Who doesn’t dream of a comfortable retirement in a place they love? With research, hard work, and a dose of luck, that dream could be your reality. These are the most to least expensive states to retire in the US.
By the Numbers
A 2022 report released by Zippia analyzed each state on the following five factors: median house cost, monthly homeowner cost, cost of living, Medicare Advantage cost, and state Medicare spend per person. Every state received a ranking of 1 to 50 for each factor, with the median score determining its ultimate place on the list.
With the highest cost of living in America, Hawaii may remain a pipe dream for hopeful retirees. Paired with the nation’s highest median home cost ($587,700), the Rainbow State may be out of reach for many retirees wanting to cross state lines. Other beachy locales like Florida and Alabama’s Gulf Coast provide a sandy (and more affordable) alternative.
Those looking to retire among the Rocky Mountains may want to gird their wallets; Colorado has some of the highest home prices in the nation, with a median home cost of $313,600. Its Medicare spending is among the lowest.
While median home costs are more reasonable in the Pacific Northwest than certain other parts of the US, Oregon’s low Medicare spending and high cost of living make it a less-than-ideal spot for retirees to relax.
With the lowest Medicare spending of almost any other state in the US, Washington ranks among the most expensive states to retire. Pair that with a high cost of living and a median home price of over $311,000, and retiring to the suburbs of Seattle starts to look out of reach.
In addition to an average of almost 50 inches of snow per year, Massachusetts also has one of the highest costs of living in America at $59,560 annually. Paired with a median home cost of $366,800, the cost of retiring in The Bay State may be more than some retirees are willing to pay.
Are you dreaming of retiring to a quaint New England B&B in a charming Vermont town? Living the dream will cost you: Roughly 27% of Vermont seniors spend 30% or more of their income on home ownership expenses.
7: New Jersey
With a median home cost of $327,900 and an annual cost of living over $56,000, New Jersey is looking less and less like a likely retirement destination for seniors, despite its coastal location and proximity to multiple international airports.
Quaint, quiet Connecticut might seem like a dream destination for retirees. But with the third highest cost of living in the nation, it might be better to only visit on vacation.
9: New Hampshire
Those looking to retire along the New England coast might want to double-check their bank accounts. More than 25% of New Hampshire seniors spend 30% or more of their annual income on home ownership costs.
While homeownership isn’t a major expense in Minnesota, sky-high medical bills are. A combination of low Medicare contributions and high Medicare Advantage costs make The Land of 10,000 Lakes an expensive place for doctor’s appointments.
11: Rhode Island
If spending a quarter of a million dollars on your dream retirement home doesn’t raise an eyebrow, then retiring to Rhode Island may not be a bad idea. Just be sure to budget for its $53,240 average annual cost of living.
Low Medicare spending paired with a high cost of living makes Virginia a less-than-ideal spot to retire. However, retirees who can afford to build a house on the beach will find it a cheaper option than Hawaii.
13: New York
It should come as no surprise that a high cost of living is what keeps retirees from heading for New York. But those with a little extra dough to burn might enjoy the perks of the Empire State’s higher Medicare spending.
While median home costs are significantly lower in Wisconsin than in several other parts of the country, frigid winters and an average cost of living over $51,000 per year might deter some retirees from putting down roots there.
Like New York, Maryland’s high cost of living and the expensive median home price tag can deter many retirees. But those who prefer the laid-back lifestyle of the Chesapeake Bay will benefit from high Medicare spending by the state.
It may surprise some that California doesn’t rank higher on this list of the most expensive states for retirees. Although its relatively high cost of living is undoubtedly a factor for many, the Golden State’s high Medicare spending keeps healthcare costs relatively low for seniors.
While the cost of living and Medicare spending falls on the high side of moderate, Nevada’s brutal summers and lack of shoreline could be a detractor for seniors looking to retire in paradise.
Average home costs hover below $200,000 in Illinois, where fairly high Medicare spending keeps healthcare costs low. But its average annual cost of living of $52,304 may be out of reach for frugal seniors.
Similarly to its other Northeastern neighbors, Delaware’s high cost of living could potentially be balanced out by its low healthcare costs. However, a median home cost of $244,700 may still be a problem for retirees looking to pinch pennies in their sunset years.
20: New Mexico
A low cost of living may make New Mexico an attractive option for some retirees. That said, they’ll need to budget for doctor’s appointments and unplanned emergencies; the state’s low Medicare contributions keep healthcare costs on the high side.
Idaho is tied with New Mexico, having a similar trend of low cost of living and high medical bills. However, the state’s 20-plus inches of annual snowfall might be a turnoff for retirees looking for warmer climates.
Those looking to retire to a lobster shack or lighthouse in Maine might be able to swing the state’s median home cost of $184,500, though an average annual cost of living over $50,000 and higher medical bills might put a major dent in some seniors’ wallets.
Arizona may be known as a haven for snowbirds thanks to its warm weather and dry climate, but its popularity may also be a detractor for some seniors. Moderate costs of living and mediocre Medicare spending can make it a fairly expensive state to retire.
Wide open skies and a generally low cost of living ($47,083) make Montana an ideal destination for some retirees who don’t mind spending the $219,600 it takes to buy a home there. Low Medicare spending may be a deal-breaker for some who see high medical bills as having a significant impact on their quality of life.
Those who choose to brave Alska’s brutal winters should be rewarded for retiring in the 49th state. Though a median home cost of $265,200 and an average annual cost of living of $54,400 might put an Alaskan retirement home out of reach for some seniors.
A low cost of living and decent Medicare spending make Pennsylvania a fairly affordable option for retirees. But an average of 40 inches of snowfall might not be as desirable to those looking for warmer climates.
27: North Dakota
If frigid winters don’t deter retirees from settling down in North Dakota, then higher healthcare bills might. North Dakota’s fairly low Medicare spending makes it a slightly less desirable location for seniors, though a median home cost of $185,000 and an average annual cost of living of $46,814 might make up for it.
Retiring on the shores of Lake Michigan might sound like a dream to some. It’s a relatively affordable option, thanks to Michigan’s generally low cost of living and higher Medicare spending.
29: South Dakota
A low cost of living is a boon to South Dakota seniors who may not have to leave their home state to enjoy retirement. However, low Medicare spending might make surprise medical bills hard to plan for in the long run.
Those with skiing on their retirement bucket list should look to retire to Utah, where world-class snowy slopes abound. However, proximity to winter sports destinations like Park City will cost extra; the median home cost in Utah sits at $256,700, according to Zippia.
31: North Carolina
Whether you’re looking to retire beneath the trees or on the beach, North Carolina is an ideal destination for seniors who can swing the nearly $50,000 average annual cost of living. Moderate Medicare spending might help to mitigate those daily costs.
Buying a home in Kansas may be on the cheap side at $145,400 on average, but moderate Medicare spending might mean that unexpected medical bills could end up eating into those retirement savings.
Proximity to world-class wilderness like Yellowstone Park and Grand Teton National Park might be enough of a draw for some seniors, as long as they can swing the $213,300 it takes to buy a home there. Low Medicare spending could also be a factor for retirees with significant medical costs to consider.
With 19.1% of its residents identifying as “retired,” Florida boasts the highest retirement rate in the nation. It’s easy to see why, with significant Medicare spending and a fairly low median home cost. However, the $52,206 annual cost of living could be an issue for some frugal seniors.
A median home cost of $147,800 and an annual cost of living sitting pretty at $48,076 make Nebraska an attractive spot for hopeful retirees to put down roots. That said, low Medicare spend per person could end up being an issue in the long run.
High Medicare spending and a generally low cost of living make Texas an ideal retirement destination on paper. However, hopeful retirees should keep in mind the state’s recent track record of extreme weather events, from frozen power grids in the winter to dangerous summer heat waves.
A new wave of retirees is inspiring new neighborhoods to pop up all around the metro Atlanta area. This might be due to Georgia’s relatively comfy median home price ($166,800) and average annual cost of living ($47,946).
A low cost of living and high Medicare spending might entice seniors to look to Ohio for retirement. A $140,000 median home cost might just make that dream lakeside retreat a reality.
39: South Carolina
Charleston may be an expensive city, but the rest of South Carolina is looking pretty promising for hopeful retirees looking to lead a life of golf and strolls beneath Spanish moss-draped trees. Decent Medicare spending helps keep healthcare costs low, while an average annual cost of living at $46,568 offers wiggle room for retirees who saved well during their careers.
Homes are more affordable in Iowa than many parts of the US, with an average of $142,300 per lot. However low Medicare spending might be a deal breaker for some seniors.
A Tennessee mountain home may be just the ticket for retirees looking for a serene retreat in their sunset years. The house itself may cost a bit more ($158,600) but a low average cost of living and moderate Medicare spending help balance out the retirement budget.
A much more affordable option than Hawaii, Alabama’s Gulf Coast offers all the sandy beaches and sparkling waters a retiree could want at a fraction of the price. At roughly $137,200, a beach retreat in Alabama is $450,500 cheaper on average than an island home in the Aloha State.
Retirees looking to spend their leisure years in the Ozarks are in luck: Decent Medicare spending and a low cost of living at just over $46,000 per year make a Missouri retreat an achievable option.
One of the cheapest places in the country to buy a home, Kentucky provides a perfect retirement retreat for horse lovers and Bourbon drinkers. The Bluegrass State also boasts the nation’s lowest annual cost of living at just $43,308.
Retirement in the bayou may be more attainable than one might think. With high Medicare spending to keep medical costs low and a fairly low annual cost of living at just over $47,000, seniors looking for Louisiana charm in their leisure years might just be in luck.
Retirees looking to enjoy a smattering of snowfall (but nothing too crazy) should look to Indiana for their senior years. Cheap home options hovering around $135,400 and high Medicare spending make the Hoosier State an affordable option for retirement.
47: West Virginia
Spending those twilight years in the Appalachian Mountains may be cheaper than expected for many. A low annual cost of living of around $44,823 paired with a median home cost of just $115,000 make West Virginia an ideal hideaway for seniors looking to enjoy some peace and quiet.
Oklahoma has one of the lowest costs of living in the entire nation, making it a great place to live for seniors on a fixed income. Paired with decent Medicare spending, the state makes an affordable location for a comfortable retirement.
Retirees looking to enjoy the great outdoors on a budget should look to Arkansas, where homeowner costs and the annual cost of living remain pleasantly low. The only downside? Low Medicare spending on behalf of the state means that there might be a few surprise medical bills.
Mississippi wins the prize as the cheapest state to retire in the US. It also happens to be home to a small stretch of the Gulf Coast where seniors on a budget can relax with ocean views. A median home cost of $114,500 and high Medicare spending make the Magnolia State a prime and fairly under-the-radar destination for retirement.
Snowbirds No More
The Northeast is particularly harsh on retirees, not just for the frigid winters, but also for the cost of living. Five northeastern states cracked the top 10 on this list, supporting why some snowbirds make a permanent flight south for retirement.
More or Less Retired
In recent years, it has become increasingly common for those who identify as “retired” to still be doing some work on the side. According to the Federal Reserve System, 27% of adults in 2022 considered themselves to be retired even though 13% were still doing at least some work and 4% were still working.
Saving for the Future
How much money should Americans be saving for retirement? Turns out, it’s complicated. As a rule of thumb, Fidelity Investments suggests setting aside at least 15% of pre-tax income each year.
Best Cities to Retire
Now you know the best states to retire. But what about the best cities? These are the top options, according to the U.S. News & World Report.
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