Saturday, May 10, 2014

2014 List of Best Places to Retire


     A new list came out last week ranking states for how good they are as a place to retire. This one comes from bankrate, a financial website, and is sponsored by ally bank. I'm sure we all take these lists with a grain of salt. But it's hard not to look at them and see where you stand.

     The ranking is based on things like health care, cost of living, tax rates, crime rates. And just so you know, the state where I live comes in dead last. New York is ranked No. 50 out of 50 states. Sigh.

     But we all know there are lots of caveats. For example, a state may rank low on various measures, but a particular town or area in a state may offer better possibilities. You may not want to retire to Scarsdale, NY, where the roads are congested, the cost of living is high, school taxes are astronomical, and many of the amenities are geared toward families with children. But you might move up to the Hudson Valley, 50 miles north, and while the cost of living would still be pretty high, it's a lot less than Scarsdale, and there's less congestion and more public parks and adult-education opportunities.

Number 50
     Also, since cost of living is a big factor in most rankings of retirement, there might be a lot of places where it would be great to retire . . . if only you could afford it. I know several people who would love to live in Manhattan, but they just can't afford the rents. For a time, I aspired to retire to Washington, DC, until I found out that I couldn't even come close to buying a decent home there.

     I remember my buddies and I used to joke about retiring to San Luis Obispo, Calif. At one point it was ranked the Number 1 place to live in America -- it's on the Pacific Ocean; it has the perfect climate, lots of outdoor activities, and it's convenient to both San Francisco and Los Angeles. The only problem is that for what we'd get from selling a four-bedroom house in the New York suburbs, we'd be lucky to be able to afford a studio apartment in San Luis Obispo.

     Then there's my brother in law. He and his wife moved from one expensive Boston suburb to an even more expensive Boston suburb, and now they live in a tiny house with a tiny yard. Why? Because that's where their daughter lives, and they want to live near their daughter and their grandchildren. There's no arguing with that!

     Anyway, to the rankings. New York is ranked No. 50. Last year it tied for No. 33 with Arizona, so I don't know what happened in New York to make it drop 17 places in one year. Last year Oregon was rated dead last -- which seems odd since a lot of people retire to Oregon -- but this year Oregon has improved to No. 34.

     By the way, for you West Coasters . . . California is No. 28, Washington is No. 22, Nevada is No. 18. And somehow Arizona has improved to No. 16, from No. 33. What happened? They must have had some rain! But don't get complacent, Sun Devils, Idaho is ranked No. 8.

     But the fact is, if you want to live in the best place to retire, the only way would be to live in an RV, and every year be ready to pick up stakes and travel to another state as soon as the next list is published.

Number 1
     The traditional retirement state of Florida is rated down at No. 39. It does well on measures of tax burden and average sunshine; but worse than average on crime and health care. But I'm sure Naples or Jupiter would rank higher than Belle Glade or Bushnell.

     So what state is rated at the top? Drum roll please. No. 3 is Utah. No. 2 is Colorado. And No. 1 is South Dakota.

     But here's another problem with these rankings. When did you ever hear of anyone wanting to retire to South Dakota?
    

17 comments:

Linda Myers said...

Wow. South Dakota!

Depends on the factors they're using. For me, it would be climate, medical facilities, educational opportunities and traffic.

DJan said...

I moved from No. 2 (Colorado) to No. 22 (Washington), and when I got here I found out why: the Medicare Advantage plan that was wonderful in Boulder turned out to be an albatross up here. Three times as expensive and not honored by many doctors. But I love it here, close to the ocean AND the mountains. Thanks for this, Tom. Sorry about New York. :-)

Douglas said...

I have known people who spent their entire lives in one town. I have never understood why. I have also known people who grew up in one town, hated it, and then returned to it after serving a tour of duty in the military. What I am saying is that I don't think some people have any idea why they live someplace, they just do it. I screwed up. My plan was to wander about the country on a motorcycle for as long as possible after leaving the Navy... life interfered.

I am now in Paradise, but I do not recommend it for anyone else.

Tom Sightings said...

Linda, but where can you go where there's no traffic? Oh yeah, South Dakota!

DJan, to borrow a phrase, I Love New York! But it is kind of expensive (mostly the income and r.e. taxes) so we will not stay here forever, unless . . .

As Douglas suggests, we just end up here because of inertia.

Anyway, to all, I apologize, but I have to put back the spam blocker. I'm just getting too many unknown, anonymous comments clogging up my system. Look at it this way: figuring out those annoying letters and numbers is kind of a game, a puzzle ... it's fun!

Meryl Baer said...

I am surprised New Jersey rates so high - 37 - usually scores lower on places to retire lists. We love living at the shore, but taxes are high and we will probably not stay forever. Problem is, do not know where we want to retire. Definitely not South Dakota! A nice state to visit, but...

gigihawaii said...

The reason why I live in Hawaii is that my daughter and her kids live here.

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

The criteria used to rank these places is important. a Place for Mom just published the list for retirement facilities and CA comes in last. Va where I live is number 1. The criteria used are openness and transparency regarding facility records. Living near a child is my number one issue.

I have a son in San Diego, but he isn't sure he will retire there owing to the cost of living. He's looking at NV and AZ. My cousin Nv just moved back to WI to a retirement home and her brother just got a giant German Shepherd and moved back to WI to get away from the southern border ( he's a retired state trooper) She's younger than me.

Stephen Hayes said...

I was wondering where Oregon was on this chart but I guess I'll have to look it up, not that I plan on retiring here.

Barb said...

Actually I do know people who retire in South Dakota, just as I know people who moved north to retire like me. One can always take a vacation or hire someone to shovel a few times a year. South Dakota like Colorado MANY sunny days, it has a higher percentage of sunshine

That said, this is one set of criteria. it doesn't add convenience to travel options, for example, that may be useful to some (and one of the reasons I might not move to SD). It does not take in specific climate but not all retirees are looking for year around heat.

As far as NY and CA and even Texas I wish they would do one on Urban areas and comparison. I don't know about NY, but living in Dallas is not even close to the same as living in Houston or living in Austin, ya know!!!

Statistics are just that...sigh.

Olga Hebert said...

Well I have been retired for almost nine years and I finally made an appointment with a retirement financial advisor. I do know that the cheapest place to live means a whole lot less to me than where the people I love happen to be.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

There are so many pros and cons for all the places cited. What is paradise for one is total hell for another. I see it all the time in our active adult community here in AZ. (Can't imagine why Arizona shot up all those points this year.) I do have a friend -- who stayed at the magazine where we both started while I bailed after 9 years -- and she got a golden parachute buyout when the publishing company changed hands and bought a ranch/winery in San Luis Obispo and loves it! But I know what you mean about studio apartments there. My husband and I left California because it was so expensive. We sold our tiny home of 29 years and bought an expansive home twice the size here in Arizona for half the price. There were, of course, some major tradeoffs. But no place is going to be perfect. One has to keep in mind the Will Rogers saying that most people are about as happy as they decide to be.

gabbygeezer said...

Picking an entire state is misleading. Climates and amenities vary greatly. For example, comparing upstate New York with NYC truly in an apples and oranges situation. Northern Idaho and southern Idaho? Like two different planets.

Kirk said...

The top rankings are northern tier states, and it's been clear for years that retirees are moving south as a group.

Anonymous said...

We lived in Colorado many years ago had a 3 bedroom 2 bath home brick and lovely, gas forced air etc. But we had a tiny baby and I did not want anyone to nurse and raise her, we moved to Vancouver Washington state, it was great in 1978 but it has grown and the dreary 200 days of rain and clouds makes for a lot of depression. No place will be better than the other, health care is the top ranking and just living in our home as long as we can, our only lives in NYC and never wants to live here, so we shall see, our only is unmarried and no children looks like that will be the way it is..Life is a serious of choices this is definitely not heaven on earth and in my opinion sometimes hell more than anything, annoyances, etc. One has to be just happy no matter what, we live far better than either of our parents neither set had a home or anything and my mom died very young and my hubs mom died 14 years ago this December at nearly 87 years old, his dad was 74..so it is a crap shoot!!!!!!!!

Barbara Torris said...

Believe it or not someone did tell they wanted to retire to SD...I think they lived in Tucson AZ and they wanted to spend their summers there. Go figure!

Barbara

Greg Grimsley said...

Knowing the place where you will live when you retire is very important. This is one factor that we all have to plan carefully beforehand, to make sure we’re secured whatever happens. I've always wanted to retire in my hometown, because there are a lot of memories in there that I want to relive, and I get to spend more time with the people I love and once knew. How about you, where do you want to retire?

Greg Grimsley

JB said...

I know a lot of folks who make South Dakota their residence (domicile), when they retire, then they get in their RV and head for somewhere else, except for the times they need to head "home" to renew their drivers license's and such. If you look at RV's on the road many wear Texas, Florida, or South Dakota plates as those states have lower tax rates and are friendly to non-resident residents.