Located in the “Deep South,” Mississippi is a popular state in which to retire, and there are many reasons to consider choosing it as a retirement location. So, should you retire in Mississippi?
Retiring in Mississippi is an excellent option if you want a low cost of living, inexpensive housing, and warm weather year-round. Bear in mind that it has a poor health infrastructure, high annual rainfall, and is susceptible to extreme weather events.
The rest of this article will discuss what it is like living in the Magnolia State and will look at the pros and cons of retiring there.
What It’s Like Living in Mississippi
Before deciding whether or not to retire in Mississippi, it’s wise to get a general idea of what it’s like living in the state.
Mississippi is also known as the Magnolia State due to its preponderance of sweet-smelling magnolia trees. It is named after the Mississippi River that runs through it and is the 35th most populous state.
Mississippi lies in the southeast and shares borders with Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
The Mississippi River runs into the Gulf of Mexico in the south, while the Mississippi Delta is a fertile region with lush forests and thriving farmland.
Most of the state is low lying, but central Mississippi and the northeastern region are more hilly.
With its humid subtropical climate, Mississippi has long summers and short, temperate winters.
In July, the average temperature is 81°F (27°C), while January has a median temperature of 42°F (6°C). The coastal areas are typically warmer, but the higher-lying regions are cooler and sometimes experience low snowfall in the winter.
Mississippi is a high rainfall area and has around 58 inches (147.32 cm) of rain a year.
Major Towns and Cities
Biloxi and Gulfport are coastal towns with plenty of hotels, casinos, and entertainment.
Mississippi has a rich rural culture that continues to influence the way of life for residents today. Life in the state is laid back, peaceful, and slow-paced.
Locals are proud of their musical heritage. The Delta Blues, gospel, and jazz music originated in Mississippi, and there are countless live music venues offering these genres.
Pros of Retiring in Mississippi
As with each state in the country, there are pros and cons to choosing it for your retirement. Mississippi is no different, and there are benefits and drawbacks to retiring in the Magnolia State.
Below we will take a look at the pros and cons of retiring in Mississippi:
Low Cost of Living
Looking to retire in a place where you can stretch your dollar as much as possible? According to a report by World Population Review, Mississippi offers the lowest cost of living in the country. At a whopping 10.9% lower than the country’s average, you can make the most out of your retirement funds.
Mississippi fully embodies the concept of southern hospitality. Locals will greet each other with huge smiles and open arms. Your neighbors will also soon become like family, help you out, and quickly welcome you into the community. This kind of friendly community spirit can make your retirement a very happy and sociable one.
If you are sick and tired of long, cold, and snowy winters, Mississippi could be an excellent option for you. The Magnolia State very rarely experiences snowfall and, although temperatures can reach freezing in the middle of winter, Mississippi winters are generally mild.
Mississippi Has Active Adult Communities Throughout the State
Active Adult Communities are residential developments for the over 55s and offer independent living, activities with peers, and maintenance-free living. There are five Active Adult Communities in beautiful Mississippi locations including, Tupelo, Olive Branch, Hernando, Southaven, and Luka.
Low Housing Costs
According to Zillow, Mississippi has the second-lowest housing costs in the country, with only West Virginia being cheaper. The median home value in Mississippi is $131,031 compared with the national average of $284,600. You could buy a well-sized oceanfront, 3-bedroom home in Biloxi for just under $200,000.
Mississippi also offers lower-than-average property taxes. At only 0.79%, it is well below the national average of 1.1%.
Mississippi Charges No Income Tax on Social Security Benefits
The Magnolia State favors retirees when it comes to social security and retirement fund withdrawals. There is no tax on certified retirement income, including IRAs and 401(k)s. This means you’ll have more leeway when using that retirement fund you’ve worked so hard to build up!
A Relaxing Way of Life
Most of Mississippi is rural, and the population has a laid-back and relaxed approach to life. Even the largest city, Jackson, doesn’t have a fast-paced and urban feel to it. If you want your retirement years to be relaxing and comfortable, the Magnolia State could be perfect for you.
Excellent Hunting Opportunities
If you enjoy hunting in your spare time, Mississippi could be suitable for you. As a sparsely populated state, Mississippi has more deer than people and is considered the top state for whitetail deer hunting. There are plenty of hunting spots in this mostly-rural state.
The Magnolia State Has a Low Population Density
Mississippi ranks as the 32nd most densely populated state in the country at 63.2 people per square mile. A benefit to the low population density in Mississippi is the relatively quiet roads. Outside of the major Mississippi cities, it’s rare to encounter traffic jams, which is perfect for those that enjoy the quiet streets.
Driving Is Convenient in the Magnolia State
Although there is no extensive railway network or viable public transport system in Mississippi, it’s easy to get around by car. The state has an excellent interstate system with four major highways.
The I-55 runs from north to south through the state, while the I-10 is an east to west road along the coastline. Interstate 20 is an east-to-west highway through the center of Mississippi, and I-59 serves the southeastern section of Mississippi.
Mississippi Has a Coastline
The Mississippi coastline is 62 miles long on the Gulf of Mexico. It boasts beautiful, white sand beaches and 12 coastal towns, with Biloxi being the largest. The coastline has many hotels, casinos, and restaurants that serve fresh seafood and other southern delicacies.
The State Is Known for Its Delicious Southern Food
Mississippi is famous for its delicious southern cuisine. Many locals believe that Mississippi barbecue is the best in the country, and there is always fresh seafood available (fried catfish is the most popular dish).
You can order Mississippi mud pie, Cajun fried pecans, shrimp, collard greens, and cornbread in most restaurants.
Low Crime Rate
Despite its reputation for being the poorest state, Mississippi has a low overall crime rate. Much of the state is rural, with close-knit communities, which may be the reason for the low crime rate. Even in the larger urban areas, violent crime is below the national average, making it a consideration if you value personal safety highly.
The State Has an Understated but Excellent Cultural Scene
Mississippi is not famous for its cultural richness, but it has a strong musical heritage. The Delta Blues music genre originated in Mississippi, and it has produced some excellent jazz and gospel music.
You can attend live blues music performances throughout the state, and the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra has regular concerts. Ole Miss’s Gertrude Ford Center for the Performing Arts also often hosts cultural performances and concerts. There are also many museums, including the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Museum of Mississippi History, and the Delta Blues Museum.
Mississippi Offers Plenty of Outdoor Activities
Whether you enjoy golfing, hunting, sailing, or hiking, Mississippi provides many outdoor activities. Locals enjoy fishing off the Ross Barnett Reservoir or Mississippi River, strolling through the many forested areas, and exploring the picturesque coastline.
The University of Mississippi Offers Free Courses for Seniors
The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) provides a free, lifelong learning program for retirees. Over 65s may take up to four free hours of courses each month. These courses do not give credit toward a degree course, but they can keep your mind active during retirement.
Cons of Retiring in Mississippi
Although there are many advantages to retiring in Mississippi, there are also some drawbacks.
Here are the downsides of retiring in the Magnolia State:
Poor Healthcare Infrastructure
As we grow older, access to good quality healthcare becomes essential. According to a study by The Commonwealth Fund, Mississippi ranks last nationally for healthcare quality. Part of the reason is a lack of healthcare professionals, which has been an issue for many years. If you want to be close to the best hospitals in the state (Mississippi Baptist Medical Center or North Mississippi Medical Center), you need to live in Jackson or Tupelo.
Mississippi also has a high obesity rate, and many residents do not have adequate healthcare. The high death rate is indicative of the state’s poor healthcare system and its weak healthcare infrastructure.
Mississippi Is Prone to Extreme Weather Events
The Magnolia State has an average of 81 thunderstorms per year. It also has the country’s second-highest number of tornadoes per year, and the risk becomes more significant the closer you move to the coast. Residents must always have a safe evacuation plan and ensure that their homes are sufficiently fortified before. Most coastal homes have shutters on the windows.
Mississippi Is Not As Diverse as the Rest of the Country
If you have a progressive mindset, you may find it difficult living in Mississippi. The state is known for its lack of diversity and unwillingness to embrace change, making newcomers feel like they live in a bygone era.
Lack of Large Cities and Big City Living
While some retirees enjoy a quiet and peaceful existence, others prefer the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan city. If this is what you’re looking for when you retire, Mississippi cannot offer a thriving urban existence. Mississippi’s cities can provide access to shops, restaurants, and entertainment, but they may not be to the same degree as some other larger cities.
Inconvenient for International Travel
Many retired folks enjoy discovering international destinations and, if this sounds like you, you may find it problematic living in Mississippi. The closest airport for international flights is in Memphis, which is a long drive away. Jackson Airport, however, offers direct flights to the main US hubs but traveling internationally out of Mississippi can be expensive and takes longer.
Mississippi Is a High Rainfall Area
If you dream of retiring in a sunny place where rain is rare, Mississippi may not be the best option for you. It has an average annual rainfall of 58 inches (147.32 cm), compared with the national average of only 38 inches (96.52 cm). On average, you can bank on having nine rainy days per month. There is more rain in the south than in the north, making coastal locations less attractive if you don’t like rain.
The Mosquitos in Summer Can Be Very Annoying
If you don’t mind being outdoors during the hot summer months, you’ll need to deal with the pesky mosquitos and take measures to prevent being bitten.
Mississippi has over 50 species of mosquito, and some of these carry viruses, such as West Nile Virus, LaCrosse Encephalitis, and St. Louis Encephalitis. Most Mississippi locals have window and door screens and routinely check their properties for stagnant water (which breeds mosquitos).
Mississippi Residents Are Some of the Most Miserable in the Country
A survey conducted by Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index revealed that Magnolia State residents are some of the unhappiest citizens in the country. The survey took various factors into account, including physical and emotional wellbeing, work satisfaction, sense of community, and environment.
High Poverty Rate
Mississippi has the highest poverty rate in the country. The national poverty rate is 13.4%, while the Magnolia State is at 19.6%. Living in a place with a high poverty rate can be depressing as it is difficult to see one’s fellow citizens struggling with life. It also means there may be less investment and stability in certain areas, so you may encounter shops and restaurants closing frequently.
Mississippi Doesn’t Have a Big Sports Scene
With its low population density, there is not a big market for professional sports in Mississippi. Major Mississippi sports teams include the Ole Miss football team and The New Orleans Saints. Although there is always a lot of hype on game day, the state is not known for its sports enthusiasm, which could be disappointing if you love watching local sports.
Hot and Humid Summers
With its subtropical climate, Mississippi can get extremely hot and humid during the summer. You can expect the uncomfortably hot and humid conditions to last from March through October.
If you are not a fan of heat and humidity, you may be tempted to spend the hottest months indoors with the air conditioning turned on. This could affect your lifestyle if you enjoy being outdoors.
High Property Insurance Rates for Coastal Homes
Some of the most beautiful places in Mississippi are along the coastline. However, since the Gulf of Mexico is a cyclone risk, you can expect to pay hefty insurance premiums on your property. You’ll probably also have to splash out more on storm-proof windows and doors to keep a coastal home safe.
The Magnolia State Has Some of the Worst Drivers in the Country
Living in Mississippi, you will likely need to drive everywhere due to the lack of public transport and hot, humid weather. According to a study conducted by Car Insurance Comparison, the Magnolia State ranks the tenth worst nationally. This was determined based on the number of speeding, drunk driving, and poor quality driving incidents in the state.
High Unemployment Rate
Although most retirees do not plan on working again, if you were interested in gaining employment in the future, you would find it difficult in Mississippi as the unemployment rate is high and competition for jobs is also high. The state has struggled to recover from the 2008 Recession, and the recent pandemic has not helped.
Mississippi Has the Lowest National Life Expectancy
With its life expectancy at birth calculated to be 75, Mississippi ranks the lowest in the country. Again, this is likely due to poor health infrastructure and the high unemployment, obesity, and poverty rates.
Finally, Mississippi politics can be either a pro or a con, depending on your political stance. Most people in the state are GOP-style Republicans, and if you have differing political views, you might find it challenging to fit in.
Choosing Mississippi as a retirement location is a personal decision and depends on what’s important to you.
It is an excellent idea if you enjoy hot and humid weather and a relaxed, rural lifestyle. Mississippi offers the lowest cost of living nationally, doesn’t tax social security income, and has low property taxes. It also has a beautiful coastline, excellent outdoor activities, and a low crime rate.
On the flip side, Mississippi has a poor healthcare infrastructure, is prone to extreme weather events, and has high annual rainfall. If you live near the ocean, your property insurance premiums will be increased.
- Mighty Mississippi: Retire in Mississippi
- Wikipedia: Mississippi Delta
- Britannica: Humid Subtropical Climate
- The City of Jackson Mississippi: Homepage
- Wikipedia: Biloxi
- World Population Review: States with the Lowest Cost of Living
- Oxford MS: Homepage
- Britannica: Hattiesburg
- Gulfport: Coastal Mississippi
- Where You Live Matters: What is an Active Adult Community?
- Wikipedia: Tupelo
- Olive Branch Mississippi: Homepage
- City of Hernando: Homepage
- Southaven: Homepage
- Wikipedia: Luka
- Zillow: Homepage
- Wikipedia: Interstate 55
- i10 Highway: Homepage
- Interstate Guide: I-20
- Interstate Guide: I-50
- All Music: Delta Blues
- Ford Center: Homepage
- The Commonwealth Fund: Homepage
- Gallup: How Does the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index Work?