States – New York

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New York is home to some of the most famous places in the world, such as Rockefeller Plaza, Times Square, and Broadway. But New York state is more than just the glitz and glamour of The Big Apple. Its 62 counties also include wealthy New York City suburbs, the Finger Lakes wine region, the Adirondack Mountains, and seafront villages on Long Island. A large number of towns in the Empire State offer plenty of gorgeous scenery, cultural attractions, and a relaxed lifestyle.

New York does have major drawbacks as a retirement destination, however. There’s the high cost of living, which is 22% above the national average. Additionally, New York is a high tax state. Its state and local tax burden is the second highest in the nation. 

The total tax burden in New York City is the second highest in the nation at 12.3%. New York’s top marginal income tax rate is 8.97% which applies at income above $500,000.

On the other hand, much retirement income, including Social Security benefits, military retired pay, civil service pensions, and state and local pensions are not taxable. Up to $20,000 of other qualified pensions can be excluded for recipients 59 years of age or older. The state sales tax is 4.0% but districts can add 5% additional tax.

Possibly the worst tax problem for retirees is property tax, which is second highest in the nation. Nine of the ten counties with the highest property tax rates in the U.S. are in New York. There is a homestead exemption, and many districts give exemptions to veterans, seniors, and disabled homeowners.

The state also has an estate tax of 16%, and the exemption level is set to rise to $5.3 million by 2017. Moreover, the state capital gains tax is the second highest in the nation at 31.5 percent. The high tax burden led Kiplinger to rate New York among the Worst States for Retirement in 2015.

Healthcare is another issue.  In 2014 Bankrate ranked New York last in terms of places to retire citing its “relatively low government scores for healthcare quality and wellness.” New York ranks no. 21 nationally for healthcare for seniors according to America’s Health Rankings. Healthcare is notably expensive in New York. A healthy 65-year-old couple will have estimated health care costs totaling $413,597 in retirement, 4.7% higher than average.

The New York climate is called humid-continental. There are four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and winters are cold with occasional snowstorms. Western New York has a more severe climate, while Long Island in the east has more moderate weather. 

If you’re considering braving the high costs for the benefits of living in New York, here are some places to look into.

Tarrytown

Tarrytown is a small town of 12,000 on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, about 25 miles north of Manhattan. The fact that New York City is just a half-hour train ride away is a big part of the town’s appeal.

Tarrytown has a friendly, small-town environment, with lots of unique stores and restaurants and several art galleries, including Tappan Z Gallery Contemporary and Fine Art Gallery. It is known as a residence of the super-rich, including John D. Rockefeller who lived there in the 1800s. The Rockefeller Estate and Lyndhurt, a Gothic Revival mansion once owned by Jay Gould, are historical attractions as is Sunnyside, historic home of Washington Irving.

The beautiful surroundings were a setting for Washington Irving’s famous story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Tarrytown Reservoir is a local point of interest and good place for walking, as is the Old Croton Aqueduct, which has a bike path along it. Tarrytown Music Hall is one of the oldest operating theaters in the U.S. There is also an active senior center that offers classes and trips.

White Plains

White Plains is a city of 58,000 in southern New York, seven miles northwest of the Long Island Sound. As the commercial center of Westchester County, it ranks high on amenities. These include two golf courses, an ice skating rink, a lake preserve, and a park which has trails, a standard  and a miniature golf course, and the largest swimming pool in Westchester.

The 410-seat White Plains Performing Arts Center hosts a variety of events, such as Broadway shows and concerts. White Plains is home to the Westchester Philharmonic, the professional symphony orchestra in Westchester County. The White Plains Farmers Market operates year-round and features food items and live music. The weather in White Plains is relatively mild, with average July temperature of 74 degrees and January temperature of around 30 degrees.

Ithaca

Ithaca is in central New York and the home of Cornell University and two other colleges. The higher learning institutions boost not only the population of the city, but also its educational offerings. The Sciencenter is a non-profit hands-on science museum which is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and a member of the Association of Science-Technology Centers and Association of Children’s Museums.

The Cayuga Nature Center offers environmental education to local school districts. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a lab that is open to the public and a surround sound theater, object-theater presentation, and informational kiosks

The six-story Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art houses one of the finest collections of art in upstate New York including art from throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

Ithaca is famous for The Ithaca Festival, its annual community celebration that features art and crafts shows, live entertainment, food vendors, film screenings, and a parade. Other festivals include the Chili Fest in February, the Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival in July, the Apple Festival in fall, and Porchfest and the Ithaca Brew Fest in September.

New Rochelle

New Rochelle is another city in Westchester County in southeastern New York. New Rochelle was recognized as one of the 100 Best Walking Cities in America in 2008 by the American Podiatric Medical Association, and the second best city in New York State after nearby New York City. In November 2008 Business Week magazine listed New Rochelle as the best city in New York state.

The town traces its history back to the Seventeenth Century, and has several buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. These include the Thomas Paine Historical Site that has a museum and monument to the Revolutionary War hero.

The city operates a 300-slip marina on the Long Island Sound, and there are several yacht clubs and sailing and rowing clubs and schools in the area. The city operates 230 acres of parkland and over 100 acres of inland waters. There are also golf courses and tennis clubs in the area.

Healthcare is available at Sound Shore Medical Center, a not-for-profit health care organization that treats over 85,000 patients annually and is the only New York State Area Trauma Center in southern Westchester County.


For more information about retirement in New York:

State overview in facts and figures

State taxes

State services for senior residents

Profiles of major cities

Retirement communities

Best regions for retirement