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  • Kyle Rolek

Retiring in PA vs. FL vs. SC

Updated: Jul 19

This article compares retiring in Pennsylvania with other popular retirement destinations for Pennsylvanians: Florida and South Carolina. Retirement taxes, healthcare costs, and access to healthcare are the focus of this article.


A special note before getting into the comparison:

It’s often advisable to rent for a while before making a full-time move to a new place where you’ve never spent a considerable amount of time and don’t have a social network. Saving money on property taxes and warmer winters are nice, but the lifestyle change is sometimes underestimated.


In cases where people jump into purchasing a new home, sometimes paying contractors to build a new house from scratch without even being in the state to supervise, needless to say, regret is often the result. Advice on making a big move like this is well within the scope of work of a fiduciary financial advisor who specializes in retirement planning


Here are a few key insights when comparing PA vs. SC vs. FL:

  1. Regarding income taxes, Pennsylvania and Florida do not tax retirement income. South Carolina does tax retirement income above a threshold discussed below. For those with significant pension income, social security benefits, and IRA distributions, it’s possible that South Carolina’s state income tax rate of up to 7% will outweigh the benefits of comparatively lower property taxes in South Carolina.

  2. Regarding cost of living, There are many “cost of living by state” studies and tools published online. Comparing PA vs. SC vs. FL, South Carolina is consistently ranked as the lowest cost of living, followed by Florida, then by Pennsylvania. However, depending on the study, the spread between the three states is surprisingly smaller than a Pennsylvanian might expect.

  3. Regarding property taxes, South Carolina clearly wins in property taxes. SC property taxes (based on a statewide average) are significantly less than PA or FL.

  4. Regarding estate and inheritance taxes, Pennsylvania clearly loses in inheritance taxes. SC and FL do not have any inheritance taxes.

  5. Regarding access to healthcare, there are many studies online comparing access to healthcare by state. Pennsylvania consistently ranked significantly higher than FL and SC in access to healthcare.


Retirement Income Taxes:

  • Pennsylvania – PA does not tax retirement income, including social security benefits, pension income, and IRA distributions.

  • South Carolina – SC does not tax social security income at the state level. However, pension income and Traditional IRA distributions are taxable in SC. There is a state income tax deduction for those age 65 and older of up to $15,000 individually, or $30,000 for joint filers. The state income tax rate is as high as 7%.

  • Florida – FL does not tax retirement income including social security benefits, pension income, and IRA distributions.

  • Data according to publicly available documents published by PA, SC, and FL.


Property Taxes:

  • Pennsylvania – PA residents pay an average of $1,674 of property tax per $100,000 of assessed home value. This figure varies by county and by data provider. Other data providers quoted an average as low as $1,340 of property tax per $100,000 of assessed home value. Those age 65 and older can receive a maximum property tax rebate of $650 if annual household income is below about $35,000 in 2020.

  • South Carolina – SC residents pay an average of $601 of property tax per $100,000 of assessed home value. This figure varies by county and by data provider. Other data providers quoted an average as low as of $490 of property tax per $100,000 of assessed home value. Those age 65 and older who have resided in South Carolina for at least 1 year can exempt the first $50,000 of a property’s fair market value from property taxes. There are no income limitations to qualify for this property tax exemption.

  • Florida – FL residents pay an average of $1,041 of property tax per $100,000 of assessed home value. This figure varies by county and by data provider. Other data providers quoted an average as low as $850 of property tax per $100,000 of assessed home value. Those age 65 and older with their primary residence in Florida who also meet certain income limitations are eligible for a homestead exemption of up to $50,000. To qualify, income must be less than about $30,000 in 2020. Long time Florida residents age 65 and over (those who have had Florida permanent residence for 25+years) may be eligible for additional property tax breaks.

  • Data according to a combination of publicly available documents published by PA, SC, FL, and online “property tax rankings by state” websites.


Inheritance Taxes:

  • Pennsylvania – PA does have a state inheritance tax. The rate is 4.5% for lineal heirs, 12% for siblings, and 15% for all other heirs. Property can pass between spouses without any state inheritance tax.

  • South Carolina – SC does not have a state inheritance tax or estate tax.

  • Florida – FL does not have a state inheritance tax or estate tax.

  • Data according to publicly available documents published by PA, SC, and FL.


Medicare Supplement Plan G Costs:

  • Medicare Supplement Plans premiums vary based on age, zip code, sex, and tobacco use. The prices quoted in this section are accurate as of 2020. 

  • Pennsylvania – In Villanova, PA Medicare Supplement Plan G is available starting at $154 per month for a 65 year old male and $134 per month for a 65 year old female. These rates are for the standard plan, not the high deductible plan.

  • South Carolina – In Hilton Head, SC Medicare Supplement Plan G is available starting at $120 per month for a 65 year old male and $104 per month for a 65 year old female. These rates are for the standard plan, not the high deductible plan.

  • Florida – In Fort Myers, FL Medicare Supplement Plan G is available starting at $178 per month for a 65 year old male and $158 per month for a 65 year old female. These rates are for the standard plan, not the high deductible plan.

  • Data according to ehealthinsurance.com online quote tool.


Long-term Care Costs:

  • Pennsylvania – In PA, a home health aide averages $4,500 per month. A private room in a nursing home averages $10,500 per month.

  • South Carolina – In SC, a home health aide averages $4,000 per month. A private room in a nursing home averages $7,600 per month.

  • Florida – In FL, a home health aide averages $4,200 per month. A private room in a nursing home averages $9,300 per month.

  • Data according to Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey.


Access to Healthcare:

  • Pennsylvania – PA ranked #14 according to US News & World Report study. PA ranked #15 according to WalletHub study.

  • South Carolina – SC ranked #36 according to US News & World Report study. SC ranked #48 according to WalletHub study.

  • Florida – FL ranked #46 according to US News & World Report study. FL ranked #39 according to WalletHub study.


Cost of Living:

  • Pennsylvania – PA ranked #28 in 2019 CNBC Cost of Living Study. PA ranked #33 in 2019 Council for Community & Economic Research

  • South Carolina – SC ranked #26 in 2019 CNBC Cost of Living Study. SC ranked #23 in 2019 Council for Community & Economic Research

  • Florida – FL ranked #30 in 2019 CNBC Cost of Living Study. FL ranked #26 in 2019 Council for Community & Economic Research

Would you like a 1-on-1 retirement planning consultation? Fill out the "Request Consultation” form, call us at 267-427-5667, or email kyle.rolek@rolekretirement.com

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