While some other countries offer foreigners retirement visas, sometimes known as silver cards, the US does not have a retirement visa program.
However, just because the US does not specifically have a visa program for retirees does not mean that there are no options for those who wish to spend their golden years on US soil.
Retire in the US with EB-5 investor visa
If you do not have a close relative who is a US citizen and who can sponsor you, your best option for retiring to the US might be what is known as an ‘EB-5’ investor’s visa.
A visa that’s geared toward foreigners who have accumulated significant wealth and who would like to live and invest in the US, the EB-5 visa grants eventual permanent residency to those who are willing to invest either $800,000 (Dh2.9 million) or $1.05 million (Dh3.86 million) in a US business or project.
What are the best states in the US to retire?
Gulf News has put together a list of US cities that are widely considered ideal to retire, based on data compilations by two reputed research firms that have taken into consideration cost of living, affordable housing, average household income, among several other metrics.
Clever, a US-based real estate data company, published new research on the best retirement cities in the US, comparing the 50 most-populous US metropolitan areas across several metrics. These retirement spots provide the amenities new retirees want at a reasonable cost.
Similarly, US-based business forecast portal Kiplinger created a list using the following factors used to determine the ranking of all 50 states: cost of living, average retirement income, health care costs, poverty rates, retirement taxes, and economic well-being.
The southeastern US state on the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana, is a melting pot of French, African, American and French-Canadian cultures and is reflected in its Creole and Cajun cultures.
According to the Kiplinger study, the state has average yearly expenses of $48,320 (Dh177,484) and for someone to comfortably retire it would cost $57,984 (Dh212,981). On average, the savings required to retire in the state is $776,987 (Dh2.9 million).
The state’s largest city, New Orleans, which is known for its colonial-era French Quarter, raucous Mardi Gras festival and jazz music, is the top place to retire according to the Clever survey.
New Orleans also has an estimated annual property tax rate of only 0.7 per cent. That’s a 43 per cent lower property tax rate on your future home compared to 1.2 per cent in the average city in the Clever study.
The cost of single-family housing has grown at a smaller rate in New Orleans (58 per cent) than in the average city (126 per cent), making it a great option for retirees looking for housing that’s affordable, the study further added.
Alabama is the sixth-best state for retirement in the US, according to Kiplinger, while it ranks second, particularly the city of Birmingham, according to Clever.
Alabama has mild winters, beaches, and golf topped off by a cost of living that is 13 per cent below the national average, and Alabama’s highest state income tax rate is only 5 per cent, and traditional pension plans are exempt from income tax, according to an analysis by Kiplinger.
Additionally, research shows that Alabama has the second-lowest property taxes in the US at a rate of 0.42 per cent, and all homeowners 65 or older are exempt from state property taxes.
“Birmingham is a great choice if you’re looking for a retirement community. Nearly 23 per cent of the population in Birmingham is 60 years or older — 7.8 per cent higher than the average city in our study,” the researchers at Clever noted. “Our No. 2 city also has affordability going for it.”
The city has only experienced a 78.7 per cent increase in single-family home values since 2012, which is 38 per cent smaller than the increase in the average metro in our study (126.2 per cent).
Florida is the eighth-best state for retirement, according to Kiplinger, and the cities of Tampa and Miami rank seven and nine on the list compiled by Clever.
Florida has the highest share of seniors of any state in the US, comprising 19.1 per cent of the population. Florida has warm winters, miles of beaches, and the cost of living is about average.
Over one-fourth of the population in Tampa (27 per cent) is 60 years or older – 26 per cent higher than average, research from Clever revealed, while also noting that “this is not surprising, as Florida is one of the most popular states for folks from out of state to retire.”
“While part of Florida’s allure is the year-round great weather, it’s also an affordable place to live compared to many other states,” the analysts at Clever noted in their research.
Florida is also known for having minimal state income tax, estate tax, or inheritance tax, and the state does not tax retirement income. Tampa has an estimated annual property tax rate of just 0.9 per cent compared to 1.2 per cent average in the city.
While part of Florida’s allure is the year-round great weather, it’s also an affordable place to live compared to many other states
Like Tampa, Miami has a competitive annual property tax rate, at 0.99 per cent compared to 1.2 per cent in the average city in the Clever study, which is 18 per cent lower than average.
Affordable utilities are another financial draw for Miami, the study noted, while adding that a 915-square-foot apartment in the city has an average monthly bill of $134.93 (Dh500), 23 per cent lower than the monthly cost in the average metro.
However, although affordability was once a big selling point for Florida retirees, statistics indicate that advantage fading. The state’s cost of living has been rising, although the tax burden remains light, as touched upon above.
Tennessee ranks fifth for the best states to retire, according to Kiplinger, especially for budget-conscious retirees. Tennessee’s cost of living is 12 per cent below the US average, and the state does not levy state income taxes, helping retirement income go further.
Tennessee’s annual spending for a comfortable retirement is $55,425 (Dh203,577), the seventh-lowest in the country, the research showed.
Among the many cities in Tennessee, retirement homes in Nashville have a 22 per cent higher average visitor rating than the average city, Clever research showed.
“Coupled with quality retirement homes and a great music scene, Nashville’s affordable public transportation also really raises its allure for retirees who still want to get out and about but need some support,” the analysts at Clever added.
In Nashville, the research indicated that a monthly public transit pass is $67.50 (Dh250) – 6.7 per cent cheaper than average.
The seventh-best state for retirement in Virginia. Unfortunately, the beautiful scenery and charm of Virginia come with the cost of living 7 per cent above the US average; however, the average income for households 65 and older is $59,869 (Dh219,904) to cover it, analysis by Kiplinger showed.
Additionally, the research showed that healthcare costs for a retired couple are below average at $408,950 (Dh1.5 million). Virginia does not tax retirement fund, and those 65 and older can deduct up to $12,000 (Dh44,077) per person.
“Virginia is for homeowners,” researchers at Clever noted last month, while adding that home values in Richmond, the state’s capital and the oldest major city in the US, have increased just 74.3 per cent since 2012, a rise that’s 41 per cent smaller than in the average metro (126.2 per cent).
“Richmond has also seen a lower-than-average increase in condo and co-op home values (64.4 per cent) during the same time period, so it’s a more affordable place to purchase a home, no matter your preference.”
What’s more, Richmond has a competitive estimated annual property tax rate of 0.79 per cent, which is 34 per cent lower than average (1.2 per cent), the statistics put together by Clever indicated.
“Retirees in Richmond will also save quite a bit on monthly utilities,” the researchers noted, while adding that for a 915-square-foot apartment in Richmond, expect to pay about $155.49 (Dh570) in utilities, which is 11 per cent lower than the monthly cost in the average metro ($175.56 or Dh650).
Virginia is for homeowners and retirees in Richmond will also save quite a bit on monthly utilities
Although it can be difficult to retire in the US, and while there is no specific visa program for retirees, there are viable options to consider, especially if you have retirement money that you plan on investing.
A common mistake among potential retirees is inadequate planning about where they want to live in retirement, multiple global surveys indicate.
“So before moving to a new city, someone nearing retirement should think about such factors as how far their money will stretch, recreational opportunities, available health care facilities, and whether they will have a network of friends and family nearby,” said Dubai-based financial planner Rupesh Naish.
“Another key consideration in choosing where to retire — whether you’ll outlive your savings. On average if you make it to age 65 you are looking at roughly another 8,000 days, which is about the same amount of time from middle to old age.”
When it comes to deciding when to retire, apart from the states mentioned in the above surveys, other studies show that South Carolina, which is known for having the oldest museum in the US, is also an ideal spot for retirees.
A study by US consumer financial services company Bankrate released last month also named Georgia, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio as the top states to retire in. The most affordable states for retirement were Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a household in the US headed by someone aged 65 and older spent an average of $48,791 (Dh179,208) per year, or $4,065.95 (Dh14,930) per month, between 2016 and 2020.