Is Virginia a Good Place to Retire?

Virginia is known as the Old Dominion and has been called the Mother of Presidents since eight U.S. Presidents were born here.  But Virginia today is no longer the gentle home of the Old South, but is a modern state with abundant opportunities for both work and play.


Virginia’s moderate climate gives you the best of both worlds without too much time in either extreme.  Winters are mild, particularly in the coastal areas.  You can enjoy snow in the mountain areas, but not expect it to last weeks on end.  Towards the coast enjoy the ocean breeze.  Summer can be warm and humid and there are always tropical storms to watch for.  But being in Virginia allows you plenty of time to track the storm’s approach and prepare.


A Diverse Retirement Location

Virginia is also one of the nation’s most geographically diverse states with oceans to the east and mountains to the west.  From the Appalachian culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains across the rolling hills and farmland to the coast and Eastern Shore, Virginia has it all.


Tourism is big business in Virginia, generating about $20.4 billion in revenue annually, providing more than 200,000 jobs and more than $1.3 billion in state and local tax revenue.  In addition to the geographic diversity, Virginia has one of the country’s largest concentrations of historic resources.  From Cape Henry where British settlers landed in 1607 to Appomattox where the nation reunited, history abounds in the Commonwealth.  Virginia has 36 beautiful state parks, most within an hour’s drive, 22 national parks and over 500 miles of trails.  With over 200 wineries, Wine Enthusiast named Virginia one of the 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations in 2012.  For the golfer Virginia offers over 220 public golf courses which consistently receive high ratings from Golf Magazine and Golf Digest.


A Great State to Retire In for Financial Reasons

There are personal financial reasons to choose Virginia as well. If you plan to continue working after retirement age, Virginia’s unemployment rate is below the national average.  In May, Governor Bob McDonnell announced that Virginia’s unemployment rate had fallen to 5.2% which represented the lowest unemployment rate in 4 1/2 years.  That put Virginia’s unemployment rate at 2.3% below the national average of 7.5%.


According to Top Retirements the top marginal income tax rate is 5.75%.  With the state sales tax at 5.0% and municipalities collecting an additional 1%, Virginia’s 9.8% tax burden ranked 18th in the nation in 2009.  Seniors born prior to 1939 receive a $12,000 age deduction.  Seniors 65 or older as of 2012 (born prior to 1945) receive the same discount with some qualifications and adjustments.  Social Security and tier 1 railroad retirement benefits in Virginia are not taxed.  Other pension incomes are subject to the state income tax even if that pension comes from another state.  Military retirement pay in Virginia follows the federal income tax guidelines. Virginia does not have estate or inheritance taxes.


In 2012, Virginia was named the Best State to Make a Living by Money Rates.  Virginia rose from fourth to first with an adjusted average income of $43,677.  According to the Enterprising States 2013 report issued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Virginia was also in first place in the measure of median family income adjusted for the cost of living.


The median home in Virginia sells for $210,000. Of course if you’re looking at Northern Virginia or the popular tourist areas like Williamsburg or Virginia Beach, you can expect to pay a good bit more.


The cost of living may be above the national average, but it’s far below the Northeast and California.


Situated in the Mid-Atlantic region, Virginia is close to New York and Washington and well as Charlotte and Atlanta.  Interstates I-95 and I-81 run north to south providing relatively easy access to the cities and the beaches.   But why spend all that time on the highway commuting to Florida in the winter and back North in the summer?  Of course we feel that Virginia is the best state for retirement!

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