LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Sue Ann Wilt puts price tags on magnets while working her part-time job at Magnolia Hall Thursday morning. Wilt, who moved from Michigan 10 years ago with her husband to retire in Natchez, says she stays busy working at Magnolia Hall and volunteering at the House on Ellicott Hill. Area retirees sing the praises of retiring to Mississippi, despite a recent national report ranking the state as unfriendly to retirees.

Archived Story

Report says Mississippi, Louisiana among worst states for retirement

Published 12:46am Sunday, August 12, 2012

NATCHEZ — Retiring to the South may not be best way to spend the later years of your life. But that’s only one opinion.

The financial website recently listed Mississippi and Louisiana among the worst 10 states in which to retire. The other states included South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, New Mexico, Texas, Tennessee and Kentucky.

But, Clark Feiser, director for the Natchez Retiree Partnership, said every coin has two sides.

“First of all, I feel they are crucifying the South. Nine of the 10 states are from the South,” said Feiser, who along with his wife Phyllis, retired to Natchez from Pennsylvania seven years ago.

The report based its conclusions on the crime rate from the 2010 FBI report, average life expectancy figures from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the percentage of retirees 65 and older living below the poverty line that comes from a survey conducted by the Census Bureau.

According to the Bankrate website, Mississippi had an estimated 3,254 property and violent crimes reported per every 100,000 residents. Louisiana was slightly higher at 4,196 per 100,000.

Residents of Louisiana are living an average of 75.4 years with 11.5 percent living at the poverty level. More retired Mississippians are below poverty at 11.9 percent and life expectancy is 74.8 years.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports the national poverty line is $12,968 for a two-person household with residents’ age 65 and older and $10,289 for a single person in 2009.

The bureau reports Adams County having 30.4 percent of all persons living below the poverty level and Concordia Parish has 30.8 percent.

But, according to Feiser, those stats don’t tell the whole story and potential retirees look at other factors when it comes finding a place to settle down.

“When people retire to Mississippi, they are concerned about how far their retirement money will take them,” Feiser said. “Because of the low taxes, low cost of housing, and no state taxes on retirement income, we are considered one of the best states to retire to.”

Feiser pointed to a 2011 report by Kiplinger — a financial site similar to — in which Mississippi was No. 2 and Louisiana was the No. 10 state to retire to based on how “tax-friendly” they are to retirees. Wyoming was No. 1.

“I think the Bankrate site is talking about people retiring within the state, not coming from outside the state,” Feiser said. “Yes, we have much poverty, but not (among) the people that move here from other states.

“People are certainly interested in crime, but if you look at (Mississippi and Louisiana), Jackson and New Orleans are going to mess with the crime statistics.”

Since 1996, Feiser said the Natchez Retiree Partnership has recruited 247 households to Natchez.

“The retirees that we recruit are certainly not at the poverty level,” he said. “We all know there is much poverty in the South and that follows to the in-state retirees.”

The Natchez Retiree Partnership promotes the area through magazines and conventions aimed toward potential retirees. The retiree partnership and other retirement city groups from around Mississippi go to larger cities such as Chicago to promote the highlights of retiring to Mississippi.

“We’re not just promoting Natchez, but Mississippi as a whole,” Feiser said. “Mississippi has a lot to offer retirees. We have a low cost of living. There are no taxes on retirement, which is important to people looking to retire; the property taxes are lower. You even get a break on them once you turn 65.”

Feiser explained retirees bring many positive factors to a community such as Natchez and the partnership does what it can to help promote the area and recruit households to the area.

“The Natchez Retiree Partnership is a form of economic development. Retirees put money in the economy by buying houses and paying taxes.”

Feiser noted the Natchez Retiree Partnership had seen a considerable jump in the number of families interested in relocating to Natchez.

“We had 97 leads in 2011,” he said. “I’ve had over 200 already this year.”

Sue Ann Wilt and her husband Carl retired to Natchez from Lansing, Mich., in 2002, but their plan to move to Natchez began long before then.

Wilt said they began attending Pilgrimage in 1982 and made it a yearly event.

“We just fell in love with the people and the area,” Wilt said.

Wilt now spends her time working part time at Magnolia Hall giving tours and being an active member in the Natchez Garden Club.

Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said he was pleased with the success of the Natchez Retiree Partnership.

“The program is efficiently run,” he said. “We are getting our money’s worth. It’s part of our economic development landscape.

“Retirees bring in their disposable income, wealth and they add to the market share. It’s a growing area in our community. As the economy continues to pickup, I think we’ll see more come in.”

For more information on the Natchez Retiree Partnership, contact Feiser at 601-304-0763 or e-mail


  • Anonymous

    Like a bobble head you’re going to consider a piece-of-fluff article from a Mortgage search engine as Gospel? Really? Why don’t you check with Lending Tree and see what they think if you consider this research valuable. 
    Cherry picking state crime, state poverty, and state actuary data doesn’t work (think smaller, city, county, etc). Let me show you an example of how this is done :
    Natchez -
    1) No state taxes on ANY retirement income, 401k’s, 403b’s, IRA’s, and including SS.
    2) ~ 150 miles from the coast. Far enough inland that Hurricanes won’t destroy your life.
    3) Located on a Bluff. Don’t have flood insurance and not worried about the Mississippi river flooding.
    4) Far enough South, where they don’t know what a snow shovel or a snow blower is.
    5) Tourista town with little to no Smoke Stack industry. Not desirable for the working folk, but hey, I’m retired and don’t want to live next to heavy industry.
    6) Tourista town, some kind of event going on almost every weekend and NO PARKING METERS.
    7) The people are friendly (both Black & White) and will help you if you need it.

    Listing the negative’s is for another time, but they’re mostly tolerable…

    THIS is how you rate an area to retire to, not state statistics.   

  • vilou09

    Hey, what do ya know, it’s also not the greatest area for younger generations either..

  • Anonymous

    June 5, 2012 — When it comes to the best states for retirement the southern states dominate our new 2012 list. Every one of the top 10 states was from the southern part of the U.S., from Tennessee at number 1 (the northernmost state to make the list) to Nevada, the westernmost state. This year we’ve tried to make our selection process more objective. This list of the 10 best states for retirement uses a numerical scale with up to 1 point awarded on each of 7 factors related to economic issues, climate, and health care costs.
    As always, we want to caution that your best states to retire list might look completely different than this one. For example, this list might not work for you if:
    - Your children or grandchildren live in another state- Your income isn’t high enough to make taxes an important factor- You won’t receive a pension- Cold weather doesn’t bother you- You have a strong preference for a geographic area like the mountains or city living- You have enough money to retire anywhere you want.
    Note that some of the states on our top 10 list do not have as many attractive places to retire as do others, which might make them less desirable for you. Every state has resort areas, places near the coast or a lake, or college towns. But states on our list like Florida and Texas offer more choices on places to live than Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, or Mississippi. This might particularly apply to someone from the northeast who is looking for a more familiar environment to live in.
    Fairhope Alabama attracts retirees from around the country

    The seven factors we rated each state on were: Income tax, Taxation of Social Security, Taxation of Pensions, Property Taxes, Cost of Living, Health Care Insurance, and Climate. In most cases a full point was awarded for each positive applicable factor (e.g.; no tax on pensions), although a few states earned partial points. Warmer states received 1 point for more favorable climate. None of our top 10 states tax social security. All but Florida and Nevada have a very low cost of living.
    The 10 Best States for Retirement – 20121. Tennessee – Taxes interest and dividends only, otherwise very tax friendly including low property tax. Lowest cost of living in the U.S. Contiguous to sunbelt. Has active program encouraging retirees to move here2. Texas – No income tax, low cost of living, warmer climate. Property taxes higher than others in this group, although it offers some protections for seniors. Texas has 40 Certified Retirement Cities, including towns like Nacogdoches.2. Louisiana – No tax on pensions. Lowest property taxes in the U.S. Low cost of living and warm. Louisiana used to have a program encouraging retirement districts but it appears to be inactive. The charming town of St. Francisville attracts a lot of retirees from everywhere in the country.2. Mississippi. Pensions are not taxed, and property taxes are 4th lowest in the nation. There are 20 Certified Retirement Cities including towns like Hattiesburg and the college town of Oxford2. Alabama – Pensions not taxed. Per capita property tax is 2nd lowest in the country. Fairhope and Huntsville are 2 interesting places to retire.

    6. Arkansas – Taxes some pensions but not SS. Cost of living is 4th lowest in U.S. Hot Springs andEureka Springs are 2 popular towns for retirement.7. Florida – No income tax, good property tax protection for full time residents against increases. Florida has dozens and dozens of nice towns for retirement.8. Oklahoma – Taxes many pensions but low property tax. Cost of living is 3rd lowest in country. People looking for a low cost retirement by a lake might enjoy living in Lake Eufaula.9. Georgia – Property tax higher than other states on this list. Generous income exclusion for retirement income10. Nevada – No income tax, property tax higher than some
    Please note that were several ties, which is why the ranking numbers look a little unusual. Kentucky and South Carolina were close at 11th and 12th. This link to our spreadsheet (best states retirement-2012) provides you with an excel doc that also allows you to customize the rankings/change the weightings in the event you want to use different criteria.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

     Dead on assessment, IMO.

  • Anonymous

     Has massah been beating you again?  Stop with the slave mentality where everything is “massah’s fault”.  Political leadership doesn’t make one fat.  Political leadership doesn’t make one rob and murder.   Political leadership does not make you dumb.

    You are the epitome of illiterate Mississippi.  You are the epitome of poor Mississippi.  YOUR brothas and sistas are the epitome of criminal Mississippi. YOU are why Mississippi is on the bottom of every negative ranking, not some politician.  YOU.

  • Anonymous

    I like your disclaimer.
    IMO, not including Sales Tax is a huge mistake (especially with your #1 pick, think Memphis). A tax is a tax.

    When you say “pensions” does that term include IRA’s? Very few Businesses offer Pensions anymore and will not be much of a factor in the near future. Probably shouldn’t be lumped together with other retirement income.

    When you say “No income tax” does that include all retirement income? Yes, regular State income tax may be important to part-time “retired workers”, but if your working full time, you’re not retired and it may not hold any importance at all.

    Overall, customizing rankings/weightings is a great idea.