This year's MoneyRates.com Best States to Retire list includes some traditional warm-weather havens, such as Hawaii, California and Florida. But you may be surprised to see a few off-the-beaten-path locales in the top 10 too. For instance, have you considered South Dakota for your retirement?
While MoneyRates.com recognizes that much of what marks a good place for retirement is subjective -- family and friends, cultural attractions, natural beauty -- there are plenty of objective, quantifiable factors to examine too. Knowing how a state performs in certain measures is important before you choose it for your retirement, and that's precisely what these rankings are about.
Here are the factors MoneyRates.com used to determine its third-annual lists of best and worst states to retire:
Based on equally weighted rankings of those factors, these are the top 10 states for retirees in 2012. As a bonus, there are 11 states listed, due to a tie for 10th place.
Seniors in Hawaii live longer past the age of 65 than in any other state in the nation. This might have something to do with the pleasant climate, which ranked second for its consistently moderate temperatures. One warning, though: Make sure you have a well-funded retirement plan, because Hawaii also has the highest cost of living in the U.S.
This may be one of the surprises on the list, but Idaho combines a low crime rate with a good economy. There must be something to it -- only two states boast faster-growing senior populations than Idaho.
Like Idaho, this is not the place to go if you want a tropical climate, but Utah was one of the top states overall for economic factors. It is also similar to Idaho in that it has a fast-growing senior population.
This warm-weather state has long attracted retirees, and people seem to thrive there -- life expectancy for 65-year-olds is third-highest in the nation. Be careful about the neighborhood you choose, though, because crime in the state is on the high side.
Looking for something east of the Mississippi River? Virginia is one of two possibilities on this list. This state scored very well for its low crime rate, and reasonably well on every other criterion except life expectancy.
While this might be a bit of a cold-weather state for some, Colorado's other attractions for seniors more than offset that. Only three states have seen faster growth in their senior populations, which is helped by the fact that seniors in Colorado tend to live for a long time.
Perhaps the state best-known for attracting retirees, Florida ranks first for climate and second for life expectancy among seniors. Still, this is another state where it matters very much where you live. The overall crime rate is among the highest in the nation.
This southwestern state has been attracting seniors at a rapid rate, but as with Florida, you'll want to pick your location with care. New Mexico's overall crime rate is one of the 10 worst in the nation.
The cold climate in this state probably explains why it hasn't traditionally attracted seniors in large numbers, but those seniors that do live there have one of the highest average life expectancies in the nation. The crime rate is also one of the lowest in the U.S.
Its economic woes are well-known, and worth considering, but California's climate goes a long way toward explaining why it has been attractive to seniors. Life expectancies are also among the best in the nation.
Warm weather and a solid economy have helped make Texas enticing to seniors. However, it's a big state that's not without its trouble spots: The overall crime rate is another one of the nation's 10 worst.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the above list is its variety: East Coast, West Coast, North, and South are all represented. So whatever regional connections and preferences you have, this list should give you at least one retirement possibility to consider.
Want to prepare more effectively for retirement? Make sure you’re getting one of the best savings account rates.