Retirement evokes images of the sweet life — sipping coffee on the veranda, enjoying long lunches with friends, going to see a movie whenever you feel like it, or inviting neighbors over for a margarita to watch the sunset from your beach house. But where is that beach house exactly? And can you enjoy that veranda year-round? 

As you think about shifting from work to play, you may be wondering what states rank as the best states for retirement. It’s only natural — this is an important time in your life you’ve fantasized about for years, you want to get it right. Now is an ideal time to start planning retirement, and part of that process may be choosing to relocate to a state where the weather meets your needs, you can afford a perfectly sized house, and recreational activities, healthcare, and other costs are in line with your overall retirement budget.

A couple is looking at a map together as the sun shines down from over their shoulders. They’re traveling to different states to figure out where they want to retire.

What are the 10 best states to retire to?

If you’re ready to enjoy that sweet retiree life and you want to get a move on, here are the top 10 states to retire in according to Credit Karma*:

  1. Florida
  2. Delaware
  3. Wisconsin
  4. South Dakota
  5. Hawaii
  6. Maine
  7. Michigan
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. Iowa
  10. Oregon

*Credit Karma studied data from a number of published reports and evaluated each state considering 21 factors, including financial concerns like cost of living and annual healthcare costs as well as living conditions such as weather, access to care and risk of isolation.

We’re going to take a deeper look at each of these top 10 states, but first let’s answer a few other questions that may be on your mind. 

Best Places to Retire FAQ

Q: What are the best states to retire in financially?
A: “Cost of living” is used to determine the affordability of a region. It takes into account healthcare, groceries & food, housing, transportation, etc. Now, there’s a lot to consider when choosing your retirement home — from weather and quality of life to taxes and cost of living* — but if we’re looking at cost of living alone, these 10 states rank the best.

  1. Arkansas (77.5)
  2. Mississippi (78.7)
  3. West Virginia (79.4)
  4. Iowa (80.1)
  5. Oklahoma (82.2)
  6. Kentucky (82.3)
  7. Ohio (82.7)
  8. Kansas (83.1)
  9. Indiana (83.7)
  10. Alabama (84.1)

*The overall cost of living for a state is based on 100 representing the national average. 

Q: What are the most tax-friendly states for retirees?
A: According to SmartAsset, seven states are “Very Tax Friendly” for retirees. These states have friendly property, sales, estate, and inheritance tax rates. They also have either no state income tax, no retirement income tax, or a substantial tax deduction on retirement income.

  1. Alaska*
  2. Florida*
  3. Georgia
  4. Mississippi
  5. Nevada*
  6. South Dakota*
  7. Wyoming*

Q: What states do not tax pensions and Social Security?
A: This one’s a big one for retirees when it comes to where to retire. Most states — 37, in fact — do not tax Social Security benefits. And the 14 states listed below don’t tax pension income either: 

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska*
  3. Florida*
  4. Hawaii
  5. Illinois
  6. Mississippi
  7. Nevada*
  8. New Hampshire
  9. Pennsylvania
  10. South Dakota*
  11. Tennessee*
  12. Texas*
  13. Washington*
  14. Wyoming*

*No state income tax

Q: What are the 3 states that don’t tax retirement income?
A: Illinois, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania are the three states in which retirement income is exempt from taxation (including income from Social Security, pension, 401(k), and IRA). There are also eight other states that have no state personal income tax.

Q: What states don’t tax your 401(k) when you retire?
A: There are just three states that don’t tax distributions from 401(k) plans, IRAs, and TSPs (Thrift Savings Plans) — Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Illinois. Additionally, there are eight states that don’t impose a state income tax — Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

Top 10 Best States for Retirement in 2023

As important as they are, tax rates aren’t the only thing to consider when finding the right state to retire in. Let’s dive into our top 10 list and see why these states are the best states for retirement in 2023.

A retired couple lounges on two wooden chairs on a beach in Florida. They’re holding hands and looking out at the surf of the blue Gulf waters.

1. Florida

  • Typical Home Value: $404,939
  • Average Monthly Rent: $1,935
  • State Income Tax: No state income tax
  • Cost of Living: 103.1
  • Population 65+ years: 21.1%

Once again, Florida leads our list of best states to retire, as it’s one of the most affordable places for retirees. Why? Florida is a “very tax-friendly state” with no state income tax and no tax on retirement income like Social Security — which is great for people who want to enjoy their retirement fund to its fullest potential. The cost of living is 3.1% more than the national average, but the state doesn’t have estate or inheritance taxes either, another plus. And as a bonus, the average healthcare costs in the state are also below the national average spending per capita.

Florida has a thriving senior community with plenty of recreation for retirees, including fantastic beaches, beautiful natural attractions like freshwater springs, and some of the best golf courses in the country. The top three best places to retire in Florida are Pelican Bay, Highland Beach, and Indian River Shores, according to Niche. 

However, you also have to consider its weather and climate. Florida is known as The Sunshine State and, while it does offer warmer winter temps than most other parts of the country, it also experiences hot, humid summers as well as tropical storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes. 

2. Delaware

  • Typical Home Value: $365,170
  • Average Monthly Rent: $1,519
  • State Income Tax: 0%-6.6%
  • Cost of Living: 103.5 
  • Population 65+ years: 20.1%

Delaware may be small, but it’s got a lot of character. This northeast coastal state is chock full of charming little towns with plenty to keep you busy in your retirement. From Atlantic Coast towns like Rehoboth Beach to quiet, suburban Greenville — you’ll find what you’re looking for in Delaware. Not to mention, the state’s close proximity to other large metropolises (Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia to name a few). 

While the cost of living is a bit higher in Delaware than the national average, the state income tax is relatively low and there’s no state or local sales tax. Residents also enjoy solid access to healthcare and a lower risk of social isolation. 

If you enjoy cozying up to a fire in the winter, you’ll have plenty of opportunity with Delaware’s long, snowy winters. Don’t worry if the cold isn’t your thing, The spring and autumn months in Delaware are gorgeous and the summers are mild. 

Niche lists Rehoboth Beach, Greenville, and Long Neck as the top three best places to retire in Delaware, so check those out first. 

A woman kayaks down the Namekagon River in Wisconsin with her dog sitting in the back of the boat.

3. Wisconsin

  • Typical Home Value: $273,341
  • Average Monthly Rent: $1,374
  • State Income Tax: 3.54%-7.65%
  • Cost of Living: 89.9
  • Population 65+ years: 17.9%

A great local cheese selection isn’t the only reason you should consider retiring to Wisconsin. This mid-western state is also known for its friendly residents, abundance of watersports and activities, beautiful nature, year-round festivals, and solid healthcare access (to name a few). Niche ranks Elm Grove, King, and Kohler as the top three places to retire in the state, but if you prefer more big-city amenities, you’ll want to explore Milwaukee and Madison. 

The cost of living is about 10% lower than the national average with housing costs being especially affordable at more than 20% below the national average. Unfortunately, state income taxes are on the higher end and, if you’re a year-round resident, the same portion of your annuity and pension income that’s taxed by the Fed will be taxed by the state. 

Keep in mind, Wisconsin is one of the coldest states in the country. On the plus side, you’ll get to experience all four seasons and enjoy nice, cool summers. The caveat is you’ll also get brutal winters along with the risk of blizzards and flooding. The state receives an average of 48 inches of snow annually (nearly double the national average) and experiences 160 days with nighttime temperatures falling below freezing. Just make sure you’re stocked up with provisions and have plenty of firewood before winter hits.

4. South Dakota

  • Typical Home Value: $307,922
  • Average Monthly Rent: $1,057
  • State Income Tax: No state income tax
  • Cost of Living: 89.3
  • Population 65+ years: 17.5%

If you’re a fan of history, water activities, fishing, hunting, majestic vistas, and small-town vibes, then South Dakota may be the place for you. This Midwestern state in the Great Planes offers its residents all of the above, plus a low cost of living and no state income tax. 

With four distinct regions to choose from, it’s easy to find your perfect place in SD. For the history buff, we recommend the West Region where you can explore Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Black Hills National Forest, and Crazy Horse Memorial. Waterlovers should check out the Central Region where they can live life to the fullest on the “Mighty Mo” (local speak for the Missouri River). The Northeast Region is “hunting country” with all-inclusive lodges, but you’ll also find wineries, as well as casinos and the live entertainment and amenities that accompany them. For culture, fine arts, shopping, and dining, head to the Southeast Region and the state’s largest city, Sioux Falls. 

The two big cons to living in South Dakota are the long, bitter winters (167 days of below freezing temperatures on average) and the low population — though this may be a pro for some. If you’re looking for big-city amenities and bustling crowds, South Dakota is not the place for you.

Interested in retiring in South Dakota? Start by exploring Niche’s top three best places to retire in the state — Lead, Hot Springs, and Deadwood.

A couple takes a photo of the scenic view from the Kalalau Lookout in the Waimea Canyon of Kauai, Hawaii. The sky and sea are both a vibrant blue and fluffy white clouds and moving in from over the mountains.

5. Hawaii

  • Typical Home Value: $902,175
  • Average Monthly Rent: $2,513
  • State Income Tax: 1.4%-11%
  • Cost of Living: 165.7
  • Population 65+ years: 19.6%

It’s not hard to imagine why Hawaii is considered one of the best states for retirees. The weather is amazing year-round, residents have access to incredible beaches and lagoons, freshwater swimming holes, tropical mountain forests, and an abundance of fresh, local food — what’s not to love? To top off the pros list, Hawaii ranks number one for health care access and there’s no tax on Social Security or pension income — important factors to consider when planning your retirement.

“What are the cons?,” you may ask. To start, Hawaii has the highest cost of living in the nation as well as a state income tax that can be pretty high, depending on your income bracket. Because it’s so far removed from the rest of the country, visits home can be quite expensive and moving there in the first place is much more involved than a typical move within the contiguous United States. And finally, if you’re retiring on the Big Island, there’s the risk associated with living near four active volcanoes (that’s right, four!). Other than that, Hawaii is pretty great! 

Niche ranks Wailea (on Maui), Maunawili (on Oahu), and Honolulu (on Oahu) as the top three places to retire in Hawaii.

6. Maine

  • Typical Home Value: $372,314
  • Average Monthly Rent: $1,752
  • State Income Tax: 5.8%-7.15%
  • Cost of Living: 97
  • Population 65+ years: 21.7%

Charming coastal towns with an easy-going New England vibe, abundant forests, active community of seniors, and local seafood to make your mouth water. Yep, that’s Maine. You can’t get there from here (or so the saying goes). This popular state is a magnet for skiers, sailors and nature-loving folk alike. If you’re looking for quiet solitude, you’ll find it here, along with impressive local art and culinary scenes (in cities like Portland, Lewiston, and Bangor. Maine offers a lower cost of living than the national average and there’s no state tax on Social Security income (sweet!). 

On the flip side, state income taxes (Social Security aside) and property taxes are relatively high. Aside from the local dining and art scenes, you may find less entertainment opportunities than you’d like (if you’re looking for the big-city life, you won’t find it here). This state is also the least diverse in the country with more than 94% of its residents identifying as white. Finally, the winters are (you guessed it) harsh. Luckily, they’re used to it up here. The roads are well-plowed and life goes on — albeit while wearing a few more layers of merino wool.

According to Niche, the best places to retire in Maine are Belfast, Kennebunk, Hallowell.

A woman is hiking on a trail in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

7. Michigan

  • Typical Home Value: $235,649
  • Average Monthly Rent: $1,249
  • State Income Tax: 4.25%
  • Cost of Living: 91.5
  • Population 65+ years: 18.1%

There are many reasons to put Michigan on your shortlist for retirement states. Low cost of living, affordable homes, a relatively low income tax rate — not to mention the gorgeous scenery. The Great Lakes State comprises two peninsulas surrounded by — you guessed it — the Great Lakes. You may be surprised to learn, however, there are actually a variety of landscapes across Michigan. From beaches and dunes to forests and wetlands, the Great Lakes State is so much more than the nickname implies. And while the more popular cities may be Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor, there are plenty of charming little towns throughout the state that are absolutely perfect for retirees (as long as you don’t mind the cold).

According to Niche, the three best places to retire in Michigan are suburbs of Detroit: Bingham Farms, Pleasant Ridge, and Village of Grosse Pointe Shores. 

8. Pennsylvania

  • Typical Home Value: $272,422
  • Average Monthly Rent: $1,617
  • State Income Tax: 3.07%
  • Cost of Living: 94.6
  • Population 65+ years: 19%

With no tax on retirement income, a cost of living below the national average, affordable housing, and a relatively low state income tax rate compared to other states in the Northeast, Pennsylvania is definitely a contender for one of the best states to retire in.

History buffs will delight in the many historic sites and buildings dating back to the 18th and 17th centuries. If you’re more of a nature-lover, there are 86,000 miles of rivers and streams, over 6,700 miles of trails, 22 ski resorts, and 124 free state parks where you can hike, bike, and ski to your heart’s content. And if you’ve even wanted to explore the Appalachian Trail, that’s here too! Additionally, Pennsylvania’s cities are home to world-class museums, art, dining, breweries, and more pro sports teams than you can shake a stick at. Moving to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh will provide plenty of opportunity for big-city living, if that’s what you’re looking for. 

There are some cons to be aware of as well. Pennsylvania experiences harsh winters with lots of snow and the state is known for having bad traffic in general — both reasons why driving here can be difficult. There are also additional taxes to consider, for instance, municipalities and school districts can impose an additional tax on residents, called a local Earned Income Tax (EIT). 

According to Niche, the best places to retire in Pennsylvania are Penn Wynne, West Brunswick Township, and Plains.

Rolling hills and corn fields in Iowa with farm houses and forested hills in the background and a stormy sky above.

9. Iowa

  • Typical Home Value: $200,833
  • Average Monthly Rent: $1,105
  • State Income Tax: 0.33%-8.53%
  • Cost of Living: 80.1
  • Population 65+ years: 17.7%

Iowa has the 4th lowest cost of living in the country, at nearly 20% below the national average, and the housing prices are some of the most affordable on our list. The state’s crime rate is also lower than the national median (maybe due to that famous “Midwestern nice” we’ve all heard about). Unlike some other states on this list (we’re looking at you, Pennsylvania) gridlock traffic is pretty much unheard of in Iowa. 

If you’re a city-dweller at heart or just looking for some culture, check out Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, and Davenport. Outside of these, “small-town feel” is the name of the game. According to Niche, the best places to retire in Iowa are Clear Lake, Windsor Heights, and New Hampton.

Like many midwestern states, Iowa is known for its sprawling fields and rolling hills, perfect for a Sunday afternoon drive. What you may not know is that Iowa is also home to a variety of natural wonders. You can explore the Maquoketa and Crystal Lake Caves, canoe down the Iowa River, soak in the view from Pikes Peak (the best lookout in the state), and swim in the clear, blue waters of Spirit Lake (formed 1,3000 years ago from melted glaciers).

You’ll experience all four seasons here, with the hottest average temperature reaching about 84 degrees in July and the coldest average temperature dropping to around 10 degrees in January. It’s nicest in the spring and fall (but isn’t everywhere?). 

10. Oregon

  • Typical Home Value: $510,401
  • Average Monthly Rent: $1,724
  • State Income Tax: 4.75%-9.9%
  • Cost of Living: 114.3
  • Population 65+ years: 18.6%

Like Delaware, Oregon has no state or local sales taxes and Social Security income is exempt from the state income tax. Portland is the most populous city in Oregon (by a long shot) with around 640,000 residents. Famous for “keeping it weird,” Portland is also known for its local coffee shops, craft breweries, live music scene, and socially and environmentally conscious locals. 

Oregon is a coastal state with sandy beaches, steep cliffs, and everything in between. Some residents complain about the frequent cloudy drizzle common to the state, but most dedicated locals claim it’s all worth it for the gorgeous summers. A quick jaunt in a car will take you to Mt. Hood for skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing in the winter, or camping and hiking in the summer. The property tax rate in Oregon falls right about in the middle when compared to the other 49 states. 

Aside from Hawaii, Oregon has the highest cost of living on our list. The state also averages 30 fewer sunny days than the country overall (which can bum some people out). Still, it’s a gorgeous place to live, where roses seem to grow effortlessly, the winters aren’t that cold, and your local café really does make the best brew.

According to Niche, the best places to retire in Oregon are Harbor, Lincoln Beach, and Raleigh Hills.

A retired couple enjoys a sunny day at a beach in Florida. The man is fishing while his wife is sunbathing nearby.

5 Best Mild Climate States for Retirement

You may have noticed that most of the states on our top 10 list aren’t necessarily “warm” places to live. While living in a sunny state isn’t for everyone, these are the top 5 states for retirement with mild weather, along with their overall rankings on our list — for those of you that care:

  1. Florida (best overall)
  2. Hawaii (5th overall)
  3. Alabama (11th overall)
  4. Virginia (12th overall)
  5. North Carolina (22nd overall)

Other popular retirement states

There are as many opinions on retirement as there are places to retire, especially in a country as large and diverse as the United States. For example, WalletHub ranked Virginia as the best state to retire in its 2023 study, followed by Florida, Colorado, Wyoming, and Delaware. Why Virginia? WalletHub’s methodology evaluated quality of life, affordability, and health care using 47 metrics. Virginia ranked 11th for both quality of life and health care, and 16th for affordability. Even Florida (4th in quality of life and 9th in affordability) came in 28th in health care, enough to push the Sunshine State into 2nd place. 

Worst states for retirement

According to CreditKarma, the 5 worst states for retirement are Alaska, Mississippi, New Mexico, and New York. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Alaska has a high cost of living (116.5), including high costs for in-home care and assistance, community and assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. The weather here is least desirable and only 13.3% of Alaska’s population is 65 or older.
  • Mississippi and New Mexico have low costs of living (78.7 and 88.4 respectively), but older residents have a high risk of social isolation. There’s also a prevalence of food insecurity and higher poverty rates in these states. To top it off, New Mexico taxes Social Security benefits, though the state does provide a deduction that can lower the tax obligation for Social Security income. 
  • Finally, while New York doesn’t tax Social Security income, it does have a high cost of living (121.5), and expensive housing and senior healthcare costs.

State of mind

While affordability and tax burden are sensible things to consider when choosing a retirement destination, there are always other factors to consider, such as where your children and grandkids are living. And — say you end up retiring in Maine — you could always become a snowbird and travel to Georgia or Florida for the colder months. Just something to think about!

An older man is loading a PODS container in the driveway of his home. He's preparing to move to a new state to live out his retirement.

Retirement ready

Regardless of where you decide to move, you’ll inevitably need to figure out the ins and outs of how you’ll get there. If the days of DIYing it with a moving truck are behind you, consider using portable moving and storage containers. PODS will deliver a container straight to your driveway where you can take all the time you need to pack your things up. The best part? If you need help with the lifting and loading, PODS can refer you to local packing and loading help. Once everything is loaded and ready to roll, PODS will pick up your container and drive it to your new home, so you can enjoy the journey to your new retirement state and dream home. You deserve it!

Check out the PODS Blog for everything moving and storage — from packing tips and neighborhood guides to decluttering and downsizing, we’ve got you covered.

Karen Dybis is a freelance journalist and a frequent contributor to the PODS Blog. Her work has appeared in Time magazine, U.S. News & World Report, The Detroit News, and more.


  1. What about Healthcare? I would think as you age you would want to make sure you have availability to good healthcare and senior services should things turn.

    1. Hi, Patty. Great point! We had wrapped up healthcare costs in our cost of living calculation, but we’ll be sure to update this article with an analysis of the accessibility and quality of healthcare and senior services in the states we have listed.

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