Bankrate.com is one of those online services that ranks states by their suitability for retiree living. Within the last week, the organization has published its list of the best and worst states for retirement, including all 50 states, and the results are a bit mystifying, to say the least. Although “weather” is one of the categories Bankrate assesses, few of the states we think of being most retiree friendly for climate do well in the overall rankings.
Bankrate assesses the states based on seven categories, including cost of living, crime, culture, health care quality, taxes, weather and well being. Florida ranks 2nd in terms of its climate but 5th overall. On the other end of the spectrum, New Hampshire ranks a paltry 43rd for weather but comes in at #4 overall based on outstanding marks for crime (the least of any state), health care quality, taxes (no state income tax) and well being. It even ranks highly (#9) in the culture category, which is a bit mystifying. North Carolina gets dinged on culture (40th) and may not get its due in terms of weather (#12). South Carolina (#41) and Georgia (#37) are savaged in the overall rankings, Georgia ranking 49th in the culture category and South Carolina 46th in crime.
South Dakota overcomes its 38th place finish in the weather category with #1 and #2 rankings in well being and taxes, respectively. The well being mark argues that whatever research Bankrate conducted in South Dakota was not done in January. You can see the full results of the Bankrate rankings here.
Almost simultaneous with the publication of the Bankrate rankings, TopRetirements.com published its own list of most popular states for retirement, informed by 750 of its readers. Not surprisingly, those readers listed climate as their top reason for relocation, and chose, in order, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Virginia and Texas as the top 14 retirement destinations. South Dakota, Utah and Idaho did not make the list.
Rankings like Bankrate's should be taken with a huge grain of salt. First of all, when it comes to such categories as crime, culture, health care quality and even cost of living, results will vary significantly across a single state. Savannah, GA, for example, is home to Savannah College of Art & Design, or SCAD, which has helped establish the citiy's art museums and street by street architecture as among the most impressive in the nation. Charleston, SC's crime rate, according to an FBI report, was 35 percentage points below the national average in 2016. To take the full measure of a place you are targeting for retirement or a vacation home, ignore the rankings and do your own research. Or ask me.