Retirement & Financial Planning Report

Being close to the people and activities that you love will make a massive difference in your enjoyment. Image: Alexander Lukatskiy/

Retirement is a significant milestone that often comes with the freedom to relocate and enjoy a new chapter of life.

But choosing the right location can make or break a great retirement as it impacts how far your money goes, who you spend time with, and what experiences you can enjoy.

And certain states tend to be hot spots for federal retirees.

But Wait…Don’t Forget This:
There are 3 big factors to consider when picking a state for your retirement.

1) Taxes

Every State has some sort of taxes: income, sales, and/or property taxes. Some states have all three and some only have one type of taxes.

The type of taxes that this article will address is state income taxes as that is the one that most people care about.

Note: Even if a state does not have state income taxes you will still be subject to federal taxes no matter where you live (even abroad).

2) Cost of Living

How far your federal retirement income takes you largely depends on where you live in retirement as some locations are much more expensive than others.

Retiring in Hawaii is very different from retiring to rural Oklahoma where your money will probably go twice as far.

One of the biggest places we see the differences is in housing costs. You’ll want to make sure your desired retirement location matches up with your budget.

3) People/Experiences

Do you want to be close to your kids or a healthy distance away? Do you want to be in a retirement community with others in your situation or do you want to play pickleball everyday?

Being close to the people/activities that you love will make a massive difference in your enjoyment and well being throughout your retirement.

Pick a State. Any State.

Every location has pros and cons and there is certainly a ton of variation between different cities within a single state.

However, here are 11 states that are retirement hot spots for federal retirees.

Known as the Sunshine State, Florida has long been a haven for retirees – mainly because of the abundance of sunshine, great beaches, golf courses, and plenty of things to do. Not only does this state have fantastic weather, but it also has lower housing costs than the average city, no state income tax, and no tax on pensions, allowing you to stretch your retirement savings further.

Because it doesn’t tax Social Security income or have an inheritance or estate tax, Georgia is another tax-friendly state, making this one of the most popular retirement destinations. With great weather, a lush green landscape, and a mix of metropolitan cities and beautiful countryside, Georgia is an excellent choice for retirees.

Texas won’t tax your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), your pension, your 401k, or other income as the state doesn’t have a state income tax at all. Plus, there’s no shortage of areas to choose from, whether you’re considering Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, or the Gulf Coast.

Just like Texas, Wyoming doesn’t have any state income tax, pension tax, 401k tax, or a TSP tax, so your retirement income can go further during your golden years. This is also an excellent location for nature enthusiasts – Wyoming is home to Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and seemingly endless hiking trails.

North Carolina
North Carolina is one of the most popular retirement destinations, and for good reason! Beautiful scenery and attractions abound in North Carolina, whether you live on the west side of the state near the Smoky Mountains, or the east side on the Atlantic coast. Not to mention, North Carolina offers tax breaks for seniors – you can exempt up to $35,000 of your retirement income from state taxes if you are over 65.

Although Alaska may not have the best weather, it is one of the most tax-friendly states for retirees; you won’t have to worry about state taxes on your 401k, state income, Social Security, TSP, or pension. If you love rugged natural beauty, national parks, outdoor recreation, and cooler weather, Alaska can be a great place to live during retirement.

South Dakota
South Dakota is another tax-friendly retirement destination – there’s no taxes on your 401k, TSP, state income, or pension. Additionally, the cost of living is unbeatable! Retirees in South Dakota enjoy a simple and quiet lifestyle with plenty of outdoor activities.

Tennessee is another state that is both tax-friendly and affordable for federal retirees. Whether you’re enjoying live music in Nashville, barbecue in Memphis, or the beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are plenty of things to do for retirees in Tennessee.

While the cost of living in Pennsylvania might be a little higher than average, living here has numerous tax benefits, ranging from no taxes on your Social Security or pension to a tax-free 401k. Many retirees enjoy easy access to nature and beautiful Northeastern weather while also having quick access to metropolitan areas like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.

Not only does Nevada have numerous state parks, desert hiking trails, sunny weather, and of course, the Las Vegas Strip, but it is also extremely tax-friendly for seniors. If you move here for retirement, you won’t have to worry about paying taxes on your Social Security benefits, 401k, TSP, or pension.

Many federal employees flock to the Pacific Northwest during retirement, and it’s no surprise why. Washington won’t tax your Social Security income, pension, TSP income, or 401k. The cost of living is a bit higher, but the tax savings make it much more reasonable. In addition, this is one of the most beautiful states in the country, offering lush green forests, towering mountains, and a temperate climate.

Final Thoughts
Finding a location with a low cost of living and no state income tax is wonderful but far from everything.

You only get one retirement and the go-go (healthy) retirement years don’t last forever.

A great retirement is always finding the right balance between your values and your pocket book.

Good luck and happy planning!

Dallen Haws is a Financial Advisor who is dedicated to helping federal employees live their best life and plan an incredible retirement. He hosts a podcast and YouTube channel all about federal benefits and retirement. You can learn more about him at Haws Federal Advisors.

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