The Top 10 States Where Americans Want to Retire

Happy retirees on beach
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Many retirees have an idealized image of a new location where they’ll spend their golden years. That may be a sunny, beachy state or one where the cost of living is extremely low. Or perhaps retirement has inspired some to move as close as possible to family, friends and good health care.

A recent survey of 2,050 consumers by financial site MagnifyMoney reported that 52% of consumers prioritize the lifestyle they want when it comes to choosing a retirement location. But 51% are concerned with the cost of living, and 50% say the climate is important.

So it’s no surprise MagnifyMoney found that many of the most popular retirement states are sunny ones. But not all are. No one’s ever bragged about the tropical paradises of New York or Pennsylvania, and Colorado is known for snowy winters and skiing. And yet, according to the survey, these states all made the list of places where people want to retire most.

Here’s a look at the top states where Americans want to retire — whether known for sun, snow or something in-between.

10. Georgia

Columbus, Georgia skyline
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Is Georgia on your mind when it comes to retirement? Many older Americans find this Southern state just peachy. In fact, while it placed at No. 10 on the MagnifyMoney list, in a recent Bankrate analysis, Georgia even beat out Florida as the No. 1 retirement state. That’s in part due to Georgia’s affordability, thanks to relatively light taxes and an overall low cost of living. Excellent weather helps seal the deal.

9. Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tennessee
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Retirement usually means living on a fixed income, and that can create financial stress for some seniors. Affordability helps Tennessee nab the No. 9 spot on this list. As USA Today notes, goods and services here are 10.3% less expensive than the U.S. average, and housing costs are also low.

8. Pennsylvania

Shrewsburg, Pennsylvania
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The Keystone State might be the biggest surprise on this list. It’s certainly not known for a mild climate. But USA Today notes that retirement in Pennsylvania costs about $56,000 less than the average for an American’s retirement. While costs associated with homeownership are slightly higher than average here, goods, services and other expenses are lower.

7. North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina
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Nothing could be finer than to be in North Carolina, according to many survey respondents. The mild winters may appeal to many snowbirds, though the summers can get sultry. And here’s a tip for veterans: The state capital of Raleigh recently came in at No. 4 on WalletHub’s list of the best places to live for veterans, thanks in part to a highly ranked economy and quality of life.

5. Colorado (tie)

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Colorado tied with Hawaii for fifth place in the survey, and the states’ climates couldn’t be more different. But some retirees prefer the beautiful mountains and healthy outdoor lifestyle of the Rocky Mountain state to beachier options.

Colorado is among the states that tax Social Security benefits, though AARP points out residents will be able to deduct all federally taxable Social Security benefits from their state income beginning with the 2022 tax year.

5. Hawaii (tie)

Wailea Beach on Maui, Hawaii
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Who wouldn’t dream of retiring to a tropical paradise like Hawaii? Weather would never be among your retirement complaints. But it’s not cheap to reside in the Aloha State. A recent study by Personal Capital determined how long a million-dollar nest egg will last you in retirement. That chunk of cash lasted the shortest time in Hawaii, where it would sustain retirees just 10 years, as compared with 23 years in decidedly un-tropical Mississippi.

4. New York

neighborhood in Nassau County, New York
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Are your vagabond shoes longing to stray to the Empire State? While New York may not have the sunny, comfortable winter weather many retirees long for, it’s popular enough to come in at No. 4 on the MagnifyMoney list. Close access to New York City — with its many amenities, entertainment venues and health care centers — could help the state as a whole rank so high. It’s good to know that New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital was recently rated the top hospital in the country for geriatrics by U.S. News & World Report.

3. Texas

Midland, Texas skyline
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Sprawling Texas, with its famed mix of bustling cities and slower-paced rural areas, came in at No. 3 on the MagnifyMoney list. If the Lone Star State is your retirement destination, you may not see as many fellow senior citizens as in Florida or other states. USA Today reports that while 29 million people live in Texas, just 12.9% of them are 65 or older, well below the comparable 16.5% share of all Americans.

2. California

Santa Barbara California
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California has plenty of advantages, from sandy beaches to mild winters. Eleven percent of those responding to the survey and planning to stay in the U.S. picked the Golden State as the place where they would like to retire. That’s perhaps influenced by the fact that 34% of all survey respondents said their dream retirement involves beach living.

However, it helps to be wealthy to live here, for as USA Today points out, California has the second-highest retirement cost of living of all 50 states.

1. Florida

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Was there any other state you’d expect to see in the No. 1 spot? Florida, home of “The Golden Girls” and endless jokes about retirees, tops the list, chosen by 15% of those responding to the survey who say they will stay in the U.S. for retirement. MagnifyMoney praises the state’s warm climate, low cost of living and wide variety of leisure activities for retirees and younger families alike.

But be aware: You can find cheaper places to live. A recent MagnifyMoney study ranked the states by estimated annual costs of living in retirement, and the Sunshine State came in at the midrange for affordability, at No. 22nd most expensive.

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