Retiring does not mean retiring from life. No, for many people, it’s the beginning of a new life…but how do you decide where to retire? It’s a big question that requires research…[and] we’ve done the hard lifting for you…[This article] puts together a comprehensive list of the best places to retire depending on your financial status, which usually the biggest factor for most people.
The original article has been edited here for length (…) and clarity ([ ])
In order to be…objective…we look at two primary factors below – financial and lifestyle – to show what state (or country) is the ultimate permanent vacation spot.
1. Cheapest Places To Retire In the U.S.
Money affects a lot in our lives – our house, what we drive, what we do on the weekends – and when you’re on a fixed income, money is precious. You think about the importance of every purchase. After all, you know that you can only spend so much, and once you spend it, it’s gone, so let’s start with the most basic question: Where are the cheapest places to retire in the United States? Here they are [with] the average percentage of income that people spend on living expenses (meaning rent/mortgage, utilities, and taxes) in these places:
- Huntsville, AL (22.56%)
- Fort Wayne, IN (22.86%)
- Des Moines, IA (23.52%)
- Grand Rapids, MI (24.6%)
- Indianapolis, IN (24.75%)
If you end up with an extra 6-8% in your budget, that’s fantastic. That’s money you can spend on special dinners, live music, or sightseeing…
2. 13 U.S. States Without Pension and/or Social Security Taxes
…There are 13 states that won’t tax your pensions or your social security income. That means more money in your pocket to do with as you please.
- Alabama doesn’t tax Social Security income or traditional pension payments.
- Alaska is the only state with no income tax and states sales tax…
- Retirees in Illinois can exclude their Social Security income from the adjusted annual income, and federally qualified pension payments are normally exempt.
- Pension income in Mississippi is generally tax-exempt as is Social Security income.
- New Hampshire and Tennessee tax only dividends and interest.
- Social Security benefits are not taxable in Pennsylvania plus, if you’re over 59 and a half and have a traditional IRA or if you have a Roth IRA, distributions are not taxed.
- Florida, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nevada, Texas, and Washington have no income tax.
Keep in mind, some of these states will get their money elsewhere — like sales or property taxes — but when you’re a retiree, it’s good to know how much of your retirement fund or pension you’ll actually get.
3. 5 States With the Lowest Cost of Purchasing Land
When you retire, you probably don’t want to be paying someone else’s mortgage. You most likely want your own house and property. That’s why it’s important to consider which states have the cheapest land for sale. Here are the five states with the cheapest land per square foot.
- West Virginia
- New Mexico
Not everything is about money — you probably already know that. The day-to-day workings of your retired life are important. Maybe more important than the money. Whether you want beautiful landscapes, an exciting city life, or the ideal suburbia experience, your retirement lifestyle is one factor you must consider when deciding where to retire.
1. The Best U.S. States for an Active Retirement
Many retirees want to stay active in their older age, so let’s talk about the top five best states for those who want an active retirement.
- Portland, Maine. This New England town sits on the coast and has an exciting downtown area, including great restaurants and art galleries. If you go a little outside of downtown, you’ll find recreational options, like hiking, fishing, or a nice walk in the park.
- Boulder, Colorado. This one is on everyone’s list of best places to retire, and for good reason. You have a plethora of things to do, regardless of how active or home-body you want to be. You can hike, bike, ski, eat at great restaurants, and visit art galleries.
- Sarasota, Florida, is right on the state’s Gulf Coast and it’s the go-to place for snowbirds. The city has warm weather and lots of beaches, including Sarasota’s Siesta Public Beach, which TripAdvisor’s 2015 Travelers’ Choice Awards named the number one beach in the U.S. and, obviously, the beach life is not the only life — you can play tennis, go golfing, fishing or boating.
- Brevard, North Carolina. This city sits among the Blue Ridge Mountains and has very low crime rates, inexpensive property, and a ton of friendly people. You can hit up the hiking trails, check out the waterfalls, and go kayaking on the water. This town is sure to keep you active.
- Scottsdale, Arizona, is a long-known hotspot for retirees. In the Phoenix suburbs, you might feel like you’re at a resort when you see all of the golf courses and country clubs. You can also go hiking, whitewater rafting, and fishing. Plus, the healthcare in that area is top-notch, thanks to the numerous nearby hospitals.
2. Best Places to Retire Overseas
Let’s say you want to get out of the country, whether it’s to experience a different culture or because you’re not happy with where the U.S. is headed. Here are the top three places outside of the country that are great retirement spots.
- Ecuador: Ecuador has it all — history, beautiful mountains, coastal towns, you name it. It’s the land of variety. You can live a metropolitan lifestyle, you can live in the mountains, or you can live the coveted beach life…and, no matter what way of life you choose for retirement, it will be affordable. Two people could easily live on a fixed monthly income of $1,000 to $1,200, and fresh groceries cost very little.
- Mexico: Mexico, too, offers many different climates, from tropical areas to mountains to beaches. Yes, it can get very hot, but it’s also a very pretty landscape. The culture is really the best part of Mexico. It has plenty of music, true Mexican restaurants, and just a general vibrancy. Also, healthcare in Mexico is very good and it costs 25-50% what you would pay in the States. You also have the option to sign up for the country’s public healthcare, which can cost as little as a couple hundred dollars per year. In fact, if you’re over 60 years old and a legal resident, it’s free. [To learn more about various communities in Mexico make sure you read: The 10 Best Places to Retire in Mexico]
- Costa Rica: Costa Rica is sort of like the underdog. It’s been slowly growing, economically (Amazon and Microsoft have headquarters there) and population-wise…yet it’s maintained a relatively low crime rate, thanks to their focus on community and family. The government and the country as a whole are dedicated to preserving the environment. They are seeking to power the country entirely on renewable energy, like hydroelectricity and wind. This helps it be one of the most affordable places to retire.
Now for the final question: where are the best places to retire in the whole world? After reviewing the best retirement places in the U.S. and abroad, we should be able to answer this critical question.
- Out of all the places outside the U.S., Costa Rica beats them all out. Whether it’s cost of living, healthy living, things to do, or the weather, it ranks number one in all the categories.
- If you’re looking to stay in the States, Sarasota, Florida, or the surrounding area is the place to go. The weather, the low cost of living, the beaches — it has what most retirees want.
Ultimately, the decision [as to where you should retire] is up to you. You’ll need to evaluate the financial factors, lifestyle factors, as well personal factors (such as proximity to family) and the above information should go a long way in helping you arrive at a decision].
Wherever you choose to live out your retirement, you can make it fun. You can make it worth it. Really, the quality of your retirement is up to you, so don’t stress about choosing the right place.Any place is the right place if you want it to be. Happy retiring!
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