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The state of Massachusetts is in the most populated state in the New England region of the northeastern part of the United States. It is the site of the original landing of the Pilgrims in 1620, who came over on the Mayflower. The population in Massachusetts is approximately 6.8 million which makes it the 15th most populous in the nation. The size of the state is relatively small, at only 10,565 square miles, making it the 44th largest state in America, with a population density of 840 people per square mile which ranks 3rd in the country. Harvard University, located in the state, is the oldest college/university in the United States and both Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are consistently ranked among the leading academic institutions of the world. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, and over 80% of the state’s residents live within the greater Boston metropolitan area. Massachusetts has the 18th highest percentage of senior citizens in the country, with approximately 13.8% of residents age 65 or older. However, is this historical state a wise choice for seniors who are looking to retire?
Costs of Assisted Living in Massachusetts
Assisted Living care in the state of Massachusetts has an average fee of $4,463 per month, compared to the U.S. monthly average of $3,628. Although the cost of assisted living in Massachusetts is much higher than the national average, you must remember that the cost of living in Massachusetts is also higher than it is nationally, with housing (an essential component of Assisted Living) ranking 186 compared to the national of 100. Additionally, costs could be different because of the different types of residents and care required in assisted living facilities, as well as the staffing number and education/experience of said staff within the facility. Across Massachusetts alone, the costs of assisted living facilities vary from $4,500 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to almost $6,500 in Barnstable Town, Massachusetts.
Other senior care options in Massachusetts include Home Health Care, Adult Day Health Care, and Nursing Facility Care when necessary. The state average for Massachusetts Adult Day Health Care is around $1,430 per month or more than $17,000 per year in Massachusetts. Another choice that is common, particularly among those with higher incomes, is Home Health Care. A Home Health Aide in Massachusetts costs nearly $4,800 per month (for 44 hours per week), around $57,000 annually. Although Home Health Day Care is a bit cheaper than Assisted Living in Massachusetts, it is usually provided for up to twelve hours a day. To receive 24-hour-care from an aide would cost you $18,115 monthly. It is also important to remember while Home Health Aides are important and helpful, they are not licensed nurses, nor are there licensed nurses available if necessary which is something that is available in most Assisted Living Facilities. A semi-private room in a Nursing Facility costs around $135,000 per year, and a private room will cost $144,175 annually in Massachusetts.
Unless something changes drastically in America’s Health Care system, these costs will only increase. For example, by the year 2030 it is estimated that the cost of Assisted Living in Massachusetts will be around $99,000 per year – an increase of over $33,500. The cost of Massachusetts Nursing Home Care will increase to approximately $204,275 for a semi-private room and over $218,000 for a private room by 2030. These estimates are based on the regulations in place now, which are expected to increase in number, including the sanctions against facilities who do not meet these regulations, and such regulations will increase in both Nursing Homes and in Assisted Living Facilities. The increase in regulations and penalties will be passed on to the consumer – you.
Within the state of Massachusetts, the costs of Assisted Living Care vary as well, for example, these are the latest approximate costs of a monthly stay in an Assisted Living Facility in Massachusetts:
- Pittsfield, Massachusetts - $4,500;
- Worchester, Massachusetts - $4,851
- Springfield, Massachusetts - $4,989;
- Boston Area, Massachusetts - $6,200; and
- Barnstable Town, Massachusetts - $6,418.
Pros and Cons of Senior Living in Massachusetts
Here are some things to consider for seniors when choosing whether to live and retire in Massachusetts:
- Cost of Living – the state has a higher cost of living than the national average, over 30% higher than the national average;
- Health Care – Massachusetts not only has 143 hospitals in the state, but they are some of the best hospitals, not only in America but worldwide. These include: Harvard’s Brigham and Young Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston Medical Center, New England Baptist Hospital, and Tufts Medical Center. Massachusetts ranks as the 3rd healthiest state overall with the most physicians per 100,000 residents, the 2nd lowest infant mortality rate, and the lowest percentage of uninsured residents. However, over 37% of the residents are overweight with almost 22% in the obese category;
- Crime Rate – the rate of violent and property crimes in Massachusetts is a bit higher than the national average. The crime rate for violent crimes is 3.91 and for property crimes it is 16.91. The chances of become a victim of a violent crime in Massachusetts is 1 in 256 and 1 in 59 for property crimes. There are around 27 crimes per square mile in Massachusetts as compared with the national median of 32.85;
- Cultural Activities – There are many cultural, entertainment, and historic activities available for seniors should you desire, particularly in Boston, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops Orchestra, museums, parks, universities; and
- Taxes – Massachusetts is considered to be a moderately tax-friendly state for senior citizens;
Financial Information for Massachusetts Seniors
Massachusetts has an income tax that is easily separated into two different categories:
- 5.1% rate on wages, interest, dividends, and long-term capital gains, and
- A 12% rate which applies to: short-term capital gains, long and short-term capital gains on collectible items, and installment sales that occurred before 1996 which are classified as income from capital gains.
Massachusetts residents need only pay taxes if their gross income is greater than $8,000 for the year. There is an income credit available for those whose incomes fall below the threshold for their status.
The state sales in Massachusetts is 6.25% on retail sales by any vendor in the state.
Massachusetts taxes all real and tangible personal property unless that property has been specifically exempted by statute. There are exemptions for seniors, veterans, surviving spouses of seniors, surviving spouses of veterans, blind, surviving minors of groups, and certain low income groups.
Massachusetts has no inheritance tax. Massachusetts residents are subject to an estate tax which, unlike other states, does not have the same rules as the federal government.
Massachusetts is a moderately tax-friendly state for seniors, due to the following:
- Income from Social Security earnings in MA is not taxed;
- Withdrawals from retirement accounts in Massachusetts are fully taxed;
- Wages for MA residents are taxed at normal rates, in Massachusetts this is 5.1%;
- Public pension received by Massachusetts seniors is not taxed; and
- Private pension income received by Massachusetts seniors is fully taxed.
The cost of living is higher in Massachusetts than it is in other states with housing being the biggest difference. Out of 100 points, Massachusetts ranked significantly higher than the national average with a cost of living of 137.70. Massachusetts rated higher overall (138) and in the categories of: grocery (111.3), health (124), housing (186), transportation (105), utilities (115), and miscellaneous (106).
Places of Interest for Seniors Living in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is the state where the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, so there is a lot of history available to see. Additionally, Massachusetts has well-respected public schools and there are many places where seniors living in the state can see history up close and personal. Here are some attractions that senior citizens, and those who visit them, may enjoy in Massachusetts:
- Freedom Trail – located in Boston, Massachusetts – this is a must for any senior who is a history buff or for anyone who wants an education on American History. It is a 2.5-mile-long path that goes through downtown Boston and is passed by 16 different locations that are unique and integrally linked to U.S. History. The locations include: Boston Common; Massachusetts State House; Park Street Church; Granary Burying Ground; King’s Chapel and Burying Ground; Benjamin Franklin’s Statue and the site of the former “Boston Latin School;” Old State House; place of the Boston Massacre; Old South Meeting House; Faneuil Hall; Paul Revere House; Old Corner Bookstore; Old North Church; Copp’s Hill Burying Ground; USS Constitution; and Bunker Hill Monument;
- Norman Rockwell Museum – located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. This museum, founded in 1969, contains the world’s largest collection of Norman Rockwell’s drawings and paintings - a must-see for seniors who are art lovers;
- Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum – located in Boston, Massachusetts – this is a floating museum which incorporates live actors, interactive exhibits, and restored tea ships. You can pour tea over the side of the ships, meet the colonists, explore the ships, and end in Abigail’s Tea Room where you can purchase souvenirs;
- Whaling Museum – located in Nantucket, Massachusetts – this museum, which was restored in 2005, is home to a 46-foot-long sperm whale skeleton, exhibits, galleries, a restored 1847 oil and candle factory, and other treasures from Nantucket. On top of the museum is an observation deck where seniors who visit can see Nantucket harbor;
- The “House of the Seven Gables” – located in Salem, Massachusetts – this building is a National Historic Landmark which was built in 1668 and now serves as a museum for Salem’s architecture, maritime history, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of “The Scarlet Letter" and “The House of the Seven Gables;" and
- Old Sturbridge Village – located in Sturbridge, Massachusetts – a village recreated to capture what life would have been like in the early 1880s in Massachusetts - perfect for seniors who wish to find out what it would have been like to live in the 1800's;
- Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens – located in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. This is an 8,000-square-foot butterfly conservatory which houses 4,000 exotic and domestic butterflies. The focus is on education, recreation, entertainment, and gardening. Seniors get a reduced price on Wednesdays;
- Great Platte River Road Archway Monument – located in Kearney, Massachusetts. This arch spans Interstate 80, formerly the Great Platte River Road, which runs East to West, and holds 79,000 square feet of exhibits on both the route’s evolution and importance;
- Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden – located in Springfield, Massachusetts. This outdoor sculpture garden was designed by Dr. Seuss's (Theodore Giesel) step-daughter, sculptor Lark Grey Dimond-Cates. There are sculptures of the “Cat and the Hat,” “the Grinch” and other characters from Dr. Seuss. Bring your grandchildren - they'll have fun here.
- Oldest House – aka Jethro Coffin House – located on Nantucket, Massachusetts. This is a saltbox house that is also known as the Horseshoe House which was built in 1686. It is the oldest home on Nantucket that is still in the original location and is the only structure that remains from the settlement in the 1600s. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1968 and is an operating museum today.
Some cities to consider for Massachusetts Senior Living
Don't know where to live in Massachusetts? Here is a list we've compiled that should help make your senior retirement planning easier:
- Harwich, Massachusetts – located in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. The population of Holdrege, Massachusetts is approximately 12,500 residents of which nearly 30% are age 65 or older. Last year, Harwich ranked #4 out of 282 of the “Best Places to Retire in Massachusetts,” #42 of 282 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Massachusetts,” and #97 out of 175 of the “Safest Places to Buy a House in Massachusetts;
- Marion, Massachusetts – located in Plymouth County. The population of Marion is approximately 5,000 full-time residents, of which almost 18% are senior residents age 65 or older. Last year, Gering ranked #6 out of 282 of the “Best Places to Retire in Massachusetts,” #57 out of 175 of the “Safest Places to Live in Massachusetts,” and #113 out of 283 of the “Best Places to Live in Massachusetts;”
- Weweantic, Massachusetts – located in Plymouth County, Massachusetts. Weweantic is a census-designated place in the town of Wareham. The population of Wewantic is approximately 2,100 of which around 15% of the population belongs to the 65+ senior community. Last year, Wewantic ranked #1 out of 282 of the “Best Places to Retire in Massachusetts;”
- Pocasset, Massachusetts – located in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. Pocasset is a census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Bourne, Massachusetts, which is located on Buzzards Bay. The population of Pocasset is approximately 3,000 of which 28% are part of the senior community of 65 and older. Last year, Pocasset ranked #2 out of 282 of the “Best Places to Retire in Massachusetts,” #78 out of 283 of the “Most Diverse Places to Live in Massachusetts,” and #92 out of 282 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Massachusetts;”
- South Yarmouth, Massachusetts – located in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. South Yarmouth is an unincorporated village and a census-designated place in the town of Yarmouth, Massachusetts. The population of South Yarmouth, Massachusetts is approximately 11,100 of which around 32.5% are elderly residents who are 65+. Last year, South Yarmouth ranked #3 out of 282 of the “Best Places to Retire in Massachusetts,” and #13 out of 283 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Massachusetts;"
- Fiskdale, Massachusetts – located in Worcester County, Massachusetts. Fiskdale is a census-designated place in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. The population of Fiskdale is estimated to be around 2,600 people with approximately 14% of the population age 65 or older. Last year, Fiskdale ranked #18 out of 282 of the “Best Places to Retire in Massachusetts,” #7 out of 28 of the “Safest Places to Live in Massachusetts,” 178 out of 282 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Massachusetts,” and #110 out of 283 of the “Most Diverse Places to Live in Massachusetts;”
- Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts – a town located in Essex County, Massachusetts. Located on Cape Ann, Manchester-by-the-Sea is known for beaches and views. Manchester-by-the-Sea was called Manchester until 1989 when the name was legally changed to prevent confusion between Manchester, MA and Manchester, NH. The population of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts is estimated to be around 5,100 of which over 16% are at least 65 years old. Last year, Manchester-by-the-Sea ranked #11 out of 282 of “Best Places to Retire in Massachusetts,” #6 out of 123 of the “Safest Suburbs in Boston Metro,” #4 of 175 of the “Safest Places to Live in Massachusetts,” and #4 out of 153 of the “Safest Suburbs in Massachusetts;”
- Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts – located in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. Buzzards Bay is a census-designated place in the town of Bourne and it is the most populous of the five CDPs in the town of Bourne. Buzzards Bay is home to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and the National Marine Life Center. The population of Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts is approximately 4,000 residents, with almost 17% of residents living there who belong to the 65+ senior community. Last year, Buzzards Bay ranked #16 out of 282 of the “Best Places to Retire in Massachusetts,” and #3 out of 282 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Massachusetts;”
- Dedham, Massachusetts – located in Norfolk County, Massachusetts. Dedham was first settled in 1635 and is bordered by Needham, Westwood, and Canton. Dedham is home to many historical buildings, including: Fairbanks House, the oldest surviving timber-frame house in the United States; Mother Brook, the first man-made canal in North America; and Moseley’s on the Charles, the oldest continuously running ballroom in the United States. The population of Dedham is approximately 26,000 with close to 16.6% of whom are senior citizens age 65 or older. Last year, Dedham ranked #13 out of 28 of the “Best Places to Retire in Massachusetts,” #45 out of 202 of the “Best Suburbs to Live in Boston Metro,” and #55 out of 123 of the “Safest Suburbs in Boston Metro,” and #28 out of 202 of the “Most Diverse Suburbs in Boston Metro; and
- Wayland, Massachusetts – located in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. The population of Wayland is approximately 13,500 with 14% of that population age 65 or older. Last year, Wayland ranked #15 out of 282 of the “Best Places to Retire in Massachusetts,” #11 out of 283 of the “Best Places to Raise a Family in Massachusetts,” #15 out of 202 of the “Best Suburbs to Live in Boston Metro,” #12 out of 202 of the “Best Suburbs to Buy a House in Boston Metro,” and #20 out of 123 of the “Safest Suburbs to Boston Metro.”