Looking for that perfect Shangri-La for retirement?

Look no further than Bankrate.com’s latest evaluation of the 10 best states for that long-awaited leisure activity — although some of the states that made the cut may surprise you.

In its quest to determine the best places to spend one’s golden years, the study examined six key factors: cost of living, taxes, health care, weather, crime and residents’ overall well-being.

Some states one might expect to see high on the list couldn’t even qualify, due to such factors as a high crime rate, high taxes, and/or a high cost of living — something that’s pretty important to retirees on a fixed income.

Sources of data for the calculations ran the gamut. Cost-of-living information came from the Council for Community and Economic Research, while the FBI provided crime statistics.

The Gallup-HealthWays Well-Being Index was the source for well-being information, and the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research provided information on health care rankings.

Taxes, naturally enough, came from the Tax Foundation, and weather data was contributed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Read on, if you’re on a quest for the ideal retirement spot.

10. Nebraska

A high score on the well-being index helps to put Nebraska in the top 10 — along with good quality health care and a low cost of living.

The weather’s not bad, either, despite an abundance of snow in the winter — not a hindrance to some folks — and the state gets almost as much sunshine as Tampa, Florida, according to NOAA. Its summers are relatively mild, too.

9. Arizona

A desert climate is something many retirees find friendly — along with the abundance of sunshine.

The state not only scored much higher than the national average in terms of personal well-being. Arizona also has the second-highest wellness scores in the country, ranking just behind Hawaii.

A caveat, though, is the crime rate, which is the 10th highest in the country for violent crimes and the sixth highest for property crimes.

8. South Dakota

If you’re planning on spending your retirement on a strict budget, you might want to consider the Mount Rushmore State, which offers the third-lowest tax burden in the country.

The health care system is great and the crime rate is low, and if you’re into nature in a big way, there’s a lot more to offer than just Mount Rushmore; the Black Hills and Badlands National Park will also keep you busy.

7. Montana.

If you crave scenery, Montana’s the place for you.

Mountains, lakes, waterfalls and national parks make the vistas very appealing; add in wildlife and the picture is complete.

But for those more interested in practical concerns, not only is the weather good, the state has a low cost of living, a low crime rate, and reasonable taxes.

6. Iowa

The weather here may not be the best, but a low crime rate, low cost of living and good-quality health care can make up for that.

Not only is its health care system ranked the fifth best in the country, its well-being score is even higher — the fourth in the nation, in fact.

There must be something to make retirees want to be surrounded by all that farmland in the Hawkeye State…

5. Virginia

What a shock — a state on the coast that made the 10-best list!

Virginia’s low cost of living and low crime rate, added to the attraction of its weather — it’s not called the Goldilocks state for nothing—mean that residents can enjoy the outdoors without wondering whether their expeditions will break the bank or whether their homes will be safe while they’re gone.

Health care here is also ranked above average by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

4. Idaho

The Gem State offers retirees the chance to make their retirement dollars go further, with not just a low cost of living but low grocery prices—sure to delight those amateur gourmet cooks.

And if you’re desperate to get out of the kitchen, there’s plenty of scenery to admire while you wait for dinner.

When you get back home, you can enjoy a lower-than-average rent on that home, too.

3. Utah

Utah maintained its third-place spot from last year, continuing to offer prospective retirees a home where elderly residents tend to be healthier—better immunization programs for flu, lower diabetes rates and less cancer — and health care itself is the seventh best in the country.

The weather is comfortable, and to top it off, the cost of living is low — Utah is the sixth most affordable state in the country.

2. Colorado

The only places in the country that beat out Colorado for top marks for climate are California and New Mexico.

But Colorado’s summers are relatively mild, the air is dry — no humidity! — and the skies are sunny and blue.

Colorado also boasts happy people; the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index ranks it sixth highest for satisfaction levels among people who are retirement age.

With low crime rates, low cost of living and better-than-average health care, what’s not to like?

1. Wyoming

Wyoming topped Bankrate.com’s list, boasting such amenities as Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

But that’s not all the Cowboy State has to offer. A low cost of living, coupled with a low crime rate and low tax rates — not to mention bargains in such areas as entertainment and auto maintenance — add to the beauty of the view.

Ready to pack, anyone?

See also:

4 new (and surprising) facts about retirement security

Why Social Security planning is the new requirement for retirement advisors

Here’s how one advisor takes the fear out of retirement planning

 

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