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Best States for Retirees


While many retirees might eye warm weather states like Florida, Nevada and California as the ideal retirement spot, when looking at some of the factors that actually matter most for retirees, few of these states actually make the cut.

While many retirees might eye warm weather states like Florida, Nevada and California as the ideal retirement spot, when looking at some of the factors that actually matter most for retirees, few of these states actually make the cut.

Every year MoneyRates.com looks at numerous factors across five categories to rank America’s states from best to worst retirement spots. To determine the best states to retire, MoneyRates.com considered: the state’s senior population; economic factors like cost of living and taxes; crime; climate; and life expectancy at 65.

“One reason for looking at a diverse set of criteria is to produce a varied list, which offers people a wider range of choices — including some unexpected ones,” wrote Richard Barrington, MoneyRates.com’s senior financial analyst.

Here are the best states to retiree, according to MoneyRates.com’s criteria.

10. (tied) Utah

Since 2008, Utah’s GDP has grown 7.65%, making it one of the best in the country. Retirees will also live someplace with strong morals: Utah has the highest volunteer rate with 40.9% of the population. Plus, it won’t be too difficult to find work if you need to keep busy: the unemployment rate was 4.7% in April 2013.

Salt Lake City

Furthermore, and possibly most importantly, Utah had one of the lowest misery scores in the country and it has the lowest rate of senior poverty. And women might like to know that even though they outlive men, they’ll spend the least time alone in Utah, according to a Bloomberg list.

10. (tied) Minnesota

The cold weather must be invigorating. In Minnesota, retirees can look forward to living an average of 15.85 years past retirement, which is the second longest in the country. In addition to a long life expectancy, Minnesota had a low crime rate, according to MoneyRates.com.


However, the economy isn’t the best with GDP growing just 4.47% from 2008 to 2012 — although that’s still plenty better than some of the other states in the top 10.

9. Vermont

For those interested in possibly still working after age 65, the unemployment rate in Vermont is among the lowest in the country at 4%. Seniors will feel at home in the workforce since Vermont has some of the largest populations of male and female seniors working with 23.4% of senior men and 14.5% of senior women working.


Vermont had the fifth lowest crime rate in the country and the seventh highest senior population, according to MoneyRates.com

7. (tied) North Dakota

You may have heard that North Dakota’s economy has been doing quite well. From 2008 to 2012, the state’s GDP grew 35%, which is almost three times that of second-place Texas. The unemployment rate is also the lowest in the country: in April 2013 it was reported at 3.3%.

Grand Forks

Unfortunately, Bloomberg found that 95% of North Dakotans living in poverty are 65 and older. But the state ranked third for its low crime rate, according to MoneyRates.com.

7. (tied) Arizona

Clearly, Arizona has the warm weather going for it, which has attracted seniors in the past. The state ranked second for senior population and fifth for life expectancies, according to MoneyRates.com’s data.


However, the economy leaves much to be desired with GDP at -4.35% from 2008 to 2012. Plus, it has one of the worst crime rates in the country, ranking 42, according to MoneyRates.com.

6. Florida

Similar to Arizona, Florida has the warm weather, which has attracted seniors in the past and giving the state one of the largest senior populations in the country. And retirees are enjoying the weather for a long time, living n average of 14.70 years after retirement, according to Bloomberg.

Key West. Photo by Soeren Rothe.

However, Florida’s economy has struggled since the financial crisis. From 2008 to 2012 GDP grew at -2.49% and the state has two of the smallest populations of male and female seniors in the workforce. But then, maybe they’d prefer to be at the beach than at the office.

5. Oregon

Between 2008 and 2012, Oregon’s GDP grew by 10.14%, which is the third-best in the country. However, in April 2013 the unemployment rate was 8%, which is the worst of the states in the top 10.

Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland

According to MoneyRates.com, though, the senior population is already above average in Oregon and it’s fast growing, which means people are choosing the state as a retirement spot. But while the climate is fairly moderate, the cost of living is above average.

4. South Dakota

Women who aren’t ready to retire completely after 65 might find South Dakota attractive. With 16% of women over the age of 65 employed, South Dakota has one of the highest rates in the country.

Downtown Sioux Falls

But like its neighbor to the north, South Dakota has a large concentration of senior poverty with 78.8% of the state’s residents living in poverty over the age of 65.

3. Hawaii

Island living must be nice — Hawaiians live the longest after they retire. On average they live an additional 16.48 years after 65 with women living close to 20 years and men roughly 13 years. As a result, Hawaii has a relatively large proportion of senior residents and the growth rate of the population is above average, according to MoneyRates.com.

Nā Pali Coast State Park in Kauai

Paradise doesn’t come cheap, though. The state has the highest cost-of-living average in the country. Plus, the islands experience a lot of rain.

2. Iowa

With a lower than average crime rate and better than average economic factors and climate, Iowa landed high in the top 10 despite the fact that it doesn’t have a particularly large senior population.

The Pappajohn Sculpture Park and the Des Moines skyline.

The senior population only increased 4% from 2000 to 2010, which is far below the senior population growth of the number one retirement location…

1. Idaho

Although Idaho’s GDP declined 0.77% between 2008 and 2012, its cost of living is low and its unemployment rate was 6.1% in April 2013. The state also had the best score for crime rate, according to MoneyRates.com.

Hyde Park in Boise

While the state’s climate is less than ideal, its senior population is growing incredibly fast. From 2000 to 2010 the senior population increased by 32.5%, according to Bloomberg, which was only behind Nevada and Alaska.

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