The Most Expensive Places to Live for Retirees

Luke Babich


Luke Babich

February 16th, 2023
Updated February 16th, 2023


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The ability to retire comfortably is top of mind for many Americans as they age, but “comfortable” is, of course, a subjective term.

A 2022 study states that only 63% of Americans are currently saving for retirement, and 58% of adults are uncertain they’ll be able to achieve financial security in retirement. Just 1 in 8 American retirees (12%) have at least the recommended $555,000 in savings.

Where retirees choose to settle down depends on the size of their nest egg and how much they plan to spend each year. The 4% rule states that retirees can safely spend 4% of their savings in the first year of retirement and then adjust accordingly every year for inflation.

Although some retirees have sizable savings, the most expensive places in the U.S. for retirees may require $2 million or more to live comfortably.

If you’re considering moving to another state to retire, think carefully about your expenses, the cost of living, and what you’ll need in savings to maintain your lifestyle. For a smooth transition, work with a trusted real estate agent to sell your home and buy in a new location.

The Most Expensive States to Retire

Unsurprisingly, coastal states are considered the most expensive places to retire when cost-of-living metrics — such as median home prices, health care costs, food, transportation, and utilities — are considered.

An annual report published by the Council for Community and Economic Research lists the most expensive states according to a cost-of-living index, which ranks Alabama as the least expensive and Hawaii as the most expensive.

States are also ranked on their tax burden, the annual income required to retire comfortably, and the amount of savings needed before retirement.

The most expensive places to retire in the U.S. include:

1. Hawaii

  • Cost of living index: 186

  • Tax rate rank: 48

  • Savings needed before retirement: $1.84 million

Retiring in Hawaii is expensive, and it can be even more costly depending on where you want to retire in the Aloha State. In Honolulu, you’ll need an annual income of $190,201 and $4.7 million in savings to retire comfortably. The median home price in Honolulu is $615,000, according to, but you can save money on your purchase by working with a Realtor who offers a home buyer rebate.

2. Washington, D.C.

  • Cost of living index: 153

  • Tax rate rank: 39

  • Savings needed before retirement: $1.01 million

Retirees in Washington, D.C., are 67 years old on average — the highest age of any state. With a high cost of living, retirees may need to work longer to save an adequate amount. Yearly expenses top $83,683, and median home prices have reached $500,000, according to a price-per-square-foot study commissioned by Clever's sister site Home Bay.

3. Massachusetts

  • Cost of living index: 150

  • Tax rate rank: 37

  • Savings needed before retirement: $1.16 million

Massachusetts is an expensive place to retire, and its capital is even more so. Americans hoping to retire in Boston will need an annual income of $129,389 and a nest egg of approximately $3.2 million. With median home prices costing $694,500, retirees will need sizable savings. If you're selling your home to move to Boston, work with a discount real estate agent and save money to put toward your new home purchase.

4. California

  • Cost of living index: 139

  • Tax rate rank: 46

  • Savings needed before retirement: $1.46 million

California cities up and down the coast consistently rank as some of the most expensive places to retire. Retiring in San Francisco requires $5.7 million in savings, while Los Angeles and San Diego retirees need $3.8 million and $3.4 million, respectively, according to Business Insider.

5. New York

  • Cost of living index: 136

  • Tax rate rank: 50

  • Savings needed before retirement: $1.41 million

Looking to retire in the Big Apple? Plan on an annual income of $148,448 to live in New York City and retirement savings of $3.7 million. Housing costs $458 per square foot, and the median home price is $664,000, according to Home Bay.

6. Alaska

  • Cost of living index: 126

  • Tax rate rank: 1

  • Savings needed before retirement: $1.34 million

Alaska is No. 1 on the tax rate ranking, but higher-than-average costs for nearly everything else make Alaska a pricey retirement destination.

7. Maryland

  • Cost of living index: 124

  • Tax rate rank: 35

  • Savings needed before retirement: $1.11 million

With an average retirement age of 65 and a life expectancy of about 79 years, retirees in Maryland need $1.11 million to get the most out of those 14 years of retirement.

8. Oregon

  • Cost of living index: 122

  • Tax rate rank: 31

  • Savings needed before retirement: $1.34 million

Retirees looking to spend their days in Portland should double the suggested savings needed to retire elsewhere in the state. Portland retirees will need $2.6 million, particularly with median home prices sitting at $549,000, according to Home Bay.

9. New Jersey

  • Cost of living index: 114

  • Tax rate rank: 45

  • Savings needed before retirement: $1.2 million

The average retirement in New Jersey is almost 16 years, from ages 65 to 81. New Jersey retirees should have about $1.2 million in the bank to see them through.

10. Washington

  • Cost of living index: 114

  • Tax rate rank: 30

  • Savings needed before retirement: $1.09 million

Planning to retire in Seattle rather than other parts of Washington state? Then plan to triple your retirement savings to $3.6 million and, according to Home Bay, shell out an average of $670,000 on a place to live.

11. Connecticut

  • Cost of living index: 115

  • Tax rate rank: 49

  • Savings needed before retirement: $1.25 million

Connecticut’s average annual income for retirees is $79,852, with an average retirement length of almost 16 years. Savings of $1.25 million are needed for comfortable golden years in the Nutmeg State.

12. Maine

  • Cost of living index: 115

  • Tax rate rank: 41

  • Savings needed before retirement: $1.09 million

Although Maine has a slightly lower-than-average cost of living, it’s not particularly tax friendly for retirees. Some forms of retirement income are taxed as high as 7.15%. A comfortable retirement in Maine will cost about $1.09 million.

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