This Is the Most Affordable State to Retire in the U.S.
According to a recent study by Bankrate, West Virginia is the most affordable state to retire thanks to low housing costs and no tax on Social Security, among other factors.
West Virginia’s beautiful nature, Appalachian food, charming small towns, epic fall foliage, and national parks have always been a magnet for travelers. But the state also emerges as one of the most popular destinations among retirees seeking a tranquil place to enjoy their golden years.
According to a recent study by Bankrate, the Mountain State ranked first in affordability and third overall as the best state to retire in the U.S., after Iowa and Delaware. West Virginia was also among the top 20 safest states, placing 16th. And according to Census data, a fifth of its population, which is about 1.77 million people, are 65 or older, so there’s already a large retirement community in the state.
“West Virginia is a great place to retire due to lower cost of living and a reduced tax burden. Real estate is less expensive in many cases from other states they [retirees] have lived in as well as everyday basic life needs, making it a great option,” Kim Jarrouj, a realtor with Huntington, West Virginia–based Exp Realty, told Travel + Leisure.
West Virginia taxes real estate property with some of the lowest rates in the country (0.55 percent), and as of 2022, it no longer taxes Social Security benefits.
According to SeniorLiving.org, a one-bedroom apartment for rent in West Virginia costs $552 per month, while a two-bedroom apartment costs just $678, much lower than the country’s average of $1,027. The website also estimates that for a senior to live comfortably in the state, they would need $3,241 per month, which would also cover access to help with meal preparation, grocery shopping, and running errands. There are more than 40 independent living communities in West Virginia, where monthly expenses range between $800 to $3,366, with the most affordable being in Beckley and the priciest in Morgantown.
“Most retirees I work with are looking for low-maintenance living and want to be within proximity to family, hospitals, parks/walking trails, bookstores, coffee shops, and convenience to sporting activities if they are following grandchildren in sports,” Jarrouj explained.
According to Jarrouj, the most sought-after types of properties are single-family homes and condos or one-story patio homes with minimal yard maintenance.
“Some do prefer tower condo living with amenities and someone to care for the exterior of the property,” she said.
West Virginia’s many state parks and resorts, such as Greenbrier, Pipestem Resort State Park, Oglebay Resort, Blackwater Falls State Park, Canaan Valley Resort State Park, Babcock State Park, the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, and historic Harpers Ferry are a major recreational draw for retirees. The capital, Charleston, hosts an annual 10-day festival in the summer with live music, food trucks, boat races, as well as various free cultural events throughout the year.
“West Virginia is a great place to find an array of food options, eclectic shops, live music, art walks, historical attractions, tons of festivals, and meet some of the nicest people around the world,” she added.