Ranking the states for retirees

Retirement » Ranking The States For Retirees

I am Chris Kahn. I am a bank research and statistics analyst. That basically means I work with all the editors and reporters finding data, analyzing data and presenting data. We wanted to ask if you were going to be retiring anywhere. So all things being equal, if you go anywhere in the country, where would be the best place to go? Where would be the best quality of life?

So this is what we do at Bankrate; we really focus on the personal finance aspects. We didn't just pick the most popular places. We really wanted to look at things like cost of living, weather was important, but also health care quality was important, crime rate -- we looked at a bunch of different things.

Whenever you take a bunch of data and mush it together, sometimes you don't quite get what the feeling is on the ground. You are kind of looking at it from the 10,000 or 50,000-foot level and you are not really seeing how people actually feel. What we heard a lot was last year when we did this, people were saying things like, "Well, you know I betcha people don't like it there." "This state did a certain amount, but that's not my experience."

So I wanted to include some of those personal experiences in there, and it's really hard to do with a measurement like this. So when we're talking about happiness; again we're talking about in general how do people feel about their surroundings? You'll see in our top ten list, they all did very, very well. The most unexpected thing is the fact that South Dakota and North Dakota are still among our top states. It's one of those things that I think gets a lot of people shrugging their shoulders or just wondering what's going on with this rating system. I am surprised every year when they show at the top. I've never been there, but they seem like -- they are just not in the conversation usually when people think about it. "Let's go there."

Rankings like this are good guides. I consider them a conversation start. They are good for people who might want to think of moving from one state to the next. Hey, let's look at the cost of living and the tax revenue. Look at the health care system; that's what this is for. Consider it a travel guide or something that you should be looking at before you make a move.

Some of the most important things that people should be considering before they move -- before they decide what to do in retirement -- really are not even on this list. … They are things like where's your family, where are your friends, where are your support networks? These are incredibly important things that people need to be thinking about and once I get up to that age, that's probably what I'll be thinking about before I decide to make a move.

For more on the best states for retirement, visit

Photo credits: © Holly Kuchera/, © Nate Hall © Jewelie Swartwout/


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