Special Report

What It Costs to Retire Comfortably in Every State

Source: KenCanning / Getty Images

41. South Dakota
> Est. total retirement spending: $1,000,794 (14th least)
> Avg. cost of living: 11.8% less than avg.
> Avg. monthly homeownership cost for senior citizens: $464 (25th lowest)
> Pop. 65 and older: 16.6% (24th highest)

South Dakota is one of the least expensive states in the country to live in. Goods and services are an average of 11.8% less expensive in South Dakota than they are nationwide. Partially as a result, the estimated total cost of a comfortable retirement is about $134,000 less than it is on average across the United States as a whole.

Still, senior citizens in South Dakota are more likely than average to have to work into retirement age. Of state residents 65 and older, 44.6% are earning a wage or salary, a larger share than the 38.0% of retirement-age adults nationwide.

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42. Tennessee
> Est. total retirement spending: $957,020 (9th least)
> Avg. cost of living: 9.6% less than avg.
> Avg. monthly homeownership cost for senior citizens: $384 (10th lowest)
> Pop. 65 and older: 16.3% (23rd lowest)

Tennessee has one of the nation’s lower life expectancies at age 65, and it is also one of the least expensive states to live in. As a result, it is one of 12 states where the expected lifetime expenses in retirement for a comfortable living is less than $1 million.

The state’s low cost of living might help explain why a below-average share of state residents are still working after reaching the traditional retirement age. Just 36.2% of retirement age households in Tennessee are still earning a wage or salary, below the 38.0% national share.

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43. Texas
> Est. total retirement spending: $1,089,299 (22nd most)
> Avg. cost of living: 3.0% less than avg.
> Avg. monthly homeownership cost for senior citizens: $480 (22nd highest)
> Pop. 65 and older: 12.5% (3rd lowest)

The estimated cost of comfortably living one’s retirement years in Texas is $1,089,299 — about $45,000 less than the average cost nationwide. Still, Texas residents are more likely than average to have to work into retirement age. Of the state’s 65 and older population, 42.6% are earning a wage or salary, the sixth highest share among states and well above the 38.0% national share.

Older Texans are also more likely than other elderly Americans to struggle financially. Of the state’s retirement age population, 11.1% live below the poverty line, a higher poverty rate in the age group than in all but five states and well above the 9.4% national rate.

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44. Utah
> Est. total retirement spending: $1,106,319 (21st most)
> Avg. cost of living: 3.0% less than avg.
> Avg. monthly homeownership cost for senior citizens: $413 (18th lowest)
> Pop. 65 and older: 11.1% (the lowest)

Utah has a slightly lower than average cost of living, but a slightly higher than average life expectancy at 65. While, overall, total lifetime expenses for retirees is somewhat higher in Utah than in the majority of states, a relatively high share of state seniors appear able to comfortably afford those costs. Just 6.1% of state residents 65 and older live in poverty, the third lowest share among states.

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45. Vermont
> Est. total retirement spending: $1,187,034 (11th most)
> Avg. cost of living: 2.5% more than avg.
> Avg. monthly homeownership cost for senior citizens: $650 (7th highest)
> Pop. 65 and older: 19.8% (4th highest)

Vermont has one of the largest retirement age populations of any state. Nearly 20% of the state’s population are 65 or older, the fourth largest share among states. Life expectancy in the Green Mountain State is slightly higher than average, and so is the cost of living. As a result, a comfortable retirement in Vermont costs about $52,000 more than the national average.

The higher retirement costs may partially explain why Vermonters are more likely than most Americans to work past age 65. Of the state’s retirement age households, 44.9% earn a wage or salary, well above the 38.0% national share.

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