Personal Finance

Great Places to Retire in Every State

Picking the best place to retire isn't easy. Retirement desires run the gamut, from beach villas to big-city condos, from lakeside cabins to wine-country retreats. In a bid to offer something for everyone, we picked 50 great places to retire--one per state--to ensure a diverse mix of choices.

In selecting a great place to retire in each state, we weighed several factors. Some were financial, such as typical living costs for retirees--health care costs in particular--and taxes. Others involved lifestyle, from the availability of things to do to the number of retirement-age people close by to do things with. We also considered safety and access to quality health care. Take a look at our 50 picks. One is bound to fit your idea of the perfect place to retire.

Cost of living for retirees: 11.0% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 14.5% (U.S.: 14.5%)

Alabama's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $364,860 (U.S.: $394,954)

The Heart of Dixie offers many great spots for affordable living, but Decatur is among our picks for the cheapest places where you'll want to retire . While the median home value is $176,700 for the nation as a whole, it's just $122,500 in Alabama and $120,400 in Decatur. The Tennessee River offers inexpensive options for outdoor recreation, including some of the state's best bass fishing in Wheeler Lake.

The tax situation is equally attractive. Alabama doesn't tax Social Security and most pension income, and homeowners 65 and older are exempt from state property taxes (and some, if not all, local property taxes).

Cost of living for retirees: 32.6% above U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 8.4%

Alaska's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $426,047

Seniors don't seem too interested in facing the Last Frontier in retirement. Only 7.7% of the entire state's population is age 65 and older. But if you crave adventure--and don't mind long winters and vast swaths of wilderness--it pays to live in Alaska. Literally. The state's oil wealth savings account gives all permanent residents an annual dividend. In 2015, the payout was $2,072 per person. Plus, Alaska has no state income tax or sales tax (although municipalities may levy a local sales tax), and the state doesn't tax Social Security or other retirement benefits. No wonder Alaska ranks as the most tax-friendly state for retirees .

The capital city offers seniors an additional tax perk. For $20, residents age 65 and older can purchase a card that exempts them from the local 5% sales tax. It entitles you to free bus rides, too. Naturally, Juneau offers endless outdoor activities, from kayaking to whale watching, as well as a charming downtown.

Cost of living for retirees: 3.7% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 30.8%

Arizona's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $378,205

Undoubtedly, many of you have considered the Grand Canyon State for its retiree-friendly climate and beautiful natural setting. Plus, the tax situation is equally attractive. With its low income taxes and lack of state taxes on Social Security, Arizona is among the 10 most tax-friendly states for retirees .

Prescott, about 100 miles north of Phoenix, eases the stress on your retirement kitty even more with its below-average living costs. In fact, we named the city one of the cheapest places where you'll want to retire . But affordable doesn't mean boring. Prescott offers an active cultural scene with numerous theaters, galleries and music venues, as well as a wealth of things to do outdoors, including golfing and hiking.

Cost of living for retirees: 7.5% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 21.3%

Arkansas's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $355,695

You won't need to travel far for rest and relaxation if you settle in this retirement hotspot. Surrounding the north end of the city of Hot Springs is Hot Springs National Park, which has 47 hot springs that come out of the mountain of the same name and two bathhouses, where you can drink from fountains and soak in the water. The relaxing experience extends into the city proper, where there are many spa and massage services to choose from. You can also unwind by golfing at one of the area's 11 championship courses or by fishing or boating on one of the three local lakes.

Even your wallet can de-stress. Housing and health care for retirees are particularly low, at 24.1% and 12.2% below the national average, respectively. The median home value in Hot Springs, about 60 miles southwest of Little Rock, is $115,600--far below the national median of $176,700.

Cost of living for retirees: 33.8% above U.S. average*

Share of population 65+: 14.0%

California's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $408,522

With its vibrant cultural community, ocean-side living and sunny climate, Carlsbad is a great place to retire . It's a small city (population: 112,000) compared with nearby San Diego (population: about 1.4 million), but has no shortage of amenities, with 25 parks, nearly 50 miles of hiking trails and a full calendar of artsy offerings, including Foreign Film Friday and free summer concerts. Plus, you can choose among a host of retirement communities with ocean views.

Of course, you have to be able to afford it. Like much of California, the cost of living is high. For example, the median home value in the U.S. is $176,700; in California, it's $366,400, and in Carlsbad, it's $614,000. The taxes also weigh heavily on your wallet. One of the 10 least tax-friendly states for retirees (and everyone else ), California taxes virtually all retirement income except Social Security benefits, and it has the highest income tax rates in the nation.

*Based on cost of living for retirees in nearby San Diego

Cost of living for retirees: 4.4% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 15.6%

Colorado's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $384,980

Another one of our picks for cheapest places where you'll want to retire , Grand Junction holds plenty of (often free) fun for nature-loving retirees. You can enjoy scenic hiking, biking and rafting in the warmer months, and skiing and snowshoeing when the snow falls. Indoors, you can take advantage of the intellectual and cultural offerings of Colorado Mesa University.

Also, the Highest State keeps taxes low for retirees. Residents age 55 and older get a generous retirement-income exclusion from state income taxes. There's no inheritance or estate tax, either.

Cost of living for retirees: not available

Share of population 65+: 23.2%

Connecticut's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $423,212

Two hours from both Boston and New York City, Niantic offers a quiet and cozy retirement destination. The small town on the Long Island Sound has a population of just about 3,100 and covers only 3.5 square miles. But it still offers many attractions for retirees. Being a seaside village, Niantic has ample opportunities for water activities. The Niantic Bay Yacht Club hosts numerous sailboat races throughout the summer.

The coast of Connecticut is known to be a high-cost area. Niantic is no exception, but it's more affordable than other nearby places, such as better-known Mystic. For example, the median home value in Niantic is $253,200--pricey, but more affordable than the Mystic median of $360,300, according to Zillow (the Census Bureau does not report median home values for these areas).

Cost of living for retirees: not available

Share of population 65+: 17.4%

Delaware's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $385,617

The First State is our top choice for retirees . But if you're thinking about heading to one of Delaware's popular beach towns, brace yourself for sticker shock. Better yet, consider instead the more affordable Milford. About 40 miles north of Bethany Beach (where a whopping 46.4% of the population is age 65 and older), Milford has a median home value of $214,000, less than half the median of $495,000 in Bethany Beach, according to Zillow.

The small inland city (population: around 10,000) is about 10 miles from Slaughter Beach. You can also enjoy some waterfront views in town along the Mispillion River. Downtown, there are numerous restaurants and boutiques, as well as the Milford Museum and the Riverfront Theater, where you can watch old movies. A community theater group, the Second Street Players, also performs there.

Cost of living for retirees: 5.2% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 47.9%

Florida's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $409,097

With its desirable climate and favorable tax status , Florida is filled with popular retirement destinations. Punta Gorda consistently ranks as one of the best. (It was among our top picks for cheapest places where you'll want to retire .) Because nearly half of its residents are age 65 and older, the city is wise to recognize its strong senior presence and do all it can to satisfy them. You can find numerous retirement communities, restricted to people age 55 and older, that offer waterfront sites, golfing, fishing and other activities. In town, the Harborwalk along Charlotte Harbor is just a portion of the 18 miles of bike trails and pedestrian pathways you can enjoy.

For more amenities, including many restaurants and a lively arts scene, Sarasota is a little more than 50 miles away on the Gulf coast and is another great place to retire .

Cost of living for retirees: 5.1% below U.S. average*

Share of population 65+: 10.8%

Georgia's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $376,884

A suburb of Atlanta, Sandy Springs (population: 102,000) offers small-city comforts with close proximity to big-city attractions. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy area birding and fishing, as well as 22 miles of shoreline along the Chattahoochee River.

Under construction is a new walkable city center named City Springs, with plans to include a performing arts center, family theater and park, as well as restaurants, retailers and housing. Groundbreaking on the site was in 2015, and the development is slated for completion in late 2017 or early 2018. In the meantime, you can take a Marta train to downtown Atlanta's Five Points neighborhood. The ride costs just $2.50 and takes less than 40 minutes.

*Based on cost of living for retirees in the nearby Marietta metro area

Cost of living for retirees: 55.6% above U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 18.0%

Hawaii's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $332,090

Hawaii is well known for its beautiful beaches, enviable climate and high prices. If you're hoping to retire in paradise, you can do so more affordably on the Big Island compared with Oahu, home of capital city Honolulu, where retiree living costs are 79.5% above the U.S. average. The median home value in Hilo is $303,800--still pricey, to be sure, but much more reasonable than the $550,900 median in urban Honolulu.

And the local lifestyle is still priceless. The colonial town's mood is quiet and calm, but its location on the eastern coast of the island and near active volcano Mauna Loa offers plenty of opportunities for adventure. You can explore rainforests and waterfalls, as well as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. In the downtown and waterfront areas, enjoy galleries, shops, restaurants and museums, including the Imiloa Astronomy Center.

Cost of living for retirees: 7.3% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 11.2%

Idaho's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $366,449

Boise is a great college town for your retirement . Boise State University provides plenty of intellectual stimulation to help keep an aging mind sharp. Its Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts hosts symphony concerts, dance performances and Broadway shows. You can also take classes at the school through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute; membership costs $70 for a year.

Off campus, you can walk, run or bike the more than 20 miles of paved trails of the Boise River Greenbelt. Other outdoor activities to enjoy around the area include kayaking, boating, fly-fishing, golfing and skiing, just to name a few.

Cost of living for retirees: 0.5% above U.S. average*

Share of population 65+: 8.7%

Illinois's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $416,481

This suburb of Chicago lets you take a step back from city living while keeping you close enough to enjoy its benefits whenever you'd like. Naperville offers a pedestrian-friendly downtown loaded with shops and restaurants, as well as the 1.75-mile Riverwalk.

Seniors 65 and over qualify for reduced fares on the Metra commuter-rail system. The ride from Naperville to Chicago's Union Station is about an hour. Once in the city, you can relish everything that makes Chicago famous, including its food, bars, beach, architecture, sports teams and art scene.

*Based on cost of living for retirees in Joliet-Will County

Cost of living for retirees: 9.8% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 7.9%

Indiana's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $398,396

If you're willing to brave the harsh winters and tax environment of Indiana, you might as well retire in Bloomington. Home of Indiana University, Bloomington boasts plenty of sporting events, concerts and festivals for your entertainment. The university also has a lifelong learning program that offers a variety of courses, as well as day trips and symposiums, for local adults. A course catalog sample: a one-day lesson in jazzing up holiday tunes for $25. Looking for a more demanding academic challenge? Retired Indiana residents who are age 60 and older can get 50% off tuition at state schools for up to nine credit hours a semester.

And the savings don't stop there. Overall living costs in Bloomington are low, with particularly affordable housing expenses for retirees (19.5% below the national average).

Cost of living for retirees: 9.1% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 11.0%

Iowa's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $372,712

There are retirement destinations of all sizes to choose from in Iowa, one of our 10 best states for retirement . For retirees looking to live in a big city on a small budget, Des Moines is a good choice. Affordability is just one reason the Milken Institute ranked the state capital seventh out of 100 large U.S. metro areas for successful aging. Des Moines also boasts a strong economy, numerous museums and arts venues, and plenty of health care facilities specializing in aging-related services.

Cost of living for retirees: 8.0% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 14.3%

Kansas's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $376,280

With its low cost of living, Kansas in general rates as one of our 10 best states for retirement . And the capital city is particularly affordable. The median home value for the Sunflower State is $128,400 and is even lower in Topeka, at just $95,600, well below the national median of $176,700.

Plus, the University of Kansas's main campus, with all the amenities of college life, is less than 30 miles away in Lawrence. The university's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers low-cost classes and special events designed for students age 50 and older. Also, KU's Landon Center on Aging houses clinical and research facilities focused on the treatment of older adults.

Cost of living for retirees: 7.8% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 10.5%

Kentucky's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $393,195

As you'd expect, the Bluegrass State holds plenty of appeal for horse lovers and bourbon aficionados. But retirees can pursue other interests here as well. Lexington has more than 100 parks, six public golf courses and a 734-acre nature preserve with more than 10 miles of hiking trails. For indoor entertainment, you can check out the numerous galleries and theaters, including the Lexington Opera House and its schedule of ballets, Broadway musicals, comedy shows, operas (of course) and other performances. The University of Kentucky offers the Singletary Center for the Arts, too.

You can also satisfy your academic pursuits at the University of Kentucky. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers various courses, forums, interest groups, trips and events to people age 50 or older; annual membership costs $25. The Donovan Fellowship allows Kentucky residents age 65 and older to take university classes free, space permitting. For all these reasons and more, Lexington ranks among our great college towns for retirement .

Cost of living for retirees: 4.3% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 10.9%

Louisiana's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $395,452

Pleasure-seeking retirees can find a lot to satisfy them in the Big Easy. The unique cultures, delicious foods and signature music are big draws. The city offers brass band parades and festivals throughout the year, including the hugely famous jazz fest.

Considering New Orleans is a world-renowned convention and tourism destination, the cost of living for residents is surprisingly reasonable. So, too, are taxes on retirees, explaining why Louisiana ranks as one of our 10 most tax-friendly states for retirees . The city's median home value is $183,700, slightly higher than the national median of $176,700, though it might be worth it to pay a bit more to live in nearby Metairie (where the median home value is $209,500). The New Orleans suburb offers greater safety and a higher share of seniors, who make up 17.1% of the population.

Cost of living for retirees: not available

Share of population 65+: 14.4%

Maine's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $372,692

The cold never bothered you anyway? Then Bangor is a lovely retirement destination. The area's great outdoors offer cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, as well as dog-sledding and snowmobiling. In the warmer months, the same trails can be used for walking, hiking or biking. And the waterfront along the Penobscot River is home to the annual American Folk Festival, as well as other concerts during the summer. Plus, despite being home to the King of Horror, Stephen King, you have little to fear in Bangor--there were only 55 violent crimes reported in 2014. That's just 168.8 per 100,000 residents, compared with the national rate of 365.5, according to the FBI.

While the Pine Tree State can be painfully pricey, the relatively small city (population: 33,000) is more affordable than other well-known areas such as Kennebunkport (where the wealthy Bush clan has a compound) and Mount Desert (a favorite of the Rockefellers). The median home value in Bangor is $145,400, compared with $174,500 for the state and $176,700 for the U.S.

Cost of living for retirees: not available

Share of population 65+: 13.0%

Maryland's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $425,295

With more than 400 miles of shoreline, Annapolis offers water-loving retirees a torrent of activities. Kayaking, canoeing, boating and fishing are common enjoyments on the Chesapeake Bay. On land, the historical city is filled with 18th century buildings and is commonly referred to as "a museum without walls." And, as home to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis draws a number of military retirees.

But you have to be able to afford it. Maryland is, by and large, a wealthy area, home to a great number of millionaires , and the living costs reflect that. The median home value in the Old Line State is $292,700, compared with just $176,700 for the U.S. In Annapolis, it's a whopping $377,200.

Cost of living for retirees: 10.3% above average

Share of population 65+: 17.6%

Massachusetts's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $445,666

New England is notoriously expensive, but Pittsfield offers a small pocket of relative affordability . Overall, living costs for the retired population are higher than the national average, but they're more reasonable than in Boston, where retiree living costs are 39.6% above the U.S. average, or Cambridge, at 32.9% above average. Utilities and health care in Pittsfield actually fall about 5% below the U.S. average for retirees. And housing is also notably affordable: The median home value in the city is $176,500, compared with $330,100 for all of Massachusetts, $371,000 for Boston proper and $532,400 in Cambridge.

Leaf peeping in the fall may be enough to draw you to the Berkshires. But you have plenty to enjoy all year round, including excellent sites for camping, fishing, hiking and skiing. You can also enjoy musical performances at the nearby Tanglewood Music Center, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Cost of living for retirees: not available

Share of population 65+: 9.3%

Michigan's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $411,820

Another college town well suited to retirees , Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan with all its educational programs (including the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), sporting events and cultural affairs. The university also runs the Geriatrics Center and Institute of Gerontology, which focuses on health care issues that come with aging. Along with its research and medical facilities and staff, the Center offers programs and classes to help older adults maximize their good health and independence.

In fact, Ann Arbor's health care facilities are top-notch, earning it a number-8 ranking among small metro areas for successful aging, according to the Milken Institute, a think tank. Along with quality health care, Milken recognizes the area's public transportation options as a winning attribute for older residents. A downside, however, is affordability. The median home value is $230,700, versus $121,700 for the rest of the state.

Cost of living for retirees: not available

Share of population 65+: 12.7%

Minnesota's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $403,562

If the cold winters and equally harsh tax situation don't put you off of the North Star State, Rochester is a great place to retire . In fact, the Milken Institute rates it as the seventh-best small metro area for successful aging. It offers an abundance of health care providers, including the renowned Mayo Clinic; hospital units specializing in Alzheimer's; and top-rated nursing homes. The local population also exhibits a healthy lifestyle, with long life expectancies and low obesity rates.

Housing costs won't wipe out your nest egg. The median home value in Rochester of $163,700 is below the national median of $176,700 and the state median of $187,900.

Cost of living for retirees: not available

Share of population 65+: 10.5%

Mississippi's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $379,852

Ole Miss can breathe new life into your retirement. Hometown Mississippi Retirement, the state's official retiree attraction program, has designated Oxford a certified retirement city, which required a three-month evaluation that assessed its affordability, safety, access to quality medical care and abundance of recreational opportunities. Housing in the city can be expensive; the median home value is $224,100, much more than the state's median of $99,900. But the Magnolia State's tax situation is one of the nation's friendliest for retirees .

The University of Mississippi makes Oxford a great college town to retire to . You can enjoy football and other sporting events (plus tailgating), musical and theater performances, and academic pursuits. Residents 65 and older can take one university course per semester free. Or you can take your education to go with the academic traveler program, which organizes weeklong, faculty-led trips several times a year.

Cost of living for retirees: 4.8% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 8.5%

Missouri's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $370,190

Columbia is a great place to retire , due in large part to the three colleges that call it home. The University of Missouri, Columbia College and Stephens College bring sporting events, concerts and other artistic and cultural entertainments to the city. You'll also find no shortage of bookstores, shops and restaurants around town. Adults age 50 and older can take courses through Mizzou's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute; the cost is $80 for each eight-week class in the spring and fall.

The city's top-rated hospitals and health care services are another big advantage, and they're a big reason the Milken Institute ranking Columbia the third best small metro area for successful aging. Plus, the care is relatively affordable. For example, the median annual rate for one bedroom in an assisted-living facility is $35,640 in Columbia, less than the national median of $43,200, but more than the $30,300 median for the state. Housing costs for retirees are 13.3% below the national average.

Cost of living for retirees: not available

Share of population 65+: 16.6%

Montana's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $381,285

Adventurous retirees (with a high threshold for cold winters) can thrive in Great Falls, located on the high plains of Montana's Rocky Mountain Front Range. This portion of Big Sky Country hosts its fair share of hiking, skiing, mountain biking and kayaking. The area has about 60 parks and 40 miles of trails along the scenic Missouri River. If that's not enough, Yellowstone and Glacier national parks can be great weekend-trip destinations; they're about four and three hours away, respectively.

The cost of living is relatively affordable. The median home value in Great Falls is $157,300, compared with $184,200 in Montana. But your tax bill might be less affordable; the Treasure State is one of the worst when it comes to retiree taxes .

Cost of living for retirees: 8.5% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 11.4%

Nebraska's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $378,346

No matter your age, Omaha is an attractive, affordable place to live , with plenty of activities to entertain happy cheapskates . For retirees, living costs are below average across the board, with housing being a remarkable bargain: The city's median home value is just $133,500. A private room in a nursing home costs a median $82,125 a year, below the national $91,250 median, according to Genworth.

An abundance of health care facilities and professionals, among other factors, led the Milken Institute to rank Omaha the second best large metro area for successful aging. Also contributing to its high ranking is the area's economic strength. It's home to five Fortune 500 companies and boasts low unemployment--even among mature adults who choose to remain in or return to the workforce. Look no further than the Oracle of Omaha, 85-year-old Warren Buffett, for proof.

Cost of living for retirees: 1.6% above average*

Share of population 65+: 16.5%

Nevada's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $403,452

Just a 30-minute drive from Lake Tahoe to the west and Reno to the north, Carson City offers a wide range of diversions to enjoy in your retirement (at cooler temperatures than in Las Vegas). Outdoors, you can take advantage of all the skiing and hiking of Tahoe. Indoors, hit the casinos and shows of Reno. Staying in town--or above town--you can enjoy hot air ballooning and hang gliding throughout the year. On the ground, try golfing one of nine area golf courses, dubbed the Divine Nine.

Housing costs run a bit above average. The median home value in Carson City is $198,900, compared with $169,100 in Nevada and $176,700 for the U.S.

*Based on cost of living for retirees in the nearby Reno-Sparks metro area

Cost of living for retirees: not available

Share of population 65+: 26.1%

New Hampshire's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $391,311

Where better to retire and "realize life while you live it--every, every minute" than the place that (in part) inspired Our Town 's Grover's Corners? Renowned author and playwright Thornton Wilder spent many summers in Peterborough and penned portions of his most famous play at the MacDowell Colony. The artist retreat continues its mission today, hosting and inspiring talented individuals while they create. And it invites the community to its various exhibitions every first Friday of the month from March to November for free.

The real-life representation of classic small-town America, Peterborough is a peaceful home to about 3,100 people. There's a nice selection of restaurants in town and plenty of outdoor recreation to enjoy, including nearby snowshoeing, hiking, skiing and just taking in the scenic mountain views. The town's recreation department offers a senior fit program with $8 walk-in classes.

Cost of living for retirees: not available

Share of population 65+: 29.7%

New Jersey's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $413,431

The Garden State offers a number of appealing retirement destinations for those who can afford it. Ocean City is a particularly attractive spot, evidenced by the high share of seniors who have already chosen to reside there. Family-friendly beaches, a fun three-mile boardwalk and proximity to Atlantic City are notable draws.

But living there is going to cost you. Taxes are notoriously high all over Jersey, and housing is expensive. The median home value in Ocean City is a hefty $554,700, compared with $327,100 for the state and $176,700 for the U.S. Plus, you have to budget extra for insurance to protect against possible storm and flood damage. Note, too, that Ocean City is a dry town, but you don't have to travel far to buy your booze.

Cost of living for retirees: not available

Share of population 65+: 17.6%

New Mexico's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $348,002

Sunny Santa Fe would be nice for your retirement. The city is close to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which provide a great site for hiking and biking for the majority of the year. In winter, ski slopes are just 35 minutes or less away. And indoor entertainment abounds, with 250 art galleries, 12 museums and a downtown full of shops and restaurants.

Affordability may be the area's dark cloud. Overall, the Land of Enchantment has a cost of living that's slightly above average, which contributed to making New Mexico one of our worst states for retirement . Specifically in Santa Fe, the median home value is $282,400, much higher than the state's median of $160,000 and the nation's median of $176,700. Retirees might not even get much of a break on taxes--Social Security benefits are subject to state tax, though you may be able to include that income in the retirement-income tax exemption of up to $8,000 per person, if you qualify.

Cost of living for retirees: 5.6% above U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 5.9%

New York's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $413,597

Home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, the city is a good retirement choice for lifelong learners. The former institution offers people age 60 and older discounted rates of $131 per credit for auditing classes. Breaking down regular tuition rates, classes typically cost more than $1,200 per credit hour. The latter has a partnership with Longview, a local assisted-living community that gives residents access to education, health-related assessments, recreational activities and more. Ithaca is also the home base for Tompkins County's Lifelong program, which seeks to foster an age-friendly community, offering classes, social activities, a travel program and other opportunities.

A couple of downsides: high costs and low winter temperatures. Living costs are relatively affordable for the Empire State, but they still sneak above the national average. For example, the median home value in Ithaca is $193,700--far less than the $288,200 for New York State, but more than the $176,700 for the U.S.

Cost of living for retirees: 0.2% above U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 16.3%

North Carolina's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $380,474

The University of North Carolina has a small campus in Asheville of about 3,900 students, and it offers big benefits to local retirees . The school's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute gives seniors a chance to exercise their minds with more than 300 courses a year. You can even give the program a trial run while you're still working through its Creative Retirement Exploration Weekend.

Off campus, Asheville retirees can enjoy the city's world-class symphony, an active local arts scene and plenty of breweries and restaurants. But all the amenities come at a relatively high price. While local living costs are just slightly above the national average, the median home value is $196,300; for the entire Tar Heel State, the median is just $153,600.

Cost of living for retirees: 0.8% above U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 15.4%

North Dakota's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $372,433

The capital of the Peace Garden State offers a strong economy that allows your retirement to bloom. Especially if you're considering an encore career, Bismarck is a good choice. It boasts employment opportunities for older adults, particularly in the service sector. For this reason, as well as the robust presence of quality health care, the Milken Institute ranks the city the fourth best small metro area in the country for successful aging.

If you're hoping for a more leisurely retirement, there are a number of biking and hiking trails and parks around the city, as well as on the banks of the Missouri River. You can also enjoy cruising, boating, kayaking and canoeing the river during warmer months. Living costs are on par with the national averages but pricier than most of the rest of the state. The median home value in Bismarck is $163,900, while the rest of the state sports a $132,400 median. A one-bedroom occupancy in a local assisted-living facility costs a median $41,010 a year, compared with $43,200 for the U.S. and $38,865 for North Dakota, according to Genworth.

Cost of living for retirees: 9.4% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 8.6%

Ohio's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $391,585

The biggest city in the Buckeye State comes with some of the smallest costs. In fact, it's one of the most affordable big cities in the U.S. From groceries to health care, expenses for retirees fall below average across the board, with housing-related costs being particularly low. The median home value in Columbus is just $130,700, compared with the national median of $176,700. A private room in a nursing home goes for a median $75,920 a year--much more affordable than the state's median of $85,775 annually and the nationwide median of $91,250, according to Genworth.

Affordability doesn't equate to lack of activities. Home to the Ohio State University, locals can enjoy the co-ed culture, including big sporting events, concerts and cultural diversions. It also offers Program 60, which invites Ohio residents age 60 and older to take university courses free. Off campus, the downtown area has a lively scene with an eclectic mix of shops, galleries and restaurants.

Cost of living for retirees: 11.6% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 12.5%

Oklahoma's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $379,464

Tulsa is a very affordable big city . With a population nearing 400,000, it's the second largest city in the Sooner State, behind Oklahoma City. But the living costs are small; for retirees, bills for everything from groceries to health care fall below average. Housing-related costs for retirees are particularly affordable, at 34.9% below average. The median home value is $122,200, well below the nation's median of $176,700. A private room in a nursing home costs a median $64,788 a year, compared with a median annual $91,250 for the U.S., according to Genworth.

The area also offers plenty of amenities. For active retirees, there are 23 public golf courses, 135 tennis courts, 50 miles of biking and running trails along the Tulsa River, and more hiking trails on Turkey Mountain. There are also lots of dining and shopping options around town, as well as galleries, museums and theaters, including the Tulsa Art Deco Museum, Woody Guthrie Center and the Tulsa Performing Arts Center downtown. High crime rates for the city are notable but tend to be concentrated in the north side; areas of midtown and downtown offer more safety.

Cost of living for retirees: 26.5% above U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 10.4%

Oregon's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $391,559

Portland is such a great place to retire that it rises above the high cost of living and the Beaver State's unfriendly tax situation . As an original participant (and sole U.S. representative) in the World Health Organization's Global Age-Friendly Cities Project, Portland is committed to satisfying the needs of its older residents. In the early stages of its action plan, the Age-Friendly Portland Advisory Council--with members from AARP Oregon, nonprofit Elders in Action and Portland State University's Institute on Aging--has held discussions about intergenerational activities and programs, ways for businesses to engage with older adults and developing age-friendly housing. For more information, visit www.agefriendlyportland.org .

And you can already enjoy the pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, such as the popular Pearl District, as well as the public transit system, which costs only $1 a ride for those age 65 and older. For natural diversions, you don't have to go far. In the city, you can stroll Forest Park or hike extinct volcano Mount Tabor. Mount Hood and the ocean are also nearby.

Cost of living for retirees: 0.3% above U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 13.8%

Pennsylvania's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $390,204

The Steel City is a good deal for retirees. Overall living costs are on par with the national average, and the median home value is just $89,400, compared with $164,700 for the state and $176,700 for the nation. Plus, the Keystone State offers some nice tax breaks for retirees--Social Security benefits and most other retirement income are not subject to state taxes.

Despite being light on costs, Pittsburgh is still heavy on attractions. (It's one of our picks for cheapest places where you'll want to retire .) You can enjoy the Andy Warhol Museum, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, a plethora of jazz joints and all the offerings of local universities, which include Duquesne, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. And if watching all the collegiate and professional sports isn't enough activity for you, you have plenty of opportunities nearby to golf, hunt, fish, bike, hike and boat.

Cost of living for retirees: 22.5% above U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 8.7%

Rhode Island's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $408,360

The biggest city in the smallest state, Providence (population: about 179,000) offers all the cultural and culinary options you'd want from a metropolis, with a neighborly vibe. Chef Mario Batali dubbed the local Federal Hill neighborhood one of the best Little Italys in the U.S. You can also enjoy a variety of other cuisines, including plenty of fresh seafood.

The local colleges, including Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, imbue the area with intellectual and creative stimulation. And Water Place Park, the centerpiece of Providence's revitalized downtown, is a four-acre urban park where you can hop on a riverboat or into a gondola to cruise the scene.

Cost of living for retirees: 3.5% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 15.1%

South Carolina's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $381,681

Myrtle Beach is a great setting for the classic retirement dream of endless rounds of golf, broken up only by lounging on the beach. Tee off from any of about 100 championship golf courses in the area. And enjoy 60 miles of beach, where you can just lay out or opt to boat, fish, surf, kayak, scuba dive or partake in other water activities.

Life with all these amenities comes relatively cheap in Myrtle Beach. For example, housing-related costs for retirees typically come in 28.5% under the national average. By comparison, Hilton Head Island--another popular South Carolina retirement destination, where 28.8% of the population is age 65 and older--has housing-related costs 8.2% above average for retirees.

Cost of living for retirees: 5.8% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 10.9%

South Dakota's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $370,154

If you've never considered moving to South Dakota, perhaps you should. For one thing, it's really easy to avoid crowds there. The entire Mount Rushmore State is home to fewer than 900,000 people, or 10.7 people per square mile. (By comparison, New Jersey, the most densely populated state, holds 1,195.5 people per square mile.) But Sioux Falls is filled with advantages, including a booming economy, low unemployment and hospitals specializing in geriatric services. For all these reasons, plus the city's recreational activities (including regularly scheduled pickleball ), the Milken Institute dubbed Sioux Falls the best small metro area for successful aging.

And all that comes pretty cheap for retirees. Along with low overall living costs in Sioux Falls, the median home value is $152,200, compared with $176,700 for the U.S. (The median for the state at $132,400.) Plus, the state's tax picture is one of the best for retirees .

Cost of living for retirees: 6.0% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 14.7%

Tennessee's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $382,360

The Volunteer State is a good choice for most retiree budgets. On top of the friendly tax situation, most areas have below-average living costs across the board for retired residents. Chattanooga's housing-related costs for retirees are notably low, at 12.9% below average. The city's median home value is just $138,100, compared with $176,700 for the U.S. Single occupancy at an area assisted-living facility costs a median $41,400 a year; the national median is $43,200 a year.

The city's vibrant arts scene is a nice draw, with many galleries scattered throughout the Bluff View Art District, as well as the NorthShore and Southside districts. You can also enjoy a lot of quality music events, such as the nine-day Riverbend Festival and Three Sisters Bluegrass Festival, and you can take in theater performances year-round. For outdoor recreation, you can take an easy bike ride or stroll along the Tennessee River, or challenge yourself with area rock climbing, mountain biking, white-water rafting or hang gliding. Be aware of the high crime rates for the state and city. But also recognize that you can certainly find safe neighborhoods, such as Ryall Springs and West View--the safest neighborhoods in Chattanooga, according to www.neighborhoodscout.com .

Cost of living for retirees: 13.0% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 13.2%

Texas's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $393,414

With a population of less than 40,000, the small city of Sherman offers retirees big savings. Overall living costs are cheap , and housing-related costs for retirees are particularly affordable, at 24.8% below average. The median home value is $98,100 in Sherman proper and $79,100 in Denison (also part of the greater metro area)--well below the state's $128,900 median. Residents can save on taxes, as well: The Lone Star state levies no income tax.

In Sherman, you can enjoy boutique shopping, unique cafés and several community gatherings throughout the year, including an Earth Day festival and free "Shakespeare in the Grove" performances. Also explore the 12,000-acre Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, home to about 500 different wildlife species. And when you feel the urge for big-city stimulation, Dallas is about an hour's drive away.

Cost of living for retirees: 8.5% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 19.0%

Utah's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $376,742

St. George's low living expenses can help ease the sting of Utah's tax bite. Living costs in all categories--from groceries to health care--fall below the national average. And the city's affordability isn't limited to the retired population; it also ranks as one of our cheapest cities you'll want to live in regardless of age.

Outdoor-loving retirees can appreciate St. George's location just south of some state parks and conservation areas, west of Zion National Park, and north of the Grand Canyon. Athletes who are age 50 and older can even participate in the Huntsman World Senior Games, an annual competition hosted in St. George. Sports include archery, basketball, golf, softball, track and field, and much more. If that's not enough for risk-taking retirees, try your luck in Las Vegas, a two-hour drive away.

Cost of living for retirees: 19.4% above U.S. average*

Share of population 65+: 9.4%

Vermont's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $377,302

This small mountain city on the shores of Lake Champlain is a picturesque setting for tree-hugging retirees. Outdoor recreation is plentiful with miles of hiking and biking paths, nearby beaches where you can swim, kayak or paddleboard in the warmer months, and numerous skiing options in the area. An eco-friendly vibe permeates the town, from the businesses bolstering the city's economy, such as household-products maker Seventh Generation, to the local food movement feeding the neighborhood.

But being green isn't easy on your wallet. Taxes and living costs are high. The median home value is $216,800 in the Green Mountain State and $253,300 in Burlington. A private room in a metro area nursing home costs an annual median of $122,275, compared with $91,250 for the country. At least you can save money on academic pursuits; the University of Vermont will cover tuition costs for state residents age 65 and older who wish to take a class or more, even if it's for credit.

*Based on cost of living for retirees in Burlington-Chittenden County

Cost of living for retirees: 8.7% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 14.3%

Virginia 's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $388,548

Take a hike. Really. Retiring in Roanoke, between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, provides outdoorsy types with more than 600 miles of nearby trails. For the less actively inclined, you can still enjoy the views with a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Or sample tastes from the wide selection of local breweries and wineries.

Retiree living costs look just as good, falling below average in every category. Housing-related expenses for retired residents typically run 11.7% below the national average. Across all ages, the median home value in the city is $134,700, far less than the $244,600 median for the state.

Cost of living for retirees: 6.0% below U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 12.8%

Washington's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $392,810

Located about 300 miles east of Seattle, between the Cascade Mountains and Rocky Mountains, Spokane is a nice choice for retirees looking to retreat to nature. On top of all the hiking and biking afforded by the mountains, as well as the 37 miles of the downtown Centennial Trail, the area boasts 76 lakes and rivers for you to enjoy swimming, boating, fishing and more. There are also 33 golf courses, more than 20 wineries and many breweries and distilleries around the region.

Spokane also offers affordability. Although health care costs for retirees are 10.5% above the national average, housing-related costs are 13.4% below average. The median home value is $160,500 in the city; by comparison, Seattle's median home value is $433,800. Single occupancy in an assisted-living facility is typically about $48,000 a year in the Spokane metro area. That's more than the national median of $43,200 a year, but less than the $55,500 state median.

Cost of living for retirees: 0.9% above U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 8.1%

West Virginia 's tax rating for retirees: Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $389,905

West Virginia University offers a number of benefits to retirees in Morgantown. Residents 65 and up can take WVU courses at a discount. Or if you're 50 or older, you can join the local chapter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Membership gets you access to interest groups, trips, social gatherings and program classes, including local and international history, music, computers, yoga, and more. To be a full member for a year costs $100.

The school also helps boost local health care services with its many medical facilities, including the Eye Institute, Heart Institute and Ruby Memorial Hospital. The Milken Institute actually credits the area's large pool of doctors, orthopedic surgeons and excellent nurses for contributing to Morgantown's high ranking (15th) among small metro areas. Health care is also relatively affordable, at 2.1% below average for retirees.

Cost of living for retirees: 5.0% above U.S. average

Share of population 65+: 9.6%

Wisconsin's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $425,003

The Badger State capital and home to the University of Wisconsin, Madison has a strong economic base to support a thriving retirement. That's part of what makes it the best city for successful aging among 100 large metro areas, according to the Milken Institute. Other winning attributes: an abundance of quality health care, academic and other opportunities afforded by the university, and plenty of museums, libraries and recreational facilities.

The downside: Living costs are high for a midwestern city. Housing- and health-related costs for retirees are 10.8% and 12.3% above average, respectively.

Cost of living for retirees: not available

Share of population 65+: 13.5%

Wyoming's tax rating for retirees: Most Tax-Friendly

Lifetime health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $395,273

Loner types should love the Cowboy State. It has a population of fewer than 585,000--that's just six people per square mile. (By comparison, the country's smallest state in size, Rhode Island, hosts more than a million people, with more than 1,000 people per square mile.) Even the capital city is relatively small, with fewer than 63,000 residents.

The lack of crowds doesn't leave you a lack of activities. You have plenty of outdoor diversions, such as miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding; fishing and boating; and birding and other wildlife viewing. Train aficionados can enjoy the area's railroad history and displays of locomotives, including the world's largest steam engine (also retired). Another big local attraction: Every summer since 1897, Cheyenne hosts the world's largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration, Frontier Days, now a 10-day event.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Other Topics

Retirement

Latest Personal Finance Videos

    #TradeTalks: The New Normal of Travel and Trends on the Ground $VAC

    Marriott Vacation Club Global VP of Corporate Affairs Ed Kinney joins Jill Malandrino Nasdaq #TradeTalks to discuss the new normal of travel and trends on the ground. $VAC

    1 day ago