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Best Retirement States? New Hampshire, Colorado, Maine Top List

Sure, states like Florida, Arizona and California have lots of retirement communities. But are they the best retirement states? No, say rankings from released in March 2017. Topping this list as the best retirement state is New Hampshire, followed by Colorado and Maine. Florida, Arizona and California didn’t even crack the top 10.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The New England state was named the best retirement state by BankRate.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The New England state is Bankrate’s best retirement state.

How Do You Pick the Best State to Retire In? used its own formula to determine the top states for retirement. For starters, they ranked each of the 50 states on eight critical retirement criteria. These included cost of living, health care quality, crime rate, cultural vitality, weather, taxes, senior citizens’ overall well being, and the prevalence of other seniors.

All the factors were weighed by the importance seniors gave them in a survey. Cost of living, health care and crime were the top three factors for seniors considering a retirement destination.

Below we take a hard look at Bankrate’s top 10 states to retire in, and we break down what retirees can expect from a move to each state on the list.

The Best Retirement States: Bankrate’s Top 10

1. New Hampshire scores tremendously well on a number of attributes like health care quality (4) and crime (3). The Granite State has the No. 2 ranking for general well-being. Unfortunately, it has a high cost of living (40), and the weather is pretty dismal at No. 45. Still, it sure beats Alaska, which earned last place on weather and prevalence of seniors.

Boulder, Colorado. Colorado is No. 2 on a list of best retirement states.

Boulder, Colorado, not just for college kids. Photo by Pedro Szekely on Flickr.

2. Colorado came in No. 3 for general well-being and scored lowest (46) on the prevalence of seniors. The state’s strong scores on health care and culture it made No. 2 overall.

3. Maine was ranked No. 1 for health care and No. 2 for crime and senior prevalence. However, it tends to have harsh winters and ranked a low No. 44 for weather.

4. Iowa did best in health care and senior prevalence, ranking No. 9 in both categories. The state’s worst attribute was its weather, at No. 36.

5. Minnesota scored best on health care with a rank of No. 3, followed by seniors’ well-being at No. 4. However, Minnesota took a beating on the weather (47) and taxes (43).

6. Virginia ranked a tough No. 5 on crime, bringing that sweet Southern hospitality to the retirement communities there. The state scored lowest on senior prevalence at No. 42, though. Virginia is for (young) lovers, it seems.

7. Massachusetts ranked high for culture (3) and a respectable No. 5 in health care. However, the high cost of living, ranked No. 45, dropped the state to an overall No. 7.

8. South Dakota provides a great tax haven, ranking No. 3 for that attribute. The state’s weather leaves something to be desired though, ranking at a low No. 40.

9. Wisconsin is No. 2 when it comes to health care, which tends to be very important for the aging population in general. The state ranked the worst on taxes at a dismal No. 46.

10. Idaho has low crime, ranking No. 4 for this attribute. For cost of living, it ranked a respectable No. 5. However, Idaho’s cultural vitality apparently could use a boost; it ranked No. 42 for fun things to do.

Maine scene. Maine as No. 3 on a list of best retirement states.

Lincoln, Maine. You could see yourself here, right? Photo by Essential Photos on Flickr.

Another Ranking: The Happiest States for Seniors

Of course, polls and surveys are just opinions turned into data. Not surprisingly then, different rankings place different states in their top 10 lists.

For instance, a 2016 ranking of the happiest states for seniors, from the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being Series, came up with this top 10 list:

  • Hawaii
  • Arizona
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Colorado
  • Alaska
  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • Iowa
  • South Dakota


States on Both Lists, or Where to Retire Happy

What states do these rankings – retirement readiness vs. senior happiness – have in common? Featured on both top 10 lists are:

  • New Hampshire
  • Colorado
  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • Iowa
  • South Dakota


Interestingly, Alaska, which was at the very bottom of Bankrate’s retirement rankings, was No. 6 in the happiness rankings. That might go to prove that, ultimately, seniors must weigh the factors that matter most to them when it comes to choosing a retirement location.

If year-round warm weather is important to you, for instance, you might want to skip the overall Bankrate list and just look at the weather rankings. The top three states for weather, according to Bankrate, are some of the retirement classics: California, Arizona, and New Mexico.

In the end, choose wisely and enjoy your retirement – wherever it may be.

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  • Mark Edelen

    About Mark Edelen:

    Welcome to the Senior Living Blog. I direct and edit the blog for the best senior-housing and senior-living insight and advice, while also conducting search-engine optimization for the site as a whole. Follow me on Twitter @MarkEdelen.

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