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15 Best States for Retirement: 2017

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WalletHub has released its annual ranking of states’ attractiveness to retirees. A warm climate wasn’t enough to get a high ranking (although the No. 1 state for retirees probably won’t surprise anyone). In fact, many of the states in the top 15 are better known for their winters than sunny beaches. Those colder states benefited from high rankings for health care, no small consideration for retirees planning a move, especially if they’re leaving behind a social support network.

(See last year’s ranking to find out which states have fallen out of the top 15.)

John Henretta, professor emeritus in the department of sociology and criminology and law at University of Florida, stressed the importance of client couples being on the same page when it comes to where they’ll live in retirement.

After examining a potential location’s benefits and disadvantages, “the first step in deciding where to live is to think long and hard about how one ranks these different dimensions, and the second step is to find out whether one’s partner shares that ranking,” Henretta said in the report. “Then it’s much like buying an existing house: No available houses may have both the fireplace and swimming pool that are at the top of one’s priorities.”

WalletHub compared the affordability, health care and quality of life in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C. A state’s affordability, which accounted for 40% of its overall ranking, was based on cost of living and general tax friendliness, as well as taxes on pensions and Social Security income in particular, and the annual cost of home care services and adult day care.

Quality of life represented 30% of a state’s score and was based on the population of people 65 and older; the labor market and poverty level for people over 65; access to public transportation; weather; museums, theaters and golf courses per capita; opportunities for volunteering; air and drinking water quality; violent and property crime rates; and the state’s elder abuse protections. The weather and elder abuse metrics were based on other WalletHub rankings.

Health care accounted for the remaining 30% of a state’s score, and included the numbers of physicians, nurses and dentists per capita; health care facilities and hospitals; emotional health; life expectancy; death rate for the 65-plus population; and the share of that population in good health, with health insurance, with a disability or who were physically active.

Data came from a multitude of government and other sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, FBI, Council for Community and Economic Research, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Retirement Living Information Center, Genworth Financial, United Health Foundation, County Health Rankings, Measure of America, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Charity Navigator, Gallup Healthways, GolfLink and WalletHub’s own research.

Here are the best states for retirement this year, according to WalletHub:

Hart Plaza in Detroit. (Photo: AP)

15. Michigan: 61.69

  • Affordability rank: 28
  • Quality of Life rank: 12
  • Health Care rank: 26

Saint Louis Arch.

14. Missouri: 61.73

  • Affordability rank: 22
  • Quality of Life rank: 18
  • Health Care rank: 28

Grand Canyon in Arizona. (Photo: AP)

13. Arizona: 63.04

  • Affordability rank: 21
  • Quality of Life rank: 16
  • Health Care rank: 21

Teepee on a Montana lake.

12. Montana: 63:08

  • Affordability rank: 23
  • Quality of Life rank: 24
  • Health Care rank: 13

Civil War Museum in Harrisburg. (Photo: AP)

11. Pennsylvania: 63.23

  • Affordability rank: 20
  • Quality of Life rank: 4
  • Health Care rank: 32

Green Bay Packers fans.

10. Wisconsin: 63.34

  • Affordability rank: 33
  • Quality of Life rank: 5
  • Health Care rank: 4

Old Capitol building in Dover.

9. Delaware: 63.59

  • Affordability rank: 10
  • Quality of Life rank: 40
  • Health Care rank: 25

Fremont Street in Las Vegas. (Photo: AP)

8. Nevada: 63.64

  • Affordability rank: 6
  • Quality of Life rank: 9
  • Health Care rank: 42

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk (Photo: AP)

7. South Carolina: 64.00

  • Affordability rank: 7
  • Quality of Life rank: 37
  • Health Care rank:  33

Great Big Idaho Potato Truck in Boise.

6. Idaho: 64.12

  • Affordability rank: 14
  • Quality of Life rank: 31
  • Health Care rank: 16

Denver Brocons Fans. (Photo: AP)

5. Colorado: 64.85

  • Affordability rank: 27
  • Quality of Life rank: 17
  • Health Care rank: 7

Julien Dubuque's grave in Dubuque.

4. Iowa: 66.26

  • Affordability rank: 26
  • Quality of Life rank: 6
  • Health Care rank: 5

Mount Rushmore in Keystone. (Photo: AP)

3. South Dakota: 67.06

  • Affordability rank: 15
  • Quality of Life rank: 33
  • Health Care rank: 2

A rider in the Tour de Wyoming. (Photo: AP)

2. Wyoming: 67.81

  • Affordability rank: 4
  • Quality of Life rank: 25
  • Health Care rank: 19

Tampa Riverwalk.

Florida: 69.22

  • Affordability rank: 1
  • Quality of Life rank: 11
  • Health Care rank: 24

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