You may like where you live, and you may be able to afford it in retirement, so stay put. But if you’re looking for a cheaper place to go, this list can get you started.
Not everyone moves to a sunny beachside town to fish and golf when they retire, and you don’t have to either. But about one in five retirees do move, and they tend to leave big population centers for warmer climates, smaller cities and towns and a lower cost of living.
That’s according to a 2021 study by United Van Lines, which tracks the moving company’s data for customers’ state-to-state migration patterns. The study found that almost 20% of movers named retirement as their reason to move, a figure that has been trending up since 2015, when it was 13%.
The states where most of these folks headed were Florida, South Carolina and Arizona. The states that most retirees left were Rhode Island, New Jersey and Connecticut, according to United Van Lines. About a quarter of those nearing retirement age in New Jersey, for example, plan to move to Florida.
You may like where you live, and you may be able to afford it in retirement, and that’s great. But of the 47.8 million Americans ages 65 and older, the average income is only $38,515, according to the U.S. Census, and their average net worth is $170,516.
Nearly half of working-age families have nothing saved in retirement accounts, and the median working-age family had only $7,800 saved in 2016. About 10% have $320,000 or more, according to a 2019 report by the Economic Policy Institute.
That might be enough to last a few years in some cities or in some states.
If you’re looking for a cheaper place to live, consider carefully. Taxes vary by state, and some places might be better for those who plan to rent rather than buy.
“When you’re considering a community, you have to think about what you still want to do,” Ginni Field, a real estate broker in Oceanside, Calif., told Bankrate. Field specializes in senior buyers and sellers.
“Do you still want to be able to play golf, tennis or pickleball? What’s vitally important for people in that age group are medical care, access to shopping and public transportation.”
To determine the best and worst states to retire, personal finance site Bankrate analyzed several public and private datasets related to the life of a retiree, and assigned a weight to each of five categories, including: affordability (40%), well-being (20%), culture and diversity (15%), weather (15%) and crime (10%).
This list ranks the states by most to least affordable, and includes Bankrate’s overall ranking along with how they fare in the other categories. Florida ranks No. 1 overall, but is 18th for affordability. Arizona comes out on top for weather, with Maine at the bottom, and New Hampshire ranks best regarding crime, while New Mexico ranks worst for crime.
In the well-being category, which looks at health care, access to food, physical health and economic security, Massachusetts ranks No. 1, while Mississippi is No. 50.
Affordability was calculated using the Cost of Living Index from the Council for Community and Economic Research, published in July 2022, and property and sales tax rates from the Tax Foundation’s rankings for 2022.
Based on Bankrate’s study, these are the 30 most affordable states to retire.