Top Retirement Locations Mix Affordability, Health Care, Lifestyle

A look at some of the best places to retire ranked by affordability, health care, and quality of life.

https://tickertapecdn.tdameritrade.com/assets/images/pages/md/Retirement locations: Affordability, health care, quality of life
4 min read
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Key Takeaways

  • Consider any tax consequences of your planned retirement location    

  • Research access to health care, which can rank among the top priorities for retirees 
  • Factor in amenities that suit your lifestyle when ranking your ideal places to live

The process of determining the best place to retire is a personal one because everyone has different needs, priorities, budgets, and lifestyles.

As a starting point for finding your ideal retirement location, consider these four questions:

  1. Is it among the cheapest places to retire?
  2. Can I get a doctor or other medical professional if I need one?
  3. How’s the weather?
  4. Are there fun and interesting things to do and people I’ll enjoy hanging out with?

Affordability, health care, and quality of life are the three major components of WalletHub’s recently released rankings of the best and worst states to retire for 2019. WalletHub, part of Washington, D.C.-based Evolution Finance, Inc., evaluated the 50 states on those three factors and graded each on a 100-point scale (100 being the most favorable).

Let’s take a look at what five states ranked highest in each of these four categories: Most Affordable, Strongest Health Care, Highest Quality of Life, and Overall Quality of Retirement.

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Affordability

1. Florida
2. Alabama
3. Mississippi
4. South Carolina
5. Texas

Adjusted cost of living carried the most weight among the inputs WalletHub used to calculate its list of affordable places to retire, followed by general tax-friendliness and costs for in-home services.

In addition to its abundant sunshine and golf courses, Florida also offers certain tax benefits, making it one of the most popular retirement destinations in the U.S. There is no state income tax, and it’s one of two states where retirement income is not taxed, according to the Retirement Living Information Center. (Alaska is the other.)

Cost is typically a major consideration for baby boomers and others looking for the top places to retire. In terms of affordability, there are good locations, places, and communities all over the map, WalletHub noted.

“Even in the most affordable areas of the U.S., most retirees cannot rely on Social Security or pension checks alone to cover all of their living expenses,” WalletHub stated in its report. “If retirement is still a big question mark for you because of finances, consider relocating to a state that lets you keep more money in your pocket without requiring a drastic lifestyle change.”

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Health Care

1. Minnesota
2. Hawaii
3. Massachusetts
4. Colorado
5. South Dakota

About 15 different factors, most weighted equally, were analyzed for health care, including the number of family/general physicians; dentists and nurses per capita; top-rated geriatric hospitals; quality of public hospitals; and share of adults age 65 and older with “good or better” health (life expectancy was assigned “double weight”).

Staying healthy is essential to a long, happy retirement, so health care access, not surprisingly, was at the top of the list for many seeking a good place to retire.

“Older retirees and those less healthy can require more of the health care and service sectors of the local economy,” Terri Holbrook, of McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, stated in the report. “States wishing to attract retirees must be able to provide these services.”

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Quality of Life

1. Florida
2. South Dakota
3. Colorado
4. New Hampshire
5. Virginia

Quality of life means different things to different people, so this category covers a lot of ground. It includes access to public transportation, mildness of weather, access to scenic byways, museums and theaters per capita, low crime rates, and more.

Put another way, what do you want to do with your time after you settle in to your new retirement lifestyle? Are you looking for a warm place to retire, or is the art scene more your thing? New York and California lead the pack in terms of theater scenes, as you might expect. For anglers, it’s hard to top southern California. Florida, Nevada, Colorado, and Wisconsin are among the states renowned for their golf courses. Or maybe you seek a particular culture or learning opportunities.

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Overall Best Places to Retire WalletHub Rankings for 2019

1. Florida
2. South Dakota
3. Colorado
4. New Hampshire
5. Virginia

For retirement, or most any other long-term, financial decision, it’s always good to do as much research as possible, get the data, and carefully examine the bottom-line numbers. It’s just as critical, if not more so, to trust your instincts, according to professionals. In the end, you know best what makes a location a great place to retire.

When considering where you want to spend your retirement, try to avoid some of the common mistakes many pre-retirees make, such as envisioning a place you like to vacation as your new home. “Just because a location makes for a wonderful vacation doesn’t mean it is a good place to be a permanent resident,” Holbrook stated. 

To get a feel for the ideal place where you may want to retire, try spending a couple months there as a renter. Ask yourself whether the area treats retirees well, or if it offers opportunities to connect with others and explore activities that fit your interests. For many, these qualitative factors are as important as cost.

For many people planning for retirement, setting up a complimentary goal planning session with a Financial Consultant can help you plan for the future. TD Ameritrade offers a number of choices in solutions, resources, tools, and guidance to help you develop and manage your retirement strategy. To talk about your financial goals, call 800-213-4583 or visit one of our more than 360 branches.

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Key Takeaways

  • Consider any tax consequences of your planned retirement location    

  • Research access to health care, which can rank among the top priorities for retirees 
  • Factor in amenities that suit your lifestyle when ranking your ideal places to live
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