These are the best (and worst) states for retirement

This Map Shows The Best And Worst States For Retirement In 2019

These are the best (and worst) states for retirement

We’ve all fantasized about the day we quit working for good. But have you given serious thought to where you’ll live in retirement? The idea of spending life as a retiree in a quaint New England cottage or sunny California condo might seem appealing, but that might not be your best option, according to the results of personal finance website Bankrate’s latest rankings.

The Best Place To Retire? America’s Heartland.

Bankrate recently updated its ranking of the best and worst states to retire for 2019.

To come up with the ranking, it considered five major categories related to the life of a retiree, and weighted them according to importance: affordability (40%), wellness (25%), weather (15%), culture (15%) and crime (5%).

These factors and their weightings were chosen a separate survey, which asked participants to rank what they care most about in retirement (the top answer was friends and family).

Bankrate ranked the best and worst states to retire, with four of the top five landing in the middle of the country.

According to the rankings, Nebraska is the best state to retire to. The Cornhusker State ranked within the top 15 for factors such as wellness (8th) and affordability (14th), and in the top half for crime (19th) and culture (21st). The only factor where it didn’t fare so well was weather (30th).

Rounding out the top five were Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Florida.

“Generally speaking, we have this area and the heartland that does really well,” said Adrian Garcia, a data analyst for Bankrate. He noted that given their proximity, most of the top states have similar weather patterns.

“But they also do pretty well in wellness overall. The other key thing ― because affordability was the biggest weight in our survey ― is these areas that ranked well tend to be more affordable,” Garcia said. In fact, Missouri ranked No.

1 for affordability.

The Worst States For Retirement

On the other hand, Maryland ranked as the worst state to retire. It fell within the bottom 15 for affordability (4th worst), culture (9th worst) and wellness (13th worst), while also underperforming in the area of crime (18th worst). The only factor that fell within the top half of rankings was its weather (18th best).

Also included in the five worst states to retire were New York (which ranked last for affordability), Alaska (worst for weather and tied for worst crime), Illinois and Washington.

See The Full Ranking

Curious how your state stacks up? Here’s a look at Bankrate’s full ranking of best and worst states for retirement.

1. Nebraska2. Iowa3. Missouri4. South Dakota5. Florida6. Kentucky 7. Kansas8. North Carolina9. Montana10. Hawaii11. Arkansas12. Wisconsin13. North Dakota14. Vermont15. New Hampshire16. Alabama17. Texas18. Idaho19. Mississippi20. Wyoming21. Oklahoma22. Tennessee23. Massachusetts24. Michigan25.

West Virginia26. Ohio27. Rhode Island28. Georgia29. Indiana30. Connecticut31. Maine32. Delaware33. Colorado34. Pennsylvania35. Utah36. Louisiana37. New Mexico38. Arizona39. Virginia40. Minnesota41. South Carolina42. New Jersey43. California44. Oregon45. Nevada46. Washington47. Illinois48. Alaska49.

New York

50. Maryland

If you want to drill down and see how a particular state ranks in all five categories, select it from the dropdown below:

Relocating In Retirement: A Personal Decision

So, given these rankings, should you hightail it to Nebraska once your working days are over? Not necessarily. “Retirement is a very personal decision,” Garcia said. That means the ideal location for living out your golden years might not match up to the numbers.

One thing that is important for most retirees is affordability, which is why it was weighted so heavily.

Once you stop working and devote more time to travel, hobbies and maybe even volunteer work, the fact is that you’ll most ly transition to a fixed-income budget.

“So you want to make sure you’re living somewhere that works for that budget, whether it’s the town you’re living in, a nearby neighborhood or perhaps a different state,” Garcia said.

When it comes to other factors such as wellness or weather, you might have different preferences. That’s why Bankrate also created a tool that lets you customize the weightings and see which states best match your liking. You can try it out for yourself below.

Garcia explained that the goal of this ranking isn’t to push retirees toward one location or another, but simply to allow people to take a second look at some of the places that aren’t often considered retirement havens. “We often hear about Florida, Hawaii or Arizona, but maybe we should spend some time investigating whether Nebraska or Iowa or somewhere in the middle of the country might be good,” he said.

At the end of the day, however, these rankings can’t replace what most people consider the most important factor in deciding where to retire. “If you’re going to be really far from the people you love and care about, it might not make sense to move,” Garcia said.


The 10 Worst States for Retirement

These are the best (and worst) states for retirement

While it might seem easy to identify desirable locations for retirement, as we described in the first half of this article series, The 10 Best States for Retirement, it can also be useful to consider the worst locations for retirees. Your income, savings and your retirement planning can be obvious drivers in selecting a retirement location, but you might also think about your interests, hobbies, and overall welfare.

As with the development of our list for the 10 best states for retirement, we acknowledge the subjectivity of this process. So, to keep things consistent, we used the same key factors to identify the 10 worst states for retirees. Factors that we considered include:

  • Cost of Living
  • Tax Rates
  • Crime Rates
  • Healthcare Quality / Availability
  • Local Culture & Amenities
  • Climate

10. California

While California living seems desirable, the Golden State will be among the most expensive for retirees. Retirement income is fully taxed, with exception only for Social Security benefits, and the Golden State has the highest income tax nationally.

Of residents age 65 and older, 1 in 10 are living in poverty in California. Lofty housing costs and high sales taxes are some of the many factors that make California a financially challenging place to live for retirees. In addition, recent data identifies California as have the 14th highest violent crime rate per capita.

On the other hand, California ranks impressively for public health, which could be enticing to retirees who are not concerned with the high costs of living. After all, in California, there are more than enough entertainment amenities and natural wonders to keep retirees active.

9. New Mexico

In New Mexico, residents will find temperate climate along with an inviting and colorful Southwest culture. Despite this wonderful environment, the Land of Enchantment generally is an unwealthy state, with 19.5 % of the population living below the poverty line.

With a high poverty rate, generally comes a high violent crime rate. And in New Mexico, this relationship holds true, as the state has a violent crime rate that is more than double the national average.

Retirees looking to settle here would find low cost of living, but they can also expect to pay retirement income tax. New Mexico also ranks in the bottom 1/3 of states in public health, which can disproportionately impact retirees.

8. West Virginia

The Mountain State is mostly rural and offers a moderate climate, scenic views, and rocky terrain with plenty of nature to explore, but it might not be a top destination for retirees. Residents will find that their retirement income is taxed, and with poor state fiscal health, it is unly this will change anytime soon.

While West Virginia has experienced a decrease in crime, some areas of the state maintain a dangerous reputation for violent crime.

Additionally, the population tends to be less healthy, which is evidenced by poor patient outcomes in health care. The state also ranks 4th worst for poverty.

West Virginia’s weakness in these areas make it an unappealing retirement destination for most seniors.

7. Louisiana

Known as the Pelican State, Creole State, and Sugar State, you will certainly find amazing cuisine in Louisiana. Aside from creole fare, you will find low cost of living combined with low income.

While Social Security retirement benefits and income from retirement pensions are not taxed at the state level, income from certain retirement savings accounts is taxable. In addition, residents will pay sales tax up to 11.45% in some areas.

Louisianans experience a high rate of violent crime, coming in as one of the top 10 of most dangerous states.

Overall, the health of the population ranks poorly compared to other states, with high rates of obesity, smoking, and mental distress. Retirees will find limited access to geriatric care, which could present challenges during retirement. In Louisiana, you will find that the climate is moderate with mild winters, but very hot and humid summers.

6. Alaska

The Last Frontier holds the smallest population of seniors in the United States. Having a cold climate with long and dark winter days, Alaska ranks as the worst climate in the country for retirees. The state is generally quite rural with high rates of rape, drowning and suicide per capita.

Although Alaska is one of nine states that do not tax retirement income plans, residents will find a high cost of living, mostly due to the added shipping / freight charges required to obtain goods from the mainland. The most notable payoffs for living in Alaska are no state sales tax, no state income taxes, and qualifying residents receive a stipend from the state’s oil wealth savings account.

5. Connecticut

Offering a small town, New England charm with a generally temperate climate, Connecticut might be thought of as one of the safest and charming locations for retirement.

Once you move beyond the quaintness, however, you will find little to promote the wellness and welfare of the resident retirees.

In addition, the frigid winters that highlight New England living are rarely seen as a positive.

Connecticut is known to be among the unfriendliest states for retirees, with high real estate taxes and taxation of retirement income.

In fact, when considering combined sales and income tax, Connecticut ranks as the second most expensive state. Social Security income is partially taxed with withdrawals from retirement accounts being fully taxed.

If you are planning to retire in Connecticut, be sure to consult a financial planner to navigate the complex tax situation.

4. New Jersey

Known for their greenery, shopping, restaurants, casinos, and golf, the Garden State is better fitted for a possible vacation spot than a retirement destination. New Jersey residents experience among the highest cost of living in the country, with retiree health costs ranking third highest.

The state also ranks poorly in fiscal soundness, with pension funding issues and little room for the tax situation to improve. On the bright side, Social Security is not taxed at the state level.

Although crime rates are relatively low statewide, there are pockets of dangerous places that would rank among the most dangerous in the nation. Those living in New Jersey experience overcrowding, heavy traffic, and brutal winters, leaving this spot as one of our least favorite for retirement living.

3. Rhode Island

In the Ocean State, you will be met with above average living costs, accompanied by high taxes. Given that the state is not in the best financial shape, it is unly that the tax situation will change any time soon, leaving retirees paying partial taxes on Social Security income and full taxes on withdrawals from retirement accounts.

Healthcare in Rhode Island is rated as mediocre, which can be less than desirable to an aging resident. Rhode Islanders also will experience humid summers, bitterly cold winters, risk of flooding, and exposure to hurricanes given the proximity to the Atlantic Coast. If you can put those things aside, you will find ample beach access, delicious seafood, and a rich history.

2. New York

With New York City coming in as the most expensive place to live in the United States, retirement in the Empire State can present some challenges. Residents will find some of the highest state and local taxes in the country, coupled with outrageous housing costs. These factors make the state too costly for many retirees.

City living is a bonus for the state that hosts the Big Apple, but the fast-paced life may not be desirable for most retirees. One can always choose to retire in rural New York, however many cities within the state are plagued with high costs of living, low employment rates, and / or high crime rates.

While summers can be mild to hot, winters can be harsh, leaving little to do in the way of outdoor activities for a significant portion of the year.

If your wealth allows, spending summers in New England can be fantastic, but there is a reason why many of New York’s wealthiest opt for the warm air of Florida during the winter.

1. Illinois

Although Illinois is often thought of as a cultural hotspot, with suburban living and wine trails to enjoy, this state has significant long-term debts, unfunded pension liabilities, and big budget imbalances. These complications make Illinois our pick as the worst state for retirees.

The Prairie State’s high taxes on property, along with steep state and local taxes are seen as unaffordable and unfriendly to many retirees. Generally speaking, the population trends toward unhealthy, with health care costs for retired couples coming in higher than the national average.

In addition, Illinois residents experience hot and humid summers with frigid winters, making outdoor living a challenge during a large part of the year. Finally, Illinois ranks 19th in violent crime rate, per capita, but an even more troubling 4th highest for murder.

Despite hosting one of the Midwest’s most renowned cities, Chicago, the combination of budget issues, crime, climate and lagging public health make Illinois our #1 worst state for retirees.

How does our home state of Alabama stack up?

For many of us, Alabama is ly #1 on our list of retirement destinations. So, how does Alabama measure up against these top 10 states?

In our rankings, Alabama comes in at a strong #17 overall, well above the national average. Here’s a breakdown of how Alabama ranked against the other states in the 6 categories we evaluated:

  • Cost of Living: Alabama’s cost of living is a strength in these rankings as it comes in below the national average. Housing costs are comparatively low, but transportation costs can be higher due to a weak system of public transport that creates a need for personal transportation in mostly rural Alabama.
  • Tax Rates: Taxation in Alabama has its pros and cons. Although Alabama does have a state income tax, Social Security Benefits and Pensions are exempt from taxation, which is great for retirees. In addition, Alabama does apply sales tax to food and clothing, while some other states exempt these categories.
  • Healthcare Quality / Availability: Healthcare was a weakness for our home state in these rankings. And as we know, healthcare is very important to retirees. Alabama has average healthcare costs when compared to other states. However, residents in rural areas may have fewer healthcare options, as there are fewer doctors per capita in Alabama than most other states. Due to these factors the overall health of Alabamians usually ranks in the bottom 10% of states.
  • Local Culture & Amenities: Amenities are a major strength for Alabama in our rankings. This may come as a surprise to many, but we feel that Alabama is a hidden gem of adventure. In fact, we put Alabama in the top 20% of states for its unique features including: the gorgeous Alabama Coastline, Appalachian Foothills, numerous lakes and parks, award winning culinary scene, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Talladega Superspeedway, and almost perennial national champion college football teams.
  • Climate: Depending on who (and when) you ask, you may get a mixed response on Alabama climate, but we considered Alabama’s diverse climate a strength. Mild winters are a huge benefit, while steamy, humid summers can be a turnoff for some people living outside the mountains. Alabama experiences 4 seasons (in most years and areas of the state), but fall and spring tend to be short lived. Tornados are also a downside to living anywhere between the 2 major mountain ranges of the U.S., but in recent years Alabama has seen more than its share of deadly storms. Major droughts are rarely an issue in Alabama, a huge positive for farmers and outdoor enthusiasts, and the occasional white Christmas isn’t unthinkable. In addition, the climate can vary dramatically from the southern coastline to the foothills of the Appalachians, so no matter your preferences, Alabama ly has a place for you.
  • Crime Rates: A major weakness for Alabama in our rankings was the crime rate. When compared to other states, Alabama has a high rate of violent crime with 519.6 crimes per 100,000 people. The numbers are especially high for aggravated assault and murder, where Alabama reports the 5th most of these crimes of any state per capita. As crime rates typically correlate with poverty rates, Alabama’s 7th highest poverty rate in the nation is seen as a major contributor to these numbers. Alabama also has the 10th highest imprisonment rate in the country at 626 adults per 100,000 residents.

Keep in mind that choosing a retirement location is one that is very personal and should be considered as to what meets your personal interests, goals, and needs. Working with Meld Financial can alleviate many of the stresses related to your retirement planning.

If you are looking for help saving and planning for your retirement, contact us.

Our team of wealth managers consists of financial, legal and tax professionals who will help you develop your FINANCIAL FINGERPRINT™ and help guide you down the road to a successful retirement.

All 50 States, Ranked

We hope you’ve enjoyed our ranking of the best and worst states for retirees. If your state wasn’t mentioned and you are curious how it fared, take a look at our full 50 state rankings:



48.New York

47.Rhode Island

46.New Jersey




42.West Virginia

41.New Mexico

40.North Dakota





















19.South Carolina










9.South Dakota



6.New Hampshire




2.North Carolina



Map: Here are the best and worst U.S. states for retirement in 2020

These are the best (and worst) states for retirement

If you’re looking for the best place to retire, you have many geographical options, according to a new ranking from Blacktower Financial Management. Most of the top states for retirees aren’t in the south, a departure from last year’s rankings.

“Retirement relocations are always fluid as last year Florida was No. 9 and this year it’s No. 1,” said Christopher Thornton, U.S. country manager at Blacktower, in a recent conversation with Yahoo Money. “I do think when it comes to planning for retirement people desire more outside space.”

Read more: Retirement planning: Everything you need to know

Blacktower did not account for the coronavirus pandemic and the surging cases in some of the top 10 retirement states. The firm regularly releases its rankings and going forward, Thornton said, the factors they measure such as crime, population and average property prices could be adversely affected by the pandemic if its effects are long term.

“I don’t think the migration for retirees will wane,” he said. “They’ll just be delays in logistics of moving, but I don’t think there will be a seismic shift.”

Florida takes the top spot for Best U.S. States for retirement, according to financial firm Blacktower Financial Management. (Graphic Credit: David Foster)

For the most recent ranking, Blacktower sourced data from government and nonprofit sites and calculated a cumulative score the following factors. Delaware was excluded from the study because the state’s cost of living metric was unavailable.

  • Cost of living: The median cost of living in the United States is indexed at 98.5, derived from a national survey by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.
  • Crime: This number represents how many violent crimes were committed per 100,000 people in 2017. The crime rate in the U.S. was 394 crimes per 100,000 people.
  • Age: This data was sourced from the Census. The average share of those 60 and older among the 50 states is 21.46%.
  • Property price: Average property prices were also sourced from Census data. The average among the 50 states is $263,544.
  • Life expectancy: The average life expectancy in the 50 states ranged from 74.5 to 81.5 years, data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent health research center.

Top 10 best states for retirement

1 – Florida

The Sunshine State, where more than a quarter of the state’s population are those 65 and older, scored the top spot on this year’s Blacktower list. But not all experts were surprised, even with home prices averaging $252,309, much higher than other states such as Iowa and Ohio.

“As a financial planner, none of the states at the top of the list are a huge surprise, as most people are making a decision to move into retirement finances as the driving factor,” said Amit Chopra, certified financial planner at Forefront Wealth Planning and Asset Management.

The Sunshine State, where more than a quarter of the state’s population are those 65 and older, scored the top spot on this year’s Blacktower list. (Source: Getty Creative)

2 – Minnesota

The Land of 10,000 Lakes takes the second spot. The state’s crime rate was almost half of Florida’s, but it had a slightly higher average property price at $263,708. The state also has the longest life expectancy at 81.1 years.

3 – Iowa

Iowa remains a top spot not just for retirees, but others looking to move to a new state. Helping the Hawkeye State is its average property price of $154,727 and relatively low cost of living.

Hawkeye State is its average property price of $154,727 and relatively low cost of living. (Source: Getty Creative)

4 – Ohio

The Buckeye State takes the fourth spot on this list, with a relatively low crime rate of 297.5, more than 100 points lower than Florida’s.

5 – Texas

Despite the highest crime rate in the top 10 at 438.9 points, the Lonestar State has many senior residents, with 16.8% of its population 60 and older. The state also boasts an average property price of $211,199, which still falls lower than states Florida and Idaho.

Despite the highest crime rate in the top 10 at 438.9 points, the Lonestar State has many senior residents, with 16.8% of its population 60 and older. (Source: Getty Creative)

“Texas was 29th last year and this year it's 5th,” Thornton said. “It didn’t surprise me since if you look at Austin, Houston, and Dallas all those places are nice due to their property values.”

6 – Wisconsin

Wisconsin, also known as America’s Dairyland, dropped two spots from 2019. But its crime rate of 319.9 and senior population remained the same as last year.

7 – Nebraska

Nebraska remains an affordable choice with an average property price of $178,983.

Nebraska remains an affordable choice with an average property price of $178,983. (Source: Getty Creative)

8 – Pennsylvania

While the state did not appear on last year’s list, this year it entices retirees with its high life expectancy of 78.5 years and low property price of $198,377.

9 – Illinois

The state didn’t make last year’s top 10, but this year made the cut largely because of its high life expectancy of 79.0 years.

Read more: How to stay on track for retirement during the pandemic

10 – Idaho

Wrapping up the top 10 is Idaho, a bustling technology hub that’s safe for those in their golden years. The state’s crime rate of 226.4 points is the lowest of all states in the top 10 list.

Worst 10 states for retirement

The worst states appear in ascending order.

10 – Montana

With one of the lowest crime rates on Blacktower’s list (377.1) points, the Treasure State has a somewhat higher cost of living ($288,867).

The 10th spot for worst states belongs to Montana, the Treasure State. (Source: Getty Creative)

9 – Arkansas

The South Central state has a high crime rate, even though its average property price is relatively affordable at $130,907, the cheapest among the worst 10 states.

8 – Maryland

Bordering Washington D.C., Maryland’s high average property value of $312,990 doesn’t attract new retirees.

Bordering Washington D.C.Maryland high property values of $312,990 aren’t enough to welcome new retirees. (Source: Getty Creative)

7 – Louisiana

Louisiana, known for its celebrations of Mardi Gras and French architecture, also is far from being a safe haven for retirees. The state has a high crime rate and a low life expectancy of 75.1 years of age.

6 – Alabama

While the southern state of Alabama has about 22% of its population 60 and older, what may push away retirees is a lower life expectancy of 75.4 year compared with other states.

Alabama has about 22% of its population 60 and older, but may push away retirees as retirees tend to live for a shorter period compared to other states. (Source: Getty Creative)

5 – Tennessee

Although it doesn’t have the highest crime rate as it did last year, Tennessee has also moved up in worst rankings by one spot compared to last year. While the state does have an affordable average property price of $192,630, it isn’t enough to compensate for its high crime rate.

4 – New Mexico

New Mexico’s high crime rate of 783.5 points is a major deterrent for retirees and the reason it fell in the rankings this year.

New Mexico’s high crime rate of 783.5 points is a major deterrent for retirees and the reason it fell in the rankings this year. (Source: Getty Creative)

3 – Nevada

Colloquially known as the Silver State and home to Las Vegas, Nevada isn’t an attractive option for retirees. The state climbed up in the worst rankings by four positions due to its property price at $309,730.

2 – Hawaii

Despite its temperate tropical climate and highest life expectancy of all 50 states, Hawaii still falls in the bottom 10. The state has the highest average property price on the list at $642,526, making it unaffordable for many retirees.

The state has the highest average property price on the list at $642,526, making it unaffordable for many retirees. (Source: Getty Creative)

1 – Alaska

The cold weather isn’t the only factor that many retirees won’t . Alaska has the highest crime rate on the list of 829 points. Its residents who are 60 and older make up just 15.8% of the state’s population. That’s why it’s the worst state for retirees, according to Blacktower.

Dhara is a reporter Yahoo Money and Cashay. Follow her on at @Dsinghx.

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The Best And Worst States For Retirement: All 50 States, Ranked |

These are the best (and worst) states for retirement

Retirement means no longer having to sweat over how to tackle your company’s latest project, what you need to land your next promotion or who microwaved fish in the office breakroom.

But the end of your career brings new questions including where to spend your days now that you no longer punch the clock.

Should you settle by a bright beach and humming population hub? Or maybe in a place where residents wave to each other and green grass grows?

Perhaps a place near the center of it all: Nebraska.

The Cornhusker State is the best state to retire, according to a new Bankrate study, followed by Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Florida. Maryland, on the other hand, comes in the last place in our ranking. New York and Alaska also might be better for retirees to visit than reside, according to the study.

For this study, Bankrate looked at affordability, weather and a number of other factors important to retirees. We also created an interactive tool that allows you to see how the results change your preferences in retirement.

Ranking of best and worst states for retirement
South Dakota41723123910
North Carolina71328281233
North Dakota13221726492
New Hampshire153914413
West Virginia251818272439
Rhode Island2744852816
New Mexico372649382122
South Carolina41274522850
New Jersey42485162223
New York49501173830

The best state for retirement

Why should retirees pull the moving van off Interstate 80 and unpack in Nebraska?

The state has an average annual temperature of 49 degrees. So while the heartland can count on experiencing all four seasons, it’s no Hawaii, which had an average annual temperature closer to 80 degrees, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data Bankrate analyzed.

Nebraska lagged behind on weather compared with other states, but it fared well on the other measures in the ranking: affordability, crime, culture and wellness.

Wellness was especially a bright spot with Nebraska ranking No. 8 50 states. Dialing in on health care specifically, Nebraska had 61 percent of the health measures that achieved the benchmark or better, according to the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. That’s a higher percentage than about two-thirds of the other states, the data show.

Wellness and affordability carried the most weight in Bankrate’s ranking. Nebraska ranked within the top 15 states for the cost category.

Nebraska is not for everyone, as the state recently boasted in an ad campaign.

But Nebraskans can camp near Chimney Rock State Park, shop and dine near the Heartland of America Park and Fountain in Omaha or snap pics of the floral designs in Lincoln’s Sunken Gardens.

And of course, those who want to hit the road in retirement have a nice central point to visit national parks in the West, head north to Mount Rushmore National Park or east on I-80 into the Midwest.

The best of the rest

  • Iowa: In addition to teasing Iowa about having better corn, Nebraska can brag about beating The Hawkeye Eye state for livability for retirees. Iowa came in second in Bankrate’s ranking. The state ranked better for affordability (No.

    8) and scored within the top 20 states for culture but was outperformed in other measures.

  • Missouri: Third-place Missouri is more affordable and has a relatively moderate climate compared with other states. Unfortunately, sunshine and saving only go so far in The Show-Me State.

    Other states ranked higher for culture, wellness and especially safety.

  • South Dakota: Fourth-place South Dakota ranks better than most states on every measure except weather. The state had an average annual temperature of almost 46 degrees, according to Bankrate’s study.

    The state performed surprisingly well on culture, ranking 12th, partly due to having the second-highest number of arts, entertainment and recreation businesses per capita.

  • Florida: The Sunshine State has long been a haven for retirees. If you a warm climate, Florida has the second-best right behind Hawaii.

    The state scores well on culture (No. 13). If you’re looking for retirement-age friends to play pickleball, you’ll have the best chance of finding them in this state where 19 percent of the population is 65 and older. That’s the largest share of 65+ folks of any state, the data show.

“Where to live is probably one of the most personal decisions one can make because it’s not just about preferences, it’s also about the financial considerations that are associated with it,” says Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.

It’s not uncommon for retirees to get a new address after they step away from work. Almost 570,000 adults 65 and older moved to a new state or the District of Columbia during the past year, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Almost 4 in 10 retirees (38 percent) say they’ve moved at least once since leaving work, reported a 2018 survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

When choosing where to live in retirement, retirees most value proximity to family and friends, affordable cost of living, access to excellent health care and hospitals, good weather and a low crime rate, the survey results found.

“Obviously, a primary area of concern for older Americans is health care costs,” Hamrick says. “The older we get, the more ly it is we’re going to have an increasing need for health care services. In some cases, there will be illness and, in some cases, there will catastrophic illness. That can be very expensive.”

A typical couple who retire this year at age 65 is estimated to need $285,000 in today’s dollars for medical expenses in retirement, according to Fidelity Investments. That hefty price tag doesn’t include what may be needed for long-term care.

Rising health care costs are proving to be an issue as Americans find fewer tools available in their retirement planning toolboxes. As pensions have disappeared, individuals have had to take more responsibility for funding their own retirements, Hamrick says.

“We urge Americans as early as possible in their working lives to plan for retirement by taking advantage of a 401(k) through an employer and trying to fund the retirement as aggressively as one can possibly afford,” he says.

“The older one gets the more obvious it becomes how well they have been planning for retirement, and, unfortunately, if many Americans haven’t sufficiently saved for retirement then they have to seek at least part-time work in their senior years.”


To construct our ranking, Bankrate looked at eleven public and private datasets related to the life of a retiree. The study examined five categories (weightings in parentheses): affordability (40%), crime (5%), culture (15%), weather (15%) and wellness (25%).

Affordability was calculated using scores from the 2019 Cost of Living Index from the Council for Community and Economic Research, the percentages of people who needed to see a doctor but could not because of cost in the past 12 months from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and rankings for income, property and sales tax rates from the Tax Foundation’s 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index.

Crime was calculated using the property and violent crime rates per 100,000 inhabitants for each state from the I’s 2017 Crime in the United States report.

Culture was calculated using the number of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments per capita, restaurants per capita and adults 65 and older per capita from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Weather was calculated using the average daily temperature from 1985 through 2018 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hawaii’s temperature was calculated using the available data from the Honolulu weather station.

Wellness was calculated using the rankings from the Gallup-ShareCare Wellbeing Index, the number of places providing services for the elderly and people with disabilities per capita from the U.S.

Census Bureau and the number of health care benchmarks states achieved or exceeded in the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

For this study, Bankrate only looked at the benchmarks that included data for all 50 states.


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