Where To Retire

Dated: 07/19/2018

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You'll Never Guess the Best State for Retirees—or the One They Should Avoid

By | Jul 13, 2018


Let's just get this out of the way: Yes, Florida boasts gloriously warm weather, year-round. The cost of living and home prices are generally much lower than on the Northeastern and Western coasts. But get ready for a shocker: Florida is not the best state for retirees.

Instead, that honor goes to South Dakota, according to a recent report from the personal finance website Bankrate.com. That's because prices are low, happiness and a sense of well-being are high, and South Dakotans have no income tax to contend with.

To come up with its rankings, Bankrate.com looked at each state's cost of living; taxes; health care quality; weather; crime; cultural and creative opportunities and offerings; and well-being, using a variety of metrics.

Another big selling point: low home prices. In South Dakota, the median price tag is just $239,000, according to realtor.com® data. That's well under the national median of $299,000. "When you think about what makes for a good retirement destination, you think about beaches, sunshine, and drinks with little umbrellas in them. But that's not what necessarily makes for a happy retirement," says Taylor Tepper, an analyst at Bankrate.com.

"When you look at what makes people happy in retirement, it's having meaningful relationships," he adds. (South Dakota scored highest in the nation in well-being, which includes this metric.) "[And] seniors who lived on a fixed income have a little more leeway in their budget, because they're taxed less."

The only big retirement downside to South Dakota was its weather—with a chilly, average temperature of 45 degrees. Brrr.

Rounding out the top five best states for retirees were Utah, Idaho, New Hampshire, and, of course, Florida.

The worst states for retirees

On the other side of the spectrum are places that have either high taxes and a high cost of living or higher crime rates and fewer cultural and creative offerings.

New York, not surprisingly, topped the list, because it costs so much to live there. Home prices were well above the national median, at $426,800, according to the most recent realtor.com data. That made the state the sixth most expensive in which to purchase a home.

"It finished dead last, because the cost of living was the worst among all the states," Tepper says. "Taxes are very high. It just stretches your budget, if you're a senior living on a fixed income." One more thing: It's pretty darn cold in the winter.

The other worst states for retirees were New Mexico, Maryland, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Pricey California came in sixth.

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Randy Richardson

I am from here, I live here, I work here, and I play here. Buying and selling Real Estate on the coast can be a tough process. I can make it easy for you! As a full-service realtor specializing in res....

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