No. 9: Iowa
Anyone looking for a place to retire can be excused for not thinking of Iowa. The Hawkeye State is part of that corn-fed cluster of the Midwest that many sun-deprived Northerners fly over on their way to Arizona or Florida.
But those intrepid enough to give Iowa a look will be pleased. Besides its general affordability -- the state has a lower cost of living and tax burden than the national average -- Iowa has one of the better health care systems in the country.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, ranks Iowa among the best in terms of health care quality. The agency, which took more than 150 measurements of Iowa's health care system, gave the state especially high marks. It noted, for example, that doctors were better than average at explaining things to patients. It also said nursing homes did a good job of providing the flu vaccine to patients.