10 best states for retirement

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No. 4: North Dakota
North Dakota © RRuntsch/

No. 4: North Dakota

Retire in North Dakota? Really?

This may be the first genuine surprise in our Top 10. North Dakota, which seems about as bland as it is square (the state beverage is milk), hardly conjures the level of excitement that would be needed to move there. Oh, and the weather typically drops below zero in January.

Yet the Peace Garden State has in fact ranked high on Bankrate's list for the second year in a row. Not only does it have a below-average cost of living, good health care quality, low taxes and crime rate, but residents seem to love it there.

North Dakota received the highest scores in the nation on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The index is based on an extensive telephone survey that asks a series of questions about the emotional and physical health of residents in a community. It asks them to evaluate their lives and rate their satisfaction with their surroundings.

Dan Witters, a Gallup research director who directed the Well-Being Index, says North Dakota residents generally appear happier than their peers. That doesn't mean you'll become happier if you move there, Witters says.

But it raises the question: If you're in a position to choose, "What kind of lifestyle would you like around you?" he asks.

Sources: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Healthways; the Council for Community and Economic Research; the FBI; the Tax Foundation; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Source methodology: Bankrate collected the latest available statistics on cost of living, violent and property crime, health care quality, state and local taxes, wellness and weather (humidity, percent available sunshine and temperature). States were then given standardized scores, with more points going to a lower cost of living, lower crime rate, lower tax burden, stronger health care, better wellness grades and better weather. The scores were combined to create a composite score.


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