Where are the best and worst states to retire?
Many of us long for a retirement that will feel like going on a permanent vacation. But before we buy that beach bungalow, box up our stuff and break out the Costco-sized wine spritzers, a reality check may be in order.
Bankrate’s latest ranking of the best and worst states to retire finds the fun-in-the-sun places often associated with retirement may have drawbacks as we face aging issues and our savings dwindle. Retiree meccas like Florida and Arizona don’t come close to cracking our top 10.
Our top pick, New Hampshire, probably won’t be the best place to work on your tan, but it will provide many of the necessities for a comfortable and sustainable retirement.
Many do want to retire somewhere else
It’s no myth that many people dream of moving in retirement. A new Bankrate survey shows that just under half of Americans — 47 percent — would consider relocating when they retire. Higher-earning households and younger people are more likely to say so than everyone else.
According to our poll, Americans’ priorities for a retirement haven suggest they’re giving a lot of thought to practical considerations like cost of living and health care.
Find your retirement sweet spot
“There’s absolutely no doubt that warmer climates do attract” seniors, says Karen Holden, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin’s La Follette School of Public Affairs. But there’s much more to sound retirement decision-making, she says.
Most retirees depend on some kind of fixed income, such as Social Security. The key is finding a place where they can maximize that money, says Nari Rhee, director of the Retirement Security Program at the University of California-Berkley’s Labor Center.
“They think, the state has low taxes, ergo I can stretch my dollars further,” Rhee says. “but if that also means they’re going to be paying more for out-of-pocket costs for their health care or long-term care, then that’s going to make a difference.”
How we rate the states
To rank the states according to what people say they want in retirement, we pull together data on these eight criteria:
- Cost of living
- Healthcare quality
- Cultural vitality
- Senior citizens’ overall well-being
- The prevalence of other seniors
Two of our categories are new: cultural vitality (whether residents can find fun stuff to do) and the prevalence of other seniors (whether it would be easy to find other retirees to hang out with).
We weight the factors based on the importance they were given in our survey.
Data sources: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, American Public Health Association, Council for Community and Economic Research, Creative Vitality Index, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Gallup-Healthways, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Partnership for Prevention, Tax Foundation, Princeton Survey Research Associates
International, United Health Foundation, United States Census Bureau