Missouri is a financially friendly place for retirees to settle down. The cost of living in the Show Me State is lower than the national average and most of the taxes also make the state more attractive for those looking to stretch their retirement savings.
Missouri is made up of many rural towns. However, because the state’s two largest cities, Kansas City and St. Louis, are located on the opposite ends of the state, it’s easy for residents to enjoy country life and still have access to urban amenities.
Retirees looking for a quieter place to settle down and the outdoors will find Missouri very appealing. The state is home to mountains, woods, and numerous lakes. In fact, Missouri boasts more coastline than California. The largest lake in the state is Lake of the Ozarks, which has 1,150 miles of shoreline.
Missouri has an abundance of parks within the various cities, but they also have 91 state parks. Some of the top state parks include Castlewood, which offers miles of hiking and mountain biking trails; Ha Ha Tonka with caves, trails, ruins, and a lake; and Cuivre River State Park with forest trails for hikers and horseback riding, plus lake access for boating, swimming, and fishing.
And retirees who enjoy spelunking will never get bored since Missouri is home to hundreds of miles of caves just waiting to be explored. There are caves with guided tours like Meramac Caverns and Onondaga Cave State Park, but there are also caves you can check out on your own like Jacob’s Caves, Cave Spring Park and Current River Cavern, and Talking Rocks Cavern.
It will surprise many to learn that Missouri has an incredible wine country, some areas producing wine even before Napa Valley. Back before the prohibition, Missouri was known for being the 2nd largest wine producer in the country. Though the state is not as well known for wine as it once was, residents and visitors can still enjoy afternoons at one of the many vineyards.
In addition to wine, Missouri is also a major producer of beer. It is home to Anheuser-Busch plus many craft breweries found throughout the state.
For the most part, Missouri is a tax-friendly state for retirees. The Show Me State does tax Social Security and public pensions, but only if your AGI, adjusted gross income, reaches a set level. Other retirement income such as IRAs or 401ks are subject to tax. Also, Missouri offers a property tax credit for qualifying seniors who pay rent or own their homes to help lighten the financial burden.
Retirees will be happy to know that Missouri offers quality health care options, including being home to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, one of the best geriatric hospitals in the country. Plus, the St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City is well respected for its adult specialty centers.
Where to Retire in Missouri
- Kansas City
- Lake Ozark
- Percent of Senior Population: 12.9%
- Overall Population: 495,327
Kansas City, located on the far west border, is the largest city in the state. And though it crosses state lines into Kansas, it is divided into separately incorporated cities. Kansas City is a busy city with a lot to offer, perfect for active retirees who enjoy the many urban conveniences.
Kansas City is home to an abundance of museums, both traditional and specialty. Some of the top traditional museums include the National WWI Museum and Memorial, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and the American Jazz Museum. However, if the more unique specialty museums pique your interest, Kansas City is also home to The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, Museum of Illusions, and the Airline History Museum.
In addition to its many museums, Kansas City also boasts several parks and gardens ideal for retirees who enjoy taking in the outdoors without having to leave the city. Some of the top parks and gardens that call Kansas City home are:
- Loose Park full of trails for walking and biking, plus this park features a rose garden
- Richard L Berkley Riverfront Park with a riverfront walk
- Cave Spring Interpretive Center for those looking for a more wilderness-focused walk
- The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden
The city also has an extensive retail and entertainment district knowns as the Crossroads District. The Crossroads area was transformed from warehouses to boutiques, galleries, shops, breweries, speakeasies, and restaurants. Crossroads is the perfect place for a night out, whether looking for a game of skee ball at the adult arcade and bar, a night of jazz music in a dusky bar, or a quiet night at the local brewery with friends.
But Crossroads isn’t just enjoyed after dark; the district is also the perfect place for an afternoon of shopping and lunch. The district has numerous artisanal shops like the Christopher Elbow Chocolates, Nickel and Suede, and Made in KC Marketplace.
- Percent of Senior Population: 10.6%
- Overall Population: 123,195
Columbia is a youthful, vibrant college town and is home to the University of Missouri, Stephens College, and Columbia College, plus several community colleges. Retirees who are looking for a stimulating, friendly community will love what Columbia has to offer.
For active retirees who love the arts, Columbia has multiple art galleries, live theater, and a wide variety of museums such as the Art and Archaeology Museum, Waters-Boone County Historical Museum and Galleries, and the Museum of Anthropology. Plus, Columbia’s nightlife is full of live music venues, bars, and restaurants perfect for an evening out.
And for those who enjoy outdoor festivals, Columbia has numerous festivals of every variety throughout the year like:
- True/False Film Fest
- Art in the Park Festival
- Hot Summer Nights Music Festival
- Roots N Blues N BBQ
- Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival
- Centralia Anchor Festival
Columbia is also ideal for retirees who enjoy spending time outdoors. The city boasts more than 50 miles of walking and biking trails and over 70 parks within the city limits. Plus, for those looking to get out of town to spend time hiking in the woods, there are numerous state parks just outside of town, like Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, Finger Lakes State Park, and Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.
And if you enjoy spending time at the golf course, there are several public golf courses and a couple of private clubs. Plus, if you are looking to change things up, there are multiple disc golf courses too.
Best of all, the patient care ratio favors the patient, making Columbia one of the top communities for healthcare options in the nation.
- Percent of Senior Population: 14.1%
- Overall Population: 32,100
Liberty is an older town steeped in history with multiple buildings and sites filed with the National Register of Historic Places. Two of the most famous buildings listed are the jail which held the first president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, and the bank, which was the first one robbed during the day by Frank, the brother of Jesse James brother.
Most of the buildings in the historic district of Liberty reflect architectural designs from 1875-1942, making the area an excellent place for historians to explore. In addition to the historical district, Liberty also has several museums such as the Jesse James Bank Museum and the Clay County Museum and Historical Society.
Beyond its historical value, Liberty also is a great place for retirees looking to settle down in an area with an abundance of parks. Liberty has numerous parks, totaling 500 acres. Some of the local parks include Stocksdale Park and the Capitol Federal Sports Complex. Some of the local parks also have disc golf courses, stocked fishing ponds, and trails. There are multiple trails for biking, walking, and running, including paved and natural paths through the woods.
Though Liberty is small, it does have a lively restaurant and social scene. They have a little bit of every cuisine style, including American, Cuban, Italian, and of course BBQ. And during the warmer months, many of the restaurants and bars offer outdoor seating. Plus, for those who enjoy craft beers, Liberty is home to the 3 Halves Brewing, which offers various beers, including ones named after local sites.
Liberty Hospital has two locations, a surgery center and an Urgent Care Center, both located within the city limits.
- Percent of Senior Population: 25%
- Overall Population: 11,630
Branson, located in southern Missouri near the Arkansas border, is a major tourist attraction in the Ozarks. Branson’s small town has even acquired the nickname “The Family-Friendly Vegas” for its bright lights, live shows, and amusement parks. You will never run out of fun things to do when the grandkids come to visit.
Branson is the ideal retirement spot for retirees looking for a smaller mountain town with many entertainment venues to keep you busy year-round. There are more than 50 theaters and over 100 live shows featured in Branson. Plus, the restaurant scene far exceeds what one would expect from a town of less than 12,000. Though local dining is primarily casual, there are many dining options such as Thai, sushi, BBQ, and seafood.
Branson’s other entertainment opportunities include The Shepherd of the Hills outdoor theater and zip line park, Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Theater, Hollywood Wax Museum, Titanic Museum, and Branson’s Scenic Railway.
Beyond Branson’s city lights is where the real beauty lies, with state parks, caves, and lakes. Branson offers some of the most beautiful scenery Missouri has to offer. For retirees who enjoy exploring caves, Branson has a few different cave adventures, such as the Marvel Cave, Talking Rocks Cave, Small Cave, and Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail. If you prefer to explore above ground, then there are miles of trails through the many parks like Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, Table Rock State Park, and the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area.
And the Cox Medical Center located in Branson offers a variety of health services, including Emergency, Cancer Center, Neuroscience, and Orthopedics.
- Percent of Senior Population: 29.3%
- Overall Population: 1,888
Lake Ozark is located in the middle of the state, less than three hours from both St. Louis and Kansas City. The Ozarks and the lake are what bring in tourists from all around. Those who love being out on or in the water will love living in the city of Lake Ozark.
For a small lake town amongst beautiful scenery, housing costs are lower than one would expect and even lower than the national average, making it all the more appealing to retirees. Though lake homes tend to be higher, they are still a lot less expensive than lake homes in other areas of the country.
Lake of the Ozarks State Park is just 12 minutes south of town and is Missouri’s largest state park. Lake of the Ozarks gives visitors access to excellent boating, fishing, and swimming. And if you prefer drier outdoor adventures, there are 57 miles of trails. Plus, if you want to get away for a weekend camping trip, Lake of the Ozarks has four different campgrounds.
Thanks to the tourists, Lake Ozark has a wide range of casual dining venues, including many with outdoor seating. Most of the restaurants in the area are family friendly, with a couple of breweries, distilleries, and wineries.