If you’re looking for the best place to retire, you have many geographical options, according to a new ranking from Blacktower Financial Management. Most of the top states for retirees aren’t in the south, a departure from last year’s rankings.
“Retirement relocations are always fluid as last year Florida was No. 9 and this year it’s No. 1,” said Christopher Thornton, U.S. country manager at Blacktower, in a recent conversation with Yahoo Money. “I do think when it comes to planning for retirement people desire more outside space.”
Blacktower did not account for the coronavirus pandemic and the surging cases in some of the top 10 retirement states. The firm regularly releases its rankings and going forward, Thornton said, the factors they measure such as crime, population and average property prices could be adversely affected by the pandemic if its effects are long term.
“I don’t think the migration for retirees will wane,” he said. “They’ll just be delays in logistics of moving, but I don’t think there will be a seismic shift.”
For the most recent ranking, Blacktower sourced data from government and nonprofit sites and calculated a cumulative score based on the following factors. Delaware was excluded from the study because the state’s cost of living metric was unavailable.
Cost of living: The median cost of living in the United States is indexed at 98.5, derived from a national survey by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.
Crime: This number represents how many violent crimes were committed per 100,000 people in 2017. The crime rate in the U.S. was 394 crimes per 100,000 people.
Age: This data was sourced from the Census. The average share of those 60 and older among the 50 states is 21.46%.
Property price: Average property prices were also sourced from Census data. The average among the 50 states is $263,544.
Life expectancy: The average life expectancy in the 50 states ranged from 74.5 to 81.5 years, based on data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent health research center.
Top 10 best states for retirement
1 - Florida
The Sunshine State, where more than a quarter of the state’s population are those 65 and older, scored the top spot on this year’s Blacktower list. But not all experts were surprised, even with home prices averaging $252,309, much higher than other states such as Iowa and Ohio.
“As a financial planner, none of the states at the top of the list are a huge surprise, as most people are making a decision to move into retirement based on finances as the driving factor,” said Amit Chopra, certified financial planner at Forefront Wealth Planning and Asset Management.
2 - Minnesota
The Land of 10,000 Lakes takes the second spot. The state’s crime rate was almost half of Florida’s, but it had a slightly higher average property price at $263,708. The state also has the longest life expectancy at 81.1 years.
3 - Iowa
Iowa remains a top spot not just for retirees, but others looking to move to a new state. Helping the Hawkeye State is its average property price of $154,727 and relatively low cost of living.
4 - Ohio
The Buckeye State takes the fourth spot on this list, with a relatively low crime rate of 297.5, more than 100 points lower than Florida’s.
5 - Texas
Despite the highest crime rate in the top 10 at 438.9 points, the Lonestar State has many senior residents, with 16.8% of its population 60 and older. The state also boasts an average property price of $211,199, which still falls lower than states like Florida and Idaho.
“Texas was 29th last year and this year it's 5th,” Thornton said. “It didn’t surprise me since if you look at Austin, Houston, and Dallas all those places are nice due to their property values.”
6 - Wisconsin
Wisconsin, also known as America’s Dairyland, dropped two spots from 2019. But its crime rate of 319.9 and senior population remained the same as last year.
7 - Nebraska
Nebraska remains an affordable choice with an average property price of $178,983.
8 - Pennsylvania
While the state did not appear on last year’s list, this year it entices retirees with its high life expectancy of 78.5 years and low property price of $198,377.
9 - Illinois
The state didn’t make last year’s top 10, but this year made the cut largely because of its high life expectancy of 79.0 years.
10 - Idaho
Wrapping up the top 10 is Idaho, a bustling technology hub that’s safe for those in their golden years. The state’s crime rate of 226.4 points is the lowest of all states in the top 10 list.
Worst 10 states for retirement
The worst states appear in ascending order.
10 - Montana
With one of the lowest crime rates on Blacktower’s list (377.1) points, the Treasure State has a somewhat higher cost of living ($288,867).
9 - Arkansas
The South Central state has a high crime rate, even though its average property price is relatively affordable at $130,907, the cheapest among the worst 10 states.
8 - Maryland
Bordering Washington D.C., Maryland’s high average property value of $312,990 doesn’t attract new retirees.
7 - Louisiana
Louisiana, known for its celebrations of Mardi Gras and French architecture, also is far from being a safe haven for retirees. The state has a high crime rate and a low life expectancy of 75.1 years of age.
6 - Alabama
While the southern state of Alabama has about 22% of its population 60 and older, what may push away retirees is a lower life expectancy of 75.4 year compared with other states.
5 - Tennessee
Although it doesn’t have the highest crime rate as it did last year, Tennessee has also moved up in worst rankings by one spot compared to last year. While the state does have an affordable average property price of $192,630, it isn’t enough to compensate for its high crime rate.
4 - New Mexico
New Mexico’s high crime rate of 783.5 points is a major deterrent for retirees and the reason it fell in the rankings this year.
3 - Nevada
Colloquially known as the Silver State and home to Las Vegas, Nevada isn’t an attractive option for retirees. The state climbed up in the worst rankings by four positions due to its property price at $309,730.
2 - Hawaii
Despite its temperate tropical climate and highest life expectancy of all 50 states, Hawaii still falls in the bottom 10. The state has the highest average property price on the list at $642,526, making it unaffordable for many retirees.
1 - Alaska
The cold weather isn’t the only factor that many retirees won’t like. Alaska has the highest crime rate on the list of 829 points. Its residents who are 60 and older make up just 15.8% of the state’s population. That’s why it’s the worst state for retirees, according to Blacktower.