16 States With the Highest Percentage of People Over 65

From coast to coast, these states attract retirees like magnets.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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Are you thinking about retiring? Perhaps you're ready to move somewhere warmer throughout the year or pursue a new passion across the country.

However, many retirees avoid wasting money by leaving the home they raised their family in or, for that matter, their old community if it no longer meets their next phase of life needs.

The following are the top 16 states with the largest population of residents over 65 and some insight into why that may be.

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16. Michigan (TIE)

f11photo/Adobe downtown detroit

In Michigan, 18.2% of the population is over 65, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

The state offers many benefits, including numerous aging services, senior-focused transportation solutions, and various social inclusion opportunities.

The state’s Age-Friendly Action Plan was put in place as a way to help those over the age of 50 to live independently within their communities. 

Experts recognize independent living and community engagement are vital to maintaining the quality of life as a person ages.

16. Connecticut (TIE)

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe hartford connecticut usa

Connecticut ties Michigan with 18.2% of the population over 65. The state is ranked highly as a place where people may retire early, thanks to the high level of social support present.

It’s a natural beauty, making recreation along the coastline or hiking in the mountains activities to enjoy. While the state has its own museums, restaurants, and social scene, it’s also close enough to New York and Boston for those who want to visit.

The state also has a notably strong hospital system and social services for seniors. Though the cost of living is a bit higher here, these advantages are hard to ignore.

16. Rhode Island (TIE)

sbgoodwin/Adobe Panoramic skyline of Providence, Rhode Island

Third on the list, with the same 18.2% percentage of people over 65, Rhode Island is another excellent choice for those looking for a mixture of culture and natural beauty. 

The state’s mild climate and a small state feel make it a great place to call home.

Some retire here due to the direct access to sailing, fishing, and water activities, while others do so for the art galleries, museums, and trendy food destinations. 

The cost of living is a bit higher, but the warm summers and cool winters (with fewer extremes) make it worthwhile for some.

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13. New Mexico

Greg Meland/Adobe colorful hot air balloons passing over rio grande during day time

With 18.5% of the population over 65, New Mexico is the destination for sun-seekers looking for a higher quality of life and a moderate cost of living.

The state exempts all Social Security from income taxes, too, which may mean your retirement income stretches a bit here, and it helps many fall into a lower income tax bracket overall.

With 280 days of sunshine and just enough snow to make it feel like winter, New Mexico allows for year-round outdoor enjoyment, from hiking to exploring the wineries.

12. Arizona

John/Adobe phoenix, az skyline

Arizona is tied with New Mexico, with 18.5% of the population over 65, and the state is one of the most popular destinations for retirees. 

Like New Mexico, Arizona offers many of the same benefits when it comes to warm temperatures and lots of outdoor activities, especially for golf lovers.

Arizona also offers some financial benefits, such as exemptions from income taxes for Social Security benefits and pensions. 

Also important, there are no estate or inheritance taxes here, and property taxes are quite low. In other words, your money goes further in Arizona, and you get a high quality of life.

11. Oregon

Reagan/Adobe astoria sunrise aerial

The population over 65 in Oregon is 18.6%. From a financial standpoint, Oregon offers a few benefits. Social Security benefits are not taxed at the state level, but retirement account withdrawals and public and private pensions are taxed partially.

However, Oregon has much to offer, with 363 miles of coastline, an environmentally friendly lifestyle, and high-quality hospitals. It has few weather extremes and has a full, four-season climate.

There are also more than 200 vineyards to explore, and the globally influenced cuisine will suit any foodie.

10. South Carolina

Kevin Ruck/Adobe Downtown Greenville skyline

With 18.7% of people over the age of 65, many people consider South Carolina an ideal place to retire due to its location on the Atlantic Ocean.

The state doesn’t tax Social Security and offers protection from other income sources through tax deductions. The state’s cost of living is also lower than much of the rest of the country. 

If you want to live near high-quality health care and good year-round weather, consider South Carolina’s charm.

9. Pennsylvania

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Lake Erie in Pennsylvania

You may not think of Pennsylvania as the ideal place to retire, but 19.1% of people living here are over 65. 

While many live in PA throughout their lifetime, the area’s overall lower cost of living compared with other metro areas and amenities make it a good place to retire.

All retirement income is exempt from state taxes, and seniors may be eligible for property tax rebates, helping stretch a senior budget a bit more than other areas.

8. New Hampshire

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA

Retiring in New Hampshire could mean enjoying an area with a rich cultural history, performing arts history, and fabulous galleries. The high quality of life may be one reason why 19.3% of people here are over 65.

The financial incentives are pretty good, too, especially since there’s no state income tax, no sales tax, no Social Security tax, no tax on retirement account withdrawals, and no public or private pension income tax. 

On top of that, it has a low crime rate. New Hampshire is also noted for its high-quality senior health care opportunities.

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  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions 
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7. Hawaii

Vermeulen-Perdaen/Adobe kailua islands from lanikai pillboxes trail

The weather is perhaps one of the biggest reasons some people retire in Hawaii, and 19.6% of the population is over 65.

Hawaii could seem ideal for those who love the sun and heat, coupled with resort-style living, though it does have a higher cost of living. Still, senior communities keep costs lower here.

For active seniors who love surfing and hiking, beach-going, and cultural events, Hawaii’s islands, including Kauai, could be ideally suited to retirement.

6. Montana

Aaron/Adobe Moose standing in lake

Montana’s 65-and-older population accounts for 19.7% of people. Retiring here may mean access to stunning landscapes and exceptional recreational opportunities. For some, skiing, fishing, and exploring the national parks are great ways to spend retirement years.

The cost of living is higher due to the overall elevated housing costs here, but many areas are quite affordable. Additionally, there’s no sales tax nor taxes on pensions or Social Security.

5. Delaware

Christopher Boswell/Adobe Delaware River flows smoothly by Wilmington at dawn

A full 20% of people in Delaware are over 65. While it's the second smallest state in the U.S., Delaware offers some nice benefits, including no sales tax and lower property taxes, keeping the cost of living lower.

Winters are mild and summers warm, making for an extended golf season. Access to numerous bays, rivers, and the Atlantic Ocean offers exceptional boating and watersports opportunities.

The state also has numerous senior community programs. Seniors can choose to live in a rural area, an upscale 55+ neighborhood near the beach, or in the city of Wilmington, which is rich in cultural activities.

4. Vermont

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Montpelier VT USA skyline autumn buildings

Though some would think the higher cost of living is a drawback to Vermont, 20.6% of the state’s population is over 65 for several reasons. The Green Mountain state has low crime rates, ample health care, and good access to senior programs.

The weather isn’t all that great for those who don’t enjoy the snow and a short summer. But it's a terrific quality of life for those who want to ski, curl up by the fire, or do some fishing. Some people move to Vermont for the laid-back, quiet lifestyle it can offer.

3. West Virginia

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Charleston, West Virginia, USA

In West Virginia, 20.9% of people are over 65, and many find the low cost of living and more nature-focused lifestyle to be good reasons to move here.

There’s also a lower tax burden here since Social Security and pension income aren’t taxed (beginning in tax years 2023 and 2024). Also, seniors don’t pay property taxes, and those receiving military benefits don’t either.

West Virginia’s slower pace of life can make it a good option for outdoor lovers who want to stretch their retirement income and aren’t too interested in big-city living.

2. Florida

Robert Hainer/Adobe Panama City Beach, Florida, view of Front Beach Road at night du

In Florida, a state known for its high-quality senior living, 21.3% of the population is over 65. The weather is a big reason people retire in Florida, but there are other benefits.

For example, for those who want to make extra money, the job market, especially for part-time positions, is excellent here, allowing seniors to contribute as much or as little as they like.

Other benefits are financial, such as a lack of state income taxes. There are no inheritance taxes, no estate taxes, and no taxes on retirement benefits, keeping more of your money in your pocket.

1. Maine

Wangkun Jia/Adobe Portland Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

How is Maine at the top of the list, with 21.8% of people over 65 calling it home? One reason is that many younger people move to other areas of the country for careers and raising their families.

But for seniors, there are financial benefits in Maine, including a cost of living about 4% lower than the rest of the country, including lower housing, utilities, and transportation costs. 

Low crime rates, good access to health care, and stunning oceanfront make for a fabulous place to live as an older person.

Bottom line

DisobeyArt/Adobe couple cheering with champagne on sailboat

Not everyone moves when they retire, and many people enjoy remaining where they are because of their community’s benefits.

Yet, for those who want to maximize how far their money goes during retirement, choosing one of these states could be beneficial. 

Savvy seniors can also save money shopping by moving to a place with no sales tax or no tax on retirement income, which could be a good reason alone to relocate.

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Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.