Utah is still the4th best state for retirement, based on combined survey results from Kiplinger, WalletHub, and Bankrate, despite having tax rates that are not retiree-friendly and cost of living rates that are 4 percent above US average.
Some states do not tax retirees’ wages and pensions, but in Utah, pensions are taxable. To help retirees financially, the state offers a small retirement credit for some. There is also a $7500 tax deduction through military pensions upon reaching 65 years old. But these drawbacks are not enough to repel retirees. Utah’s allure as a healthy, happy, and economically strong state outweighs other considerations.
A strong economy and job market
Unlike in previous generations, today, millions of retirees want to return to work for extra income. With a strong job market and an economic climate that’s ideal for starting a business, Utah is attractive to seniors who want to keep earning.
Those who are looking to work part-time, full-time, or start their own business comprise two-thirds of America’s retirees. With the threat of Social Security cutbacks due to diminishing funds, many seniors fear the risk of outliving their savings. One in 5 seniors depends on their Social Security for 90 percent of their income, while 5 in 10 depend on it for 50 percent of their income.
With the state’s robust economy and strong job market-it is second among the states when it comes to job growth-Utah’s orange deserts are greener pastures for some. In 2018, Forbes Magazine named it the second-best state for business. It has also outpaced the 3 percent national growth rate with growth rates of around 4 percent over the past years. The unemployment rate is also below the national average at 2.9 percent.
Reasonable cost of living and low property taxes
Although the average cost of living in Utah is higher than 27 other states, Utahns are still 3 percent richer than their income suggests, according to The Tax Foundation. In Utah, your $100 can buy goods that would cost $103.09 at the national average price level.
Utah has one of the lowest property taxes at $981 per capita. If you’re a senior citizen who is 66 or older and earns less than $33,000 per year, you can receive a homestead exemption. Veterans also have a sizable deduction.
If you buy property in Utah, you can expect it to appreciate. In 2019, homes increased in value by 9 percent. This trend is expected to continue. A mid-priced home may cost around $358,000. Use a mortgage payment calculator to get an estimate of your monthly dues based on your property price, down payment, and interest rate.
A healthy state
Utah residents rank higher than most states when it comes to life expectancy and overall health and well-being. The state has some of the best medical facilities available.
Utahns are expected to live until 80.2 years old, longer than the national average of 78.9. America’s Health Rankings placed Utah at No. 5 based on health determinants like behavior, community & environment, policy, and clinical care.
Based on these determinants, Utahns scored very high for healthy behaviors at No. 1 and health outcomes at No. 4. They also ranked 11th for the community and environment parameters. This may mean that fewer Utahns get sick and hospitalized, and very few smoke and drink alcohol.
Access to affordable and quality healthcare is important to seniors. For some, it accounts for as much as 40 percent of their income. In Utah, it’s good to know that healthcare cost is below the national average, at around $412,648 for a retired couple.
Utah also has more than 50 hospitals, four of which were ranked as high quality by U.S. News and World Report. Moreover, Utah’s top and multi-awarded hospital, The University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics, specializes in geriatrics or the branch of medicine that focuses on the needs of elderly people.
Senior-friendly leisure opportunities
The state has the sexy landscapes for scenic driving, the only warm water scuba spot in North America, and thousands of acres of surprisingly affordable skiable terrain.
With its top-rated national parks, world-class museums, and two hundred films screened during its Sundance Film Festival, there is always a variety of senior-friendly distractions. Most of them are readily accessible, perhaps even at walking distance or a short drive away.
Closeness to loved ones, affordable living costs, access to excellent health facilities, good climate, and low crime rate-these are the top considerations that Americans have when looking for a place to retire, according to a 2018 survey by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.
Although Utah does not top the charts in all criteria, to those hoping to retire in a peaceful community where health and well-being thrive and income opportunities are available, Utah is a standout. If you’re one of those retirees looking for a new home, why not spend a weekend in Utah and find out if it’s as promising as the surveys say.