The state of Kentucky is in the east south-central region of the United States and is bordered by West Virginia to the east, Virginia to the southeast, Tennessee to the south, Missouri to the west, Illinois and Indiana to the Northwest, and Ohio to the north and northeast. The northern Border of Kentucky is formed by the Ohio River and its western border is the Mississippi River. Its nickname is “The Bluegrass State” and it is a state that is often associated with horse racing, tobacco, bourbon, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. With 120 counties in the state, the two most populous are Jefferson and Fayette. The capital is Frankfort, but the city of Louisville is the largest city in the state with Lexington being another large city in the state. Kentucky is separated into five main regions: the Bluegrass region, the Cumberland Plateau, the Western Coal Fields, the Pennyroyal Plateau and the Jackson Purchase located in the far western part of the state. With a population of around 4.47 million people, Kentucky is the 26th most populated state in the nation with a population density of 110 people per square mile, ranking 22nd in America. Kentucky has an area of 40,409 square miles, making it the 37th largest state in the nation.
Kentucky has the 26th highest percentage of senior citizens in the country, with approximately 14.8% of Kentuckians age 65 or older. However, is this mainly rural state a clever place for seniors who are looking to make a move during their older years?
Costs of Assisted Living in Kentucky
Across all the states in the U.S., the average cost of assisted living in a facility is $3,628 per month, but in Kentucky it is $3,300, which is more than $300 lower than the national average. That is to be expected, as Kentucky is a state with a lower cost of living. Assisted Living care costs in KY are different at different facility locations and such costs depend on facility types as well. Memory care in Kentucky is generally more expensive as Dementia and Alzheimer's patients require better trained staff and more secure premises to prevent wandering. Inside the state of Kentucky, the costs of assisted living facilities can go from $1,757 per month in Owensboro to almost $4,000 in the Lexington Area of Kentucky. By the year 2030 it is estimated that the average cost of Assisted Living in Kentucky will be around $60,000 per year – an increase of over $20,000.
It costs much more money to operate Nursing homes because they require more trained staff and the regulations are much more stringent. As such, nursing home costs in Kentucky are higher than the costs for assisted living facilities. In Kentucky, a semi-private room in a nursing facility costs over $75,000 per year, and a private room will cost close to $84,000 annually. The cost of Nursing Home Care in Kentucky is anticipated to increase to approximately $114,000 for a semi-private room and $127,000 for a private room by 2030. Also, as the regulations increase in both nursing homes and in Assisted Living, the prices of care within these facilities will increase as well.
Kentucky Adult Day Health Care has an average cost of almost $1,500 per month or close to $18,000 per year. And Kentucky Home Health Aide costs, on average $3,575 a month, or over $41,000 annually.
In the state of Kentucky, there is a large discrepancy in assisted living costs from city to city:
- Owensboro, Kentucky - $1,751;
- Elizabethtown Area, Kentucky - $3,355;
- Bowling Green, Kentucky - $3,444;
- Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky - $3,850;
- Lexington Area, Kentucky - $3,999;
Pros and Cons of Senior Living in Kentucky
Here are some things that seniors should keep in mind when choosing whether to live and retire to Kentucky (and there are some BIG benefits to retiring here):
- Free college tuition – In Kentucky there are two kinds of free college tuition programs for retired Kentuckians. Residents who are 65 or older can receive a waiver on all tuition and fees from any state-supported college or university in the state. Two private colleges, Berea College and Alice Lloyd College offer free tuition to students of all ages although to receive free tuition at Berea College you must be a part of the Student Labor Program which requires at least 10 hours of work on campus. Alice Lloyd College in Eastern Kentucky also offers free tuition, but only to those who are full-time students from certain counties. Alice Lloyd College is located in Pippa Passes, Kentucky;
- Taxes – Kentucky ranks as the fourth lowest state for property taxes and offers a homestead provision for those aged 65 or older, or individuals who are completely disabled. Such individuals receive a $34,000 exemption on the assessed value of their homes. Kentucky is a state which is tax-friendly to retirees;
- Cost of Living –Kentucky’s living costs are 12% lower than the national average. Housing is the category with the largest difference and on a 100-point scale, Kentucky’s housing comes in well below the average nationally at 69; and
- Crime Rate – the rate of violent and property crimes in the Kentucky is lower than the national average. Kentucky ranks at #45 in the country with 211.6 crimes per 100,000 people.
Financial Information for Kentucky Seniors
Kentucky has an income tax that is divided into six brackets – ranging from 2% to 6%. All residents of Kentucky pay income tax, as do nonresidents of the state who earn income from Kentucky sources.
The maximum pension income exclusion is $41,110 for those who have retired from the government or who receive U.S. Railroad Retirement Benefits. This is, as of now, a set amount that is not adjusted annually. For those who were not government employees, Kentucky's low-income tax credit has been replaced by the “Kentucky family size tax credit.”
The state sales tax in Kentucky is 6% and there is also a 6% use tax that may be owed if you make out-of-state purchases for use or storage in Kentucky.
Property tax is based on the fair cash value of all property unless there is a specific exemption granted by the Kentucky Constitution or the General Assembly. The state of Kentucky has a homestead exemption is available to the elderly or totally disabled.
Kentucky does impose an inheritance tax although the percentage of tax depends upon who is the beneficiary, and the estate tax is not imposed on estates of those who died in 2005 or later.
Kentucky is a tax-friendly state for seniors, due to the following:
- Income from Social Security is not taxed;
- Withdrawals from retirement accounts are partially taxed;
- Wages are taxed at normal rates;
- Public pension income is partially taxed; and
- Private pension income is partially taxed.
Kentucky is a lower-price state than the national average. For example, what you could purchase for $100 in Kentucky is what you would expect to spend $112.74 on in another state. In addition the cost of living is lower in Kentucky than it is in other states with housing being the biggest difference. Out of 100 points, Kentucky ranked below the national average with a cost of living of 86.20. Kentucky rated lower in all the categories, including: overall (86), grocery (92.2), transportation (95), health (97), housing (69), utilities (93), and miscellaneous (95.)
Places of Interest for Seniors Living in Kentucky
There are many things that might be of interest for senior citizens in Kentucky State, including:
- Louisville Slugger Museum – located in Louisville, Kentucky – you can see them craft the official baseball bat of the MLB, the “Louisville Slugger” and take a tour of the factory. There are also bats that have been held by Darek Jeter, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, and Cal Ripken, Jr. There is also a cage that features a 90-mph baseball being thrown at you by a Major League Pitcher. At the end of the tour you receive a souvenir ball and can even create a personalized bat;
- Churchill Downs – located in Louisville, Kentucky – visit the racetrack where the iconic Kentucky Derby has been held since 1875;
- Mary Todd Lincoln’s House – located in Lexington, Kentucky – this is the house where President Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd, grew up. The 14-room house is full of period portraits and furniture.
- Maker’s Mark – located in Loretto, Kentucky – the distillery of Maker’s Mark Bourbon where you can watch a sour mash ferment in cypress wood vats as it turns into one of the most popular bourbons;
- National Corvette Museum – located in Bowling Green, Kentucky – there are over 70 corvettes from different years in setting befitting the year. There are hands-on exhibits that seniors can check out, such as the Pit Crew Challenge, trivia kiosks, as well as a souvenir shop where you can purchase collectibles, apparel, and other gifts;
- Mammoth Cave National Park – a mysterious limestone underground cave that is the largest in the world and only 400 miles of it have been explored. There are different areas of the Cave to explore, including “Fat Man’s Misery,” “Tall Man’s Misery,” “Cedar Sink Trail,” and the “Green River;”
- Cumberland Gap National Park – located in Middlesboro, Kentucky – an important part of American History, the Cumberland Gap allowed colonists to settle Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Ohio River Valley. Senior citizens can see the original trail created by Daniel Boone;
- Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park – located in Hodgenville, Kentucky – a one-room log cabin similar to the one in which Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809;
- My Old Kentucky Home – located in Bardstown, Kentucky – this home is also the name of the famous song. My Old Kentucky Home is over 200 years old and has two floors. Tours are given of the house, originally named “Federal Hill;”
- Jefferson Davis State Historic Site – located in Fairview, Kentucky – this is the place where Jefferson Davis was born on June 3, 1808. There is a 351-foot obelisk monument made of Kentucky limestone as well as a museum showing the life of Jefferson Davis. Tours are available and there is a senior citizen discount.
- Loretta Lynn’s Birthplace – Butcher Hollow, located in Paintsville, Kentucky. The home of one of the most famous Country Music stars, Loretta Lynn. It is in Johnson County which is well-known for its history of coal mining. Loretta’s brother, Herman Webb, is the curator.
Some cities to consider for Kentucky Senior Living
Here are some cities or towns that have ranked highly in different categories that are helpful to Kentucky seniors:
- Berea, Kentucky – located in Madison, Kentucky. It is home to art festivals, historic restaurants, buildings and Berea College. It is a principal city in the Richmond-Berea Micropolitan Statistical Area. Berea College was founded in 1855 and was the only interracial and coeducational college in the South for almost 40 years. The population of Berea is approximately 15,000 with almost 13% age 65 or older. Last year, Berea ranked #49 out of 130 of the “Best Places to Retire in Kentucky,” #51 of 130 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Kentucky,” and #30 out of 91 of the “Safest Places to Live in Kentucky;
- Indian Hills, Kentucky – a city that is located in Jefferson County, Kentucky. Indian Hills is part of a few of the most affluent and prosperous suburbs of Louisville. One-third of the land in the city is not developed and most of it is located on Indian Hills Trail which is between the Ohio River and Louisville Country Club. Within the city limits of Indian Hills, seniors will also find the Caperton Swamp Nature Preserve. The population of Indian Hills is approximately 3,000 of which approximately 18% are seniors who are 65 or older. Last year, Indian Hills ranked #5 out of 130 of the “Best Places to Retire in Kentucky,” #6 out of 130 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Kentucky,” and #4 out of 135 of the “Best Places to Live in Kentucky;”
- Elizabethtown, Kentucky – a city, and the county seat of Hardin County, Kentucky. It is the 10th largest city in Kentucky. The population of Elizabethtown is around 30,000 with around 13% of the population age 65 or older. Last year, Elizabethtown ranked #44 out of 130 of the “Best Places to Retire in Kentucky,” #14 out of 135 of the “Most Diverse Places to Live in Kentucky,” and #36 of 91 of the “Safest Places to Live in Kentucky;”
- Corbin, Kentucky – a city located in Whitney and Knox counties in the southeastern part of Kentucky. Hamilton County, Kentucky. Corbin is famous, or infamous, for being the location of the first chain of Kentucky Fried Chicken opened in 1930. The population of Corbin is approximately 7,500 of which almost 21% are elderly residents 65 or older. Last year, Corbin ranked #10 out of 130 of the “Best Places to Retire in Kentucky,” and #20 out of 135 of the “Places with the Best Public Schools in Kentucky;”
- Murray, Kentucky – a city located in, and the county seat of, Calloway County, Kentucky. Murray is the 22nd largest city in the state of Kentucky and the home of Murray State University. The population of Murray, Kentucky is approximately 19,500 of which 16% are older residents who are at least 65 years old. Last year, Murray ranked #53 out of 130 of the “Best Places to Retire in Kentucky,” #2 out of 130 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Kentucky” and #5 out of 135 of the “Places with the Best Public Schools in Kentucky;”
- Cold Spring, Kentucky – a city located in Campbell County, Kentucky. It is part of the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky metropolitan area. It was also where the organization Disabled American Veterans is based. The population of Cold Spring is estimated to be around 6,200 people with approximately 15% of the population belonging to the 65+ senior community. Last year, Cold Spring ranked #22 out of 130 of the “Best Places to Retire in Kentucky,” #13 out of 91 of the “Safest Places to Live in Kentucky,” and #12 out of 73 of the “Safest Suburbs in Cincinnati Metro;”
- Flatwoods, Kentucky – a city, located in Greenup County, Kentucky. Flatwoods is part of the Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH Metropolitan Statistical Area. Flatwoods itself has no large employer within the city, so it is referred to as a “bedroom community.” The population of Flatwoods is estimated to be around 7,400 of which over 16% are seniors 65 years of age or older. Last year, Flatwoods ranked #1 out of 130 of “Best Places to Retire in Kentucky,” #6 of 91 of the “Safest Places to Live in Kentucky,” and #18 out of 135 of the “Best Places to buy a House in Kentucky;”
- Crestview Hills, Kentucky – a city in Kenton County, Kentucky. It is located near the Ohio/Kentucky border and Crestview Hills is considered to be part of the Greater Cincinnati area. It is home to the Crestview Hills Town Center, Five Seasons Country Club and Thomas More College. The Richmond Tahoe Railroad runs Kentucky’s only working steam engine as a charitable organization. The population of Crestview Hills, Kentucky is approximately 3,500 residents, with over 18% of residents belonging to the 65+ senior community. Last year, Crestview Hills ranked #6 of 130 of the “Best Places to Retire in Kentucky,” #13 out of 130 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Kentucky,” and #36 out of 135 of the “Best Places to Buy a House in Kentucky,”
- Edgewood, Kentucky – a city located in Kenton County, Kentucky. Within Edgewood is St. Elizabeth’s Hospital which was ranked as one of the top 50 hospitals in the United States for 5 years in a row. The population of Edgewood is approximately 9,000 with close to 9% of whom are seniors aged 65 or older. Last year, Edgewood ranked #16 out of 130 of the “Best Places to Retire in Kentucky,” #8 out of 91 of the “Safest Places to Live in Kentucky,” and #18 out of 130 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Kentucky; and
- Danville, Kentucky – a city located in and the county seat of Boyle County, Danville is the main city is the Danville Micropolitan Statistical Area. Some years ago, Danville won an award from the National Trust for Historical Preservation as being the 4th best place to retire in the United States. Danville also hosted debates for the U.S. Vice Presidential candidates during the years 2000 and 2012. The population of Danville is approximately 14,000 with 21% of that population who are seniors at least 65 years old. Last year, Danville ranked #17 out of 130 of the “Best Places to Retire in Kentucky,” #33 out of 130 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Kentucky,” and #22 out of 135 of the “Most Diverse Places to Live in Kentucky.”