Archive for October, 2012

Tennessee the #1 State to Retire

Monday, October 29th, 2012

fairhopeJune 5, 2012 – When it comes to the best states for retirement the southern States dominate our new 2012 list. Every one of the top 10 States was from the southern part of the U.S., from Tennessee at number 1 to Nevada. This year we’ve tried to make our selection process more objective. This list of the 10 best states for retirement uses a numerical scale with up to 1 point awarded on each of 7 factors related to economic issues, climate, and health care costs.

As always, we want to caution that your best states to retire list might look completely different than this one. For example, this list might not work for you if:

– Your children or grandchildren live in another State.
– Your income isn’t high enough to make taxes an important factor.
– You won’t receive a pension.
– Cold weather doesn’t bother you.
– You have a strong preference for a geographic area like the mountains or city living.
– You have enough money to retire anywhere you want.

Note that some of the states on our top 10 list do not have as many attractive places to retire as do others, which might make them less desirable for you. Every State has resort areas, places near the coast or a lake, or college towns. But states on our list like Florida and Texas offer more choices on places to live than Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, or Mississippi. This might particularly apply to someone from the northeast who is looking for a more familiar environment to live in.

The seven factors we rated each State on were: Income tax, Taxation of Social Security, Taxation of Pensions, Property Taxes, Cost of Living, Health Care Insurance, and Climate. In most cases a full point was awarded for each positive applicable factor (e.g.; no tax on pensions), although a few States earned partial points. Warmer states received 1 point for more favorable climate. None of our top 10 States tax social security. All but Florida and Nevada have a very low cost of living.

The 10 Best States for Retirement – 2012
1. Tennessee – Taxes interest and dividends only, otherwise very tax friendly including low property tax. Lowest cost of living in the U.S. Contiguous to sunbelt. Has active program encouraging retirees to move here
2. Texas – No income tax, low cost of living, warmer climate. Property taxes higher than others in this group, although it offers some protections for seniors. Texas has 40 Certified Retirement Cities, including towns like Nacogdoches.
3. Louisiana – No tax on pensions. Lowest property taxes in the U.S. Low cost of living and warm. Louisiana used to have a program encouraging retirement districts but it appears to be inactive. The charming town of St. Francisville attracts a lot of retirees from everywhere in the country.
4. Mississippi. Pensions are not taxed, and property taxes are 4th lowest in the nation. There are 20 Certified Retirement Cities including towns like Hattiesburg and the college town of Oxford
5. Alabama – Pensions not taxed. Per capita property tax is 2nd lowest in the country. Fairhope and Huntsville are 2 interesting places to retire.

6. Arkansas – Taxes some pensions but not SS. Cost of living is 4th lowest in U.S. Hot Springs and Eureka Springs are 2 popular towns for retirement.

7. Florida – No income tax, good property tax protection for full time residents against increases. Florida has dozens and dozens of nice towns for retirement.
8. Oklahoma – Taxes many pensions but low property tax. Cost of living is 3rd lowest in country. People looking for a low cost retirement by a lake might enjoy living in Lake Eufaula.
9. Georgia – Property tax higher than other states on this list. Generous income exclusion for retirement income
10. Nevada – No income tax, property tax higher than some.

Please note that were several ties, which is why the ranking numbers look a little unusual. Kentucky and South Carolina were close at 11th and 12th. This link to our spreadsheet (best states retirement-2012) provides you with an excel doc that also allows you to customize the rankings/change the weightings in the event you want to use different criteria.

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