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Happiest States for Seniors: Hawaii and Arizona Top List

As Americans continue to live longer, they also are aging better and thriving more in later life. Seniors are more satisfied with their standard of living and worry less about finances than their younger counterparts. They also have a significantly higher sense of well-being and have reduced amounts of stress in their lives.

This good news is part of the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being series. The survey examined the well-being of Americans ages 55 and older across five elements: purpose, social support, financial security, community pride, and physical health. Interestingly, people 75+ reported the highest satisfaction in all five elements – much higher than people under 55 in financial and community satisfaction especially.

Honolulu, Hawaii, ranked 1st among happiest states for seniors.

Honolulu, Hawaii. Could you see yourself retiring here?

Happiest and Least Happy States

As for where seniors are most content, Hawaii ranks as the top state for older Americans’ well-being for the second year in a row. The Aloha State leads the country in purpose, community, and physical well-being.

The Top 5 for happiest states for seniors is rounded out by Arizona, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Colorado.

And the least happy states? They are, in descending order:

-Indiana
-Ohio
-Oklahoma
-Kentucky
West Virginia

Graphic showing happiest states for seniors and least happy

Sizing Up the Happiest States for Seniors

Here’s a closer look at the merits of the Top 5 happiest states for seniors, as ranked by the Gallup-Healthways survey.

Hawaii: You will get what you pay for if you move to Hawaii. While the high cost of living may be a drawback, it is a paradise in every sense of the word. The most appealing aspects to retiring here are, of course, the weather, tropical forests and beaches. Most areas have a high number of hospitals and quality health care. A great perk for seniors is that most pension income and Social Security benefits are state income tax-exempt. Property tax exemptions also are available for residents 65 and older.

Ready for island life? Check out senior living in Hawaii.

Hanauma Bay in Honolulu, Hawaii

Hanauma Bay in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Arizona: Given the state’s mountain ranges, flowering deserts, and miles of biking and hiking trails, retirement in Arizona seems an easy choice. Besides amazing weather year-round in the southern part of the state, Arizona offers much land for development, very little rain, and a large number of arts performances. Popular retirement communities are Phoenix and Tucson. In the Gallup-Healthways survey, Arizona ranked No. 1 for social well-being and received high marks for purpose and physical well-being.

Hot for the desert? Check out senior living in Arizona.

New Hampshire: This state offers a combination of charm and a senior-friendly tax code. Older adults come to New Hampshire to live a free-spirited lifestyle. Although the cost of living is higher than in other parts of the country, it’s still cheaper than in neighboring states. The Granite State has a low crime rate and boasts much natural beauty. In the survey, New Hampshire ranks high for financial, physical and social well-being. However, it ranks near the bottom of the list for purpose.

New England-bound? Check out senior living in New Hampshire.

North Dakota: This state is at the top for financial and community well-being. It has a low cost of living and booming local economies. While North Dakota is not a touristy state, it is a great place for outdoorsy seniors. Its thriving economy is due partly to the oil industry and a low unemployment rate. However, the winters aren’t for everyone. It can get as cold as 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cool with the cold? Check out senior living in North Dakota.

Colorado: This is another top state for seniors because of the scenery and recreational opportunities. Colorado’s economy is strong and diversified, and its tax burden is lower than the national average. The Centennial State has many cultural activities and culinary havens, especially in the Denver area. In the survey, Colorado ranks high in physical well-being and above average in purpose, financial security, and community well-being.

Up for the mountains? Check out senior living in Colorado.

The best places to retire: Are these five states not your style? Check out After55.com’s Retirement Tips for more ideas on places and planning for your retirement years.

Your turn: Retirees, what makes you happy or not happy about your state? Tell us in the comments below.

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  • About Mary Beth Adomaitis:

    Mary Beth Adomaitis a freelance writer living in Southern California. She has written about senior topics for several senior living websites. She also has a blog, Unwrinkled Hearts, which was started after her mother-in-law passed away in 2015. It focuses on elderly living in the 21st century. Mary Beth has been a writer/journalist for more than 25 years, lending her talents to companies such as The Los Angeles Times, where she also served as a copy editor and graphic designer.

    Comments

    1. Hi, Mary Beth,

      Like your website a lot – I am 74, active, with my own consulting business and live on Long Island – born there – have one son here in Nassau County with his family and one son and his family in Berwyn, PA on The Mainline (very expensive area). I am thinking about moving within the year or perhaps next year but where? Long Island is very expensive also … I currently rent a lovely cottage in Rocky Point, NY – I want to continue to work but part-time at my business that allows me to work anywhere … can you recommend reasonably priced senior living in PA? I looked and it also was expensive … your advise would be appreciated. Thank you.

    2. Janice Taylor says:

      I find it hard to believe that the colder states are better than California. I also find it hard to believe that crime-wise that Illinois is rated higher than Indiana considering taxes and housing is lower and you can deduct your rent from state taxes. I lived both places in suburbs and liked Indiana better.

      • That’s an interesting point, Janice. I also was surprised to see 8 cold-weather states in the Top 10. I guess warm weather is no guarantee of happiness. Looking closer at the data, I can see that in all the states in the Top 10, seniors reported high financial well-being. Meanwhile, in expensive California, the financial well-being rank was 37 out of 50.

        – Mark, After55.com

    3. Kelley King says:

      I really liked this article too, and I’m chuckling because I have another criteria: what I call, the “critter factor.” I spent 15 years in FL without any real incidents but there are many things that can hurt you there. I loved the climate, the oceans and the cost of living. Several people have talked to me about Arizona, but I can’t picture myself living where I have to shake out my clothes and shoes before I put them on. My other criteria is a place where people are friendly and sense of community. I recently took a cross country train trip so that I could check out other non-traditional retirement areas. I loved the people I met from North Dakota, Iowa and Indiana. Not all states are retiree-friendly. I live in MA where we’re not — there are few subsidized senior housing developments, and the ones we have have up to 5 year waits. Apartments are not affordable for seniors. There are tons of assisted living places, that are beautiful, if you can afford the thousands a month they charge.
      NH is right up where it needs to be. Affordable, especially if you are willing to live away from the MA border. Nice climate but winters can get cold. Many small towns to be had, and folks are friendly. But 9 months out of the year, NH’s climate is simply beautiful.

    4. Thanks for your comment, Kelley. That’s an interesting idea: a cross-country train trip to scout retirement destinations. I wouldn’t have thought of that.

      Readers: How have you gone about deciding where to retire?

      – Mark Edelen, After55.com

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