Are cost of living expenses a part of your retirement planning? They should be. An article in a recent issue of AARP The Magazine absolutely shocked me. It listed the most affordable places to retire. Yet Maine, which was on the list, has a property tax rate of 14.53 percent! With the average cost of a house around $200,000, your property taxes would be $28,000 each year. That’s considered affordable? I think not. Maine’s property taxes would exceed all my potential fixed costs in California.
What kind of living situation can your retirement savings support?
The real costs of retirement living
State income taxes. Nine states claim to have no income taxes. Only Nevada, Wyoming, and Alaska tax none of your income. Alaska even pays you to live there. Florida, South Dakota, Texas and Washington won’t tax your personal income, but they may tax business or corporate income.
New Hampshire and Tennessee tax you on dividends and interest. Indiana (3.4 percent) and Pennsylvania (3.07 percent) have flat tax rates. Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Utah have flat rates ranging from 4.35 percent to 5.3 percent.
Social Security Income taxes. Although 36 states don’t tax Social Security benefits, avoid Iowa (8.98 percent), Kansas (6.45 percent), Minnesota (7.85 percent), Missouri (6.0 percent), Montana (6.9 percent), Nebraska (6.84 percent), Vermont (8.95 percent), and West Virginia (6.5 percent).
Colorado (4.63 percent), Massachusetts (5.3 percent) New Mexico (4.9 percent), and North Dakota (4.86 percent) have lower tax rates. And Alabama, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, and the nine tax-free states do not tax pension income or SSI.
Better options for your retirement
Reviewing the Data
The best option overall for retirement is Alaska—if you can handle the cold and the long, dark nights for part of the year. Plus, the state has jobs available, which is perfect if you need extra income.
Alabama and Mississippi don’t tax pensions or Social Security, have low property and sales tax rates, and feature home prices below $143,000. It’s worth looking at all 14 states that don’t tax pensions or Social Security income.
Retirement planning beyond the numbers
While the numbers can help with your retirement planning, take other important factors into account.
Once you’ve chosen your top three places, spend a few months living in those areas to see what life would be like as a local. Once you know you’ll be happy there, only then should you make your move.
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Eva Rosenberg, EA is the publisher of TaxMama.com , where your tax questions are answered. Eva is the author of several books and ebooks, including the new edition of Small Business Taxes Made Easy. Eva teaches a tax pro course at IRSExams.com and tax courses you might enjoy at http://www.cpelink.com/teamtaxmama.
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