Mar 23, 2022

Is Georgia a Good Place to Retire to?

Nat Miller

Florida and Georgia have long been friendly rivals, perhaps most iconically on the football field where the two states’ universities play each year. But another rivalry is brewing between Florida and Georgia: which state is better for retirees! Lucky for you, both states make for an incredible place to start your retirement. If you love the idea of Florida, but want a slightly cheaper option, then Georgia could be the perfect place for you.  

When thinking about the benefits of retiring to Georgia there are a couple of things that instantly come to mind: warm weather, a laid-back lifestyle, and a low cost of living. So it comes as no surprise that Georgia is one of the best places to retire in the country as it offers all three things in abundance. In fact, Georgia is consistently rated as one of the best retirement destinations in the county. If you’re looking for a low cost, warm, and relaxing retirement (and let’s be honest, who isn’t), and in particular if you want to be on the southeast coast, then Georgia is worth looking into.

Low Cost Living

Maybe the best reason, and certainly one of the most popular reasons, to retire to Georgia is that the state is incredibly tax-friendly toward retirees. One of the best parts of Georgia’s tax system for retirees is that it does not tax Social Security, just like some other popular retirement destinations like Florida and Arizona. In addition to this great tax perk, Georgia allows individuals 65 years and above a $65,000 per person deduction on all types of retirement income (it is just $35,000 for individuals aged 62-64). This is a significant tax benefit and means that, for example, if you have less than $65,000 of retirement income that you will not pay any state taxes on it at all. While you should always consult with a financial or tax professional when it comes to planning your own retirement, there are definitely things to like about retiring to Georgia.

Georgia’s homestead exemption provides additional tax relief for many seniors. The exemption, which applies to all homeowners in Georgia who occupy the home as their primary residence, exempts the first $2,000 from the 40% assessed value from property taxes. For Georgia seniors, however, there exists a double homestead exemption for those aged 65 or older whose total household income (excluding Social Security and pension income), is no more than $10,000 per year.

In addition to these low taxes, Georgia also has a relatively modest cost of living, generally ranking a little below the national average. This is partly due to the Georgia’s overall friendly tax climate. For example, Georgia homeowners generally pay below the national average in property taxes, and Georgia’s statewide sales tax rate of 4% is lower than the majority of other states.  

Affordable Housing

As noted above, affordability is one of the main features that makes Georgia such a popular retirement destination. One of the things that makes Georgia so affordable is its housing prices, which are often lower than many other popular retirement destinations. For example, in 2021 according to Zillow, the average home in Georgia was roughly $50,000 cheaper than in Florida ($289,799 in Florida compared to $241,218 in Georgia). And this trend also applies in the major cities. In major Florida markets like Miami and Tampa, for example, median home values in 2021 were $402,203 and $302,156 respectively, while in Atlanta the median home price was only $279,000. And if you’re considering downsizing as part of your retirement anyway, there may be a lot of very affordable options waiting for you in Georgia.

Savannah, on the coast, provides a great mix of a beautiful historic downtown and opportunities to get out on the water.

Along with a great supply of affordable homes, Georgia also has a great diversity of amazing cities and towns to live in. These cities range from coastal towns like Savannah, to beautiful small country towns like Augusta, to what many consider one of the cultural capitals of the American south, Atlanta. Not only does this provide for amazing geographical diversity - from the country to the coast to the big city - but also provides for an amazing mix of small, medium, and large cities. Check out our blog post on the most popular places to retire in Georgia to learn more.

Great Weather

Another great part about retiring to Georgia is the amazing weather. Much like its neighbor to the south, Florida, Georgia enjoys a warm climate as well as miles and miles of amazing Atlantic ocean coastline. This provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities like tennis and golf, or doing watersports like heading to the beach or going boating. Locals will also tell you one perk about the Georgia weather is that while the weather is warm and semi-tropical like in Florida, Georgia residents have way fewer hurricanes to deal with. And while Floridians certainly have plenty of ways to deal with hurricanes, rarely having to deal with them at all certainly is a perk. Finally, while Georgia does have a winter it is incredibly mild and short. So while you might need to pack a sweater when you move to Georgia, don’t worry you can safely leave the snow shovel behind!

If you’re looking for great weather, low cost living, and affordable housing options then Georgia might be a great place for you. Given the similarities to its neighbor to the south, Florida, many people who start their retirement search thinking they’ll end up in Florida actually end up in Georgia. But retiring to Georgia isn’t just for people looking to find affordable housing, as Georgia has plenty of other qualities that retirees love: from the beautiful weather, to the cultural centers of Atlanta and Savannah, to the gorgeous beaches and natural parks. If you want to learn more about retiring to Georgia, email us at info@sunboundhomes.com.

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