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Studies Show These Are the Worst and Best States for Your Retirement

Esther Trattner
Studies Show These Are the Worst and Best States for Your Retirement

If you rule out those dirt-cheap international destinations for your retirement, you're still left with 50 states to pick from. Do you want to go someplace exciting but expensive? Or to a more affordable laid-back location?

Each year, several studies roll out naming the best and worst states for retirement, and often they look for very different. So how do you know which state really is the best? Or the pits? This is where we come in.

We've taken three of these annual studies and have averaged the rankings into one overarching list — sort of the best of the best and worst of the worst states for retirement. We count down from worst to first.

OUR METHODOLOGY: We added each state's retirement ranking from Bankrate, WalletHub and Kiplinger to create scores out of a possible 150. The lower the score, the higher the state ranks as a good retirement spot.

50. Maryland

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A December morning, Baltimore, Maryland

Score: 137

Maryland is steeped in history and culture; it offers great golfing, mountains, beaches; and you're never far from a major population center. So why is it the worst place for your retirement?

First, your scenic drive to the beach might be ruined by some of the most congested roads in the country, or a surprise tornado, or a winter storm blasting in off the Atlantic.

As a retirement destination, both Bankrate and Kiplinger rank Maryland the No. 48 state, and WalletHub ranks it No. 41 — adding up to our high score of 137 out of a possible 150.

You could find your retirement savings demolished by the state's high cost of living (17% above average), its taxes on IRAs, and its above-average health care costs. Asked about our last-place ranking, Maryland's governor didn't necessarily disagree.

49. New York

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Expensive homes in the Big Apple

Score: 136

The Big Apple is glitzy, but you might enjoy settling in a charming suburb far north of New York City, near mountains, lakes and wineries. If you can afford it, that is.

New York state is 22% above the average cost of living nationwide, Kiplinger says — and that's cheap compared to Brooklyn (82% above the norm) and Manhattan (a staggering 138.6% above).

Bankrate ranks the Empire State No. 50 for affordability and No. 49 for taxes. And here's another reason to stay away in retirement: Nursing home costs throughout New York are among the highest in the country, according to Seniorliving.org.

New York doesn't tax Social Security, and up to $20,000 in retirement income can be excluded from the state's income tax. But the tax breaks for retirees probably won't be enough to lighten the financial burden of living here.

48. New Mexico

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Balloons over the Rio Grande, New Mexico

Score: 132

New Mexico is packed full of culture, zany local festivals and amazing food. Its rugged beauty will tug at your heartstrings to stay a while longer — but it might be best just to visit.

Social Security, retirement account distributions and pension payouts are all taxed by the state. While health care costs are in the bottom 20% nationally, health care outcomes also are in the lowest part of the stack.

The state's poverty rate among seniors is the third highest in the nation, at 11.9%, Kiplinger says. And maybe Breaking Bad was onto something: New Mexico is the worst state for crime, says Bankrate.

Take it from a local on Reddit who moved from Albuquerque to New Mexico's East Mountains: “It’s really beautiful out here, but it’s heartbreaking how very poor this state is.”

47. Louisiana

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Watch out for the wildlife! Avery island, Louisiana

Score: 131

The people in Louisiana are lovely, the food scene is fantastic, the music is amazing, and the natural surroundings are awe-inspiring. With a cost of living 10% below the national average, you might be tempted to move on in.

Resist the urge.

While you won’t get frostbite here, you might just melt in the crushing humidity. And forget using Louisiana's famously cheap electricity to run your A/C, because electricity costs are going up and could rise 40% over the next decade.

Sales taxes can be as high as 11.45%, the state's murder rate is the worst in the nation, and Louisiana scores low for health care quality. And don't forget the hurricanes.

Better tell Louisiana, "Later, alligator." (The state has those, too.)

46. Rhode Island

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Sunset at Narragansett Beach, Rhode Island

Score: 127

The Ocean State has more than 100 beaches and all the seafood and nightlife you could want in your retirement. Rhode Island also scores high for safety and culture.

But move to this small state and you can expect to be looking at big price tags, because the cost of living is a stiff 22% above the U.S. average, Kiplinger says.

Thanks to government bumbling, the state also has some of the highest electricity prices, worst road infrastructure and steepest taxes in the nation. Plus, medical costs can be downright painful.

One former resident calls Rhode Island's living costs "insane" in a Reddit post, adds that "despite all the negatives, the state just oozes charm" — and then closes with: "I'd never, ever move back."

45. New Jersey

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Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey

Score: 125

It sounds like New Jersey's got everything you’d want for your retirement: beaches; greenery (it is the Garden State, after all!); great shopping and restaurants; casinos and golf courses; and your pick of small towns, suburbs or cities to settle in.

The main problem for retirees is that New Jersey is so expensive. It has the fifth-highest cost of living in the nation, and health care costs are exorbitant. Despite that, health care access is uneven and health care outcomes are not great.

Homeowners pay America's highest property taxes and then have to contend with terrible traffic, serious urban crowding, harsh winters and the worst fiscal outlook in the nation.

As one New Jerseyan put it on Reddit: “The towns are cute and there’s more nature than you can shake a stick at — but I can’t afford to retire here.”

44. Connecticut

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Fishing in Connecticut

Score: 119

Folks appreciate Connecticut for its small-town charm and its gorgeous displays of autumn leaves. But as one resident said recently on Reddit: “There's a lot to love. Sadly the future looks awful.”

This New England state has been struggling with huge budget deficits, which have resulted in cuts to government services and Medicaid.

WalletHub says Connecticut is the nation's third worst state for affordability, and Bankrate ranks it No. 44 for taxes. Seniors are taxed on their Social Security and other income, says Kiplinger, and residents pay the second-highest real estate taxes in the U.S.

The economic negatives simply outweigh the positives for many. Younger generations and families are moving away from Connecticut in search of a better quality of life.

43. West Virginia

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Historic buildings in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia

Score: 118

West Virginia offers endless active outdoor pursuits, natural mineral springs and spas — and some of the lowest living costs and health care costs in the U.S.

The trade-off comes at tax time. Social Security income gets taxed along with retirement income above $8,000 per year.

Plus, while health care is affordable, West Virginia has some of the worst patient outcomes nationally. WalletHub ranks it the No. 49 state for health care, and Bankrate puts it at the very bottom for the overall well-being of seniors.

Even sadder, the state’s dying coal industry and limited business opportunities mean entire towns and public infrastructure are literally crumbling into dust across the Mountain State.

42. Illinois

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There's so much green, even in Chicago

Score: 115

Chicago is Illinois’ cultural hotspot, but the state also has peaceful suburbs, a wine trail and beautiful lakes and cottages just right for retirees seeking to unwind.

The state doesn’t tax Social Security, 401(k)s or IRAs, and it's fairly affordable. Living costs are 4% below the national average, Kiplinger says.

So why is the Prairie State among the worst? Property taxes are nearly triple what you'd pay in next-door Indiana for a home of the same size. State and local sales taxes add as much as 11% to the cost of a purchase.

State budget issues have left Illinois with some of the worst roads in the country — and if the notoriously wacky local drivers don’t kill you, the freezing, monthslong winter might just finish the job.

41. California

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Beach at Redwood National Park, California

Score: 115

Spending your retirement days exploring California’s beaches, vineyards and cities sounds nice — if you can afford it.

For starters, the cost of living is a whopping 52% above the national average. California also taxes all retirement income outside of Social Security, and it's one of only two states (the other is New Jersey) that even tax contributions made to health savings accounts.

Meanwhile, housing prices are astronomical: The statewide median home price topped $600,000 for the first time ever in May 2018, the California Association of Realtors reported.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a January 2019 survey by Edelman Intelligence found that 53% of California residents are thinking about leaving the state to escape the high costs.

40. Kentucky

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That grass will have you crying your eyes out in Kentucky

Score: 114

Kentucky is home to free-flowing bourbon and the spectacular Red River Gorge, and the state offers the annual pageantry and pulse-quickening excitement of the Kentucky Derby.

The cost of living here is 14% below average, and Social Security benefits and up to $41,110 of retirement income aren’t taxed. But the good news ends there.

All that pretty bluegrass gives off so much pollen that Kentucky is known as the allergy capital of the U.S. It’s also a runner-up for first prize in the category of "crushing humidity.”

Kentucky gets low marks for health care quality, and the government says while prices for Obamacare health insurance plans fell nationwide for 2019, premiums jumped 9% in Kentucky.

39. Vermont

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Pretty Montpelier, Vermont

Score: 113

The small northeastern state famous for its amazing autumn colors, fantastic farmers markets and spectacular skiing also has an infamous mud season, which will destroy your soul — and your car.

Vermont makes this list for reasons including the sky-high cost of living here. WalletHub found it's America's least affordable state, and Kiplinger says living costs are 12% above the national average.

Vermont also levies some of the nation's harshest taxes on retirees. You’ll be taxed on Social Security benefits and most other retirement income if your income is above $45,000 as a single filer or more than $60,000 as a couple.

If the prices and the taxes in Vermont make you sick, the plus side is that you can get excellent health care. Bankrate ranks the state No. 2 for health care quality.

38. Arkansas

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Buffalo River, Arkansas

Score: 113

Arkansas’ parks, lakes and warm summers might keep you active in your retirement — if the mosquitoes don’t devour you first!

On the plus side, Arkansas is one of the states with the lowest living costs in the U.S. And, the typical price paid for an existing single-family home is below $150,000.

Social Security isn’t taxed and $6,000 of other retirement income also is tax-exempt. But Kiplinger notes that more than 10% of Arkansas seniors live in poverty.

And while health care can be inexpensive in Arkansas, Bankrate says the state is America's worst for health care quality. WalletHub ranks it No. 49 for the overall quality of life of seniors.

37. Oregon

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Portland, Oregon

Score: 106

With a spectacular Pacific coastline, more than 500 local wineries and breweries, and fresh produce at your fingertips, Oregon offers a healthy and outdoorsy retirement lifestyle.

But the cost of living is 18% above the U.S. average, Kiplinger says. In popular Portland, the median selling price for an existing single-family home at the end of 2018 was a steep $389,000, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Think you'd rather rent? A report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition found people earning Oregon's average full-time wage can’t afford a one-bedroom apartment in the state.

And despite a $1.9 billion injection of federal funds into Oregon's public health system in 2012, the state is still struggling to lower patients costs and provide better care. Health care quality in Oregon is the ninth worst in the country, Bankrate says.

36. Oklahoma

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Downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Score: 99

Imagine spectacular sunsets across wide open skies, warm weather, and the simple pleasures of chicken-fried steak and college football on Saturdays. Retiring in Oklahoma doesn’t sound so bad.

The state also has a low cost of living, no tax on Social Security, and it allows you to exclude up to $10,000 of other retirement income from the state's income tax.

The trade-off is that both Bankrate and Kiplinger put the state near the bottom for retiree health care. Kiplinger says smoking and physical inactivity are widespread among Oklahoma seniors, and that quality nursing homes are in short supply.

To top it off, Oklahoma has some of the highest tornado odds per square mile in the U.S. In fact, one study found central Oklahoma has the nation's highest probability of twisters. If you plan to buy retirement real estate here, you'll need good insurance.

35. Alaska

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It's cold out here in Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Score: 99

With no state sales or income tax and beautiful glacier views, Alaska packs plenty of retirement appeal — but the long, dark winter days and ravenous summer mosquitoes take some getting used to.

Bankrate ranks Alaska in last place for weather and No. 49 for crime. The state's violent crime rate jumped 34% and the rate of property crime grew 22% from 2013 to 2017, Alaska's Department of Public Safety reported.

Also, you'll pay more for most items if you retire to Alaska, because they'll need to be transported up north. Kiplinger says the cost of living in Alaska is 32% above the U.S. average.

Locals have this advice for surving in Alaska: Buy the cheap, fresh Alaskan fish — and get some long johns. You’ll need ‘em. Along with a lot of money in the bank.

34. Nevada

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Nevada offers retirees plenty of diversions.

Score: 94

Nevada is the place to be for entertainment in retirement. Reno and Las Vegas offer gambling and world-class shows (hello, celebrity residencies!), so you'll never get bored.

Also, the state is very tax-friendly for retirees, as no form of retirement income — including Social Security, 401(k)s and pensions — is taxable at the state level. In fact, there's no state income tax whatsoever.

Despite the low taxes, warm climate and entertainment options, Nevada still has its drawbacks. Bankrate rates it No. 48 out of the 50 states for overall resident wellness.

Plus, the cost of living is higher than in other states. Real estate prices have been rising as people flock here to get away from the sky-high home prices in California.

33. Indiana

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Indiana cities, such as Indianapolis, can be surprisingly affordable.

Score: 94

While costs can be low in Indiana, it may not be the best place for retirees looking for cultural immersion. Bankrate rates it No. 41 for culture and 46th for resident wellness.

That said, the Hoosier State isn’t all bad. Some of its cities are very affordable, and Social Security benefits are exempt from state income tax.

You also find natural scenery throughout the state, particularly in the area around Fort Wayne.

If you’re a basketball fanatic, Indiana is a great place to retire: The state has produced the most professional basketball players per capita in the U.S., according to MentalFloss, and Indianans loves a good game of hoops.

32. Washington

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Washington ranks very high for quality of life.

Score: 90

The Evergreen State truly lives up to its name, with natural parks, mountain ranges and hiking trails throughout. It’s no wonder Washington ranks very high for quality of life.

On top of the outdoorsy activities, retirees also benefit from access to great health care and no taxes on Social Security benefits.

Washington’s fantastic lifestyle comes at a cost, however: It's one of the most expensive states to live in.

But if you’ve got a good nest egg, want all four seasons, and love the outdoors, Washington may be the perfect place for you. Oh, and did we mention it has one of the best coffee scenes in the world?

31. Mississippi

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Mississippi greets retirees with warm weather, a very low cost of living, and an incredibly tax-friendly state.

Score: 82

Mississippi is the birthplace of many famous Americans, including Oprah Winfrey and Elvis Presley. It's also a major agricultural state, thanks in large part to great year-round weather.

In Mississippi, they raise cotton, chickens, and the beautiful Magnolia flowers that give the state its nickname as the Magnolia State.

For anyone thinking of retiring to Mississippi, you’ll be greeted by warm weather, a very low cost of living, and an incredibly tax-friendly state.

However, you will have to find your own fun, since Mississippi ranks nearly last for culture and quality of life. You’ll also have to make sure your health insurance has a good network of doctors, because Mississippi ranks last for health care, according to WalletHub.

30. Massachusetts

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Massachusetts is perfect for history buffs.

Score: 82

If you’re willing to cheer for Boston no matter the sport, and if you're into American history, Massachusetts could be a perfect retirement location.

While the state has a fairly high cost of living, Massachusetts is well-known for its culture, safe communities and access to excellent health care.

When retiring to Massachusetts, make sure you’re prepared for the winters — because they can get cold. But whenever the temperatures drop below freezing, you can warm yourself up with a warm bowl of Boston clam chowder, a local delicacy.

Just don’t ask for it to be made with tomatoes — that’s a Manhattan clam chowder. And if there’s one thing residents of the Bay State can’t stand, it’s Manhattan clam chowder.

29. Wisconsin

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Wisconsin is one of the top states for wellness and overall quality of life.

Score: 79

Famous for its cheese, and as the setting for That 70’s Show, Happy Days and other sitcoms, Wisconsin is one of the top states for wellness and overall quality of life.

However, Wisconsin also has some of the coldest winters in the country.

Named the Badger State after the lead miners who carved homes in the state’s mountainous rock, Wisconsin is mixed in terms of tax-friendliness. It taxes retirement income accounts such as 401(k)s but not Social Security or government pensions.

The state also has some of the lowest average household incomes in the nation. But if you’ve got a good nest egg and don’t mind the winters, Wisconsin’s agricultural history, football fanaticism and festival culture will give you plenty to do and see in retirement.

28. Kansas

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Kansas is a great spot for a countryside retirement.

Score: 79

While often passed over in retirement conversations for warmer Florida or areas of the country more steeped in history, Kansas holds many advantages for retirees.

Kiplinger notes that both health care costs and overall living costs are lower, helping to bridge the gap of slightly higher taxes.

If you’re looking for a countryside retirement, the Sunflower State is the perfect place. But note that the best entertainment, food and health care are concentrated in the cities, namely the Kansas City metro area that's shared with neighboring Missouri.

While the rest of the state has natural beauty — 88% of Kansas is agricultural land, and over 500 caves have been discovered so far — you'll want to stay close to the cities if you’re looking for amenities in your Kansas retirement.

27. Ohio

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Ohio is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in Cleveland.

Score: 74

If you want to spend your retirement touring halls of fame, consider Ohio, where both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame are located.

The state also can boast many “firsts.” It's known as the original home of the hot dog, and as the birthplace of the Wright brothers, who built the first airplane. Plus, Ohio is where no less than seven U.S. presidents were born.

A low cost of living, average tax burdens and a large senior population all make Ohio an attractive place for retirees.

The Buckeye State also is a place of natural diversity, offering lakefront, countryside hills, the Appalachian mountains and even a wine country.

26. South Carolina

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South Carolina has wonderful beaches.

Score: 71

South Carolina boasts gorgeous beaches, good golfing, lovely countryside drives, and a state steeped in Southern history.

Retirees benefit from low property taxes, no taxes on their Social Security benefits, and no inheritance or estate taxes at the state level. There are many attractions to keep you entertained, from iconic historic sites to state-licensed fortune tellers.

But the Palmetto State has a few drawbacks for retirees, namely in health care and in the overall quality of life.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t retire in South Carolina, but make sure you do your research on how to get the care you need, because it may not be readily available or cheap.

25. Montana

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Montana balances natural beauty in the country with high-quality services in its cities.

Score: 71

Overlook Montana at your own peril. The state balances natural beauty out in the country with high-quality services in its cities.

While the winters can be brutal, Montanans know how to handle it, and the cities have good infrastructure. The Treasure State also boasts one of the highest population percentages over the age of 65, so retirees will feel right at home.

If you love natural wonders, Montana may be the perfect place for you. From bird watching to bear watching in multiple national parks, you can live your outdoor fantasy life.

Just be aware of the tax situation. Kiplinger warns that the state is not very tax-friendly and doesn't give retirees many tax breaks.

24. Minnesota

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You'll find a variety of things to do in Minnesota.

Score: 71

Craft beers, hipster vibes and good health care await those who retire to Minnesota. Though things can get chilly in the North Star State (frigid International Falls is known as "the nation's icebox," after all), you'll find a variety of festivals and fairs all year round.

The food culture is unique, to say the least: They say there’s nothing a Minnesotan isn’t willing to deep-fry.

While the state has a high cost of living, it’s ranked No. 1 for quality of life and health care by WalletHub.

But it's not known as a tax-friendly state. With all forms of income subject to the state's income tax, make sure you have enough in your nest egg to shoulder that burden.

23. Georgia

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Savannah offers retirees in Georgia a laid-back alternative to Atlanta.

Score: 70

Though Georgia covers over 59,000 square miles, most of its population is concentrated in the northern part of the state, around Atlanta.

Residents in that densely populated and often congested area have city living, major league sports, a major international airport, sedate rural areas and the ocean all within reach.

But if metro Atlanta is too much for you, laid-back and historic Savannah offers a variety of entertainment, food and culture options.

The Peach State has many things to offer retirees, without the high costs you'd pay in the Western and Northeastern coastal states. But Georgia also can lack cultural amenities outside of its cities, so plan your retirement accordingly.

22. Arizona

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Arizona can be beautiful but hot. So hot.

Score: 70

The Grand Canyon State is a mixed bag for retirees. It's dry and hot, and summers can be unbearable, with temperatures regularly reaching over 105 degrees.

WalletHub ranks Arizona 12th for health care, which is one of the best showings among the warm-weather states.

On the flip side, taxes can be complicated. Living in one of the state's larger cities can increase your tax burden, but if you move to a lower-tax place you may lose out on culture and entertainment.

That said, there’s a lot to love about Arizona. The state has diverse terrains, so hiking enthusiasts will enjoy variety. Adventures in Las Vegas and Mexico are close by, and real estate is more affordable than in many other states.

21. Alabama

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Alabama is one of the most affordable states in the country.

Score: 69

Alabama is known for its Franco-Caribbean architecture, hot summers, Southern homestyle cooking and beaches. It’s one of the most affordable states in the country and is tax-friendly toward retirees, but those things come with trade-offs.

The overall quality of life is lower than in other states, so is health care quality, and crime rates are much higher.

If you’re thinking of retiring to Alabama, make sure you do your research on health care and on unsafe areas to avoid.

When you understand the potential drawbacks, the Yellowhammer State can offer you beaches, golf and warm weather, all at a lower cost than what you’d pay in other states, like Florida.

20. Maine

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Maine is a state of natural beauty.

Score: 67

If you love charming fishing towns and beautiful scenery, and you don’t mind cold winters, Maine might be the perfect retirement destination.

The Pine Tree State mixes country pastures, seaside towns, a low cost of living, and some of the safest communities in the country.

Whether you're into great food or art, or if you just want an affordable retirement with no taxes on Social Security benefits, Maine has what you're looking for. The median age here is one of the highest in the U.S., so retirees will have lots of opportunities to make friends.

Furthermore, if you’re someone who wants to give back in retirement, Maine has already thought of that. The VolunteerMain.org site lists every major volunteering opportunity in the state.

19. Michigan

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Detroit can be frigid during the winter.

Score: 65

Michigan is one of the best bargains in the country — the median selling price for homes here is about $150,000, says Zillow — but to get that benefit you'll have to brave the cold winters.

The warmer months can be wonderful. Michigan is known for its natural beauty, and it has beaches along three of the five Great Lakes, living up to its nickname as the Great Lakes State.

If you’re into football and cars, Michigan is one of the top places to live. The college football scene is strong, with major teams like Michigan State and the University of Michigan drawing huge crowds no matter how cold game day can be.

Detroit, the automaking Motor City, is going through a 21st century renaissance, which is ushering in new foodie and entertainment options.

18. Tennessee

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Tennessee is the perfect retirement state for music fans.

Score: 63

If you’re a music fan, there’s no more affordable place to retire than Tennessee.

The Volunteer State boasts two cities that helped redefine the music industry. Nashville is the center of the country music universe, and Memphis is home not only to bluesy Beale Street but also to Graceland, Elvis Presley’s iconic estate.

The state also gives us Tennessee barbecue, a dry-rub style that will tickle any foodie’s taste buds. Plus, it's ranked seventh best for affordability by WalletHub.

Tennessee has a relatively high crime rate, particularly in its cities, and it doesn’t rank well for overall quality of life. But if you want to retire in a place where you’ll get all four seasons including warm Southern summers, Tennessee could be a great fit for you.

17. Texas

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Texas offers thriving cities and peaceful countryside.

Score: 61

Texas has just about everything a retiree would want: no state income tax, good weather, affordability — and amazing chili.

You might retire in bustling Houston, booming Dallas, funky and foodie-friendly Austin, or just find a quiet place to settle in the Texas countryside.

Since it’s warm most of the time in the Lone Star State, the season for fairs runs practically year-round, so retirees can find plenty to do. The annual Texas State Fair, held in Dallas every fall, is legendary.

Just do some health care homework, because both Bankrate and WalletHub caution that health care isn’t necessarily the best in Texas. There’s also a high poverty rate among seniors, so if you’re choosing Texas then be sure you’re financially set.

16. North Carolina

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North Carolina has both mountains and beaches.

Score: 56

North Carolina is one of the few places where you can visit rugged mountains and sandy beaches in the same day.

With its hot and humid summers and mild-to-chilly winters, the Tar Heel State has the perfect climate for enjoying its charming towns and waterfronts, NASCAR racing and amazing barbecue any time of the year.

Health care costs can be high, but Social Security benefits are not taxed, and property taxes are comparatively low.

The cost of living in North Carolina is 5% below the national average, Kiplinger says, and the other studies put the state in the top 20 for affordability.

15. Nebraska

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Nebraska is crisscrossed with hiking trails.

Score: 56

Forget beaches and mountains: The Cornhusker State has miles upon miles of walking and biking trails, 6,500 acres of parks and 1,475 acres of wild nature to keep retirees active.

Lincoln offers shopping, dining and the arts in its Haymarket District. Meanwhile, Omaha is home to a fantastic local beer and football culture, a great music scene, and some of the best steak you’ll ever taste.

Though Kiplinger calls Nebraska one of the nation's least tax-friendly states for retirees, it points out that the state also has a cost of living that's 12% below the U.S. average and below-average health care costs. You can stretch your retirement savings here.

Here's more peace of mind for seniors: Bankrate ranks Nebraska the No. 12 state for health care quality, and WalletHub puts it in eighth place for overall health care.

14. Pennsylvania

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Philadelphia is a great place for senior history buffs.

Score: 54

Pennsylvania has a livable four-season climate with hot and humid summers in the southeast, a pleasant fall and a genuine winter.

Offering pretty natural surroundings, easy access to beaches and lakes, plus busy cities, Pennsylvania will never bore you.

Pittsburgh has a relatively low cost of living and a ton of history, entertainment and amenities. Philadelphia offers top-notch health care, good public transportation, a major international airport and a highly walkable layout.

Retirees will love the Keystone State's low 6% sales tax and lack of taxes on retirement income and medications. WalletHub ranks it No. 5 out of the 50 states for overall quality of life.

13. Hawaii

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Hawaii is beautiful, but expensive.

Score: 53

Hawaii is a paradise for retirees, offering gorgeous scenery, a laid-back lifestyle and amazing food.

But because Hawaii is so far from everything, basic household items, clothing and groceries must be flown in and often cost twice as much as on the mainland. Hawaiians also pay some of the highest gasoline prices in the U.S.

Kiplinger says the cost of living in the Aloha State is a staggering 87% above the national average — but if you can afford to live here, it's worth it.

Health care costs are surprisingly low; WalletHub says health care quality is second-best in the U.S.; and you won't find better weather in any other state, according to Bankrate.

12. Missouri

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Missouri features hot summers and cool winters.

Score: 50

With over 1,000 miles of gorgeous coastline encircling its lakes, highly ranked hospitals and a strong brewing and wine industry, Missouri has a lot to offer retirees.

You can enjoy laid-back, country living not far from the big-city amenities of St. Louis and Kansas City. Missouri's agreeable climate features hot summers, cool winters and more than 200 days of sunshine.

Bankrate says the cost of living in Missouri is among the lowest, and Kiplinger notes that Social Security isn't taxed and health care costs are below average.

Great communities with affordable houses for retirees include Blue Springs, with its many parks and an excellent health care center; and the college town of Springfield.

11. Delaware

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Delaware has low taxes -- and busy highways and bridges.

Score: 45

Seniors appreciate that Delaware has award-winning beaches and that it's tax-friendly. There's no sales tax, and this small state doesn't tax Social Security and exempts some investment and pension income.

The location in the midst of the East Coast's major population centers is a big plus — if you can put up with the perpetual potholes and construction on the Delaware stretch of Interstate 95.

The cost of living here is 11% above the national average, and housing prices can be high.

But health care costs are below average, Kiplinger says, and the state ranks sixth for health care quality, according to Bankrate.

10. North Dakota

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North Dakota offers hiking and camping opportunities.

Score: 43

North Dakota proves that you don’t need a beach to have a great retirement. Even with its cold winters, residents make the most of the state’s natural beauty, its low cost of living, and the many things to do here.

The bustling city of Bismarck sits on the Missouri River and offers great fishing, watersports and a vibrant arts scene downtown. Fargo has museums, galleries and shopping to keep you engaged.

Although retirement income is taxed, income taxes are low.

The cost of living is generally affordable, and the state gets high marks for health care and for providing a pleasant way of life. Bankrate says it's the No. 5 state for seniors' overall well-being.

9. Colorado

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Colorado's mountain terrain can help you stay fit in retirement.

Score: 38

Colorado really has it all. Mountains? Check. Breweries? Check. Big-city amenities and small-town charm? Check and check.

Add to this a fantastic quality of life, solid medical care and a few good tax breaks for seniors, and it’s no wonder so many retirees are settling here.

Although cities like Denver and Boulder can be expensive, there are many smaller towns that are far more affordable and provide the same access to the state’s natural wonders.

Kiplinger says health care costs are below average, and WalletHub ranks Colorado fourth in the country for health care quality and clinical care. The state has three nationally ranked hospitals, plus nine other high-performing medical centers.

8. Iowa

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Iowa's rivers, lakes and woodlands beckon retirees.

Score: 36

Iowa is more than just cornfields: The state is home to hills, rivers, lakes and woodlands just waiting for you to explore them.

Iowa's eclectic towns welcome you to enjoy bountiful farmers markets (NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids), local theater culture (at Englert Theater in Iowa City), savory treats (the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines) and much more.

Cedar Rapids also offers a vibrant arts scene and lots of outdoor activities, and rents and home prices are fairly low.

Iowa doesn't tax Social Security, and Kiplinger says the cost of living statewide is 12% below the U.S. average. Health care also is more affordable than in other states, and Bankrate and WalletHub put Iowa in the top 25% of states for health care quality.  

7. Wyoming

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Wyoming has lots of wide open spaces.

Score: 33

Wyoming is a breathtakingly beautiful and sparsely populated state that offers retirees plenty of outdoor activities and lots of elbow room.

Most of Yellowstone National Park is located within Wyoming, including the legendary Old Faithful geyser. The state's many other natural attractions include Grand Teton National Park and the Devils Tower National Monument.

Wyoming also beckons seniors with affordable living costs, low crime rates and reasonable taxes. Kiplinger calls it one of the most tax-friendly states, and Bankrate ranks it No. 1 for low taxes.

The state has no income tax, meaning it won't take a chunk of your Social Security or other retirement income. And, Wyoming's sales tax is just 4%.

6. Idaho

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There are lots of outdoor activities in Idaho, thanks to its mountainous geography.

Score: 27

Idaho’s got a whole lot more going for it than potatoes. Try a livable four-season climate, a low cost of living and tons of outdoor pursuits, thanks to mountainous geography.

Bankrate notes that Idaho is the fourth-safest state in the nation, while Kiplinger says the cost of living is 5% lower than the U.S. average.

Some of the state's most affordable places are also the loveliest. In Idaho Falls, rent for a one-bedroom apartment averages $600 a month, according to the cost-of-living website Numbeo. Twin Falls has comparable housing costs, and you can find as much peace and quiet or adventure as you want.

Retiree health care in Idaho is cheaper than average. And, as the cherry on top, Social Security benefits are not taxed here.

5. Virginia

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Virginia's mountains are magical.

Score: 25

Given Virginia's manageable four-season climate, the state's mountains and beaches are best enjoyed during the magical spring and autumn months.

If you’re into festivals, racing (horse or car, take your pick!), delicious down-home cooking and taste-testing wines from any of more than 230 local vineyards, then you might just enjoy settling here.

Tax benefits are a huge plus if you retire in Virginia. Retirees 65 or older are allowed to deduct up to $12,000 worth of income per person, and the state doesn't tax Social Security benefits. And, Bankrate notes that the crime rate is low.

Need to save more for retirement? Calculate how much you need to put away each month to reach your savings goal.

4. Utah

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Utah is a state of stunning natural attractions.

Score: 18

Thanks to Utah's magnificent mountain ranges, endless natural activities, and amazing local produce and foods, it’s no wonder that the state has one of the nation’s fastest-growing populations of all ages.

The Beehive State is home to 17 national parks, monuments and forests to keep you active, plus it boasts high-quality health care.

Having the nationally ranked University of Utah Hospital in town is one of the major benefits of living in Salt Lake City. The state capital also has an affordable cost of living, a walkable downtown and a reliable light-rail system.

It’s important to note that Social Security and other kinds of retirement income are taxed in Utah. But seniors can claim a tax credit of up to $450 per person, and property and sales taxes are fairly low.

3. New Hampshire

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New Hampshire provides a peaceful New England lifestyle at affordable prices.

Score: 17

Retire in the Granite State, and you’ll enjoy low taxes, great health care, gorgeous natural surroundings, peace and quiet, and plenty of ways to get the most out of life.

New Hampshire might just be the place if you’re looking for a peaceful New England lifestyle at a fraction of Boston's prices. In pretty Portsmouth, on the Atlantic, a one-bedroom apartment rents for an average $1,300 — about half what you'd pay in Bean Town.

With no sales tax, New Hampshire has the best deal on clothing, alcohol and tobacco in the Northeast. There isn't any state income tax either.

But while retirement income isn’t taxed, there is a 5% tax on dividends and interest that might snag retirees with investment income.

2. Florida

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Its warm weather and beatiful beaches have been drawing retirees to Florida for decades.

Score: 14

The Sunshine State has been a popular port of call for North American retirees for decades. And it’s no wonder. With so much waterfront and beach action, fantastic seafood, and tons of history and culture, what’s not to love about Florida?

Orlando remains one of the most affordable destinations for transplants of all ages.

But if you'd rather not deal with all the tourists drawn to Orlando's theme parks, other great places to settle include quiet and scenic Palm Coast on the Atlantic side, and the canal-filled fishing haven of Cape Coral near the Gulf Coast.

Florida also is essentially a tax haven for retirees: It's another of the states with no income tax, plus, there's no estate tax or inheritance tax, and no tax on Social Security or other retirement income.

1. South Dakota

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South Dakota offers natural beauty and man-made wonders, like Mount Rushmore.

Score: 4

Here it is, America's best retirement state hands down. South Dakota earned its remarkably low score out of a possible 150 because Bankrate and Kiplinger both rank the state No. 1 for retirees, and WalletHub puts it second, behind Florida.

What South Dakota lacks in year-round tanning weather, it makes up for with some of the best hunting, fishing, hiking and camping around. The small-town life is relaxed and perfect for retirees looking to settle somewhere quiet but active.

You’ll definitely find a home in your price range in affordable South Dakota. In Sioux Falls, which has ubiquitous natural beauty and a vibrant downtown, a one-bedroom in the center of town goes for $765 a month, on average.

Seniors will be happy to note that South Dakota doesn’t tax Social Security benefits or pensions, there’s no income tax or inheritance tax, and the state sales tax is a modest 4.5%.