The Search for the Ultimate Retirement Destination: Enjoy Your Golden Years in These 5 States (And Don’t Get Stuck in These 5)

Gone are the days of retirees settling for a quiet life in their hometown or nearby. Now, more and more Americans are opting to move across state lines looking for an ideal retirement destination where they can enjoy their golden years in comfort and style, considering the cost of living, healthcare, climate, and taxes.

But with so many states to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which one is the best. Here are five of the best and worst states to retire, so you know where to start (or avoid in) your search!

Best States To Retire

semi-retirement jobs
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Deciding where to settle down for your golden years is often just as challenging as choosing which career to pursue or where to buy your first home. While some states offer retirees incredible tax breaks, others may have a higher cost of living that could make it difficult to enjoy your newfound freedom. Let’s take a look at the 5 best states to retire in, so you can find the perfect place to call home. 

1. Florida

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

There are many reasons why Florida is the best place to retire. The weather is warm and sunny year-round, perfect for those who want to avoid cold winters. In addition, Florida has no state income tax, which can save retirees a significant amount of money.

All 401(k) deferrals from high tax states like California, New York, or New Jersey can enjoy state income tax-free distributions! Often your federal tax rate will be lower in retirement, so why not also enjoy no state income taxes,” says Kevin Lao, CFP and founder of Imagine Financial Security, LLC, based in Jacksonville, FL.

Florida has no inheritance or estate taxes, making it ideal for transferring generational wealth to your heirs.

Additionally, Florida has a large senior population, so plenty of activities and amenities are tailored to seniors.

Finally, Florida is home to many world-class beaches, golf courses, and other recreational destinations, making it the perfect place to enjoy retirement. Florida is also famous for its many theme parks, which are always a hit with kids and grandkids. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder Florida is a popular choice for retirees.

2. Arizona

Downtown Phoenix, Arizona, USA Skyline
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Retirement is a time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and relax. For many, this means finding a place with warm weather and plenty of activities. Arizona is one of the top retirement destinations in the United States, offering sunny skies and many things to do. The state has a variety of landscapes, from the red rocks of Sedona to the mountains of Flagstaff.

There are also plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, from hiking and biking to golfing and horseback riding. Arizona also has a thriving cultural scene, with museums, theaters, and restaurants in Phoenix and Tucson.

And best of all, the cost of living in Arizona is relatively low, making it a great place to retire on a budget, even for individuals pursuing early retirement.

And finally, Arizona is home to some of the best hospitals in the country, which is vital for people who want to be close to quality medical care. All of these factors make Arizona an attractive option for retirees.

3. Colorado

Panorama of Denver skyline long exposure at twilight.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Colorado is one of the most naturally beautiful states in the country, with majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. In addition to its scenic beauty, Colorado is also home to several world-class cities, including Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins, attracting many early retirees who want an active lifestyle.

The state also has a relatively low cost of living, and the towns offer a wide variety of amenities, including excellent healthcare, a vibrant cultural scene, and plenty of shopping and dining.

Colorado also has a very mild climate, perfect for retirees who want to enjoy all the state offers year-round.

4. Maine

Portland, Maine, USA downtown skyline.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Retiring is a big decision. It’s an opportunity to start a new chapter in your life, and choosing a location that will meet all your needs is essential. For some people, that means moving to a warmer climate. But for others, it means moving to where they can enjoy four seasons.

Maine is the perfect place to retire for those who love the outdoors. It offers retirees a chance to enjoy New England‘s beauty with its rocky coastline, picturesque villages, and towering mountains. And because it’s located in the northeastern United States, Maine offers easy access to major cities like Boston and New York.

Maine scored particularly well in the affordability category, thanks to its relatively low cost of living. Also, Maine does not tax Social Security income. Maine has a 5.5% state sales tax rate and does not levy local taxes.

In addition, Maine has a lower-than-average crime rate, which makes it an attractive place to retire. These factors ensure that Maine is consistently ranked as one of the best states to retire.

5. South Carolina

Downtown Greenville, South Carolina, USA.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

South Carolina offers retirees a unique combination of diverse attractions, mild weather, and friendly locals. From the stunning beaches of the Grand Strand to the historic city of Charleston, there is something for everyone in South Carolina.

The state also boasts a low cost of living and a lack of state income tax, making it an ideal place to stretch your retirement savings. With an average annual temperature of 70 degrees, you can enjoy all South Carolina has to offer year-round.

Hilton Head Island boasts some of the best golf courses in the country and just a short water taxi ride away is the private barrier island community of Haig Point. Whether you are looking for a place to relax or stay active in retirement, South Carolina is a perfect choice.

Worst Places To Retire

Old Man reading newspaper
Image Credit: Pexels

Sometimes, even the most beautiful places can be terrible for retirees. Narrowing down the list of worst places to retire is difficult, but these 5 states make a strong case for why you should avoid them.

1. Alaska

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Alaska is often touted as a paradise for retirees, with its natural beauty and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. Alaska does not have income tax and also does not tax social security benefits. However, there are several reasons why Alaska is the worst place to retire.

First, it is one of the most expensive states in the country, with the cost of living nearly 30% higher than the national average. This is partly due to the state’s remote location and lack of competition, which drives up prices for necessities like food and fuel.

Second, there are limited medical facilities and services in Alaska, which can be a problem if you have health concerns.

Third, the state’s weather can be extreme, with average temperatures ranging from -20 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. This can make it challenging to get outdoors and enjoy your retirement.

Fourth, Alaska has a high crime rate, with violent crimes occurring nearly double the national average. Alaska has the third-highest crime rate in the United States.

Finally, Alaska’s isolation can make it challenging to stay connected to family and friends.

2. Hawaii

waikiki beach oahu hawaii
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

There are many factors to consider when deciding where to retire, and Hawaii may seem ideal for some people. However, there are a few reasons Hawaii is the worst place to retire.

First of all, while it is easy to find jobs that pay $100,000 or more, the cost of living in Hawaii is sky-high, and retirees on a fixed income may struggle to make ends meet. Additionally, healthcare costs are relatively high in Hawaii; there are few options for Medicare recipients.

Secondly, the weather in Hawaii is notoriously unpredictable, and retirees may find themselves dealing with frequent hurricanes and tropical storms.

Finally, Hawaii is very isolated from mainland United States, making it difficult to travel back and forth to visit family and friends.

3. Mississippi

Image Credit: Canva.

Mississippi has long been considered one of the worst states to retire for several good reasons.

First of all, the cost of living in Mississippi is relatively high, especially when compared to other states in the southeast. This is partially because Mississippi has a 7% sales tax, higher than many other states.

Furthermore, Mississippi ranks last, or close to last, in almost every leading health outcome. The state has a high rate of infant mortality, and its residents have some of the worst health outcomes in the country.

Finally, Mississippi has a high crime rate. Combine these factors with dreary weather, and it’s easy to see why many retirees choose to live elsewhere.

4. West Virginia

West Virginia
Courtesy: Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau

While West Virginia has many beautiful features, it is not an ideal place to retire. The state has a high crime rate and a poor economy, making it difficult to find affordable housing and quality healthcare.

West Virginia has one of the country’s highest rates of non-medical use of prescription pain relievers. A high rate of drug abuse can lead to increased levels of crime and violence.

The state has many residents who live below the poverty line, making it difficult to afford basic necessities. Furthermore, West Virginia’s climate is often harsh, with cold winters and hot summers. The state has a minimal selection of golf courses, for instance, and the options for retirement communities are minimal.

As a result, retirees looking for a sunny location with low crime rates and a strong economy would be better off retiring elsewhere.

5. Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Recent data suggest that Louisiana may not be the best place to retire. The state ranks dead last in several important categories, including quality of life, affordability, and healthcare. Louisiana also has one of the highest crime rates in the country, which can be a significant concern for retirees.

Louisiana is also prone to hurricanes and other natural disasters, disrupting retirement plans.

Louisiana does not tax Social Security retirement benefits or income from public pensions, and it has some of the lowest property taxes in the country. However, the state has high sales taxes. So while Louisiana may offer some appealing features, it’s crucial to weigh all of the factors before deciding if this state is right for your retirement.


Retired couple walking around the town with a map. Smiling mature man and woman roaming around the city.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jacob Lund

There are a few states that are ideal for retirement, while there are others that one should avoid. States with warm climates, low crime rates, low tax rates, and a strong economy are preferred.

The worst states to retire have high costs of living, poor health outcomes, high crime rates, and harsh weather conditions. Since no state can satisfy all the requirements, retirees should carefully consider these factors before deciding where to retire.

More From Savoteur

happy woman on the beach
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

From pristine beaches to idyllic national parks, the United States offers some of the most picturesque scenery in the world. Of course, it is impossible to pinpoint the best sightseeing spots in each state since everyone has a different perspective of beauty; we compiled a list of 50 diverse, astounding sights to check out while traversing the 50 states.

The Most Beautiful Places in All 50 United States. Have You Been?

10 Fun Theme Parks to Visit to Avoid Giving Your Money to Disney

woman on roller coaster holding cotton candy
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While Disney is often considered the happiest place on earth, for some, it’s more magically disappointing. Whether Disney is “too rich for your blood” or you are simply looking to take your family on an adventure (sans Disney characters), here are a few theme parks to consider instead.

10 Fun Theme Parks to Visit to Avoid Giving Your Money to Disney

Gloriously Beautiful Churches and Cathedrals in North America

Young female tourist making heart shape with hands on the town hall building background in Munich. Having a great vacation in Germany
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

You don’t have to travel to Europe to be awe-struck by glorious cathedrals and churches. The United States, Canada, and Mexico have incredible sacred landmarks with religious significance, remarkable history, stunning art, and major architectural influence. So add these 25 sites to your travel checklist, or let them inspire your next road trip!

Gloriously Beautiful Churches and Cathedrals in North America

Which Country Is the Best for Living: Cost, Climate, and Mentality?

Gorgeous tourist girl with curly hair wearing hat and backpack holding map at old European city background and smiling, traveling, portrait.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Veles Studio

Every country has qualities that make it a unique and desirable place to live. These attributes include climate, the cost of living, and the mentality of its citizens. Based on these factors, an online question-and-answer board asked participants to detail their ideal living place. The responses were wide-ranging and thought-provoking.

Which Country Is the Best for Living: Cost, Climate, and Mentality?

Ready, Set, Explore! 20 USA Tours That Will Ignite Your Wanderlust

Kayaking and canoeing with family. Children on canoe. Family on kayak ride.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Sergei Domashenko

America is the perfect place to be if you want to escape life’s monotony. The landscape, culture, tourism attractions, and lifestyle differ in each state. And since there are 50 of them, you have an incredible shot at experiencing diversity on one of these USA tours.

Ready, Set, Explore! 20 USA Tours That Will Ignite Your Wanderlust 

John came from a third-world country to the US with only $1,000, not knowing anyone, guided by an immigrant dream. In 12 years, he achieved his retirement number. He started Financial Freedom Countdown to help everyone think differently about their financial challenges and live their best lives. He has also been featured on Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo, Motley Fool, MSN Money, Ladders, and more.