Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

4 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a State in Which to Retire

By Maurie Backman – Dec 23, 2021 at 1:36AM

Key Points

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

It's a decision you certainly don't want to botch.

Many people agonize over choosing the right retirement age. But there's another important decision you'll need to make for your senior years -- where to live.

You may decide to retire in the state where you've lived as a working adult. Or you may think it's time to relocate. Either way, ask yourself these questions before settling on your new home.

Two people at a laptop.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. What do housing costs look like?

Housing can be a senior's largest monthly expense, and that extends to those with paid-off mortgages. If you're worried about living on a limited income in retirement, you may want to favor a state where housing costs are relatively low. That doesn't just mean less expensive homes -- it also means less expensive property taxes.

2. Is healthcare easily accessible?

As we age, the need for quality healthcare increases. When deciding which state to retire in, it's important that you get a solid picture of what healthcare looks like.

A good indicator in that regard is the number of Medicare Advantage plans that are available in the state you're looking to move to. But also, research local pharmacy chains and hospitals before making that call.

3. Are Social Security benefits taxed?

Social Security could end up being an important income source for you during retirement. So you may want to avoid moving to a state that imposes a tax on that income.

There are 13 states that tax Social Security:

  1. Colorado
  2. Connecticut
  3. Kansas
  4. Minnesota
  5. Missouri
  6. Montana
  7. Nebraska
  8. New Mexico
  9. North Dakota
  10. Rhode Island
  11. Utah
  12. Vermont
  13. West Virginia

Many of the names on this list, however, offer exemptions for lower earners, and in some cases, moderate earners, as well. If you land in one of these states, you're not guaranteed to lose a chunk of your benefits.

4. Will I have a nearby support system?

As you age, your ability to do certain things could wane. Granted, this hopefully won't happen right away in retirement, but if you live well into your 80s or 90s, mobility issues could start to arise.

It's for this reason that retiring someplace where you'll have the support of loved ones is important. If you're looking at moving to a state that's on the opposite side of the country as your grown kids, you may want to reconsider.

That said, you don't necessarily need to retire near your children. If the bulk of your family lives on the East Coast but you have a grandchild or two in California, you may decide to settle down there. Or you may choose to move someplace where you have a large network of friends. The key is to have some trusted people nearby.

Choosing the right state in which to retire is a tough call, especially if it's a decision you want to get right from the get-go. (Though it's certainly possible to relocate during retirement, it's also not the easiest thing to do.) Running through these questions will make it easier to nail down that choice -- and feel confident about it.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.