Is Delaware a Good Place to Retire?

Written By Emma Johnson

Are you considering retiring in Delaware? It’s important to think about what kind of lifestyle you want to lead. Do you love museums, historic houses, and performances? Or maybe outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or kayaking are more your thing? Perhaps you’d prefer to be near the beach?

It’s also important to consider practical factors like connectivity and healthcare. Are there adequate highways, airports, and train routes to visit family and friends? And is there proper healthcare nearby for any specific needs you may have?

Of course, taxes are also a major consideration for many retirees, and Delaware’s low tax rate can be a major draw. But keep in mind that low taxes may lead to increased competition for housing, so it’s important to act fast if you find a property you like.

All in all, there are many factors to consider when deciding where to retire in Delaware, but by taking the time to consider your personal preferences and practical needs, you can find the perfect place to call home during your golden years.

Here’s something that can help you out.

1. How is Delaware a retirement-friendly state?

Is Delaware a Good Place to Retire

When it comes to retirement planning, state taxes are definitely an important consideration, and Delaware’s low tax rates make it an attractive destination for retirees. As the First State, Delaware offers several tax benefits for retirees, including no state sales tax, no taxes on social security income, and a $12,500 deduction from pensions.

Of course, there are many other factors to consider when deciding where to retire, such as the cost of living, healthcare, climate, and proximity to family and friends. But for those looking to minimize their tax burden, Delaware’s tax-friendly environment can be a major draw.

If you’re considering retiring in another state, it’s important to research and compare the tax rates in different states to make an informed decision about where to buy a retirement home. Some states may have high income taxes, property taxes, or sales taxes that could impact your retirement budget, so it’s important to do your homework before making a decision.

1.1 Delaware consistently ranks as one of the ‘Best Places to Retire’

Did you know that Delaware consistently ranks as one of the “Best Places to Retire?” According to a study by WalletHub in January 2020, Delaware ranks #6 based on criteria such as affordability, health-related factors, and overall quality of life.

While low taxes are certainly a factor to consider when choosing where to retire, they should not be the only consideration. Delaware has many non-taxable benefits that make it an attractive destination for retirees. For example, the state offers quality healthcare, pleasant climate, and proximity to friends and family living in nearby states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.

Delaware also has a great selection of 55+ adult communities, as well as beaches and coastal towns where you can enjoy tax-free shopping, pampering spa weekends, and exploring wildlife sanctuaries.

It’s no wonder that Delaware is becoming a top choice for places to retire. So if you’re considering where to spend your golden years, don’t overlook the many benefits that Delaware has to offer!

1.2 Excellent Tax Benefits

Delaware offers excellent tax benefits to retirees It is one of the four states with no sales tax at the state or local level. Plus, it has the seventh-lowest property tax rates of any state. It doesn’t tax on social security income, and it provides a deduction of up to $12,500 on income from pensions or retirement saving accounts. Not only this but even wages are taxed at standard rates, and your marginal state tax rate is 5.90%.

1.2.1 No Tax On Social Security Earnings 

 Social security retirement benefits are not taxable in Delaware, and they should not be included in the taxable income.

1.2.2 Retirement Income Tax Exemption 

Those aged 60 and above are entitled to an additional benefit wherein they are exempted up to $12,500 on their pension income. 

1.2.3 No Sales Tax 

Delaware is one of the four states in the country with no sales tax both at the state level and local level. This can be a significant saving, especially when buying a big-ticket item like a house. 

1.2.4 No Death Taxes When Living In Delaware 

 Delaware neither imposes a separate estate tax nor has an inheritance tax. 

1.2.5 Real Estate Taxes When Living In Delaware 

 Real estate taxes in Delaware are very reasonable and has one of the top 10 lowest real estate tax rates in the country. 

1.2.6 No Personal Property Tax 

 Delaware does not levy taxes on personal property, such as the tax on vehicles, and some states impose a tax on vehicles registered within their boundaries. 

1.2.7 Fewer property taxes 

Delaware property taxes are among the lowest in the United States, with an average property tax of 0.51%. This makes it the fourth-lowest state in the U.S. 

1.2.8 Pension Exclusions 

 Each qualified homeowner aged 65 and above gets income tax exemption up to $12,500 of pension. They also receive a Senior Citizen Property School Tax Credit up to $500.

1.3 Easier to make friends with the same age group

Making friends as a retiree is easier since about 20% of the state’s population is 65 or older. In addition, Delaware is an excellent retirement destination whether you are in your 50s, 60s, 70s, or more. Usually, the state has perfect weather and an abundance of recreational activities, which allows seniors to do a lot more.

Delaware has a great choice of age-restricted 60+ communities, all ages active adult communities, beach properties, small towns, and waterfront communities spread across locations like beaches, countryside, or even the city. Delaware has something for every age group.

1.4 Great Place For Jobs or Retirement

While job opportunities may not be the primary concern for retirees, it is worth noting that Delaware has a robust job market. The state is home to many large companies, including the Air Force Base, Christiana Health System, Astra Zeneca, and Dupont De Nemours Inc. Additionally, there are plenty of small businesses and startups operating in Delaware, making it a great place for those who want to start a new career or business after retirement.

Starting a business in retirement is becoming an increasingly popular trend, and many people in their 50s and 60s are reinventing themselves by pursuing new careers with their businesses. Delaware is known for being business-friendly, making it easy for small companies to get started here. So, if you’re looking to continue working or start a new venture in retirement, Delaware could be an excellent place to do so.

1.5 Diverse educational opportunities for retirees

Did you know that as a senior in Delaware you have the opportunity to pursue your interests and continue your education through several universities and colleges in the state? Even better, many of these institutions offer free tuition for those over the age of 60, making it an affordable option.

The University of Delaware is a highly regarded institution that offers free tuition courses and degree programs for seniors who are interested in furthering their education. Other institutions in Delaware, such as Delaware State University, Wilmington University, and Delaware Technical Community College, also offer similar opportunities for seniors.

In Delaware seniors have access to these resources and can continue to learn and pursue their passions well into their retirement years.

1.6 Affordable Living 

Delaware’s cost of living is slightly higher than the national average, with products and services costing 1.2% more than in other states. However, when compared to neighboring states, Delaware remains competitive for retirees due to relatively affordable housing and low healthcare costs.

Although the real estate market is on the rise, the median sale price for homes in the region is below $400,000. Additionally, Delaware offers many tax benefits, including no sales tax, no tax on social security income, and a $12,500 deduction for qualified pension income for individuals aged 60 and over. These incentives make Delaware an attractive choice for retirees on a budget.

1.7. Proximity To Major U.S Metropolitan Areas

Delaware’s central location ensures that the whole Northeast corridor is within your reach. Its location offers proximity to major east coast cities connected by major interstate highways, reliable public transportations, and nearby international airports.   

If you are driving, distances to big out-of-cities are not daunting. Here’s a look at some of the driving distances: 

  • The distance from Delaware to about 1/3 of the U.S. population is just a 2-hour drive.
  • The distance from Wilmington, Delaware to Philadelphia international airport – 30-minute drive.
  • The distance from Wilmington to Baltimore International Airport – 1 hour ride.
  • The distance from Wilmington to Delaware’s beaches and coastal cuisine – 90-minute drive.
  • The distance from Dover, Delaware to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 80 miles 

1.8. Cost of Living In Delaware is less

The overall price of living in Delaware is similar to average costs across the U.S., including the median home value.

 Cost of living comparison to US average:

Cost of LivingDelawareUnited States
Median Home Cost$304,500$291,700

100 = National Average

1.9 Farmers’ Markets

Delaware’s impressive agricultural production makes it a wonderful place to get farm-fresh goods. It has 2,500 farms, and a moderate climate where the summers turn out to be hot and winters are mild. The mountains of Pennsylvania pillars the cold winds of winter from entering Delaware. 

Its major farm productions are dairy products and farm animals, including pigs and other related products, accounting for 70% of Delaware’s farm income. Soybeans are Delaware’s most important farm crop, followed by corn. In addition, farmers also grow barley and wheat. 

The largest vegetable crop of the state is said to be potatoes, and the fruit crop is the apple. Many other vegetables are also grown at the local farmer’s market. Flowers, ornamental shrubs, young plants, greenhouse, and nursery products are also cultivated on the farm. 

If you are looking for a great place to find fresh produce, make sure to visit the following markets:

1.9.1 New Castle County Farmers Market, New Castle

You can find anything here from fine meats, veggies, and pies to Dutch pastries and Delaware’s favourite meat concoction, scrapple. It is an outdoor flea market spread around 100,000 square-feet space, and you can even bring your girl for a fine lobster dinner.

1.9.4 Dutch County Farmers Market, Middletown

Here you can find doughnuts made from scratch, freshly baked pies, artisanal cheeses, freshly butchered chicken, ribs, hand-crafted furniture, and more. It is a place heavily influenced by the Pennsylvania Dutch, and you can experience great food and hometown hospitality.

1.9.5 Redner’s Markets, Dover

You can find fresh produce, meats, pies, fruits, veggies, and more, and you will never need a special card for the best discounts here. It is 100 percent employee-owned and operated and has stores in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

1.9.6 Riverfront Market, Wilmington

You will find local seafood, freshly butchered meats, baked goods, locally roasted coffee, pasta, and sushi. It has a vast food court featuring food from around the world. 

1.9.7 Newark Farmers Market, Newark

With a focus on local, there is lots of produce, food options, crafts of all kinds. You can find a central café that serves coffee, cold drinks, and sandwiches. It also has ethnic foods from Europe, South America, and Asia.

1.9.8 Gigante International Food Market, Milford

If you are looking for a place to buy ethnic foods of Mexico and South America, then Gigante is for you. It has everything from drink mixes to ethnic bread types, and the supermarket has fresh seafood, fruits, berries, roasted seaweed, Thai limes and more to offer you. 

1.9.9 Highland Orchards Farm Market, Wilmington

You will find farm-fresh cage-free eggs, cheeses, meats, and dry goods. The farm uses non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) and natural practices to grow its crop. It also runs community-based agricultural farming.

1.10 Year-round events

Delaware hosts several exciting events across the year, and it is a great spot for living and vacationing. Retirees benefit the most from these annual events for which others must travel miles. These include the Sea Witch Festival in October, an epic beachside Halloween event in Rehoboth Beach, year-round films, arts festivals, plenty of music that include the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival (the largest free jazz show) on the East Coast. And the Fire and Ice Festival in Bethany Beach features ice skating, fire juggling, ice sculptures, a beachside bonfire and live music.  

2. Cultural Attractions In Delaware:  

2.1 Small art galleries

Delaware’s art galleries are passionate and energetic, thrives from Wilmington to Milford, Oceanview to Dover.

2.2 Historic museums

The stories told in the museums of Delaware are, in many ways, the stories of the entire nation. Whether the topic is America’s Colonial legacy or its evolving cultural ideals, Delaware’s museums offer some unique and rare treasures, be it the unique collection of soup tureens at Winterthur or some of the earliest recording devices on display at Victrola Museum. 

2.3 Vibrant fairs and festivals

People come together to celebrate a shared passion, whether it’s music, food, or kites. 

From dancing in the woodlands to admiring springtime blooms, very festive activity begins in Delaware. 

2.4 Small theatres

When it comes to concerts, plays and theatre, Delaware has some distinctive advantages since it has many intimate venues, affordable ticket prices and top-notch performers. 

2.5 Beautiful state parks

Delaware boasts 17 state parks managed by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. From the rocky outcrops of Piedmont in the north to the sandy shores of the Atlantic Coast in the south, the state parks have something to offer for recreation. 

2.6 Historical landmarks

Since Delaware was officially the first state to establish European settlements, much of that history is well preserved and admired, but Pre-European Delaware was also a sight to witness. 

2.7 Pristine botanical gardens

The Delaware Botanic Gardens is an evolving 37-acre garden at Pepper Creek in southern Delaware. It is a world-class, inspirational, educational, and sustainable public botanic garden created for the benefit and enjoyment of all.  

2.8 Lovely estate homes

Despite its small size, Delaware has a lot of new homes available for sale. It has a huge real estate market with affordable homes. Known as the “Nation’s Summer Capital”, the coastal area offers tax-free shopping, fine dining, rich nightlife, and entertainment. 

This is the best place for retirees and people having fixed incomes who are concerned with their budget. 

3. Beautiful Places to Retire in Delaware 


Wilmington has wonderful parks, a zoo, and several historical places. It has been known as the home of the storied DuPont family and its influential chemical company. But today, there are also fine beer gardens, artsy coffee shops, sports, artisanal shops, baseball stadium, sports complex, IMAX theatre, restaurants, hotels, entertainment, and you name it. Additionally, there are ten hospitals within a few miles of the city.

You should be aware that some areas of Wilmington boast high crime rates. Ensure to check with your real estate agent or check crime stats online.   

3.2.Historic New Castle

Historic New Castle is known for its festivals and is a great place to live, work and play.

It is known for its thriving historic downtown, outdoor open spaces and recreation, including Battery Park, multiple playgrounds, trails, nature areas, tennis courts, sailing club, library, and museums. 

3.3. Milton: Small Town Charm

Milton is one of the liveliest small towns within a 7-mile radius of Delaware Bay. The town is part of Sussex County and is cherished for many things, one of which is the tourist spot known as the Dogfish Head Brewery. Sussex County has possibly become the most popular area of the state because it has one of the lowest ratios of median annual property tax to home value in the country. Another thing that locals and visitors love about Milton is its proximity to Delaware’s gorgeous beaches. Note that real estate in Milton is certainly less expensive than in Rehoboth or Lewes because it is farther from the beaches.  

3.4. Lewes: Sun, Sand, Ferries, And Fun 

Lewes is close to some of the state’s most popular beach resorts, and there are several state parks in Delaware and neighbouring Maryland and Virginia. It offers a wealth of historical and recreational activities at the intersection of Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Bay and ocean beaches in and near Lewes provide swimming, fishing, boating, and other watersports activities. The town’s proud heritage has been carefully preserved by the Lewes Historical Society, making Lewes a great place for historical Discovery. 

3.5. Rehoboth: The Nation’s Summer Capital 

Rehoboth is another town in Delaware that provides great benefits for retirement living. Though the healthcare facilities are not as extensive as in Wilmington, there are other attractive qualities. It has a low crime rate since Rehoboth beach is on a much slower pace compared to other Delaware towns. It also offers sales tax benefits which excite people to enjoy their shopping here.  

3.6. Dover

With so many things to do in Dover, you will never be in a shortage of fun. There are many exciting activities to enjoy and places to explore. Dover is not just a home for music festivals and race cars; it is a place filled with history and culture.

Enjoy shopping in country stores and local malls or take a walk in one of the public parks. The first state has several possibilities for an amazing vacation, from museums to farms to dining.

3.7. Smyrna

Smyrna is the perfect spot for an artistic tour, and it has many activities for visitors who love fine and performing arts. Smyrna is home to popular restaurants, diners, and microbreweries. It has all the components for a relaxing vacation spot with many outdoor destinations and pleasant places. Smyrna is full of exciting and fun-filled activities that offer something for everyone.

y of Delaware, and its central location contributes to a vibrant nightlife, especially along the main street. Newark ranks among the safest place to live in Delaware. The city is filled with several parks and coffee shops. It has plenty of opportunities to hike, picnic, and enjoy bird watching. 

4. Cities with Best Home-Price-to-Income Ratio in Delaware

The list above is sorted by the lowest overall cost of living index. However, the following states have the lowest home price to income ratio, meaning you can get more homes for your money.

4.1 Smyrna

Smyrna is known for having plenty of activities for people who love arts. From art galleries to live music, Smyrna has all the beautiful attractions. It has delightful restaurants and breweries and countless places for cultural activities. Additionally, it has several historic buildings, including Allen House and The Lindens, which people can visit. 

4.2 Middletown

The best thing about living in Middletown is the diversity and ease of access. It has easy access to New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It is a beautiful area as it offers a close-knit community, and the neighbors are also welcoming. It has many good schools which are perfect for raising kids. There are many restaurants to choose from, and you can find pasta dishes, fried foods, and different cheese sauces. It has restaurants that will suit everyone’s taste buds.  

4.3 Dover

Dover is one of the pleasant capitals with a stable economic base and a rich history. It offers many recreational opportunities through its beaches and wildlife spots. There are tons of amazing restaurants to dine in and several stores for those who love shopping. People in Dover are said to have positive attitudes, making it a great place to live.

5. Safest Cities to Retire in Delaware

5.1. Ocean View

Topping the list of safest cities in the Ocean View in Delaware. Residents, especially retirees, enjoy a peaceful and safe life in the quiet coastal town. The rate of crime is 32.59 per 1000 residents during a standard year. People who live in Ocean View generally consider the southern part of the city to be the safest. Your chance of being a victim of crime is 1 in 21 in the northwest neighborhood or as low as 1 in 44 in the southern part of the city. 

Quiet and safe, Ocean View is essentially a suburban town with plenty of amenities and many wonderful communities. It’s a short drive to the beach and is surrounded by many outdoor recreation activities. Locals enjoy art galleries, antique shops, and some very good restaurants. The historical society has a museum and restored buildings. It is a friendly community comprised primarily of retirees with a median age of 51 years.

5.2. Milton

Milton is in the 66th percentile for safety. It means 34% of cities are safer, and 66% are in danger. The crime rate in Milton is 20.89 per 1000 residents during a standard year. In this place, people consider the northwest part of the city to be the safest. Your chance of being a victim in Milton may be as high as 1 in 26 in the northeast neighborhoods or as low as 1 in 86 in the northwest part of the city. 

Overall, living in Milton comes with many perks, including a close-knit community, excellent educational facilities, and a country-living vibe. Residents and visitors enjoy a plethora of unique shops and restaurants and tons of recreational opportunities, including fishing and kayaking.

The town is popular for its historic places, and its walkable neighborhoods showcase architecture ranging from lacy Victorian homes to gorgeous Arts and Crafts bungalows. Additionally, Milton is known for setting up the Dogfish Head Brewery.

5.3. Bridgeville

Bridgeville is in the 91st percentile for safety. It means 9% of cities are safer, whereas 91% are in danger. The crime rate is 12.14 per 1000 residents during a standard year. The northwest part of the city is the safest. Your chance of being a victim is as high as 1 in 61 in the southern neighborhoods or as low as 1 in 125 in the northwest part of the city. 

Several factors make Bridgeville a good place to live. It offers residents a dense suburban feel, and most people own their homes. Bridgeville ranks well in education, crime, cost of living, and diversity. There are several restaurants, coffee shops, and parks to explore. It truly has something for everyone, and that’s why it is a great place to call home. Many young professionals and retirees live in Bridgeville.


Lewes is a charming seaside town with the fourth-lowest crime rate in the state. Lewes is in the 23rd percentile for safety, which means 77% of cities are safe and 23% are dangerous. The crime rate in Lewes is 41.74 per 1000 residents during a standard year. Generally, people who live here consider the southwest part of the city to be the safest. Your chance of being a victim in Lewes may be as high as 1 in 17 in the southeast neighborhoods or as low as 1 in 50 in the southwest part of the city.

If you are looking for a small-town atmosphere with plenty of recreational opportunities, then Lewes can be a great experience. It is an excellent place for tourists to buy antiques, collectibles and makes shopping even better since the state has no sales tax. Additionally, living in Lewes is a perfect option for retirees.

5.5.  Newark

The crime rate is much higher than the average city in the US, and it is in the 10th percentile for safety, which means 90% of cities are safe and 10% are dangerous. The crime rate in Newark is 64.82 per 1000 residents during a standard year. People living in the place consider the north part of the city to be the safest. Your chance of being a victim in Newark may be as high as 1 in 2 in the southern neighborhoods or as low as 1 in 33 in north Newark.

If you are planning to live in Newark, it is a great place to live in. From state parks to the main street shopping center to the University of Delaware, it has everything in this college town. The median home value of $250,000 makes it an affordable choice for residents who want to live in the city without paying high costs.

5.6. Middletown

The crime rate in Middletown is higher than the average city in the US. It is in the 26th percentile for safety, which means 74% of cities are safe and 26% are dangerous. The crime rate in Middletown is 38.91 per 1000 residents during a standard year. The southern part of the city is said to be the safest. Your chance of being a victim in Middletown may be as high as 1 in 12 in the central neighborhoods or as low as 1 in 54 in the southeast part of Middletown.

Whether you are looking for a safe community to raise your family or trying to find a spot to call home, moving to Middletown is a top choice. With a median home price of around $35,000, Middletown is more expensive than some of its neighboring towns. However, it’s still an affordable destination to live in. 

5.7. Clayton

The crime rate is the same as the average US city. Clayton is in the 51 percentiles for safety, meaning 49% of cities are safe and 51% are dangerous. The crime rate is 26.11 per 1000 residents during a standard year. People who live in Clayton consider the northeast part of the city to be the safest. Your chance of being a victim in Clayton may be as high as 1 in 17 in the north neighborhoods or as low as 1 in 80 in the northeast city of Clayton.

Clayton is a young and affordable town with a lot of charm, making it a good place for all ages. With a median age of 31, many people decide to move here due to employment opportunities and desirable quality of life.

 5.8.  Elsmere

The crime rate is slightly higher than the average city in the US. Elsmere is in the 37th percentile for safety, which means 63% of cities are safe and 37% are dangerous. The crime rate is 32.35 per 1000 residents during a standard year. People living in Elsmere generally consider the southwest part to be the safest. Your chance of being a victim in Elsmere may be as high as 1 in 20 in the northeast neighborhoods or as low as 1 in 47 in the southwest part of Elsmere.

It is home to several parks and green spaces, and in the downtown area, you can find most of the historic buildings, restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops. The median house price in Elsmere is $243,237, which means that it is less expensive than the US making it affordable for people who want to live in the town.

 5.9. Millsboro

The crime rate in Millsboro is higher than the average US. It is in the 31 percentiles for safety, which means 69% of cities are safe and 31% are dangerous. The crime rate in Millsboro is 35.60 per 1000 residents during a standard year. People who live in Millsboro consider the northwest part of the city to be the safest. Your chance o being a victim in Millsboro may be as high as 1 in 15 in the eastern neighborhoods or as low as 1 in 46 in the northwest part of the city.

The safe and friendly town is becoming more popular for young families and couples. It is also regarded as a pleasant place to retire. The towns on the coast offer exciting shopping, dining, and nightlife. 

5.10. Selbyville

The crime rate in Selbyville is the same as the average in US cities. It is in the 50th percentile for safety, which means 50% of cities are safer and 50% are dangerous. The crime rate in Selbyville is 26.51 per 1000 residents during a standard year. People living in Selbyville consider the northwest part of the city to be the safest. Your chance of being a victim in Selbyville may be as high as 1 in 28 in the southeast neighborhoods or as low as 1 in 56 in the northwest part of the city. It has been ranked as the 10th safest city for two consecutive years. 

Selbyville retains its small-town charm, with agriculture being its main industry. When living in Selbyville, you can spend time at historical places, delicious local restaurants, and beautiful beaches.  

Delaware is a great place to retire for many reasons. It consistently ranks as one of the best places to retire in the United States due to its low taxes, affordable cost of living, proximity to major cities, and a thriving senior community.

Delaware has a lot to offer, including beautiful beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, and tax-free shopping. Additionally, retirees can further their education at some of the state’s highly regarded universities and colleges that offer free tuition courses and degree programs for those aged 60 and above. With its business-friendly environment and many job opportunities, Delaware is an excellent place for seniors who want to start a new career or business after retirement.

Overall, Delaware is a wonderful state to consider for retirement, and its many benefits make it an attractive option for those looking to enjoy their golden years

Written By:

  • Emma is a residential and commercial agent in Delaware, known for her sharp negotiating skills & deep market knowledge. Off duty you will find her buried in novels and playing handball with her kids.

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