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Best 10 states for retirement -- which states will make the list?

September 20, 2010

| MoneyRates.com Senior Financial Analyst, CFA

MoneyRates.com has released the 10 worst states for retirement. This Wednesday, you'll get the good news -- a list of the 10 best states for retirement.

What do you think makes a place great for retirement? Is it balmy weather and sandy beaches? Perhaps golf courses and tennis courts, or maybe museums and theaters?

10 best states for retirement: the criteria

Everybody has their own tastes, but MoneyRates.com assembled its list of the best states for based on some quantifiable criteria:

  • Economic conditions. Cost of living, tax burden, and unemployment rate were all factored into the assessment of economic conditions in each state.
  • Crime rate. Crime is a serious issue in choosing a place to live at any stage of your life, but it is especially critical in retirement.
  • Climate. Not everybody has their heart set on a warm-weather retirement site, but climate is enough of a factor that MoneyRates.com looked at how consistently a state's temperature stayed close to a moderate 68 degrees.
  • Life expectancy. There are many things that go into life exectancy, from the cleanliness of the environment to the quality of the health care. Presumably, any issue that affects life expectancy would be important to retirees, so this is one more factor in the MoneyRates.com list.

Tell us what you think

What were the results of these calculations? You can find out on Wednesday, but for now it's fair to say that there are some surprises on the list. Which is great -- after all, what would be the point of doing the analysis if the answers were predictable from the outset?

What's significant is that the list contains a representative cross-section of Americas states. Members of the top 10 list range from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the northeast to the southwest.

That should mean there's something for everybody -- but is your favorite state included? Give us your opinion in the comments section of this blog.

Which state do you think will be number one? What would you do differently in assembling your list? Let us know.

Your responses to ‘Best 10 states for retirement -- which states will make the list?’

Showing 9 comments | Add your comment

15 January 2011 at 10:28 am

As a native North Dakotan I was surprised to see ND so high on the list. However, I've maintained for some time that ND is the best kept secret in the nation. Our economy is booming, state budget SURPLUS, taxes being lowered (property, personal income, and corporate income), lowest unemployment in the nation, and lots of reasonable real estate in the smaller communities. There are lots of jobs with competetive wages now. We do have a climate problem and cost of many goods is rather high due to transportation, but gardening and farmers markets can cut your food costs substantially if you like that sort of thing. Maybe next year we'll even score higher.

Richard Barrington

10 November 2010 at 10:10 am


Your comments about unemployment are right on the money -- employment matters to many seniors these days, and if it isn't relevant directly, it is relevant indirectly because most people would want to live in a healthy economic environment.

As you suspect, I'm thinking your info on Colorado's employment standing might be a bit out of date. Colorado's unemployment rate is lower than the national average, but 21 states have even lower rates. So, Colorado ranked better than average on this criterion, but didn't knock the ball out of the park. You could say the same thing for the state in terms of the overall results, because Colorado ranked 21st on our list of best states for retirement.


10 November 2010 at 8:06 am

Sooo, where is Colorado in all of this? I understood that CO was 4th for jobs in the nation but then maybe this is dated information. How many retirees can be unemployed, puttering around with hobbies or on golf courses in this economic climate? For us, we will need to work for the next decade even if that means cut in salary. We are on our third career (if it were) as it is.

Richard Barrington

6 October 2010 at 4:06 am


You are right about Oregon -- it placed #30, though the overall tax burden is about middle of the pack. The rain would get to me too, though they must be doing something right -- their population has been growing faster than the national average.

Dave Mart

5 October 2010 at 3:56 pm

Not Oregon! Property taxes are high, If you like 9-10 months of rain go for it. Ask all the Califonian's that sold high and inflated our home prices here with all their money and moved up here after one winter their ready to go back to Cal.

Richard Barrington

29 September 2010 at 10:16 am


Hawaii has one of the lowest state tax burdens in the country, so it is attractive from a tax standpoint no matter what form of income you are receiving.

Spake Zarathustra

29 September 2010 at 8:53 am

On the surface, seems researched adequately. However, I thought it was supposed to be focused on retirement? Doesn't the author deem it important to mention that in Hawaii, most retirement income is NOT EVEN TAXED by the state!??

Augusta Kintner

25 September 2010 at 11:56 pm

Trendy and shicky indeed. Cool piece of information.


21 September 2010 at 3:52 pm

For livability, I’d say Hawaii is tops. But cost of living is probably high enough to knock it off the list.

Maybe Oregon? Lower cost of living, lower tax burden, nice culture/nature mix.

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