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Mississippi is a state in the southern region of the United States. The narrow coast of Mississippi is bordered on the south by the Gulf of Mexico, Tennessee to the north, Alabama to the east, Louisiana to the south. On the west of the state is the Mississippi River, across which are the states of Louisiana and Arkansas. With a population of close to three million residents, it is the 32nd most populous state in the United States and has a population density of 63.5 residents per square mile, also 32nd in the nation. The area of the state is 48,430 square miles, with 3% of the total area being water. Besides the Mississippi River, there are other major rivers in the state, including: Big Black River; Pearl River; Yazoo River; Pascagoula River; and the Tombigbee River.
The capital of the state is Jackson, which is the largest city as well. The state of Mississippi has some stunningly beautiful areas, particularly along the coast, however it is a state with its share of problems. It ranks 50th, or last place, among all states for health care, a higher rate of obesity than most other states, and has the lowest per capita income of any state.
Mississippi has the 36th highest percentage of seniors, with 12.8% of the residents aged 65 or older. It is also one of only six states to have a certified retirement community program and 21 communities that have passed a rigorous certification process. Some of these communities include Aberdeen, Brandon, Brookhaven, Clinton, Corinth, Hattiesburg, Laurel, Madison, McComb, Meridian, Mississippi Gulf Coast, Natchez, Oxford, Picayune, Tupelo, Vicksburg, and West Point.
Although it is often thought of as an economically disadvantaged state, it has some beautiful areas that are hard to beat, however is the state of Mississippi, the “Magnolia State” a good option for senior citizens who are looking to retire?
Costs of Assisted Living in Mississippi
While the average cost of a monthly stay in an Assisted Living Facility in the United States is $3,628, the average in the state of Mississippi is lower at $3,200. This is partly because Mississippi has a much lower cost of living than the nationwide average. Housing, one of the integral components of Assisted Living care, is 40% less, on average, in the state of Mississippi than it is in the United States. Within the state of Mississippi, the monthly fees associated with assisted living facilities vary from almost $3,100 in the Gulfport Area of Mississippi to around $4,500 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Costs also vary within facilities depending on the needs of the residents, the staff to resident ratio necessary to provide adequate care to residents, and the level of nursing care – as opposed to attendant care – necessary for the residents.
Adult Day Health Care and Home Health Care are preferred whenever possible over Assisted Living Care in many cases because they allow the person to remain living at home while still getting the help that they need. A Home Health Aide in Mississippi costs, on average, close to $3,250 a month – $39,000 per year. Adult Day Care in Mississippi costs on average $1,500 or a bit over $17,400 annually.
On the other end of the Long-Term Care spectrum is Nursing Facility care which is necessary when a person needs round the clock nursing care. Currently, it is estimated that a semi-private room in a Nursing Facility in Mississippi costs around $76,00 per year, and a private room will cost over $79,000 annually.
As the number of seniors increase, the regulations for nursing facilities increase as well. By the year 2030 it is estimated that the cost of Assisted Living in Mississippi will be close to $58,000 per year. The cost of Nursing Home Care will increase to approximately $115,300 for a semi-private room and over $119,00 for a private room by 2030.
These are the latest approximate costs of a monthly stay in an Assisted Living Facility in Mississippi:
- Gulfport Area, Mississippi - $3,083;
- Jackson, Mississippi - $3,875; and
- Hattiesburg, Mississippi - $4,523.
Pros and Cons of Senior Living in Mississippi
Here are some important to consider for seniors when choosing whether to retire to Mississippi:
- Cost of Living – the state has a lower cost of living that the nationwide average. On a 100-point scale, the cost of living in Mississippi is 84.50;
- Crime Rate – the rate of violent and property crimes in the Mississippi are comparable with the national average. The crime rate for violent crimes is 2.76 and for property crimes it is 28.34, while the United States median is 3.8 for violent crimes and 26 for property crimes. The chances of become a victim of a violent crime in Mississippi is 1 in 363 and 1 in 35 for property crimes. Mississippi has a crime rate of 21 crimes per square mile, as compared with the national median of 32.85;
- Taxes – Mississippi is very tax-friendly towards seniors, with the total tax burden less than 9% - the 14th highest in the United States;
- Affordable Housing – The largest difference in the Cost of Living in Mississippi versus nationwide is in housing. On a 100 point-scale Mississippi’s housing costs are at 60. There is also a homestead exemption and bonus tax exemptions for those who are age 65 and older;
- Education System – Mississippi ranks low when it comes to education in the nation. Although there is not necessarily a proven correlative relationship, many feel that good schools lead to good quality life in other aspects, such as connection between local education and local cultural life;
- State Attractions – besides the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi beaches (which are surprisingly beautiful), there are casinos, restaurants, shopping, and National Parks available in Mississippi;
- Health – Mississippi leads the nation in poverty rates and has the highest obesity rate of all 50 states. Although this doesn’t mean that those who move to Mississippi will become obese or poor, it does present a problem to those of retirement age as the health care in Mississippi, or the lack of access to health care, can be a problem;
- Weather – especially due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, the summers in Mississippi are humid, hot, and filled with mosquitos. On the positive side, the winters are very mild;
- Homeowner’s Insurance – the cost of homeowner’s insurance is lower in Mississippi, however in areas near the Gulf where Hurricane Katrina destroyed communities and lives, the rates of insurance have increased dramatically;
- Certified Retirement Community Program Access – Mississippi is one of only six states that takes part in the Certified Retirement Community Program which is designed to encourage economic development by attracting retirees to move there. The state of Mississippi has 21 “Certified Retirement Cities.”
Financial Information for Mississippi Seniors
Mississippi’s income tax system is based on three tax brackets – with rates of 3%, 4%, and 5%. The state allows for the same deductions as does the IRS.
Mississippi’s state sales tax is 7%, except in the city of Jackson, Mississippi’s capital, which collects an additional 1%, making the total sales tax 8% in Jackson. Taxes are collected on sales of tangible personal property and certain services in the state, including: installation or repair of HVAC units, bowling fees, car-washing, electricians, furniture repair, hotels, motels, laundering, dry cleaning, parking lots, parking garages, television services, woodworking, and carpentry. Tangible personal property includes most physical goods such as furniture and clothing, but there are exceptions.
Mississippi is one of only two states in the nation that taxes all food all the full sales tax rate, including groceries and prepared food. In addition, there are additional restaurant taxes in certain areas of the state. However, one item that is not taxed that is often especially important to senior citizens is prescription drugs.
There are two sales tax holidays in the state which occur at different times of the year. The first is usually on the last weekend of July and during this weekend clothing and shoes items that cost less than $100 can be bought tax-free. The second tax-free holiday is called the “Mississippi Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday” which happens on the first weekend in September. During this weekend firearms, ammunition, and other hunting supplies are exempt from state sales taxes.
Property taxes in Mississippi are some of the lowest in the entire United States, with the average property tax rate at just 0.77% - the 15th lowest in America. Due to the lower home values in the Magnolia State, the total property tax payment in Mississippi is just $768, which is the fifth lowest payment in the country. Mississippi also allows for a “homestead exemption,” providing that the person’s home is their principle residence, which gives homeowners a credit of up to $300 in taxes based on the first $75,000 of the value of the home. For senior citizens over the age of 64, the first $75,000 of the value of the home is totally exempt. As the median home value in the state of Mississippi is around $100,000, this reduces the amount of property tax for seniors by more than half.
There is neither an inheritance tax nor an estate tax in the state of Mississippi. The state also does not tax Social Security earnings, retirement account withdrawals or any pension earnings, whether private or public.
Mississippi has a lower cost of living than most other states, in fact it is the state with the lowest cost of living in the nation. Housing is the biggest factor in the cost of living difference. Out of 100 points, Mississippi ranked lower than the national average with a cost of living of 84.50. Mississippi rated lower than the average overall (85) and in the categories of: health (93), housing (60), transportation (96), grocery (93.1), and miscellaneous (97). The only category in which it ranked higher was in utilities, at 105.
Places of Interest for Seniors Living in Mississippi
Mississippi has some historic and beautiful attractions that are interesting for people of all ages. Here are some ideas of things that senior citizens may enjoy in Mississippi:
- Vicksburg National Military Park – located in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Once the site of a bloody 47-day battle during the Civil War, this is now an 1800-acre park that contains 1,300+ historic markers and monuments, a 16-mile tour road, 20 miles of historic trenches, a 12.5-mile walking trail, 144 cannons, two antebellum homes, the restored gunboat USS Cairo, and the Grant’s Canal Site. Within the Park is the 116.28-acre Vicksburg National Cemetery with 18,244 internments of which 12,954 remain unidentified. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966;
- Natchez Trace Parkway, located in Natchez, Mississippi. This is a National Parkway that commemorates the historic Old Natchez Trace and has preserved parts of the original trail. It is a parkway with two lanes that is 444 miles from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi.
- B.B. King Museum – located in Indianola, Mississippi – a Delta blues museum that is in Indianola, Mississippi, the hometown of B.B. King. The museum opened on September 13, 2008 and features a restored brick cotton gin where B.B. King worked during the 1940s. In 2015, B.B. King was buried at the museum in a planned memorial garden;
- Biloxi Lighthouse – located in Biloxi, Mississippi. It was originally built in 1848 as one of the first cast-iron lighthouses in the South. It was operated by civilians from 1848-1939, including several female lightkeepers, in fact the Biloxi Lighthouse has been kept by female lightkeepers for longer than any other lighthouse in the nation. In 1939, the U.S. Coast Guard took over the responsibility and maintenance of the lighthouse. In 1968, the Biloxi Lighthouse was given to the city of Biloxi and eventually was opened to the public. The lighthouse has withstood many storms, including Hurricane Katrina when the storm surge reached 1/3 of the way up the 64-foot-tall structure. In March of 2010, the city re-opened the lighthouse to public tours after a $400,000 restoration. In 1973, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1987 it was declared a Mississippi Landmark;
- Anchuca Mansion – aka as the Victor Wilson House, located in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Here, seniors will find a historic Greek Revival house in Vicksburg that was built in 1830 by J.W. Maudlin. In 1840, it was purchased by Victor and Jane Wilson who added a two-story portico to the front of the house. The name Anchuca is purported to translate to “happy home” in the Choctaw Language. The house was lived in by Joseph Emory Davis, the older brother of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and his granddaughter from 1868 until 1870. Jefferson Davis made one of his last public addresses to the residents of Vicksburg in 1869 from the balcony of the house. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and as of 2008 it is an operating Bed and Breakfast;
- Elvis Presley Birthplace – located in Tupelo, Mississippi. Here, the elderly Mississippi residents will find a museum in Tupelo, Mississippi which includes the birthplace of Elvis Presley, a museum, a chapel, and the “Assembly of God” Church the family attended. It is also listed on the Mississippi Blues Trail.
- Waverly Mansion – located in West Point, Mississippi, this is one of the most prominent antebellum plantation residences in the South. Construction began in the 1840s and was completed in 1852. This home has 65-foot high entrance hall that is crowned by an octagonal cupola. It was originally owned by George Hampton Young, a colonel from Georgia, and was a community that was self-sustaining - with orchards, livestock and gardens. It is thought that the first saddle blankets that were produced in America were created at Waverly. When the last of the Young family died, in 1913, the mansion remained vacant for over 50 years until the Snow family purchased it in 1962 and restored it to its former glory. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and a National Historic Landmark in 1974. It was also recently listed on the Civil War Trail.
- Pascagoula River Audubon Center – located in Moss Point, Mississippi. The Pascagoula River is the largest free-flowing river in the contiguous United States and the Pascagoula River Audubon Center serves at the gateway to the river. In 1974, over 35,000 acres of land were preserved for the public which has grown to almost 70,000 acres. The Center has worked to protect the ecosystem and wildlife of the Pascagoula River as well as educating visitors on environmentally-friendly landscaping.
- Friendship Oak – located in Long Beach, Mississippi. This Oak tree is allegedly over 500 years old and is Mississippi’s oldest and most beautiful tree;
- Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge – located in Gautier, Mississippi. It was created in 1975 to protect the Mississippi sandhill crane, including the habitat of the crane - the disappearing pine savanna. The refuge is over 19,000 acres and belongs to the Gulf Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Some cities to consider for Mississippi Senior Living
Seniors living in Mississippi may want to consider the following cities and towns for assisted living or retirement in general:
- Diamondhead, Mississippi – a city located in southeastern Hancock County, Mississippi. Diamondhead is part of the Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area. Diamondhead was named after Diamond Head, Hawaii and the town has a definite Hawaiian influence. Most of the roads are named with Hawaiian names, community centers and private homes have a Hawaiian look. It was originally designed to appeal to the seniors from New Orleans, Gulfport, and Biloxi but it is no longer exclusively a retirement community. The population of Diamondhead, Mississippi is approximately 8,200 residents, of which almost 28% are senior citizens age 65 or older. Last year, Diamondhead ranked #1 out of 75 of the “Best Places to Retire in Mississippi,” #8 out of 77 of the “Best Places to Buy a House in Mississippi,” and #23 out of 75 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Mississippi;”
- Cleveland, Mississippi – a city in Bolivar County, Mississippi. Cleveland is one of two county seats of Bolivar County, with Rosedale being the other. In 1967, Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Joseph S. Clark, Jr. held hearings to assess the effectiveness of the “War on Poverty.” The first field hearings were held in Jackson, Mississippi and the next day they went to the Mississippi Delta to see the poverty there. Upon arriving in Cleveland, they saw terrible poverty, including African-American children without any shoes and in worn out clothing walking around the streets. Cleveland is home to Delta State University, two “Mississippi Blues Trail” markers, and the Grammy Museum of Mississippi. The population of Cleveland is approximately 12,400 residents, of which around 11.5% belong to the 65+ senior community. The median home value in Cleveland, Mississippi is $108,100 – compared to the national of $178,800. Last year, Cleveland ranked #3 out of 605 of the “Best Places to Retire in Mississippi,” #9 out of 418 of the “Safest Places to Live in Mississippi,” #9 out of 395 of the “Safest Suburbs in Mississippi,” and #19 out of 408 of the “Safest Suburbs in New York City Metro;”
- West Point, Mississippi – a city, and the county seat of, Clay County, Mississippi. It is located in what is called the “Golden Triangle” region of the state of Mississippi and is the principal city of the West Point Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is part of the Columbus-West Point Combined Statistical Area. Seniors living in West Point can take advantage of the Old Waverly Golf Club which is located just outside of West Point and is one of Mississippi’s premier golf courses, hosting the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open. West Point is home to the “Howlin’ Wolf Blues Museum” and the “Prairie Art Festival.” The population of West Point is approximately 11,000, with around 15% of residents age 65 or older;
- Gulfport, Mississippi – located in, and the co-county seat of, Harrison County, Mississippi. Gulfport is the 2nd largest city in the state after Jackson. Gulfport is home to the U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet known as the “Seabees.” The population of Gulfport is estimated to be around 72,000 of which approximately 11.5% are part of the 65+ senior community;
- McComb, Mississippi – a city in Pike County, Mississippi. It is the principal city of the McComb, Mississippi Micropolitan Statistical Area. McComb has a history of extreme violence by the KKK and then later, in 1977, a plane carrying the band “Lynyrd Skynyrd” crashed in near McComb. The population of McComb, Mississippi is approximately 12,600, with around 17% of residents who are at least 65 years old;
- Aberdeen, Mississippi – a city in, and the county seat of, Monroe County, Mississippi. Aberdeen is on the banks of the Tombigbee River and was, in the 19th century, one of the busiest ports in Mississippi. Today there are over 200 buildings in Aberdeen that are on the National Register of Historic Places and it is known for its antebellum homes, the most popular being The Magnolias, which were built in 1850. The population of Aberdeen is estimated to be around 5,700 people with nearly 16% of the population who are seniors age 65 or older;
- Amory, Mississippi – a city in Monroe County, Mississippi. Amory was the first planned city in Mississippi in 1887. Each April, Amory holds the annual “Railroad Festival” which has around 40,000 visitors. September is the “Entertainment for Education” (also known as “Stars Over Mississippi”) where entertainers raise money for local scholarships. Amory, Mississippi has approximately 7,100 residents, with around 19% of residents belonging to the 65+ senior citizen community;
- Columbia, Mississippi – a city in, and the county seat of, Marion County, Mississippi. Columbia was named for Columbia, South Carolina as many of the settlers were from Columbia, South Carolina. Columbia, Mississippi was officially incorporated in 1819, becoming the fourth municipality in the state of Mississippi. Columbia is known as “The City of Charm on the River Pearl” and, due to its proximity to the Pearl River, has always been at risk of flooding. During the Civil Rights Movement, Columbia, and Marion County, were home to some of the most peaceful demonstrations and the town is still known for its citizens’ willingness to work together. The population of Columbia, Mississippi is around 6,300 residents, of which approximately 21% are elderly residents age 65 or older;
- Oxford, Mississippi – a city in, and the County Seat of, Lafayette County, Mississippi. It was named after the Oxford in Great Britain in the hopes that there would be a state university located there. In 1848, the University of Mississippi, commonly known as “Ole Miss” was founded in Oxford, Mississippi. During the Civil Rights Movement, Oxford drew national attention when James Meredith, an African-American, was prevented from enrolling at the University. President Kennedy sent in the U.S. Marshals to escort Meredith. Oxford is home to many attractions and has many cultural opportunities, including: The Square; The J.E. Neilson Company; Square Books; The Lyric Theater; the Gertrude Castellow Ford Center for the Performing Arts - home of the renegade blues label “Fat Bottom Records” and the setting for some movies. Additionally, there are many places on the National Register of Historic Places in Lafayette County. The population of Oxford is approximately 23,500, with approximately 10% of senior residents age 65 or older in this college town; and
- Picayune, Mississippi – the largest city in Pearl River County, Mississippi. Picayune was founded in 1904 and was added to the New Orleans metropolitan area in 2014 and it is centrally located between New Orleans, Louisiana; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi. The Crosby Arboretum, Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge, and the Stennis Space Center are nearby attractions. The population of Picayune is approximately 10,800 with 15.1% of the residents belonging to the 65+ senior living community.