Mar 10, 2022

Is Utah a good place to retire?

Stuart Mason

When you’re thinking of where to relocate for your retirement you probably immediately think of the country’s hotspots like Arizona and Florida. And while there are definitely many reasons why these two states are such popular destinations, there are still a lot of uncovered gems for people to relocate to that share many of the same great qualities. For example, if you’re a fan of Arizona’s deserts but want a smaller state or perhaps one closer to the country’s biggest skiing resorts, then Utah might be the perfect place for you. There’s a reason U.S. News and World Reports ranks Utah as its #3 best state in the country (based on its strong health system and economy), and why WalletHub recently ranked Utah as the 8th best state to retire in the country. Simply put, Utah has all its bases covered for providing a healthy and stable retirement.  

Four Amazing Seasons and Plenty To Do

While many people we talk to want to relocate from cold states to warm ones like Arizona, Texas, or Florida, other people just don’t want to give up the four seasons they’ve come to know and love. For those people, Utah provides the opportunity to sample amazing versions of all four seasons, from the states' world-class mountain ski resorts in the winter, to its beautiful hot deserts in the south during the summer. In fact, many Utah residents will brag about getting to spend a single day across several seasons - starting with a warm day of activities like hiking or biking and then making it up to the mountains in the afternoon to ski. And Utah isn’t just gorgeous in the winter and summer, as the spring and fall seasons allow you to take in gorgeous scenery with flowers blooming and leaves changing.  

If you know you're going to want your retirement to include great skiing, Utah may be perfect for you.

Not only will you have all four amazing seasons to enjoy in Utah, but there will be plenty for you to do in the state year round. Utah is home to five of the country’s most famous and striking National Parks: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. If you love being outdoors, you’ll find endless opportunities for hiking, fishing, biking, and just plain driving around Utah’s beautiful landscapes. And don’t worry, hiking and fishing aren’t the only things that will get you out of the house as Utah is also home to several world class entertainment options, such as the yearly Sundance Film Festival.  

Variety of Cities to Choose From

Another amazing part about retiring to Utah is that the state has so many unique cities of all types, so that no matter what your preferences are, it’s likely that you’ll be able to find the right place for you. If you’re interested in moving to a larger city, both Salt Lake City and Park City offer plenty of the hustle and bustle you would come to expect from a larger city, with plenty of dining and entertainment options. If you’re more in the mood for a small mountain town, a beautiful hidden gem like Bountiful or Logan may be right for you. And if you love the options of mountains, but prefer to spend the majority of your time in more of a desert locale, a town like St. George, located close to the Arizona border, might be more your style. If you want to learn more, feel free to check out our guide on all the best places to retire in Utah. To learn more about the best places in Utah to retire to, check out our blog post on the topic here.

Salt Lake City provides an amazing mix of the outdoors with big city life.

Great Healthcare

While it might not be the most exciting part of retirement planning, it’s important to make sure that you will have access to top-flight healthcare as you age, and this is certainly available in Utah, where the state’s healthcare system is consistently ranked as one of the best in the country. Importantly, not only are Utah’s healthcare facilities top-notch, they also provide amazing value as Utah’s healthcare costs are below the national average. This is a relief for retirees who sometimes spend a substantial amount of their savings on healthcare related matters in retirement. Finding a state like Utah - with high quality and low cost healthcare - can often be a very smart, and money-saving move, for those relocating for retirement.

Sensible Cost of Living

Although Utah is not one of the most affordable states in the country, it still provides for a friendly tax climate and reasonable cost of living that is still below many places around the country (particularly expensive coastal states like New York, Massachusetts, or California). Overall, most sources rank Utah somewhere in the middle of the pack for affordability, generally around the 28th most affordable state in the country. So there is still a good chance that wherever you are moving from, life will be more affordable once you get to Utah.

And while the overall ranking is just about average, if you dig a little deeper below the numbers there is plenty to like about Utah’s tax climate as a retiree. While Utah is unfortunately one of the handful of states that taxes Social Security and income from retirement accounts such as 401(k)’s, Simple IRA’s, or 403(b)’s, there does exist a minor tax credit for these accounts (to confirm how this could effect you, make sure to discuss with a financial professional). However, several other taxes are more favorable in Utah than in other states, such as the property taxes and sales taxes that are lower than other states. Property taxes in Utah are particularly favorable, as the average effective property tax rate in Utah is an incredibly low 0.58%. And when you factor in Utah’s low healthcare costs - which often take up a large portion of a retirees’ budget - the picture of Utah’s affordability actually becomes much better for retirees.

If you want to find an amazing retirement destination outside of the most popular destinations like Florida and Arizona, and don’t mind (or even enjoy!) some snowy winters, then Utah might be the perfect place for you. While the state is only around middle of the pack for affordability overall, it still provides for an incredibly comfortable and healthy life at an entirely reasonable cost (particularly when compared to incredibly high cost states like California or New York) and provides some great tax benefits in areas that really count for retirees, like property taxes or healthcare costs. And with the amazing diversity in environments and cities, you’re sure to find the perfect place for you to retire - whether that’s an old-west desert town, a sleepy mountain town, or a bustling metropolitan city.

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