This Year’s Worst States To Retire In & The Best

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When you dream of retirement, where do you imagine spending your golden years? Is it where you are now, or is it perhaps somewhere else?

Lexington, KY

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50. Kentucky

The Bluegrass State has some of the worst rankings in terms of quality of life, and is middle of the road for affordability. The health care in the state could also use some work. But they do have the world’s largest baseball bat outside the Louisville Slugger Museum! There are better choices out there.

New Mexico

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49. New Mexico

So, New Mexico does not rank highly on this list, for several reasons — it hits #48 when it comes to people ages 65 and older in the workforce, and also ranks the highest of all 50 states when it comes to the highest property crime rates in the U.S. New Mexico might be nicknamed the Land of Enchantment, but retirement in this particular state doesn’t sound all that enchanting.

Providence, Rhode Island

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48. Rhode Island

Rhode Island is a lovely little state with much to offer, like the oldest operating restaurant in the U.S. and clam cakes. But there’s maybe not so much to offer to those looking to retire, at least according to our stats. The biggest problem is in quality of life and affordability, in which the Ocean State clearly ranks as one of the lowest in the nation.

New Jersey

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47. New Jersey

So, let’s start with the good: despite what you might think, New Jersey ranks #5 when it comes to the lowest property crime rate, which is excellent! However, everything else is… not the greatest for retirees. New Jersey offers middle-of-the-pack health care, average quality of life, and is very expensive to retire in. Overall, there are much better choices than the Garden State when it comes to living your best in your retirement.

west virginia

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46. West Virginia

West Virginia is tied for #3 in the listing of the lowest annual cost of in-home services, and #3 when it comes to people ages 65 and older in the workforce. There are downsides to the beautiful, wild state, however. It is #47 and #49 when looking at the fewest museums per capita and fewest theaters per capita, so there isn’t a ton of culture going around. It also ranks an uncomfortable #49 when looking at the lowest life expectancy and absolute last on health care.

Nashville, Tennessee, USA downtown city skyline on the Cumberland River.

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45. Tennessee

If you are looking forward to spending retirement chowing down on Nashville Hot Chicken and visiting Dollywood, you might want to rethink moving to the Volunteer State for your golden years. Tennessee ranks at #5 for the lowest adjusted cost of living in the US. However, affordability is about the best thing we can say about the state. Tennessee, unfortunately, ranked pretty poorly when it came to both quality of life and in health care stats.

Arkansas

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44. Arkansas

Arkansas is known for the beautiful Ozark mountains and hot springs. Oh, and it’s apparently the birthplace of cheese dip! However, you might want to get your cheese dip elsewhere and skip moving to Arkansas for retirement plans. This state ranked #2 for lowest adjusted cost of living and #5 for lowest annual cost of in-home services, so at least it’s affordable. Unfortunately, it’s at the bottom for health care and ranks last on quality of life. It also ranks #46 for the fewest museums per capita, so the culture and entertainment are a bit lacking.

Mississippi

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43. Mississippi

Mississippi topped the list for lowest adjusted cost of living, and is tied for third for lowest annual cost of in-home services (see a trend?!). Both of these things are pretty important when you’re looking into retirement. Unfortunately, the Magnolia State also ranks #50 — aka last place — for life expectancy. Plus, the state also has the fewest performing arts theaters per capita in the nation. Beyond that, it regularly ranks at the top of “Least Fun States” lists.

new york state

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42. New York

New York can’t be beaten when it comes to cuisine, arts, and culture. There’s always something interesting to do, and there’s always something delicious to eat — especially in New York City. Unfortunately, it’s not the greatest place to retire. This is primarily due to the cost of living, taxes, and health care quality. New York ranks 5th worst for the adjusted cost of living, and ranks poorly in terms of the annual cost of in-home services, too.

welcome to louisiana

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41. Louisiana

Louisiana is more than swamps and Mardi Gras parties! The state is pretty affordable and ranks #1 for the lowest annual cost of in-home services. Both of these are huge when it comes to retiring. The bad side? It is all the way down at #47 when it comes to the life expectancy, and #48 for the highest property crime rate. We’re sincerely hoping those last two stats aren’t related. Come for the food and the culture, but maybe don’t stay for retirement.

Maryland

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40. Maryland

Sure, Maryland offers plenty of amenities: history and culture, great golfing, both mountains and beaches. Plus, the state has a major city (Baltimore) and is really close to Washington D.C. There will always be something interesting to do here! However, the high cost of living and high taxes make Maryland a less-than-ideal retirement destination. Unless you’ve spent your entire life living somewhere with a higher cost of living, you likely don’t have the retirement funds to support living here.

Alabama

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39. Alabama

Alabama does have a few good things going for retirees. For instance, the state ranks #1 in affordability! It’s in the top 5 for lowest adjusted cost of living, and slides into 2nd place when it comes to low annual cost of in-home services. Unfortunately, the quality of life leaves plenty to be desired, and the state is almost last in health care. Alabama’s life expectancy ranks in the bottom 3 of all 50 states, and it also ranks #48 when it comes to people ages 65 and older in the workforce.

Oregon

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38. Oregon

Coming in at #48 when it comes to the adjusted cost of living, retiring to Oregon is going to set you back some. And while Oregon doesn’t tax Social Security benefits, other retirement income is subject to tax — and Oregon’s income tax rates are among the highest. There is at least a bright spot or two here. Health care costs are typically lower in Oregon as compared to the U.S. average. Oregon also squeaks into the top half when it comes to quality of life.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

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37. Oklahoma

Oklahoma managed to rank really well when it comes to the adjusted cost of living, making it into the top 3. Clearly, Oklahoma is doing well when it comes to affordability.

Unfortunately, the Sooner State’s other stats don’t make it ideal for retirement. Health care ranks 44th out of 50 states — it may not be last, but it’s certainly not too far away. Oh, and Oklahoma ranks #46 when it comes to life expectancy, which is…not great.

Vermont

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36. Vermont

Vermont has some great things going for retirees. The state ranks #3 when it comes to lowest property crime rates, and ranks 8th in the country in terms of senior health. The Green Mountain State is also #1 when it comes to people ages 65 and older in the workforce. Unfortunately, it’s almost last when it comes to affordability. You’re looking at pretty steep living costs. Plus, social security benefits and most other forms of retirement income are subject to state taxes, which are some of the highest in the country.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, USA

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35. Nevada

It’s hard to think about Nevada without immediately thinking of Las Vegas, but the state is clearly more than just the Neon Capital of the World. Unfortunately for fans of the desert (okay, and gambling), the Sagebrush State isn’t the ideal spot to retire. Sure, it ranked 5th best in the nation for its favorable tax climate, so you can keep (or gamble) more of your own money. But Nevada placed in the 30s and 40s for nearly every other category. Nevada ranks especially poorly when it comes to health care, which is a high priority for retirees.

Indiana

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34. Indiana

Let’s be honest: Indiana doesn’t offer a whole lot to do. The cities — like the capital, Indianapolis — are nice, but a lot of the state is farmland and cornfields. If that’s your thing, maybe Indiana is a great idea. But be aware that the best thing it has going for it is affordability — and that is still in the middle of the pack. This state ranks especially poor when it comes to health care.

connecticut river

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33. Connecticut

Connecticut is a beautiful little state on the East Coast that is close enough to big city life to feel exciting and give you interesting things to do, but small enough to feel cozy and intimate. Connecticut ranks #49 out of 50 when it comes to the taxpayer ranking, which makes it one of the least tax-friendly states for retirees in the entire nation. However, it is tied for #3 for highest life expectancy, which is cool until you remember it also means you’ll be paying a lot of taxes for a very long time.

Bixby,Bridge

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32. California

Unsurprisingly, California ranks really poorly when it comes to cost. It hits #49 when considering the adjusted cost of living, making it one of the most expensive states in the nation. That’s clearly not ideal for retirement. The state is, however, ranked #1 when considering the most theaters per capita, and it’s #2 for highest life expectancy. So, you’ll live longer and be very entertained — but you’ll definitely pay extra for that privilege.

Alaska welcome sign

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31. Alaska

It’s really no surprise that Alaska ranked #47 when it comes to adjusted cost of living, and has a high annual cost of in-home services. Neither of these are ideal when it comes to retirement. But if you can stomach the high cost of living, the poverty rate for 65+ is the 5th lowest in the nation. There’s also something going on here, because while Alaska’s percentage of the population aged 65 and over is really low, there’s a higher percentage of the workforce aged 65 and over.

Savannah, Georgia, USA at Forsyth Park Fountain.

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30. Georgia

Georgia is relatively average when it comes to retirement. It at least compares favorably to other states in the South. It’s pretty affordable in terms of living costs, and warm weather makes Georgia just peachy for retirees. Health care costs are also more affordable here, although Georgia ranks pretty low among the other states on senior health. Unfortunately, the state’s life expectancy for seniors is below average. And, this is hopefully unrelated: Georgia also has one of the smaller senior populations in the country.

hawaiian paradise park

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29. Hawaii

No one should be surprised that Hawaii ranks the worst in terms of affordability — this state has the highest adjusted cost of living out of all of them. Ever walked into a grocery store and seen a $10 gallon of milk? If you lived in Hawaii, you’d know what I’m talking about.
Hawaii also has some of the fewest museums per capita, which is a bummer. But consider all the nature and hiking you can do instead, not to mention laying on a beach and listening to the waves. It might be expensive, but at least it is beautiful.

Portland, Maine

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28. Maine

Great news — Maine topped the charts for the highest percent of the population aged 65 and older, so you can be sure you won’t be alone while you’re living your best retirement life. It also ranked an impressive #4 when it comes to the lowest property crime rate, so you’ll be safe, as well as surrounded by those just like you. Not a bad way to spend your golden years — especially in a state so beautiful. Unfortunately, it’s gonna cost you.

Olympia, Washington

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27. Washington

Washington is arguably one of the most beautiful states in the United States. The downside, however, is that it can get expensive — which isn’t ideal in retirement. Washington State ranks the worst when considering the annual cost of in-home services, meaning it’s more expensive here than anywhere else. It also hits #46 for the highest property crime rate, which is a bummer. But otherwise, Washington falls solidly middle-of-the-pack.

north carolina

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26. North Carolina

Once again we come to another state where there just isn’t a lot to talk about. North Carolina isn’t the worst state you could retire in, but as it sits in the middle of the pack, it isn’t the best or anything. The best thing the state has going for it is the affordability, and you’re never more than a few hours from both the beach and the mountains. Everything else here is just average, in every category — which isn’t bad, of course.

Nebraska

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25. Nebraska

When’s the last time you were thinking of Nebraska? This midwestern state might not be at the top of your mind, but it might not be so bad to consider it for retirement. The Cornhusker State sits solidly in the middle of the pack when it comes to retirement options. Nebraska does hit #3 for the Highest Percent of Workforce Aged 65 and Older, which is great — but it’s #46 when it comes to the taxpayer ranking, which is not so great.

A view of a sunflower field in Kansas.

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24. Kansas

Kansas might be a hidden gem of the Midwest. This state ranks #2 when it comes to the most museums per capita, coming second only to New York. Kansas is moderately tax-friendly for retirees, and they don’t impose estate or inheritance taxes, either. Plus, I hear they really like bread in the Wheat State. Beyond that, it didn’t top any lists to become the best in anything… but it didn’t make the bottom, either. Not the best, but certainly not the worst!

Historical Galena Town view at Autumn in Illinois of USA

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23. Illinois

If you’re a fan of Chicago-style hot dogs and deep-dish pizza, Illinois might not be so bad for retirement. Pizza casseroles and hot dogs aside, the state ranks really high when looking at most theaters per capita, and Illinois has one of the widest-reaching public transportation networks of all the states. Illinois also offers great health care and a pretty solid quality of life. Unfortunately, it comes at a cost. The state ranks absolutely worst when looking at its taxpayer ranking, and depending on where you’re at in the state (looking at you Chicago), it isn’t always so affordable.

Arizona

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22. Arizona

Arizona is an enticing destination for retirees seeking respite from harsh winter cold while avoiding the sweltering humidity that characterizes Florida. While the state may not be the frontrunner in terms of the proportion of its workforce aged 65 and older, ranking #47 in this regard, it still boasts several compelling attributes that make it a solid retirement choice. One of the primary attractions of Arizona for retirees is its enviable climate. The state is renowned for its mild and temperate winters, offering a welcome escape from the biting cold that plagues many other regions during the winter months.

Michigan

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21. Michigan

Michigan is one of those states that most people forget about! It’s a good choice if you want to live on the water and not spend an obscene amount of money — there’s definitely no shortage of waterfront property here. Other than that, though, the state doesn’t really have anything spectacular going for it. Aside from having relatively few hospitals per capita, everything here is pretty middle-of-the-road.

View of Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri at Sunrise

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20. Missouri

Missouri is often considered one of those middle-of-the-pack states in the United States. What sets Missouri apart is its diverse and multifaceted landscape, offering a little something for everyone, regardless of their lifestyle preferences. This Midwestern gem is characterized by a blend of bigger cities and charming smaller towns, creating a vibrant tapestry of experiences and opportunities for residents and retirees alike. One of Missouri’s distinctive features is its dynamic urban centers. Cities like St. Louis and Kansas City offer a plethora of cultural attractions, world-class dining, and vibrant arts scenes.

North Dakota

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19. North Dakota

Brother to South Dakota, these states are often thought of as, well, an afterthought — but retiring to this state isn’t a bad idea, given these numbers! Affordability might be down a little, but North Dakota scores high for health care and quality of life. One downside here is that North Dakota ranks #47 when it comes to theaters per capita. But if you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll never be bored. This state is full of hiking trails, scenic drives, and real-life free-roaming bison.

South Carolina

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18. South Carolina

This lovely Southern state is a great choice for many looking to retire! It’s tax-friendly for retirees, with Social Security income going untaxed. South Carolina has mild winters, and there are plenty of beaches to visit when it’s hot in the summer. But beware: it ranked #47 on the Highest Property Crime Rate list, so it might not be the safest choice — at least not across the board. It varies greatly between cities. If you can find a great neighborhood and a great community, and the weather doesn’t bother you, it could be a great retirement option.

Austin, TX

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17. Texas

Texas might not be somewhere you immediately think of when considering retirement, but it has a wide variety for everyone. This huge state has big cities like Dallas or Austin but also smaller places with that hometown feel. There are plenty of great national parks to visit, and the state as a whole is very affordable. The downside is that Texas ranks #48 when it comes to the Lowest Percent of Population Aged 65 or Older. If that’s a concern for you, maybe this big state isn’t the best option!

The Lowry Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota lit up at night.

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16. Minnesota

Minnesota has some of the highest annual costs of in-home services, so it may not be the best retirement state for some people. But the good news is that it ranks at a high #4 for the Most Theaters per Capita, which means you’ll be entertained! Minnesota does have cold winters, though, so it will take a hearty type of person to live out their golden years in this weather — especially if you’re moving from a warmer locale.

Columbus, Ohio

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15. Ohio

What is there to say about Ohio? Not a lot, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! If you’re looking for a big-city experience with the affordability of Middle America, Columbus or Cincinnati can be great options! There are also plenty of small towns and farmland if you’re craving a quiet, relaxing retirement life. All in all, Ohio at least has plenty of variety. The downside? Health care is by far the most lacking, which really brought this state’s overall ranking down.

Salem, Massachusetts

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14. Massachusetts

Massachusetts has a lot to offer its residents. It comes in hot at #4 for the Most Museums Per Capita, which is great when you’re looking for culture and fun. This New England state also came in at #2 when looking at the Lowest Property Crime Rate list, something that should be very important when you’re thinking about your retirement. The state also ranked extremely high for health care and quality of life. Unfortunately, the state isn’t exactly the most affordable — otherwise, it would have made it much higher on our list.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

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13. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has many landscapes and options for those looking to retire — from city living in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia to mountain living and seclusion, this state has it all. Pennsylvania does rank #48 on the Worst Taxpayer Ranking, which clearly isn’t ideal! Fortunately, Pennsylvania does hit #5 on both the Most Theaters per Capita and the Most Museums per Capita lists, which is great for those who enjoy being entertained! You may not think of Pennsylvania as a center for culture, but it definitely has a lot to offer.

small town in Monatana

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12. Montana

If you’ve never been to Montana, I have to tell you that it is breathtaking. Just look at that picture! Montana is home to Glacier National Park, one of the most beautiful wilderness preserves in the United States. Between the snow-capped peaks, lakes, and hiking trails, you’ll never have a shortage of outdoor fun. Luckily, it’s pretty middle-of-the-road when it comes to affordability, and it also ranks #3 on the best taxpayer ranking. Health care isn’t so bad here, and Montana retirees are enjoying a pretty good quality of life.

South Dakota

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11. South Dakota

Although South Dakota is in the middle when it comes to overall affordability, it’s one of the more expensive when it comes to the annual costs of in-home services. While South Dakota isn’t going to offer a lot of indoor culture — it ranks pretty low in terms of museums per capita — this midwestern state is home to two larger-than-life historical monuments: Crazy Horse Memorial and the iconic Mt. Rushmore. It is also #2 for having the highest percentage of the workforce aged 65 or older, which is great if you’re considering working part-time in your retirement.

Des Moines Iowa skyline and public park

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10. Iowa

At #10 on our list, Iowa didn’t top any “best of” lists, but it also didn’t rank as the worst on any of our lists, either! The quality of life in this state is off the charts, so you should feel excellent about this choice, and the healthcare ranking is quite good. The only downside is affordability, which is something to seriously keep in mind. If you’re planning a long retirement, budgeting is very important, especially if you’re choosing a pricey state like this!

Fall colors in the city of trees Boise Idaho morning

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9. Idaho

Idaho! You wouldn’t think about this potato state as a great choice for retirement — I mean, unless you love potatoes as much as I do — but it clocks in at #9, so it has some good things going for it! Idaho is great for a slower pace of life, pretty scenery, and it lands solidly in the top half of the U.S. for both affordability and quality of life. This is a state you should absolutely visit before you settle on, though, as the small-town midwest vibe isn’t for everyone.

Wisconsin

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8. Wisconsin

The land of cheese! Wisconsin ranks surprisingly high on the list of places in the U.S. to retire, despite their love of wearing foam cheddar wedge-shaped hats. Cheesy jokes aside, Wisconsin ranks so high because it’s relatively affordable, has good health care, and it ranked really high on the quality of life ranking. The biggest downside, as far as we can see, is the weather. It’s cold in Wisconsin! If you can get over the winters, though, there are great sports, great food, and very friendly people!

Virginia Beach, VA

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7. Virginia

Virginia is perhaps one of the most interesting states on our list — and it ranks very well overall! If you stay in the NoVA area (Northern Virginia, that is), you have a very big city feel in a major metropolitan area. But travel just an hour or two outside, and you have mountain life, forests, and small-town living. Virginia truly can be a lovely place to retire, and has a lot to offer anyone looking to spend their golden years in comfort.

Delaware

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6. Delaware

Delaware is a little East Coast beauty, and it ranks #2 on the Best ‘Taxpayer’ ranking — no surprise there to anyone who has shopped in the state before! If you’re a big theater person, it does rank at #48 when looking at the fewest theaters per capita list. But with the beaches, small-town living, and big-city vibes so close together, Delaware has a lot to offer those looking for a great place to retire.

Wyoming welcome sign

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5. Wyoming

Wyoming is such a beautiful state, and it is truly one of the hidden nature gems in the United States — making it absolutely perfect if you want to stay outside and create adventure during your golden years. Wyoming does rank #46 (tied with South Dakota!) when it comes to the highest annual cost of in-home services and #46 for the fewest theaters per capita. But don’t let that scare you! Wyoming is #4 when it comes to the best ‘taxpayer’ ranking, which means you’re keeping more of your money.

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA downtown city skyline at dusk.

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4. Utah

Utah might not be the first state you think of when you’re considering retirement, but it’s a hidden gem of beautiful landscapes, good weather, and friendly people. Oh, and there’s lots of Jell-O. No, really. The downside? Despite the great ranking for retirement, it does hit #50 on the lowest percentage of the population aged 65 and older list, as well as having the fewest museums per capita in the US. Not ideal, by far. If you can overlook this, however, there is a lot of good here!

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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3. New Hampshire

As it turns out, New Hampshire is one of the most tax-friendly places for retirees. Social security income isn’t taxed, and withdrawals from retirement accounts aren’t taxed either. And while property taxes in New Hampshire are high, there is no state sales tax. New Hampshire hits #4 on the highest percentage of the workforce aged 65 or older list, so you’re not going to feel alone in this lovely state! It also ranked an impressive #1 on the lowest property crime rate list, so you’ll be safe, too.

Vail, Colorado, USA Drone Village Skyline Aerial.

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2. Colorado

Like a dark horse, Colorado comes in at an impressive #2! With beautiful mountains, thriving cities, and amazing outdoor experiences, Colorado is the perfect retirement choice for those who want to continue to hike, ski, and really live in their golden years. The downside? You might be doing it by yourself. Colorado hit #46 on the Lowest Percent of Population Aged 65 and Older list. If you can find the right community, though, Colorado could be a great choice.

Sarasota, FL

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1. Florida

Florida is often considered one of the best places to retire. Its warm and sunny climate is a major draw, providing a welcome escape from harsh winters and allowing retirees to enjoy outdoor activities year-round. With an extensive coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States, providing retirees with the perfect backdrop for relaxation and recreation. Whether it’s playing golf, walking on the beach, or simply soaking up the sun, the state’s mild winters and abundant sunshine create an ideal environment for outdoor enjoyment.

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