Best states for retirement

Since 2010, Money-rates.com has been analyzing the best and worst states for retirement. This analysis is an objective, quantitative process based on statistics across five major categories. Over the years, we have refined our metrics for what defines a satisfying retirement location, and over time conditions within the states evolve. As a result, our top states have changed from year to year. This report lists the best states for retirement in 2018.

When envisioning the perfect retirement spot, do you see yourself sitting on a warm sunny beach? Or is the peace of a secluded forest hideaway more your style? The reality is that whatever setting people have in mind, practical considerations often end up determining where they spend their retirement. After all, a location's safety and affordability are every bit as important as climate.

To look at retirement from a practical standpoint, MoneyRates.com ranked all 50 states based on 5 categories:

  • Healthy environment
  • Personal security
  • Local economy
  • Weather conditions
  • Popularity with older residents

By averaging each state's ranking in these five categories, MoneyRates has determined the best and worst states for retirement, as shown below.

Best states for retirement 2018

Based on average rankings across five categories, the following states top our list for retirees:

1. Iowa


Perhaps Iowa's across-the-board consistency is a good demonstration of what makes a state a good place to retire. Iowa did not make the top 10 in any individual category, yet by scoring above the median in all five categories it amassed the best average ranking. For retirees who value peace of mind, the absence of negative attributes may be important. In addition, those who are politically inclined may find Iowa an exciting place to volunteer while its central location may make it easy to visit friends and family in many parts of the country.

2. Hawaii


For people who envision a more tropical setting than the Midwest for their retirement, Hawaii offers an attractive alternative. Among other things, living in Hawaii seems to foster longevity - life expectancy at age 65 is longer in Hawaii than in any other state. One important caution though - make sure you've loaded up your IRA or 401(k) plan if you want to retire to Hawaii. The state has the highest cost of living in the nation, so your retirement savings need to be in great shape to afford it.

3. Arizona


This is a good choice for people who value sunshine, because Arizona leads the nation in clear weather days. As is often the case though, there are trade-offs of both good and bad points about Arizona, and one significant drawback is crime. Arizona is one of the ten worst states in the nation for incidence of property crime.

4. Florida


Perhaps no state is more associated with being a retirement destination than Florida, and that impression is borne out by the numbers. Florida has the highest portion of residents aged 65 or older. Those older residents seem to thrive there, as life expectancy at age 65 is the third highest of any state. The downside is that Florida has a bit of a crime problem. The incidence of both property crime and violent crime are the fifth-highest in the nation.

5. Maine


Apparently, warm weather throughout the year is not on everyone's retirement "must have" list. Maine trails only Florida in proportion of its population that is aged 65 or older. One attraction might be safety, because Maine has the second-lowest rate of violent crime in the United States, and those summers are pretty nice.

6. Idaho


Though Idaho got a below-median rating for its weather (mainly because its average temperature is a chilly 44.4 degrees), it compensates by ranking second in the nation for both security and economic factors. Idaho's rates of property and violent crime are both among the ten lowest in the nation. One contributor to Idaho's low crime rate may be its favorable economy. It has the fifth-cheapest cost of living, and the fifth-lowest unemployment rate.

7. Vermont


Looking for a place where you can feel safe from crime? Then Vermont may be the state for you. Vermont has the lowest violent crime rate and property crime rate in the nation. In fact, its' rate of violent crime is less than one-third that of the average state. Despite its rather frosty climate, Vermont ranks fourth in proportion of population aged 65 and older.

8. New Hampshire

new hampshire

With three states in the top ten, New England fared well in this study. Not surprisingly, New Hampshire's characteristics are fairly similar to those of neighboring Vermont. New Hampshire also features low crime, with property and violent crime rates both among the ten lowest in the United States.

9. (tie) Kansas


You might not think of Kansas as a sun-kissed retirement destination, but it actually has the eighth-highest number of clear dates of any state. Kansas also is favorable to retirees economically, with a cost of living that is nearly 10 percent lower than the national average.

9. (tie) Virginia


Though it wound up tied with Kansas for the ninth-best overall ranking in this study, Virginia got there via different route. In Virginia's case, the most favorable attribute is freedom from crime, as both property and violent crime rates in Virginia are among the ten lowest in the nation. Virginia's moderate climate was also a plus.

Curious about the worst states for retiring? Review our article on this year's worst states for retirement.

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