A Complete Guide To Retiree-Friendly States

By Abigail T

This article was originally published on sportfoy

Growing old is exciting, but it does require a lot of planning. One of the things to consider when approaching retirement age is where which state we would want to live in. Are we fine with staying where we’ve always stayed, around family and friends? Or are there other more important and specific factors we are looking for? Some reasons for retirees to move are for better weather, healthcare, and lower living costs. If you’re weighing out the pros and cons of the various states you can retire in, you’ve come to the right place. Below we rank all 50 states beginning from highest to lowest living cost. All information is taken from the National Association of Realtors, Kiplinger, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Milken Institute.


At 87% above the US average, Hawaii is the state with the highest cost of living, even higher than California. According to Kiplinger, the average income in Hawaii for people aged 65 and up is over $71k a year.  

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Hawaii may be the place for you if you seek to retire in a tropical state. It has a population of of only 1.4 million, making living quite peaceful compared to the bigger states. The best city in the state to retire in is Maunawili, which is located in the island of O’ahu. Here, you can hike and enjoy water sports in addition to the beautiful views.


You would think the Sunshine State with its sandy beaches and health crazes would have the highest living cost, but it is actually only 52% above the US average. It is home to beautiful national parks and plenty of beaches, forests, but also a big city with 39.56 million as of 2018. Life here is still fast-paced.

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According to the US Census Bureau, California’s living cost is so high that 19% of its population is in poverty. It’s a big cost to be able to live in near-constant sunny weather all year round, so make sure you budget properly before moving.


Forbes suggests that if you’re moving to Massachusetts, Northampton is the city to live in. this state is teeming with history, being the location of the Boston Tea Party and where the Mayflower landed. Its living cost falls at 38% above the US average.

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Despite its historic past, this Bay State also has some cons to consider. It is not tax-friendly and healthcare costs are high. The weather can also be unfriendly at times, with biting cold East Coast winters that may be a dealbreaker for some.


If you’re looking for quiet little town vibe, Alaska may be the retirement state for you. With a population of just over 735,000 as of 2018, Alaska is also home to many seniors. According to Yahoo! Finance, Anchorage is the most recommended city in the state to live in.

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Though the cost of living is 32% above the US average, Alaska is tax-friendly for retirees, and healthcare is at more affordable costs. If you don’t mind the cold, you may wish to take advantage of this state.

New Jersey

According to the latest 2018 census, New Jersey is packed with 8.9 million people. If you’re looking for a good social scene, then Jersey’s Long Beach or Ocean County may be worth considering. Though crowded, its scenic routes make up for it.

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Jersey’s living cost is 27% above the US average. Property taxes and health care can be expensive, so these should be considered especially if you wish to save money. However, if you do move here, you can enjoy the beauty of the boardwalk and ocean views.


Kiplinger has cited that the seniors income in Connecticut is among some of the highest in the US. That being said, its cost of living is also still 24% higher than the US average.  However, you may be able to afford a life in Connecticut if you work a retirement job.

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Some cons to consider about the state is that it has the worst real estate taxes in the US. It is possible for residents to be taxed on their Social Security benefits, and even on their retirement income. The state also does not offer senior benefits.

New York

New York City is bustling. Everything is within walking distance, and even if it’s out of reach, there are plenty of delivery services readily available. New York has manageable living quarters if you’re fine with small apartments. These factors make the city a good option for retirees.

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Despite these conveniences, New York, both city and state, can be financially demanding for retirees who aren’t well-to-do. Its living cost is 22% higher than the US average, and it is not tax-friendly, with many of its seniors aged 65 and above in poverty.

Rhode Island

This state is full of history, being one of the 13 original US colonies. It is also home to beautiful nature and ocean views, but it is not at all secluded. With a population of just over 1 million, it is also situated near big cities and is never void of entertainment.

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However, Kiplinger has noted that Rhode Island isn’t tax-friendly for retirees. At 22% above the US average, its cost of living can be taxing. It is best to retire here if you have saved up enough money, or have budgeted enough to get by.


While living in Washington isn’t exactly cheap, their city of Vancouver may meet your budget. The state lacks an income tax, which may be Washington’s selling point for some. Its population of 7.1 million is also the sweet spot—not too quiet, not too crowded.

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Cost of living in Washington is 21% above the US average, which is much lower than the first few states on this list, but may still be considerably high for some. However, for households aged 65 and over, the average income is $55K, and this might make you change your mind.

New Hampshire

We’re getting to the lower percentages of cost of living. Living cost in the state of New Hampshire falls at 18% above the US average. While you may think this is still much too high, the state is tax-friendly and does not tax seniors on their retirement income.

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According to the United Health Foundation, New Hampshire is the fifth best state for senior health. If his is a priority for you, then the state may be the place for you. However, a word of warning, the weather gets pretty cold in the winters and humid in the summers.


There are many pros of living in Oregon, population 4 million. For one thing, it boasts many nature spots for you to enjoy. Another pro is that the healthcare cost is much lower than in other states, at 2.6% of the US average.

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The rain may not be a selling point for you, though, with it raining for eight out of twelve months of the year. Oregon is also not tax-friendly, and at 9.9%, the state income tax is one of the highest in the country. Senior income is also lower at just $45K.


If household income is your main consideration, then you will be happy in Maryland. The average income for households aged 65 and up is a whopping $70,874, making it the second highest in the country. Maryland is also located nearby Washington D.C.

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While the income is great, the income tax is greater. Taxes you will have to pay in Maryland include inheritance tax, estate tax, and tax on distributions from retirement accounts. These may set you back a considerable amount.


Health is essential in anyone’s life, but especially in seniors. Colorado comes in fourth in the ranking for senior health according to the United Health Foundation. The state’s senior inactivity and obesity rates are so low, it may just be a Centennial State.

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Some cons of living in Colorado include the competitiveness in buying a house, especially in cities like Denver. Colorado is also located quite high in altitude, which may take you a bit of adjusting. However, the weather is still very much nice there.


If you’re looking for natural landscapes covered in green, then look no further than Vermont. Aside from its gorgeous rivers, lakes, and views, it also ranks high in senior health care, according to the United Health Foundation.

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Although Vermont provides good healthcare for seniors, Kiplinger has also named the state one of the least tax-friendly. Its living cost is 12% over the US average, and can be difficult to manage for low-income senior households.


Some pros of retiring in Delaware includes that it doesn’t tax your Social Security benefits. People over 60 are also exempt to certain amounts of pension incomes and investment. This makes Delaware a good option for retirees.

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Delaware’s living cost is 11% higher than the US average, which may make it difficult for some seniors to afford unless they have sufficient savings. The population in Delaware was just under 1 million in 2018. The most recommended city to live in is Rehoboth Beach.


Income for seniors in Virginia is relatively high, which should enable retirees to be able to afford its living cost which is 7% above the US average. Healthcare is also not as expensive here as in other states. In terms of taxes, the state does not impose a tax on Social Security.

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If you’re the type to sightsee around big cities, Virginia is the place for you. It may not have cities as big as New York or Los Angeles, but there are other places in the state such as Richmond, Lexington, and Roanoke. The latter is said to be the best city to live in Virginia.


The United Health Foundation ranks healthcare in Utah the second in the country for seniors. This may be enough to get you to move here, but there are also other bonuses to living in this state. Utah is the place for adventure, with 43 state parks, five national parks, and five national forests.

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Despite these facilities, you may think twice about Utah when you hear about their taxes. The state taxes Social Security and isn’t very tax-friendly. As a result, they rank third lowest in senior poverty rate in the country. The living cost is just 4% above average, but the income level rests just at the US average, which will be a problem for retirees of low income.


More than just home to the notorious Las Vegas, the state of Nevada is also friendly when it comes to taxes. There is no state income tax, and the senior poverty rate falls at 8.4%, which is pretty low compared to the US average of 9.4%.

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Although you won’t get taxed for much, living in Nevada will still cost you 4% more than the US average living cost. You will also need to be prepared for extreme weather. As it is basically a desert, temperatures in Nevada can reach as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit.


Minnesota, population 5.5 million, is the state to be for those who are mainly concerned about health. They have been dubbed the “healthiest in the country for seniors” by the United Health Foundation. The renowned Mayo Clinic is also located in the city of Rochester.

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There really is a high price to pay for health, though. The state’s living cost is 4% more than the US average, but the average income is below the nation’s average. This may make it difficult for low-income senior households to navigate. Additionally, Minnesota imposes tax on Social Security and other retirement incomes.

South Dakota

Kiplinger has named South Dakota the most tax-friendly state. With a living cost that is 4% above the US average, this is one of the more affordable states for retirement. South Dakota is also home to the famed Mount Rushmore.

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The con of living in South Dakota is mostly weather-related. It can get extremely cold in the winter, with blizzards unavoidable. The state has a population of just over 880,000 according to the 2018 census, so if you’re looking for the hustle and bustle of the city, this isn’t really the state for you.


Home to the Glacier and Yellowstone national parks, Montana is one of the more scenic states. The weather may be a bit chilly, but the views make up for it. Montana is also the state with one of the highest population of 65+ citizens, according to Kiplinger.

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Don’t be easily sold by Montana’s natural charm. The state has been marked as not tax-friendly, with below average income levels in a place where living cost is still 3% above the national average.


Known for the Grand Canyon, sunshine, and an expanse of deserts, Arizona is the perfect state to retire for senior citizens who wish for warmer weather. Living in Arizona costs 3% more than the average US living cost.

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With a population of 6.7 million, Arizona is one of the more packed states. Despite its warm weather, it can get much too warm during the summer, reaching up to 107 degrees Fahrenheit.

North Dakota

North Dakota does tax retirees’ income, but its rate is relatively low, at 1.1 to 2.9%. the cost of living is also quite low, only 1% above the national average. For these reasons, Kiplinger rates this state tax-friendly for retirees. Additionally, it also features many beautiful nature spots.

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The population in North Dakota as of 2018 totalled to 760,777. This isn’t a very busy state, which is why it wouldn’t be a good fit for those looking for a more fast-paced city environment. According to Niche.com, Rugby, North Dakota is the best city to inhabit.


Florida is home to most of the country’s senior citizens. It is one of the most tax-friendly states in the nation, with very good benefits available for retirees. It doesn’t hurt that you also get a lot of sunshine here.

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Living in Florida has its cons in the form of the weather. It can reach dangerously high heat and humidity, which may pose a threat to older people. Florida is also a frequented by intense lightning and thunder storms as well as hurricanes.


This state does not impose tax on income. Its cost of living is the same as the average cost in the US. It is also named fifth in fiscal healthy by the Mercatus Center, which means this can be an affordable state for you to retire in.

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Wyoming is the state for you if you’re more of the outdoorsy type. The population is quite low, at just under 580,000 people. There are also no urban or metropolitan areas around, so if you’re looking for city life, Wyoming may not be your cup of tea.


Getting into more affordable territory, living in Maine costs 2% below the average US living cost. The state, which is famed for its seafood, also provides healthcare that costs below the nation’s average. If you’re a retiree living on your savings and retirement income, Maine may be the place for you.

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Most retirement income in Maine is taxable, but Social Security isn’t. Although living cost is cheap, income rate is also quite low. Maine’s retired residents are paid 25.2% below the average US income.


The city of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania was named the best US city to retire in by Forbes. Everything in the city is accessible by foot or bike, and there are also a good amount of citizens who are doctors in the city. Healthcare is also relatively inexpensive.

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Despite being the seemingly ideal place to retire, Pennsylvania as a state is fiscally unsound. According to George Mason University, Pennsylvania is the 45th most fiscally unsound state out of all 50 states. This will inevitably have a negative impact on retirees.


This state, known for its love for cheese, has a cost of living that is 4% below the national average. Low-income residents get a tax break for their retirement income. With a population of 5.8 million, Wisconsin’s city of Madison has been named the best city in the state to live in.

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Regardless of these benefits, Wisconsin pays its citizens of 65 and older very poorly, even having the lowest household income for senior citizens in the country. Social Security is not taxable, but retirement income is. Despite the low income and the taxes, healthcare in Wisconsin costs higher than the average cost of US healthcare.


The cost of living in Illinois being 4% below the US average is due to its declining fiscal standing. A low living cost may be attractive to retirees, but be wary of what might happen in the future if the state keeps declining financially.

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Illinois is the second-lowest fiscally-sound state. It reportedly offers tax breaks on some retirement incomes, but these are not assured. There are also high sales taxes. These financial factors are important to take into consideration when deciding where to retire.


Lower than the previously mentioned states, living costs in Idaho come in at 5% below the national average. The state offers serene environments in the form of canyons, landscapes, lakes, and snow- capped mountains. Idaho is an affordable state to retire in.

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Idaho has a population of 1.6 million, but the state is nowhere near metropolitan. If you’re looking for skyscrapers and subways, you’d have to look elsewhere. Additionally, whether or not the state is tax-friendly is debatable. Income tax comes in at 7%, while state tax at 6%, despite Social Security not being taxed.

New Mexico

Despite its depiction in several Netflix series, New Mexico isn’t that bad of a place to live in. It has plenty of beautiful views of sunsets over deserts, and is a perfectly peaceful state to retire in.

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Though teeming with nature, Kiplinger dubbed New Mexico the least tax-friendly state. You will be taxed for retirement income if you live here. However, there is the possibility of benefits for low-income senior citizens.

North Carolina

With living costs 5% lower than other states and Social Security not being taxed, North Carolina is one of the more affordable states for retirement. Its weather is usually friendly year-round and the state is surrounded in green spaces.

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However, income in New Mexico is also low for people aged 65 and up. It averages at $43,616 a year. Though Social Security isn’t taxed, there is a retirement income of 5.9%.

South Carolina

Cheaper than its northern counterpart, South Carolina living costs come in at 7% below the US average. This makes the state an affordable place to retire in. the mild weather is also a plus for those seeking a bit of sunshine and who also don’t mind the cold and rain.

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Aside from some hot and humid summers, South Carolina is still the place to be. However, you may want to consider this state from the health aspect. There are many smokers around, and the state has high levels of obesity.


Warm weather and a low cost of living is why people flock to Georgia. Its population has reached over 10 million. These people pay a living cost that is 7% less than the US average. Healthcare for retirees in Georgia is also very affordable for retirees.

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Though ideal on the financial front, this southern state may not be so ideal in terms of weather. Hot summers are a given, but the mosquitoes may be a deal- breaker.


With a cost of living at a staggering 10% lower than the national average, Missouri is an attractive state for seniors to retire in. It is the home state of renowned authors such as T.S. Eliot, Maya Angelou, and Mark Twain.

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Although living in Missouri may be cheap, the income level in the state is also low. People over 65 years old are paid just over $43K a year, which may not be enough for some to get by. Senior healthcare is also poor, and the the state is not very tax-friendly.


Texas’ living cost is also 10% less than the US average. Additionally the income for senior citizens is not too low. The state does not tax incomes too heavily, which means with the proper budgeting you will be able to retire here.

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Aside for healthcare, Texas is an affordable state to live in. However, the state has high poverty rate, ranking sixth worse in senior poverty in the nation. An unfortunate 10.8% of its senior residents are living in poverty.


If you’re looking for plenty of entertainment, then Louisiana may be for you. The eclectic cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans are popular for their comfort foods and incredible music. There are also other tourist attractions around.

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Louisiana’s living costs fall at 10% below the national average. The senior income for those aged 65 and up may be considered low, but is still higher than several of the previously-mentioned states, at just over $50,700. However, healthcare in Louisiana costs 2.1% more than the US average.


According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the state of Nebraska is ranked first in the list of states with good fiscal health. Niche.com graded Nebraska’s Central City with an A for retiree living, with an A- for the cost of living.

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According to Bloomberg, Nebraska is one of the top states to retire in, balancing weather and affordability. Though it’s not at the top in both categories. They do note that the overall ranking, as well as the wellness, are much lower down in the ranking.


Tennessee is both affordable and tax-friendly. Retirement incomes are not levied, and the various cities and facilities are also easy on the pockets, including healthcare. Its living cost falls at 12% below the nation’s average.

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If weather is a big consideration for you and you’re not a fan of the heat, Tennessee may not be the state to move to. Heat and humidity in the summer can rise up to 92 degrees Fahrenheit. There is also a lot of traffic in Tennessee’s bigger cities like Memphis and Nashville.


Ohio is conveniently located, making traveling between coasts easier in the instances of vacations or family visits. The state does not tax Social Security, and its living cost is quite low at 12% under the US average.

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Household income for retirees isn’t very high, which defeats the appeal of a low living cost and exemption from Social Security tax. Unless you have managed to save up enough, your average household income in Ohio will be just a little over $42.6K.


On top of the low living cost, Michigan is also low in poverty rate. Additionally, the state does not tax Social Security. And, as if this wasn’t enough to make you pack up and move, the Great Lakes provide enough entertainment and adventure.

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However, Michigan’s tax situation has somewhat turned complicated. This year, residents aged 67 and above have to choose between deducting $20K off singles’ income and $40K off couples’ incomes, or deducting the Social Security income.


Iowa was named the City of Literature by UNESCO. It is teeming with a rich history and culture, which you will be able to appreciate as its resident if you bear its living cost at 12% under the US average.

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Although Social Security is not taxable, the tax situation in Iowa is still quite sketchy for seniors. Retirees may have to pay up to 8.98% income tax. However, if you are 55 and older, you can exclude as much as $6,000 of taxable retirement income.


Cost of living in Alabama is 13% lower than the national average, making the state at least budget-friendly. On top of this, retired couples in Alabama spend 4.4% less on healthcare. They are exempt from Social Security benefits tax, and the income tax ranges between 2-5%.

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While Alabama seems like an ideal state, it can pose danger in terms of weather. In the spring and around November time, the state is often hit by intense storms and heavy rain. The summers, however, are boiling.


Kansas is home to beautiful prairies and peaceful plains. It is perhaps most famous for being the setting of the classic film Wizard of Oz. With a cost of living that is 14% less  than the US average, you may very well be saying there’s no place like home here.

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Taxes in Kansas are pretty high because it is making up for its budget deficit. The state imposes taxes on retirement income and Social Security, which can range anywhere between 3.1% to 5.7%.


Kentucky, known as the Bluegrass State, has a living cost 14% lower than the national average. There are plenty of tax breaks for senior citizens. Social Security isn’t taxed, and if you make anywhere over $41,110, your retirement income won’t be taxed either.

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However, health in Kentucky may pose a problem. For retirees, healthcare costs about the same as the US average. There are also high rates of senior citizens in poverty, inactivity, and smoking. Should you choose to retire in a home, Kentucky doesn’t provide many of those either.


Property taxes in Mississippi are the lowest in the US. Additionally, there are plenty of tax breaks for senior citizens. Living expenses will also cost 15% below the US average, which may be more affordable than other states.

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Despite friendly taxes, Mississippi is the state with the poorest senior health, as stated by the United Health Foundation. There is also 13.4% of Mississippi’s senior citizens living in poverty. Knowing this, you may wish to rethink moving here.


In Indiana, daily expenses such as housing, gas, and food, are at 15% below the US average. This may be a more affordable place for you to retire compared to some of the first states mentioned on this list.

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If you have plenty saved up, retired life in Indiana would be more feasible for you. However, if you think you will only be living on retirement income, Indiana may not be the best idea. The state’s retirement income is 21.4% less than the national average, and retirement income is taxable, though Social Security isn’t.


Even though the average retirement income in Oklahoma is low, its living cost is also 16% lower than the national average. The state also doesn’t tax Social Security, and retirees can exclude $10K from their retirement income.

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While wallet-friendly, Oklahoma is not the best place for health. It is third-worst in terms of senior health, with many seniors smoking and in physical inactivity. The state lacks nursing homes and geriatric care.

West Virginia

According to USA Today, West Virginia boasts a rich history, scenic views, and grand resorts scattered around the state. The cost of living here is 17% lower than the US average. Population in West Virginia is just over 1.8 million as of 2018.

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Though cheap, West Virginia is not tax-friendly, especially for retirees. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has also declared the state low in fiscal soundness. Additionally, healthcare for citizens aged 65 and older is poor.


Arkansas has gained the nickname the Natural State thanks to the rivers, mountains, and wildlife that surround it. The living cost is low at 17% below the national average, and health costs for retired couples in the state is the third lowest in the country.

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Social Security is not taxed, but retirement income may be taxed if it reaches over $75,000. The rate can be as high as 6.9%. Arkansas is also the eighth-highest for senior poverty. Despite its population of 3 million, this is not the state for those of you seeking city life.