Benefits of Retiring In Michigan (Pros & Cons)

Planning for your golden days? Retirement is supposed to be the best time of your life, and retiring in Michigan may be a good idea!

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Planning for your golden days? Retirement is supposed to be the best time of your life, and retiring in Michigan may be a good idea!

With a freshwater coastline, beautiful and mild summers, and the highest number of golf courses in any state, Michigan is a dream for many retirees. Also known as the Great Lakes State, Michigan is a stunning state filled with tons of opportunities. If you move past the everyday headline news about Flint or the distressing employment situation in Detroit, you will come to see that this beautiful state is filled with various towns, huge homes, and some stunning destinations.

Michigan offers gorgeous views, fairly good retirement taxes, a great healthcare system, affordable housing, low cost of living, access to urban living, and fun festivals and activities. On the flip side, it has high property and sales taxes, extremely cold weather, and transportation issues.

If you’re planning on retiring to Michigan solely for its scenic beauty and picturesque views, that isn’t the best idea. While the Great Lakes State offers a long list of unique benefits to retirees, it certainly comes with its fair share of drawbacks. Perhaps, one of the biggest cons of moving to this state is the long, cold winter. Also, although the job market in the state isn’t the best, as a retiree, it shouldn’t bring much concern to you. However, it’s important to note that all states present their own unique challenge. So, if you do move here, you will indeed find a plethora of positive experiences and eventually learn to deal with the cons, possibly building a good life here.

Michigan offers urban living, rural living, and maybe even something in the middle, depending on what you’re looking for. Analyzing both the pros and cons of retiring in Michigan can give you a clear idea about whether your decision to move here can do you any good or not. As a consultant who has helped hundreds of retirees find their perfect retirement destination, I’m here to help you determine if Michigan is yours.

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Pros of Retiring in Michigan

If you’re thinking of retiring in Michigan, you have some pretty great reasons up your sleeve to do so. After all, the Great Lakes State is truly a beauty. However, if you still require some convincing, here are some of the reasons you should retire in Michigan.  

Fairly Tax-Friendly for Seniors

What may seem like a benefit to some may be a deal-breaker for many, and the tax situation in the Great Lakes State is something like that. Overall, Michigan is a relatively tax-friendly state for retirees since it doesn’t tax Social Security income and offers sizable deductions on other retirement incomes. The state government partially taxes withdrawals from retirement accounts and public and private pension incomes. Also, the state’s marginal tax rate is 4.25%, and wages are taxed at pretty normal rates.

Another aspect of their retirement taxes in Michigan is that it doesn’t tax all seniors equally. So, if you’re born before 1946, you can expect to receive some pretty impressive tax breaks on your retirement income. However, the state isn’t as generous if you were born later.

So, although Michigan overall seems relatively tax-friendly for retirees, there are more than a few things you need to consider.

Good Healthcare System

Although Michigan ranks in the bottom-third in terms of personal health, much like the rest of the Midwest, the truth is that the state’s residents have the best access to healthcare. As a result of good-paying, union jobs that other states, Michigan has established an excellent network of hospitals, insurance, and primary care doctors.

In fact, the Great Lakes State ranks 7th in terms of access to insurance, 6th in terms of primary care physicians, and 5th in terms of immunization rates among adolescents. Moreover, as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Michigan boosted access to insurance by extending Medicaid to more than 600,000 people.

Affordable Housing

With the median home value at about $150,000, Michigan is one of the more affordable places in the country. While the average rent of an apartment hovers around $1,000, the downtown areas of the large cities can be pretty expensive, with the prices shooting up at an average of 3%. Moreover, although most homes here are old, dating back to the 1950s, you can find some modern properties alongside the state’s coastal areas.

Low Cost of Living

In a report ranking the cheapest states in the U.S. to live in, Michigan ranks third. The Great Lakes State is almost 17% cheaper to live in than it is on average in the country. As you already know, housing, the great expense of living, is fairly cheap in the state. Besides that, grocery expenses in Michigan run around 6% and healthcare 14% lower than the national average. Additionally, utility costs are on par with the rest of the country. But suffice to say, the overall cost of living in the state is pretty reasonable.

Small-Town Living at Its Finest

One of the best things about moving to Michigan for your retirement is that there are small towns tucked throughout the state that offer peaceful living. The fact is that after working in the city for so long, you’re probably looking to change things up to a calmer and subtle pace during your retirement. What better way to do that than to settle down in a small town?

Some of these small towns are located in the southern portion of Michigan, but you will find more than a few options in the Upper Peninsula as well. Either way, moving to these small towns means access to splendid lakes, protected forests, small cottages, and the opportunity to steer clear of the typical worries you experience in the big city.

Copper Harbor is a great example of small-town living. Nestled along the shores of Lake Superior, this town has a population of about 100 people, allowing one to live a peaceful, quiet, and rural life.

Access to Urban Living

If you don’t want to embrace the rural lifestyle, Michigan offers plenty of opportunities for you to build a home in the city. With a population of over 700,000, Detroit is the leading city in Michigan for urban living. Although the population in most of the state’s largest cities has taken a dip since 2000, Sterling Heights remains an exception. This city hosts dozens of communities, ranging between 40,000 to 80,000 people, so that you can find something suitable for your lifestyle. You can even find some modern conveniences and downtown apartments in small towns, which is pretty great if you want to enjoy the amenities without having to deal with massive crowds.

Beautiful Scenery

There’s no better way of enjoying your retirement than taking in the beauty nature has to offer. Although Michigan comes with its share of struggles, the state’s beauty is undeniable. The moment you set foot in the state, know that there are some breathtaking and gorgeous places awaiting you.

First of all, the Upper Peninsula, which holds almost one-third of the state’s land, is a sight worth witnessing and maybe even living. Here you’ll get to experience the Porcupine Mountains and an abundance of waterfalls beautifully making their way to Lake Superior.

Other areas include the sandy dunes located between Ludington and Muskegon on Lake Michigan’s shoreline, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Fisherman’s Island State Park, Mackinac Island, Tahquamenon Falls, and The Black Rocks of Presque Isle Park.

Recreational Activities

With the scenic views and stunning landscapes comes the opportunity to explore the outdoors and engage in some exciting activities. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking to make the best of your golden years, Michigan offers something thrilling for everyone, including boating, kayaking, fishing, camping, hiking, skiing, hunting, snowmobiling, ice skating, and golfing.

On the other hand, if you grow tired of outdoor pursuits (which you won’t, but still!), there are some other options to explore. Almost all of Michigan’s small towns celebrate festivals throughout the year as a means to keep the community together. For instance, depending on your preferences, you can enjoy the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Henry Ford Museum, Grand Rapids art festival, or the Detroit theater district.

Creative People

Michigan is a largely blue-collar industrial state, which is a point of pride for the state’s residents. It’s the resilience and determination of the state’s people that brought it back from the point of economic collapse. A majority of the state’s residents are stubborn, opinionated, and extremely honest. As much as this might seem like a con, it is quite the opposite. The strong survivor personality and incredible creativity of the locals make this state welcoming and worth living.

Michigan’s Economy Has Made a Strong Recovery

The 2008 recession hit Michigan’s economy so terribly, plunging the employment rates of the state to an all-time low. Since most of the employment opportunities in the state are directly or indirectly linked to automakers, the fall out of the industry led to a sharp decline in employment. However, since then, Michigan has made an incredible economic recovery, leading to a considerable reduction in the unemployment rate. Moreover, the state’s economy went from relying on a single industry to becoming home to some of the biggest companies in the world, creating a diverse and dynamic environment.

The Chance to Witness All Four Seasons

This point might be a plus for some and a negative for others. I’ve listed this as a pro because I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than getting the chance to witness the changing color of the leaves. Also, due to the changing seasons, you can also experience variety in your outdoor lifestyle.

The temperatures in spring thaw the winter chill and breathe life into the countryside. Michigan summers are pretty warm and inviting and provide you with the opportunity to relax on the beaches along the Great Lakes. Autumn is one of the best seasons to witness in Michigan, as the crispy temperatures change the colors of the leaves to vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. Finally, when winter arrives, it brings with it a white, white Christmas.

Cons of Retiring in Michigan

If the pros of retiring in Michigan have you convinced to retire here, reading these cons might help you evaluate your decision before you start packing.

Let's look at some of the cons of retiring in Michigan.

High Property and Sales Tax Rates

The average property tax rate in Michigan is 1.45%, which is much higher than the national average. To put it simply, you will have to pay about $1,450 for every $100,000 in home value. However, the property tax rate can vary from place to place. For instance, the average property tax rate in Wayne County is about 2.35%, whereas, in Mackinac County, it is approximately 1.03%. Overall, Michigan has the 14th-highest property tax rates in the nation. Moreover, Michigan's sales tax rate is 6%, which is also above the national average.

Lake Effect Snow

Since it's surrounded by the Great Lakes, living in Michigan feels like living in a coastal area. With historic lighthouses around and large ships coming through the area, you can truly enjoy the ocean vibe here. However, a huge downside of being near all the water is getting plenty of lake effect snow during winter. Although the snow may create beautiful scenery, especially in time for Christmas, it can be a huge hassle to deal with if you're a senior. Things can get even worse if you live in the Upper Peninsula since it experiences way more snowfall than its southern counterparts. In fact, Calumet in the Upper Peninsula averages over 187 inches of snow a year, with a record-high of 400 inches in 1979.

Crowded Beaches during Peak Season

Living in the Midwest means finding beaches only around the Great Lakes. Although there are state parks and smaller water bodies that provide room for sand, they can't do what bigger freshwater lakes do and offer. So, given the allure of the beaches, Michigan witnesses a massive influx of tourists during summer. What may seem like a tremendous economic opportunity to the country can actually be very off-putting for those looking for a quiet environment. Moreover, if you like taking walks on the beach, you will want to stop visiting there altogether till things simmer down and litter, people, and supplies are gone.

Unpredictable Weather

Michigan's weather can be pretty unpredictable. If you retire in an area closer to the Canadian border, you will quickly note the hot summer temperatures drop to freezing cold ones. In fact, you might end up witnessing a massive hail storm in peak July. On the flip side, it can also get exceptionally warm in Michigan during the winter month. So, while you were expecting to enjoy Christmas with blankets of white snow, you're actually laying down a blanket to relax on the beach.

Transportation Structure Issues

Michigan's roads and infrastructure are far from perfect. The state's infrastructural wellbeing has seriously been impacted by budgeting issues. Detroit, a bustling city in the past, is now left in ruins because of the poor economic conditions and employment opportunities, resulting in low taxes. To top it off, the unpredictable weather causes cracking and potholes in the roads, which aren't usually fixed on time due to the restricted budgets. So, as a whole, the situation of the transportation structure in the state is pretty sad.

Challenging Trip to the Upper Peninsula

As I mentioned before, visiting the Upper Peninsula is a thrilling experience. With several small towns and towering trees, this place is probably one of the most popular areas in Michigan. However, unfortunately, there aren’t any significant highways that go from the western part of the state to the north. Although the Upper Peninsula holds a whole lot of charm, it can take several hours to reach your destination, especially if you are closer to the southern border.

The Famous Michigan Accent

You’ll come across people with a solid Midwestern accent that sounds like a Canadian accent with a touch of the East Coast throughout the Border States. This tends to be a little more prevalent in Michigan. This accent is a little nasal, and people tend to use the Canadian alternative of American words. For instance, “pop” instead of “soda.” Some people also pluralize words for no reason. This doesn’t go to say that having a Michigan accent is a bad thing, but instead that it can be tough for seniors to get accustomed to it at such a later age of life.

Driving in the Snow

Everything remains operational even when the temperatures plummet below zero, and there are a few inches of snow on the ground. There’s an expectation that you’ll continue with your place. Fortunately for those who’re fully retired, you won’t have to drive around or go anywhere. However, if you continue to work part-time during your retirement years, be prepared to drive around in the snow.

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