Retirement is a time to enjoy your hard-earned savings while looking back at the life you’ve built over several decades. While Florida comes to mind when thinking about retirement, there are other equally great places for retirement, including Colorado and Wyoming. But which state is better for retirement?
While Wyoming has lower tax and crime rates, Colorado has better healthcare access and more sunny days. Wyoming and Colorado both have their charms, but the latest rankings by Bankrate ranked Wyoming as the 6th best state to retire while Colorado came in 34th.
If you’re thinking about retiring in the mountains, read on. When you’re done with this article, you’ll have a better idea of how you can comfortably spend your golden years in the golden West.
1. Tax Rates
Part of the reason why retirees flock to Florida is the state’s favorable tax laws. Contrary to popular misconception, some states tax retirement income, but Wyoming isn’t one of them. In fact, the state doesn’t tax any income.
Wyoming earns most of its money from mining taxes, which is why it doesn’t burden its citizens with taxes. According to The Tax Foundation, Wyoming’s combined state and local sales tax rate is around 6%.
The only other place you’ll find such a favorable combination of tax laws is in Alaska, and I highly doubt that you’ll want to retire in an area that’s perpetually covered in snow.
Colorado, on the other hand, does tax retirement income. However, it exempts $20,000 from retirees aged 55 to 64. The exemption increases to $24,000 for retirees aged above 65. Property taxes are low, but sales tax in Colorado is relatively high.
However, medicines and groceries are tax-exempt.
Wyoming triumphs over Colorado in the taxation department. While Colorado offers reasonable tax exemptions for employees, it can’t compete with Wyoming’s offer of zero taxes.
2. Weather and Scenery
Wyoming and Colorado are mountainous states, but they don’t receive as much snow as people believe. Wyoming averages over 200 sunny days per year, and while you can expect snow during the winter times, the heaviest snow happens near the mountains.
The scenery in Wyoming is fantastic because the mountains offer breathtaking views, as well as the seven national parks in the state. Yellowstone and Grand Teton are perhaps the most famous national parks in the state as they offer beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife.
Colorado is a bit sunnier than Wyoming, with the state enjoying over 250 sunny days per year. Surprisingly, Colorado experiences more sunny days than Miami Beach. Therefore, if it’s the sun you’re after, I suggest that you head to Colorado rather than Florida.
Colorado has fewer national parks than Wyoming, but the state still offers exceptional scenery. The four national parks in the states have plenty of wildlife and sites that will blow you away.
Wyoming and Colorado seemingly tie when it comes to weather and scenery. Colorado is better than Wyoming with its offering of more sunny days, but Wyoming swings back with more national parks.
3. Access to Healthcare
Wyoming ranks rather poorly when it comes to access to healthcare.
Per a 2021 report by WalletHub, Wyoming is among the bottom 10 states for healthcare, because the state is among the twelve in America that haven’t embraced Medicaid expansion. Wyoming also ranks in the top five among states with the highest insurance premiums.
The state also ranks below the national average in terms of healthcare providers per 100,000 people, but Wyoming partially redeems itself via its substantial investments in senior welfare.
However, that achievement can barely mask the broader healthcare problems in Wyoming.
Colorado, on the other hand, ranks among the top 10 states with the best healthcare. The 2021 ranking extends Colorado’s stay near the top of state healthcare rankings. The state ranks highly in terms of cost and accessibility of healthcare.
Colorado takes the prize when considering access to healthcare. Wyoming tries to paper over the cracks of its flawed healthcare system by investing in senior care, but there’s no denying that Wyoming needs to improve its healthcare system fast.
Security is a prime consideration when it comes to choosing your retirement home because you need to enjoy your retirement earnings in peace. According to US News, Wyoming ranks at number 21 for safety.
The average violent crime rate per 1000 people is 2.2, which represents a 5% increase since 2020. On the other hand, property crime rates have dropped by 12% in 2021.
The same study by US News ranks Colorado at 41st for crime, but the situation appears to be getting worse for Colorado. The crime rate in Denver, Colorado, hit historic highs in 2020 and has kept rising in 2021.
Per a report compiled in mid-2021, crime in Colorado went up 22% in 2021.
Unless Colorado state officials find a solution for the crime problem, retirees will avoid the state. It might also lose its retiring natives to other states.
Wyoming carries the day as it has much lower crime rates compared to Colorado. Meanwhile, Colorado’s crime situation worsens by the day. Keep in mind, though, that crime rates can vary widely within a state or even within a city or town.
Before you decide to put down roots anywhere, make sure your new home is a safe one.
5. Retirement Activities
Wyoming has done plenty to make the state attractive to seniors, and in fact, three of its cities have been declared “age-friendly communities” by the American Association of Retired Persons. The state has attracted many retirees, with over 13% of its population over 65 years old.
There are plenty of outdoor activities that seniors can engage in. Fishing, hunting, and hiking are the favored outdoor activities during the over 200 days of sunshine in Wyoming.
In Colorado, people over 65 years old make up slightly over 12% of the population, and as a result, the state offers plenty of outdoor activities for its seniors. The mountainous state has national parks conducive for hunting and fishing.
During the summer season, ski towns offer attractive hiking and camping opportunities.
Wyoming notches ahead slightly in this category as its officials have created an environment conducive to seniors. The abundant outdoor activities serve as a bonus for retirees that chose Wyoming.
6. Property Rates
The mountain states of Colorado and Wyoming emerged out of the 2006-7 housing meltdown relatively unscathed because people hadn’t built many properties in those states.
Wyoming’s tax rates and large swathes of land contribute to its attractive real estate market because it offers different real estate markets for retirees to choose from. They also rank in the bottom ten for property sale prices.
Colorado, on the other hand, ranks in the top ten for property sale prices. I would advise a retiree looking to purchase property to head to Wyoming rather than Colorado.
The property rates in Wyoming are some of the best in the country. Conversely, Colorado performs relatively poorly at its real estate prices. The property rates in Wyoming are way cheaper than the rates in Colorado, so Wyoming wins that contest, hands down.
The best option for a retirement state between Wyoming and Colorado is Wyoming. Colorado’s tax relief for retirees pales in comparison to what Wyoming offers.
Wyoming and Colorado are very similar in terms of weather and scenery. Wyoming is more secure than Colorado, whose security situation has gotten worse in 2021. Some argue that Wyoming and Colorado draw in the retirement activities metric.
I sway towards Wyoming as it has done so much more to improve the comfort of its seniors.
Even though Colorado outshines Wyoming in the access to healthcare metric, Wyoming is the clear winner.
- Bankrate: The best and worst states for retirement 2021
- Financial Samurai: Which states are best for retirement?
- Tax Foundation: State and Local Sales Tax Rates in 2015
- USA Today: The 5 best states to retire to that AREN’T Florida or Arizona
- Colorado PERA: Taxes on Benefits Information
- Current Results: Annual Days of Sunshine in Wyoming
- Hashtag Colorado Life: What Winter in Colorado is REALLY Like: 5 Tips for Living in Snow
- LeisureCare: 10 Reasons to Retire in Colorado
- Yahoo!Finance: These are the best and worst states for healthcare
- The Center Square: Report: Colorado is the seventh-best state for health care
- U.S.News: Overall Best States Rankings
- SafeWise: Wyoming’s 10 Safest Cities of 2021
- Fox31: Denver crime up 22% in June since last year
- TopRetirements.com: Dueling Mountain States for Retirement
- Insider: Why Wyoming May Be the Ideal Place for Retirement