Top 10 best U.S. places to retire
JUN 08, 2015 | BY MARLENE Y. SATTER
Those considering retirement someplace other than where they’re currently living might want to consider that old adage, “Go west, young — er, old man.”
That’s because Arizona has snagged three out of the four top spots in Bankrate.com’s first ranking of the best and worst places to retire.
Bankrate looked at a range of factors, from walkability to cost of living, crime rate, health care quality, weather, and tax rates. Also included in the calculations was a specialized wellness score for seniors from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
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While the list started with many more cities than ended up in the final grouping, only 196 cities had data in all the categories being considered — all pretty important to would-be retirees. So that winnowed down the choices. A further cut to 172 came after neighboring areas boasting nearly the same statistics were combined.
Good as they are, most of the top 10 cities ranked below average in walkability — so seniors, consider carefully before you pack your walking shoes. But of course there are other pluses (and minuses, too).
And since you’re probably most interested in that top 10, here they are.
1. Phoenix metro area (including Mesa and Scottsdale), Arizona.
With an average cost of living but low taxes and a low crime rate, this area came out on top. Health care was only average and walkability was below average, but the weather was ranked great and the well-being score was good.
2. Arlington/Alexandria, Virginia.
Pack up your moneybags if you want to move here; a very high cost of living will get your attention right away. But once you’ve recovered from sticker shock, you’ll find that there’s a very low crime rate, a great well-being score, great walkability — wait, how did that get in there? — average taxes, average weather and good health care. Not bad, if you have the bucks.
3. Prescott, Arizona.
Another Arizona city with below-average walkability that nonetheless boasts good weather, low taxes, and a low crime rate. Health care and cost of living were average, but its well-being score was great — so more pluses than minuses.
4. Tucson, Arizona.
Tucson has its good points, but it ranks below its fellow Arizona cities because of below-average walkability. Are seniors just not supposed to walk anywhere? It also has a high crime rate. That said, great weather, a good well-being score, average health care and cost of living, and low taxes won this city its spot in the sun.
5. Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines ranks below average in weather but otherwise does okay. A low cost of living, an average crime rate, a good well-being rating, and average taxes, coupled with great health care, make the city sound pretty good.
6. Denver (including Aurora), Colorado.
A high cost of living was Denver’s only real drawback, since it has an average crime rate, not high. With a good well-being rating, good walkability, good weather, and good health care, coupled with low taxes, it might be time to consider a Rocky Mountain high.
7. Austin (including Round Rock), Texas.
Ah, another city with below-average walkability. Health care here isn’t great, either, ranking poor — first one in the top 10 for that, so be sure you’re healthy before you pack — but taxes are very low, the cost of living is low, the crime rate is average, the weather is good, and the well-being score is great. Go figure.
8. Cape Coral (including Ft. Myers), Florida.
So the other cities were below average in walkability. Cape Coral outdoes them, and ranks as poor. So don’t go for walks; swim instead. You’ll need to, because health care is below average. But average taxes and an average cost of living, low crime, a great well-being score and good weather should brighten your outlook. As long as you’re not out walking anywhere, like to the doctor, that is.
9. Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Colorado’s second city to finish in the top 10 is below average in walkability — many of these cities’ chief drawbacks — but it has good weather, good health care, a good rating on the well-being index, low taxes, and an average crime rate and cost of living. All that and mountain air, too.
10. Franklin, Tennessee.
Okay, let’s get it out of the way. Poor walkability. But a low cost of living, a very low crime rate, a good well-being score, very low taxes, and average health care all brighten the picture. The weather, on the other hand, is below average. Good thing, then, that you’re not out walking, right?
Oh, and if you’re curious about which city ranked dead last, it was New York City. In its defense, it has great walkability.