Retiring in Arkansas
This article will take you through the main things you need to consider if you are retiring in Arkansas.
Arkansas, also known as the "Natural State," is becoming an increasingly popular retirement destination for many Americans. With its mild climate, beautiful natural scenery, and affordable cost of living, it's no surprise that more retirees are choosing to spend their golden years in Arkansas. While there is no official count of how many people retire to Arkansas each year, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in 2020, Arkansas had a population of approximately 3 million people, with over 500,000 residents over the age of 65.
What age can you retire in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, there is no specific retirement age that is mandated by law. This means that individuals are free to retire whenever they choose, as long as they are able to financially support themselves. However, there are some age-related benefits and considerations for retirees in Arkansas:
Social Security benefits: The earliest age at which you can begin receiving Social Security benefits is 62, but if you delay taking benefits, your monthly payments will increase. Full retirement age (FRA) is between 66 and 67, depending on your birth year. Delaying benefits until after FRA can result in even higher monthly payments.
Medicare eligibility: Medicare eligibility begins at age 65, regardless of retirement status. However, if you choose to retire before age 65, you will need to find alternative healthcare coverage until you become eligible for Medicare.
Age discrimination: While there is no mandatory retirement age in Arkansas, it is still illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on age.
Retirement savings: Regardless of retirement age, it is important for individuals to start saving for retirement as early as possible. Many financial experts recommend saving at least 15% of your income for retirement.
However, like any location, there are both pros and cons to retiring in the state.
Why do people retire in Arkansas?
Tax-friendly retirement accounts: Arkansas does not tax Social Security benefits, and other types of retirement income such as pensions and 401(k) withdrawals are also tax-friendly in the state.
Affordable cost of living: One of the most significant financial benefits of retiring in Arkansas is the affordable cost of living. Housing, food, and healthcare costs are all generally lower in Arkansas than in many other states.
Beautiful natural scenery: Arkansas is home to breathtaking natural beauty, including the Ozark Mountains, Hot Springs National Park, and the Buffalo National River. This makes it an attractive destination for retirees who love outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and camping.
Friendly people: Arkansas is known for its friendly, welcoming people, which can make it easy for retirees to feel at home in their new community.
Quiet and peaceful: Unlike many other retirement destinations, Arkansas offers a peaceful and quiet environment for retirees who may be seeking a slower pace of life.
What puts people off retiring to Arkansas?
Limited healthcare options: While Arkansas is home to some excellent hospitals and medical centers, access to healthcare can be limited in some rural areas of the state.
Limited cultural activities: While Arkansas has plenty of natural beauty to explore, it may not offer as many cultural activities and events as larger cities in other states.
Extreme weather: Arkansas can experience extreme weather conditions, including tornadoes and ice storms, which can be a concern for some retirees.
Limited job opportunities: For retirees who may want or need to continue working part-time, job opportunities can be limited in some areas of Arkansas.
Best places to retire in Arkansas
If Arkansas is your chosen retirement state, here are some of the best places to retire in:
Hot Springs - Located in the Ouachita Mountains, Hot Springs is known for its natural hot springs and historic bathhouses. The city offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and boating on nearby Lake Hamilton.
Fayetteville - Home to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville has a lively cultural scene and a thriving downtown area. The city's mild climate, low cost of living, and access to medical care make it a popular retirement destination.
Little Rock - Arkansas's capital city, Little Rock offers a mix of city amenities and outdoor recreation opportunities. The city has a vibrant arts and culture scene, as well as several parks and nature reserves.
Bentonville - Best known as the home of Walmart's headquarters, Bentonville has experienced significant growth in recent years. The city's downtown area offers a variety of shopping and dining options, while nearby Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a popular cultural attraction.
Eureka Springs - Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs is a picturesque town with a rich history. The city's Victorian architecture and quaint downtown area make it a popular tourist destination, but retirees also appreciate its peaceful atmosphere and scenic beauty.
Mountain Home - Located in the Ozark Mountains, Mountain Home is known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities. The city is home to several retirement communities, and offers a low cost of living and access to medical care.
Bella Vista - Situated in northwest Arkansas, Bella Vista is a planned community with several golf courses, lakes, and other amenities. The community has a high percentage of retirees, and offers a variety of housing options.
In conclusion, retiring in Arkansas has its pros and cons. While the beautiful scenery, affordability, and friendly communities are major draws for many retirees, the potential for extreme weather and limited healthcare options should be considered before making the move. It's important to seek expert financial advice to weigh up all of the costs associated with retiring in Arkansas, including property taxes, insurance, and living expenses, in order to make an informed decision about whether the state is the right choice for your retirement.
Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.