, known for its lush green landscapes and innovative spirit, offers a range of lifestyle options. Urbanites can enjoy the cultural offerings of Seattle, while those seeking outdoor adventures have plenty of options from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific coastline. The state has no income tax, which can be a boon for retirees. And while it's famous for its rainy weather, the eastern part of the state enjoys a drier, sunnier climate.

Couple Kayaking on Lake in Seattle Washington Merrill Images / Getty Images

20 Massachusetts

Rich in history and cultural amenities, Massachusetts offers a high quality of life for retirees. The state's healthcare system is one of the best in the country, and there are numerous opportunities for lifelong learning, particularly in and around Boston. The four-season climate allows for a variety of outdoor activities, from beach-going in the summer to leaf-peeping in the fall and skiing in the winter.

Mature man and woman cross-country skiing Thomas Northcut / Getty Images

21 South Carolina

South Carolina offers a blend of Southern charm, historical intrigue, and seaside living. The cost of living is lower than the national average, and the state's mild winters are a draw for those seeking a warmer climate. Whether you're exploring the historic streets of Charleston, golfing at Myrtle Beach, or enjoying the natural beauty of the Upstate, South Carolina has a leisurely pace and a warm welcome for retirees.

Golfing couple enjoying a laugh Ronnie Kaufman / Getty Images

22 Nevada

Nevada offers more than just the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. The state has a favorable tax structure with no state income tax, and the cost of living is reasonable. The climate is dry, which can be beneficial for those with certain health conditions. And for those who enjoy outdoor activities, the state's natural beauty, from Lake Tahoe to Red Rock Canyon, offers plenty of opportunities for exploration.

senior man embarking on hike Rainer von Brandis / Getty Images

23 Indiana

Indiana, known for its Midwestern charm and hospitality, offers a comfortable and affordable place for retirement. The cost of living is low, and the state has a variety of communities to choose from, whether you prefer a bustling city like Indianapolis or a quiet town like Bloomington. Indiana's landscape, dotted with farms, forests, and lakes, offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. And don't forget the Indy 500 if you're a racing fan.

old couple holding apples looking at each other RgStudio / Getty Images

24 Maryland

Maryland, known as "America in Miniature," offers a wealth of experiences from the mountains of Western Maryland to the beaches of the Eastern Shore. The state's urban areas, like Baltimore and Annapolis, offer rich history, diverse cuisine, and vibrant arts scenes. Proximity to Washington, D.C., also provides access to a wealth of cultural institutions and healthcare facilities. Whether you're a seafood lover enticed by the famous Maryland crab or a nature enthusiast ready to explore the Chesapeake Bay and the Appalachian Mountains, Maryland has something for every retiree.

African American Senior Couple On the Town with Ice Cream adamkaz / Getty Images

25 Honorable mentions

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

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
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