Those who live in New York know just how lucky they are: From the towering skyscrapers in New York City to the banks and valleys along the Hudson River, the Empire State provides a unique lifestyle that can’t be compared to anywhere else in the country. New Yorkers can enjoy the world’s best bagels, see the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and experience world-class wineries and breweries in the Finger Lakes region, all in the same weekend.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, though. Active adults who wonder if New York real estate has viable options for retirement have 75 communities to consider, with low-end prices starting under $100K and luxury prices reaching the millions. There are new, resale, condo, attached, or single-family options in Long Island, the Carmel area, and Albany. This may seem overwhelming at first, but we’re going to break things down for you.
Retiring in New York Pros and Cons
Like anywhere else on the planet, living in New York State has its ups and downs. Once you’ve looked these over, you can weigh both sides and see if the benefits line up with your personality, lifestyle, and needs.
The Big Apple. The New York City area offers incomparable cultural experiences: theater, music, art, dance, restaurants, museums, and history. On top of this, you have access to some of the best hospitals and shopping in the country, diverse communities and trendy neighborhoods, and opportunities to work and volunteer.
Plenty of outdoor recreation. The rest of the state has abundant natural beauty, with mountains, lakes, forests, farms, and rivers covering most of the landscape. You won’t have to travel far for weekend gettaways, with destinations like Niagara Falls, the Adirondacks Region, and Long Island.
Taxes, weather, and transportation. Other pros of living here include retirement-friendly taxes, four distinct seasons, and outstanding public transportation. There are over 150 public airports, with international hubs in New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Niagara Falls, and Syracuse.
It’s not cheap. The cost of living in New York is higher than the national average, and living right in the city can be cost-prohibitive. You'll pay more for groceries, utilities, and transportation here. However, as we mentioned earlier, there's a wide range of price points for New York real estate.
Lots of traffic. If you live near NYC or another large city, you'll probably spend a lot of time in traffic. The highways can be quite congested during rush hours and on the weekends when folks head out to play. If there’s a big game or a concert at one of the sports arenas or performance venues, it pays to plan accordingly and avoid the area.
New York Climate
The weather here is ideal for people who appreciate distinct seasons. It's categorized as humid continental, though the diverse landscapes affect temperatures and precipitation. Farther north, it can get very cold in the wintertime with plenty of snow (this is a plus if you like winter sports).
New York Taxes
Savvy retirees know to research the tax situation in any area they're thinking of moving to. Compared to the rest of the country, New York’s state and local taxes are the second highest. The state sales tax is 4.0 percent, and local towns and cities can add up to 5 percent more. However, there's no inheritance tax.
New York Property Taxes
Property taxes in New York vary greatly, depending on where you live. In the City, the average property tax rate is 0.90 percent, and the statewide average is 1.68 percent. New York residents may qualify for a property tax credit, and to do so, they must file Form IT-214 (available here).
New York Retirement Income Taxes
Depending on the tax bracket, state income taxes range from 4.0 percent to 8.82 percent (New York City’s are different). There's also an earned income credit to help offset this; ask your accountant for details.
New York Tax Exemptions for Seniors
New York is tax-friendly for retirees, as residents ages 59+ can have up to $20,000 of their qualified pensions excluded from taxes. There's also no tax on Social Security as well as state, local, civil service, or military pensions. The state’s School Tax Relief Program (STAR), offers property tax relief for homeowners, and the Enhanced STAR is available to homeowners ages 65 and up, if they meet eligibility requirements.
New York Health Care
There are hundreds of hospitals in New York State, and according to U.S. News Rankings, the top ones are in NYC: New York Presbyterian, NYU Langone, and Mount Sinai. New York Presbyterian also has facilities in the Hudson River Valley, and Mount Sinai has a hospital in Nassau County, Long Island. Excellent care is also provided at Long Island’s North Shore University Hospital, the Hudson Valley’s Putnam Hospital Center, and Albany Medical Center Hospital.
Where to Live in New York
Eastern New York is made up of the Carmel Area, the Hudson River Valley, and Albany. In recent years, it has come into vogue with the Catskill Mountain region gaining popularity as a tourist destination. Small towns like Cortlandt and Cold Spring are scattered on both sides of the Hudson River, and recreation areas like Bear Mountain and Blue Mountain Ski Resort attract outdoor lovers from across the state.
Other points of interest include Lyndhurst Mansion, Croton Falls, and the Woodbury Common Outlets. Some of the top active adult neighborhoods include Heritage Hills in Somers and The Retreat at Carmel.
Long Island is comprised of Nassau and Suffolk County, and it has a reputation for being home to the “rich and famous.” This is not completely true since you can also find established and very affordable 55+ communities like Leisure Village in Ridge.
Since LI is surrounded by bodies of water, you're right to expect that there are plenty of beaches, seafood restaurants, boardwalks, and nature preserves; some of the most popular include Jones Beach State Park and Rocky Point State Pine Barrens Preserve. Year-round activities include museum days spent at the Southampton Arts Center and special events like the Long Island Restaurant Week and harvest festivals.
If you’re thinking of downsizing in Long Island, The Seasons at East Meadow is an excellent choice. Also, The Greens at Half Hollow offers condos and attached homes, and both of these luxury properties are close to pristine natural space and golf courses.