As boomers approach retirement age, they’re likely to start scouting for the best places to retire. For most of them, small states such as Delaware are often on the top of the list of prospective states. Like any other place, retiring in Delaware has both its merits and demerits.
Retiring in Delaware is a good idea but like in anything, there are pros and cons. The benefits include lower taxes, lovely beachy views, and a vibrant senior community. However, the high population density may be a problem for a retiree looking to keep a low profile.
If you’ve been thinking of retiring in Delaware, you’ll find this article quite helpful. We’ll tackle the pros and cons of retiring in Delaware, the best places for retirees in the state, and some of the things you can do while in Delaware. But first, let’s dig a little into Delaware and what it has to offer.
Unraveling the First State
Delaware is known by several nicknames, and the Diamond State has lived up to all of them. Although it is the second smallest state in the United States, it is also quite densely populated, ranking sixth in this category. Delaware has three counties: New Castle, Kent, and Sussex, making it the state with the lowest number of counties in the entire country.
Delaware got its name from the Delaware River, which was, in turn, named after Sir Thomas West (Lord de la Warr). Delaware’s official nickname is ‘The First State’ owing to the fact that it was the first to validify the US constitution in 1787.
The ‘Diamond State’ comes from Thomas Jefferson’s comparison of Delaware to a Diamond, small but valuable. The state’s strategic location on the Eastern Seaboard makes it a precious jewel. Delaware has embraced this nickname and even showcases a colored diamond as the frame in the coat of arms. Other names given to this state include the Blue Hen State, the Peach State, and the Corporate Capital.
Delaware is mostly known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, the Blue Hens (fans and alumni of the University of Delaware), and the tax-free shopping.
One of the things that draw retirees to the state is the convenient proximity to other major cities. You can quickly jump into a car or train and head on to any nearby cities in a little under two hours. Therefore, seniors living in the state don’t have to worry about being too far away from their friends and family.
Additionally, the state has tons of activities to offer, which is an excellent attraction for someone who suddenly has so much time on their hands.
Benefits of Retiring in Delaware
If you’re thinking of heading to Delaware after retirement, you undoubtedly have some excellent reasons up your sleeve. After all, the state provides an excellent opportunity to live by the beachside without having to move all the way to the south.
But if you still need some convincing, here are some of the reasons why you should think of living out your golden years in the Blue Hen State:
If anything, this has got to be the primary reason why most seniors prefer going to Delaware after retirement. Let’s face it; unless you’re living off some family inheritance, you’ll likely want to cut down your costs as much as possible. Taxes take up a significant portion of your retirement benefits in most states, but not in Delaware.
If you choose to head to Delaware after retirement, you’ll get to enjoy certain tax benefits. For starters, Delaware doesn’t impose sales tax, which means you get tax-free shopping. The state also waivers the taxes on any social security income.
Although the Delaware State taxes apply to a retiree’s pension and 401(k) of income subject to federal tax, the state is tax-friendly to seniors. Anyone above the age of 60 qualifies for an exclusion of up to $12,500 from retirement income, including IRAs and pension income. Seniors over 65 years old get to benefit from an additional deduction of $2,500.
Another significant reason why seniors move from their former homes upon retirement is the plummeting property taxes. Delaware has relatively lower property taxes as compared to other states. Although the exact figure varies by county, homeowners over the age of 65 get a tax credit of up to $400 on their Delaware property. The only prerequisite is that their property tax payments are up to date.
The tax bracket for income less than $60,000 is 2.2%-5.55%, and income above $60,000 is taxed 6.6%, which is still relatively low. All these factors, including the lower-than-average gas tax, make Delaware one of the country’s top ten most tax-friendly states.
Sure, the tax options should not be a consideration when choosing your retirement home, but you should certainly consider living in a state where all your hard-earned money won’t go down the drain because of taxes.
Proximity to Other Northeastern Cities
One of the significant worries for seniors looking for a place to retire is finding a quiet place to spend your retirement years, yet close enough to where all the action takes place. If you would like to still hold some proximity to major cities and metropolitan areas, Delaware is one of the best choices.
The state has a convenient central location, making it great for anyone who wants to go on day trips and explore the nearby cities. Most of the major cities in North-East America are within short drives from Delaware.
Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, New Jersey, and even New York are all within hours from Delaware. If you’d like to rush to any of these cities, you can easily set out in the morning and be back home in time. You won’t even have to spend time in traffic in the rush hours.
Besides, with so much time in retirement, why not plan a road trip over the weekend? You could get started on Friday, hop into several cities, and be back home on Sunday after some sightseeing. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
Gorgeous Beaches and Seaside Retreats
After spending so many years working, you’ll likely want to have some time to unwind and relax. What better way to spend some idyllic summer days other than on the beach? Delaware is home to several gorgeous beaches, with some of them, such as Rehoboth, being major tourist attractions. The state is packed with so many beach towns; you can try out a new one every time you head to the beach.
You’ll also love the seaside retreats and the therapeutic scenery they bring. If you’re having a long day, a stroll by the beach should help you recharge. You can also use these paths as your jogging trails and get in some exercise while you’re at it.
The folks at Delaware love watching the sunrise and sunsets, and it’s quite clear why. The beaches provide an opportunity for you to catch the gorgeous views just before you start your day or as you are winding up. The best part about the beaches in Delaware is that they are absolutely clean and unspoiled. When your family comes to visit, they’ll be a great place to spend an afternoon with them.
Rich Cultural and Historical Heritage
Delaware has a rich history that dates back almost 400 years. Most of it has been carefully preserved over the years, and if history fascinates you, there’s a lot you’re going to love about the Diamond State.
The state is home to several historical landmarks, botanical gardens, and lovely estate homes. You’ll also love the tours that showcase the magnificent 17th-century Dutch architecture. The Du Pont mansion, Winterthur, is also a sight to behold. The 1600’s whaling settlement Lewes also holds a significant part of Delaware’s history.
For veterans or anyone interested in the US Military, the Air Mobility Command Museum will pique your interest. The museum showcases the history of the US Military in detail.
If you’re more inclined to the arts, the Delaware gallery scene has you covered. There are several small galleries, theatres, museums, and festivals to keep you occupied. The Delaware Art Museum is home to American art dating all the way back to the 19th century. Jazz fans will especially be delighted to know that Delaware hosts the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, the biggest one on the entire East Coast.
Who said retirement means being home by seven? Delaware is home to a variety of vibrant night activities that are ideal for a retiree who doesn’t need to be up by eight the next morning.
As the sun sets at the end of every day, the entertainment scene gears up for a night full of bliss. From the bustling bars in Wilmington, Dewey Beach, Newark, and Rehoboth Beach, to the numerous restaurants and cultural events. Believe it, your problem will be keeping track of everything that’s going on.
The numerous festivals in this state, including the Punkin Chunkin Festival, ensure the night comes alive all year round. Rehoboth Beach hosts the Sea Witch Weekend, which brings together Halloween and food to form one of the most iconic festivals in the state.
Delaware is known as the culinary coast, and most visitors attest to eating out as their favorite activity in the state. You can use these night-time festivals to wine and dine in the different restaurants and eateries available. You can be sure that you’ll find diverse, delicious cuisine to whet your appetite.
Quality Healthcare Facilities
Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, you’ll probably need more medical attention now that you’re a retiree. When deciding the best place to retire, you must consider the healthcare facilities available and the range of services they offer.
Delaware has some of the best healthcare facilities you could wish for. As we’ve mentioned before, the state is a favorite for many baby boomers looking to live out their golden years. As such, it is packed with excellent quality healthcare centers, so you don’t need to worry about that.
Excellent Educational Opportunities
Perhaps you would like to continue learning now that you have loads of free time. If you decide to retire to Delaware, you can use the opportunity to enroll at the University of Delaware. The institution offers a Higher Education for Senior Citizens Program. You can obtain formal degrees through this program.
The program is open to seniors above the age of 60. Candidates get the chance to attend classes tuition-free and earn credits for them. Whether you want to fulfill a lifelong dream of graduating from the university or simply want to bag another degree, the University of Delaware’s lecture halls are an excellent place to pass the time.
Ideal for Making New Senior Friends
If you’re leaving your family and friends behind, you may find yourself longing for some company from people in your age bracket. Luckily for you, Delaware has an active senior community that’ll make you feel right at home.
A significant number of residents are retirees, and you’re bound to make a friend or two within no time in the state. Besides, there are several retirement homes in Delaware, and if you’re more inclined to an institution where there are professionals to take care of you, you’re going to love it. Retirement homes also provide an excellent opportunity to mingle with fellow seniors and spend some quality time with friends.
The state also has some excellent choices for age-restricted communities. There are plenty of 55+ Active Adult communities, waterfront communities, beach properties, and even small towns. You can also opt for an All Ages community that comes with the same facilities and amenities.
Disadvantages of Retiring in Delaware
We’d be lying if we said that retiring to Delaware is all rosy. Of course, certain things about the Blue Hen State stick out like a sore thumb. You’re going to need all the facts so you can make a sound decision about retiring to Delaware. Here are some of the things that you may not like:
High Population Density
Although Delaware is the second smallest state in landmass, it accounts for a vast population of about one million residents. This means that moving there will have you dealing with a high population density. Crowds and congestion in the state can be quite overwhelming.
If you’re planning to move about the state, then you’ll have to contend with running into people every so often. Therefore, you should reconsider your decision if you’re particularly keen on maintaining your space after retirement. Delaware is just not that state for you.
Poor Public Safety
Although Delaware’s crime rates are not precisely too high, you may want to read up on them before permanently moving there. The state ranks #17 in the states with the lowest public safety. Sure, this doesn’t sound too bad, but it could certainly use some improvement.
Towns such as Wilmington defamed Delaware by ranking first in worst states with violent crimes. The city is also home to the highest number of sex offenders and is nicknamed Murder Town, USA.
Over recent years, more people have developed an interest in Delaware, which has led to buildings cropping up in every street. What was once a peaceful state with only the necessary amenities is now home to more facilities than you could imagine. A common complaint among the locals is the rapid emergence of strip malls everywhere.
Over urbanization has turned Delaware into a sore site. This, coupled with the high population density, can be too much to take on for a retiree who’s looking for some quiet golden years by the beach.
Limited Public Transport Means
You’re going to need a personal car if you want to retire to Delaware. The state doesn’t have quality public transport means in place, and getting around without a car will be a challenge.
If you don’t drive or don’t plan to do so after retirement, you shouldn’t think of retiring to Delaware. Additionally, getting an international flight from Delaware is going to be a hassle. Because everyone drives themselves, you’ll have to contend with crazy traffic. You’ll need to get out of the state so that you can catch a flight to any place outside the country. The airport at New Castle only offers some destination flights to the US.
Terrible Traffic and Drivers
If you’ve never experienced road rage at hand, you’re going to do so in this state. Delaware is home to some of the most horrible drivers and ranks first in the states with the most careless and aggressive drivers. Everyone is driving their personal cars, and there’s a high population density, which means that you’re likely going to be running into each other.
According to Delaware residents, road rage is pretty standard, and drivers will often honk at you when you’re in their way (and even when you’re not).
Every state has its set of laws that just don’t make sense to anyone, including the residents. However, some of Delaware’s rules are plain weird and will leave you with more questions than answers.
For example, residents cannot use a prosthetic limb to buy items in a pawnshop. You’re also not allowed to change clothes in the bathrooms at beaches. So, you’ll have to walk home in your wet swimsuit or stick around at the beach till you are dry.
Additionally, pretending to be asleep on the benches at Rehoboth’s boardwalk is not allowed, and you can apply for an annulment if you get married on a dare.
All these laws sound pretty ridiculous, don’t you think?
The Best Places to Retire in Delaware
If you’ve already made up your mind about retiring to Delaware, the next big step is choosing a place to live. Undoubtedly, your dream retirement home should allow you to lead a laidback lifestyle where you get to relax and catch up with friends. The best part is that the community around helps you fit in and foster your new lifestyle.
Well, we’ve already mentioned the benefits of retiring to Delaware. Here are some of the places you should consider:
Rehoboth is an attractive option for anyone who would like to live near the sea but isn’t ready to move all the way to Florida. Additionally, this location presents one of the best places for retirees who would still like to remain active, thanks to the beach’s numerous activities.
Rehoboth is in Sussex County and has a population of about 1281. Life here is relatively quiet as residents here prefer to keep to themselves. However, the bars, restaurants, and coffee shops are excellent places to hang out with some friends for brunch and catch up. You’ll also love the seaside retreat that is great when you want to clear up your mind after a long day or week.
A significant downside to moving to Rehoboth is the exorbitant home prices. Seeing as the place is so close to the beach, the demand is relatively high, which drives the prices as high as $800,000. But, if you’re willing to spend the money for magnificent ocean views, you should go for it undoubtedly.
If you are a history buff, New Castle should be your first option. This town is rich with the country’s and state’s history and is home to five museums. The Old Library Museum is home to thousands of classic books, while the Velocipede Museum houses tricycles, vintage bikes, and other cycling memorabilia.
Fifteen blocks of the town have been designated as a National Historic Landmark Area, which played a significant role in the town’s preservation of history. If you’re looking to move to this beautiful town, you’ll get to enjoy several special annual events. The parade, fireworks, and live music in mid-June’s Separation day are especially something to look forward to.
The dining and shopping choices in New Castle are limited. But, you can always drive up to one of the nearby cities. Wilmington is only 15 minutes away, while the 2-hour train ride will get you to New York City.
You’re probably feeling old age catching up with you, and one of the best ways to keep feeling young is to have the college life experience. Newark is home to the University of Delaware and provides the ideal college town experience. Retirees who are enrolled in the University’s Higher Education for Senior Citizen’s program will absolutely love the experience of living in Newark.
Unlike New Castle, Newark is buzzing with locally-owned restaurants and specialty shops to tend to different palates. Newark’s residents generally live a car-free lifestyle, which makes it easier to move. The town is also alive with various outdoor activities, including cycling and bird watching in the State Park. You can also hike on one of the trails when you’re free or pick one for your morning or evening jog.
The majority of Newark’s population comprises Blue Hens. Therefore, some areas of the town can get pretty rowdy when school is in session.
Lewes is an excellent choice for retirees who don’t want to be cramped up in Rehoboth Beach but still want the lifestyle by the ocean. Lewes has equally beautiful sceneries but costs much less than the more popular beach town.
Lewes was the first town in Delaware and dated back to 1631. Therefore, the town holds a rich history that will interest any seniors who love getting into details of the past. Unlike Rehoboth Beach, Lewes doesn’t get swarmed with tourists in the summer, which will give you plenty of space to enjoy the outdoor activities you’ll come to love. Some of these activities could be biking and hiking on any of the available trails.
There are plenty of art galleries to visit, and the Lewes Theatre Club is a favorite for lovers of classical and contemporary plays. If you’d like to learn something new, you can take up some painting, art, or poetry classes in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, run by the University of Delaware.
Choosing your retirement home isn’t easy, and you need to consider several factors. How is life there? What about the cost of living? Will you be too far from your family? And what activities can you engage in?
Delaware is one of the best states to consider for your retirement. Here’s a recap of the pros of retiring to Delaware:
- Delaware is tax-friendly.
- It’s close to other NorthEastern cities.
- There are gorgeous beaches and seaside retreats.
- It has a rich cultural and historical heritage.
- It has a vibrant nightlife.
- The state has quality healthcare facilities.
- Excellent educational opportunities.
- It’s ideal for making new senior friends.
On the downside, you may have to deal with some demerits:
- It has a high population density.
- The crime rate is a bit high.
- There’s over urbanization.
- It has limited public transport means.
- It has terrible traffic and drivers.
- It has weird laws.
- Wikipedia: Delaware
- Netstate: The State of Delaware
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- Active Adults Delaware: Where Should I Retire? Why Delaware is a Great Choice
- Acts Retirement: Want to Retire to Delaware? 10 Reasons Why That’s a Great Idea
- Montchanin Builders: Delaware Living-10 Great Reasons to Retire Here
- Destination Scanner: Is Delaware a Good Place to Live?
- Great Guys Moving: #1 Moving to Delaware Relocation Guide
- Zacks: The Advantages of Retiring in Delaware
- Market Watch: Retire Here, Not there: Delaware
- Niche: 2020 Best Places to Retire in Delaware
- Homesnacks: Best Places to Retire in Delaware
- I Sold My House: Moving to Delaware
- Trusted Choice: A Guide to Moving to Delaware
- Kiplinger: Best States for Low Taxes: 50 States Ranked for Taxes, 2019