Best States for Retirement – 2012 Edition

Another retirement list has been published by Topretirements.com. This one ranks the ten best states for retirement. I’m confident that many will shake their heads at some of the states on the list. But either way, reviewing retirement location lists and why certain places are there is worth your time.

For this particular list, the factors considered were state income taxes, taxation of Social Security benefits, taxation of pension income, property taxes, general cost of living, cost of health care insurance, and climate. As objective criteria, these all are reasonable and important factors to consider.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the top-rated state for retirement is our home state of Tennessee.  According to data from the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Tennessee now has the lowest cost of living in the entire U.S. We have no general income tax (but we do tax certain interest and dividend income).  All other retirement-related costs are low. Our climate is relatively mild yet we experience all four seasons, unlike states like Florida and Arizona where the seasons tend to be “hot” followed by “hotter.”

The complete list of top states in which to retire:

1. Tennessee
2. Texas
3. Louisiana
4. Mississippi
5. Alabama
6. Arkansas
7. Florida
8. Oklahoma
9. Georgia
10. Nevada

Tennessee and many of the other states on the list lag behind other states in other criteria, such as educational achievement, etc. But a lot of these other criteria become much less important to a retiree.

The deep south dominates this list. The south has its own culture in religion, language, food, and pace of life. This takes adjustment if you are from the north or upper mid-west. But if you are an open-minded and accepting person, it can be a pleasant adjustment, with financial benefits.

We have lived in Tennessee for 32 years. During this period, I have met a number of transplants from northern states (where my wife and I were from) who treated their time here like they had been exiled to Siberia. They never made a real attempt to fit in. A few years later, they were gone. Any retiree who experiments with a new location with a similar negative or pessimistic attitude will not succeed.

Here are links to the full report and to a slide show of the top retirement states.

So what are your thoughts about this list?

 


Comments

  1. Ron M. says

    The rankings are always by state, but that is too large a geographic unit. I live in Northern California. There are huge differences in weather, culture, cost of living and health insurance costs depending on where you live in this state. The worst survey yet is the International Living survey by country, where the entire US gets lumped together and someone subjectively determines whether it is better than France. At the last major earthquake in Southern California, a friend from the East called to see if we were ok. They didn’t realize that San Francisco and Los Angeles are as far apart geographically and in many other ways as Boston is from Washington, D.C.

  2. Paul B.N. says

    “The south has its own culture in religion, language, food, and pace of life. This takes adjustment if you are from the north or upper mid-west. But if you are an open-minded and accepting person, it can be a pleasant adjustment, with financial benefits.” That’s a funny statement! I’m supposed to open-minded and accepting…just what I DON’T think of when I think of those states. seems to me the people there should be open-minded about folks from other states retiring there and spending their money there. I think this list probably really means the least expensive places to retire, which, in my mind, don’t necessarily make them the best places to retire. And as Ron M. says, a state is too large a geographic unit to make a statement about.

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