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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 Bankrate.com 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?

Bankrate.com 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 After55.com 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.

    Comments

    1. No mention of Washington State? Temperate weather all year. Beautiful in Seattle, but growing too fast; taxes going up. Good to move From, when we sell, but spoiled by the weather, health and activities. Lived first 35 years in Boston and north near the ocean. The water tempered the extremes of weather. Next 10 in Ohio and Michigan, but I missed the Ocean. So where’s the next chapter? Help!

    2. Anne S. says:

      How about a state that is cooler than AZ, but doesn’t get much snow and is safe for a senior?

    3. Terri Love Williams says:

      Thanks everyone. Your comments are very helpful to me and my husband. We live in the great state of Minnesota which has an awesome Senior Community but we need more affordable housing for senior retirees. I was able to spend this past winter with my son and his family in Southern California and the was great because the winters are long and cold but everything else is great here in Minnesota.

    4. Catherine A DuFresne says:

      How about ranking offshore places to retire like the Dominican Republic etc.

      • Good idea, Catherine. There have been a lot of interesting reports recently on retiring overseas. We hope to take a look at those in a future article.

        – Mark, After55.com

        • I don’t think leaving the US is safe for seniors. Once you’re out there who you gonna call..??? Lol.
          Anyway, I am thinking my state of FL and/or Arizona. Great weather year round!
          Mil

        • I am seriously thinking of spending my next retirement yrs in a warm island with other expats. I currently live in FL, which everyone says is the place to be for retirement. I have some of the #1 doctors in the Us thank God. But the rent is up there with Denver and Southern CA now. And it’s getting a lot worse. Yes they have a lot of senior retirement villages, but only for those who have great pensions or were able to invest wisely. I spent over 22 yrs in the investment industry but do to financial advisors who gave me bad advise, I lost SO much money. I should have taken my own advise and sold before companies were sold.

    5. I have to laugh as a Florida snowbird I have many friends who have moved down for the winter from New Hampshire and Maine…in fact the New England states and Canada account for a good percentage of snowbirds.

      • Kelley King says:

        I’m from NH and have no problem staying there, I love it. I don’t mind the cold, I can stay inside and wait out a blizzard and be nice and toasty. I DO worry about falling on ice, or driving on icy roads, when have to go out for groceries and errands. Those are my only issues with the Granite State.

    6. Nancy Norris says:

      I live in North Dakota and it was good until everything changed. The rent has gone up several $100 per month, crime has increased and activities for seniors are nil when they were previously quite good. Fargo is the city and I am now looking elsewhere.

      • (Why do I only get to reply to Ms Morris’s comment? Well, I’ll comment here).

        Note the continual “apology” for weather quality that permeates the ratings discussions. Weather counts!

        • I live in Oregon (which was not mentioned) retired here 8 years ago after living in southern Ca for 42 years. Unless you have money Ca is not the place to retire- too costly, period. I also lived in Co and Chicago, Reno and Maryland (where I was born and spent my first 27 years) as a Senior Oregon offers a varied community’s for seniors and if you like cool rainy weather six months out of a year, six months warm Oregon is the place to be.

      • Kelley King says:

        Really sorry to hear that Nancy.
        I was treated so nicely when I passed through ND last Fall.
        One of the things I had been looking was an area that would not fall prey to urban sprawl and over-development. Sounds like things are changing and if rents are going up, then that’s not a good situation for seniors….

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