Florida and Hawaii may be dream retirement spots for some, but Wyoming is actually the best state for retirees, according to new research from Bankrate.com. The worst state for retirees is Arkansas.
Bankrate.com ranked all 50 states according to several factors. They included local weather, cost of living, crime rate, health care quality, tax burden and senior well-being (a measurement from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index that quantifies how satisfied residents 65 and older are with their surroundings). Each factor was weighted according to a national survey on what people value in retirement.
Wyoming came out on top for its low cost of living, low crime rate and low tax burden. Other states that round out the top 10 best states to retire are Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Virginia, Iowa, Montana, South Dakota, Arizona and Nebraska.
The survey used in Bankrate’s ranking also asked Americans which factors are most important to them when thinking of where to live in retirement.
- 3 in 5 Americans want to spend their golden years in another city or state, but the desire to move away from home fades with age.
- 24% say being close to family is the most important factor in deciding where to retire.
- Women value a cheap cost of living more highly than men (59% vs. 43%).
- 4 in 10 Americans say locales with access to mountains, rivers and other outdoor recreation would be most appealing, while 25% prefer living near a beach.
“There are many factors retirees should consider before deciding where to put down their roots,” said Bankrate.com research and statistics analyst Chris Kahn. “Warm weather may be an initial draw, but all the sunny days in the world won’t make you happy if you’re constantly stretching your budget or don’t have access to quality health care.”
While Arkansas may have a low cost of living and plenty of outdoor recreation, the state received below-average marks for weather, crime, health care, taxes and well-being. Other states that ranked at the bottom include New York, Alaska, West Virginia, Louisiana,New Jersey, Hawaii, Kentucky, Missouri and Oregon.
“Deciding where to live in the golden years is still a very personal decision,” said Kahn. “This list is meant to help inform, rather than choose a state for you. For example, if you want to retire on the beach and need top-notch health care, this can help narrow down your choices.”
The full list can be seen in its entirety here:
The 2015 ranking is based on Bankrate.com’s most extensive statistical analysis yet. In addition to the statistics on cost of living, crime rate, weather and health care quality, Bankrate included a special set of data on personal wellness among the 65-plus population. Finally, for the first time, Bankrate allowed popular opinion to weigh in. Bankrate partnered with Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) to track which factors were important to Americans.
PSRAI obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,001 adults living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (501, including 306 without a landline phone) in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source from December 11-14, 2014. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Crime rates came from the FBI
Weather statistics (rates of sunshine, humidity and temperature) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Health care quality statistics came from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research
Calculations of state tax rates from the Tax Foundation
Cost of living stats came from the Council for Community and Economic Research
Well-being scores came from Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, an extensive year-round survey that helps measure residents’ general happiness with their surroundings. The survey asks a variety of questions such as whether people think their community is “getting better or getting worse,” and “did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?”