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best places to retire

What's the Best Place for Clients to Retire?

Mar 8th 2019
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Everyone strives for financial independence. Particularly, that’s what most people want in retirement. 

So, where should your client retire? Well, it really depends on what is important to them. Below, I discuss four common priorities and suggest places to live based on these.

The website researched “The Fifty Cheapest Places to Retire.”  They based their analysis on cost of living indexes sourced from Sperling’s Best Places along with Bureau of Labor Statistics data on what retirees generally spend annually. These cities are 22 to 27.4 percent below the national cost of living. You can check out the full list at this link, but I’ve noted the highlights below:

Low Cost of Living
City Annual Expenditures Housing Health Care
Birmingham, AL $33,219 $8,988 $4,915
Detroit, MI $33,356 $8,988 $5,984
Jackson, MS $33,676 $9,480 $5,514
Memphis, TN $33,859 $10,020 $5,694
Augusta, GA $35,781 $10,116 $5,574

2. Low Tax Rates

Your client is looking for something different and has significant income producing assets. They might live in a high-tax state like New Jersey, Massachusetts or New York. They want to retire someplace with lower income tax and property tax rates but are concerned about estate and inheritance taxes. 

In November 2018, Kiplinger looked at the “Ten Most Tax Friendly States for Retirees.” They considered factors like exemption of Social Security and a portion of retirement income from state taxes as well as property taxes. Here are some highlights.

Low Tax Rates
State State Income Tax State/Local Tax Estate Tax


1.43% None
Wyoming None 5.39% None
South Dakota None 6.40% None
Mississippi 3%/5% 7.07% None
Florida None 6.80% None

3. Health Care

Even retirees in good health worry about what will happen if they develop a serious medical problem, and many want to retire in a state with great healthcare. US News and World Report published “Health Care Rankings” using 2018 data. All 50 states are ranked in numerical order in each category.  Here are some highlights (health care is abbreviated HC).

Health Care
State HC Access HC Quality Public Health
Hawaii 2 1 2
Washington 9 3 9
Iowa 5 9 11
Connecticut 3 20 7
Massachusetts 1 31 4

4. Lowest Property Tax Rates

Your client is pretty good at controlling expenses. Their concern is the costs they can’t control, with property taxes topping the list. They know New Jersey traditionally has the highest and  wonder where they can find the lowest. The website published data on “Real Estate Property Tax Rates by State” using the 2017 US median home value of $ 193,500 for comparison.

Lowest Property Tax Rates
State Effective RE Tax Rate Taxes on $194K Home Median Home/Taxes
Hawaii 0.27% $525 $563,900/$1529
Alabama 0.42% $817 $132,100/$558
Louisiana 0.52% $1,006 $152,900/$795
Colorado 0.55% $1,045 $286,100/$1,575
District of Columbia 0.55% $1,055 $537,400/$2,930

If your client is thinking of moving, there are some great places to live in terms of keeping costs down.  However, the best medical care seems to be in some of the highest tax states.  You can’t have everything: A lot depends on what is most important to your client.

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