Not everyone waits until age 65 or 70 to quit punching the time clock. Maybe you've been smart about investing and saving and are now ready to retire as early as 55 — which means you may need to fund a retirement lasting three or four decades or even more. Where and how to spend your hard-earned gold in your golden years? Analyzing more than 600 tax scenarios, as well as factors such as housing costs and availability of entertainment, financial technology firm SmartAsset has compiled a list of the 10 best U.S. states in which to retire early. The list, along with excerpts from SmartAsset's report, follows.
"North Dakota has above average scores in six of our eight metrics. Standout scores include the concentration of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments (5.9 per 10,000 residents) and average housing costs ($9,228 per year).
In both of those metrics, North Dakota ranks in the top 10."
"Our tour of the best states for an early retirement heads ... south to Louisiana. When it comes to costs of living, Louisiana is hard to beat. This state scores in the top 10 for both average housing and non-housing costs of living.
Louisiana does have the highest average state and local sales taxes in the country, which hurts its score in this study."
"A number of factors make Nevada a great state for an early retirement. First, the state has an average effective income tax of 0 percent. It also has the 11th-lowest property tax rate in the country.
Furthermore, there's good access to health care in Nevada. The state has the seventh-most doctor's offices relative to population in the country."
"Delaware managed to secure a top 10 spot despite having the 23rd-highest average effective income tax in our study. This is because it has stellar scores in other metrics. While retiring early in Delaware may mean paying more income tax, it also means paying no sales tax and the fifth-lowest property tax.
This state also has the 11th-highest concentration of doctors' offices in the country."
"Tennessee is a great place to retire early because of its low cost of living. A low cost of living means you can retire in Tennessee earlier and with less savings. According to our data, the state has the third-lowest average non-housing cost of living.
Plus, Tennessee is another state with a 0 percent average effective income tax. One concern: Sales tax in Tennessee can make everyday items expensive. This state has the second-highest average state and local sales taxes."
"The most popular retirement state takes fifth. Famously, Florida does not tax income. But more than helping you keep money in your pocket, Florida is vigilant about keeping its residents and retirees healthy. There is only one state in the country (New Jersey) with better access to health care. There are just under 10 doctor's offices per 10,000 residents in the Sunshine State.
After all, what's the use of retiring early if you can't stay healthy?"
"South Dakota is friendly to retirees. For one, it doesn't tax retirement income. Secondly, it's a fun place to hang out, at least relative to its population. There are just under eight arts, entertainment and recreation establishments per 10,000 residents, the second-highest rate in the country.
However, South Dakota is another place that could work on improving access to health care. There are only three doctor's offices per 10,000 residents in this state. That's the second-worst rate."
"Unlike some places, you don't need to be a millionaire to retire in Mississippi. The Hospitality State welcomes all potential retirees with offerings of 0 percent effective income tax rates, the lowest average non-housing cost of living and second-lowest average housing costs in the country.
However, be prepared to pick up some hobbies in your Golden Years. Mississippi, according to Census data, has the smallest concentration of entertainment establishments in our study. Access to health care in Mississippi may also be a cause for concern. There are only 5.5 doctor's offices per 10,000 residents, the 36th-highest rate in our study."
"For the second year, Kentucky secures another silver medal in the best states for an early retirement. The Bluegrass State has an average effective income tax rate of 0.97 percent, which is slightly higher than other states but is not a bad score. The best part about retiring in Kentucky may be the money you can save on housing. According to our data, average housing costs here are the fourth-lowest in the country at about $8,700 per year.
Kentucky also has the 12th-lowest non-housing cost of living. Combine those two facts and it becomes clear that you can probably retire early in Kentucky without having an enormous sum in your 401(k)."
"For the second consecutive year, the Cowboy State takes the top spot for the best state for an early retirement. The biggest plus to retiring in Wyoming is that you can expect to pay a 0 percent tax on your income. In fact, taxes in Wyoming are very low in general. If you buy property, you'll only have to pay 0.61 percent in effective property tax on average. The sales tax here is also low. In each of those metrics, Wyoming has a top 10 score.
Plus, you probably won't get bored living in Wyoming. Our data shows that Wyoming has the fifth-highest rate of entertainment establishments per 10,000 residents."