The best and worst cities to retire

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Picking a spot to retire may come down to more than just sunshine. While consistently warm weather can improve a retirement location, low costs may boost an area's prospects even more, a new survey suggests.

The survey by evaluated 172 American cities on metrics including cost of living, tax burden, health care quality, weather, ease of transportation and senior well-being. Retirees heading to Arizona may have found a haven for their golden years.

Scroll through to see the five best and five worst cities for retirement, according to Bankrate.

Read MoreThe best and worst states for retirement

By CNBC's Jacob Pramuk
Posted 8 June 2015

New York City, worst city to retire

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The Big Apple ranks last of all cities evaluated, primarily because of expenses. Despite the ease of getting around without a car and a wealth of entertainment, the city's cost of living sets retirees back.

High tax rates and one of the country's most inflated apartment markets can put a heavy strain on a retiree's fixed income.

"If you look at apartment rents in Manhattan or Brooklyn that should really tell you all you need to know," said Chris Kahn, research and statistics editor at Bankrate.

Little Rock, Ark., 2nd worst city to retire

Little Rock, Arkansas
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Migrating south may not always prove wise for retirees. A less-than-stellar health care system, high taxes and crime combine to drag Little Rock toward the bottom of the list.

While the area stays relatively warm, high humidity hurts its rating for weather, Kahn noted.

New Haven, Conn., 3rd worst city to retire

New Haven, Connecticut
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Retirees in the New Haven area experience some of the same pitfalls as New York City residents, according to Kahn. A high cost of living is compounded by harsh winter weather.

Buffalo, N.Y., 4th worst city to retire

Buffalo, New York
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Watching Buffalo residents dig through walls of snow as tall as themselves last winter likely will not appeal to most retirees. Buffalo's weather, high New York state taxes and below average health care contribute to the city's low rating.

Newark, N.J., 5th worst city to retire

The Bridge Street Bridge, Passaic River and Newark skyline are seen from Harrison, New Jersey.
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Newark's lack of merits for retirement are similar to that of neighboring New York City. A high crime rate also hits the city's ranking.

Des Moines, Iowa, 5th best city for retirement

Des Moines, Iowa
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While the city is a far cry from warm weather havens in Florida or Arizona, Des Moines' low cost of living makes it one of the best places to retire, Kahn said.

"You can come from just about anywhere and see your dollar stretch further," he said.

Read MoreMost older Americans fall short on retirement savings

Kahn added that the city has a strong health care system.

Tucson, Ariz., 4th best city for retirement

The lowest-rated of three Arizona cities that cracked the top five, Tucson fell behind because of a higher crime rate than some of its peers in the state. Low taxes and warm weather pushed Tucson's rating higher.

Prescott, Ariz., 3rd best city for retirement

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As in many other Arizona cities, the cost of living in Prescott is "very reasonable," Kahn said.

"You're not going to see the sticker shock," he said.

Arlington/Alexandria, Va., 2nd best city to retire

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The Washington, D.C., suburb rises high on the list largely because of a strong health care system. Kahn said the area is easy to get around, and residents have a great sense of well-being.

Phoenix, best city to retire

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Arizona "dominated" the survey, and Phoenix emerged as the strongest retirement area in the state, Kahn said. Warm weather in the winter, low tax rates and average costs make the city a "great place to be," he added.