It’s not what you think. Yes, warm weather states are in general the best places to which to retire in the U.S. And Florida—as always—is on the list. But the Sunshine state is no longer the absolute best place for retirees, according to research just completed by TopRetirements.com. That title now belongs (Pull up a rocking chair and a glass of Jack and cola if you want) to Tennessee. (At left, Graceland in Memphis.) That’s right; retirees might consider waltzing first to the Volunteer state for their golden years, according to John Brady, the president of TopRetirements.com. Why so? Well, Tennessee ranked highest among all 50 states based on Brady’s analysis of such factors as taxes on all types of income (Tennessee taxes only interest and dividends), property taxes, climate, cost of living and senior health-care costs. What’s more, the state really wants retirees to sit for a spell and then some. For instance, the state recently launched a campaign to attract retirees called Retire Tennessee. That campaign features a website chock full of reasons to move to Tennessee: one being that the state has the lowest cost of living in the U.S. Now it should come as no surprise that southern states, Tennessee being the most northern of them, dominated TopRetirements.com’s 2012 list of best states to which to retire. But what might come as a surprise are the states that followed Tennessee.
Texas, which tied with three other states as second best place to which retire in the U.S., is one of two western states on the list. According to Brady, Texas made the list by virtue of its virtues: There’s no income tax, the cost of living is low, and the climate is warm. Yes, property taxes are higher than others on TopRetirements.com’s top 10 list, but there are some protections for seniors, according to Brady. What’s more, Texas has 40 certified retirement cities, including towns such as Nacogdoches. By way of background, Brady took a different approach to develop the 2012 version of his best states for retirement list. TopRetirements.com rated each state against the following factors: income tax, taxation of Social Security, taxation of pensions, property taxes, cost of living, health-care expenses, and climate. In most cases a full point was awarded for each applicable factor (for example, no tax on pensions), although a few states earned partial points. Warmer states received one point for more favorable climate. None of the top 10 states tax Social Security. And all but Florida and Nevada have a very low cost of living, Brady said.
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