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.
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.
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?