If you’re planning on retiring in New Jersey, you probably already know about the state’s high taxes and the high cost of living. These where two reasons New Jersey ranked as only the 32nd best state for retirement in a study by Bankrate.com.

New Jersey has the ninth highest cost of living and the very worst taxes in the country, the study found.

“Those two key features can really hurt seniors who live on a fixed income. It can really stretch their budget,” said Bankrate.com analyst Taylor Tepper. “People who retire are going to need a lot more in retirement savings when they wind down from the workforce, to maintain their standard of living and the life that they’ve become accustomed to.”

The study found several benefits of retiring in New Jersey. It had the fourth best ranking in crime, and was ranked 10th in healthcare.

According to Tepper, the healthcare ranking is good news for retirees because "they’re probably going to have to spend around $280,000 in healthcare costs over the rest of their lives, so to have that money go toward quality outcomes is very important.”

The state also ranked 11th in cultural vitality, meaning “there are tons of things to do, experiences to enjoy, so you can live a rich, satisfying, cultured life as you retire and withdraw from the workforce,” Tepper said.

The study ranked South Dakota as the best, while New York came in last. So does that mean New Jerseyans should pack up and move to South Dakota when they retire? Or maybe to a traditionally popular retirement destination like Florida, which ranked as the fifth best? Tepper says no.

“The person you were at 64 is the same person you were at 65,” he said. “It’s really important to maintain and to solidify social relationships, to spend your money on experiences and leisure to bring you happiness and joy, and to have a strong spousal relationship. Those are things that will make you happy and satisfied when they retire, much more than, say, living on a beach in Miami.”

In addition to financial planning, Tepper recommends that people should make plans for their retirement lifestyle.

“Think about what makes them happy. Be very analytical about where they get their enjoyment, and what they think they might want to do when they retire, filling up those hours that are no longer spent at the office.”

Tepper said a change in location is not necessary for a happy retirement. New Jerseyans, and even New Yorkers, should not be afraid to stay where they are.

You want to keep your friends, keep your hobbies, your church or place of worship, or whatever, take that into as much consideration as the weather,” he said. “You’re not a bird. You don’t need to migrate south just because it’s warm.”

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