The golden years are great for many reasons: It's often a time meant for relaxing, exploring and enjoying quality time with family. But figuring out where to retire to can be a bit trickier.
Which place has the best health care? What kind of climate do you want? How much money are you willing to spend? Luckily, the Bankrate.com team took all of those factors and more into consideration for a recent survey to reveal which cities are the best and worst places to retire.
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The study took into account nine categories: cost of living, climate, health care cost and quality, taxes, crime, well-being, walkability and cultural vitality.
So which destination came in at No. 1? They found that Arlington, Virginia — near the nation's capital — is the best city to retire because of its cultural opportunities, great health care and a strong sense of well-being among seniors. While the high cost of living is the city's main drawback, the benefits of the other categories outweighed that downside.
And it's not just the East Coast that made the top of the list. Cities all over the country ranked in the top five. Franklin, Tennessee, came in second place, and West Des Moines, Iowa; Sarasota, Florida; and Scottsdale, Arizona, took the remaining spots.
"We found that smaller cities and suburbs fared the best," said Bankrate.com analyst Jill Cornfield in a statement. "Most seniors prefer to live in these types of communities because they offer access to big-city amenities without as much hustle, bustle and crime."
Where shouldn't you live as you grow older? According to the study, Niagara Falls, New York, is the worst place to retire. It was dragged down by high taxes, a cold climate and an above-average crime rate. Milford, Connecticut; San Bernardino, California; Troy, New York; and Worcester, Massachusetts, rounded out the bottom five.
While Bankrate's study looked at a variety of factors and focused on cities, an earlier survey conducted by caring.com ranked which states are the best for retirement based on health factors alone. In their findings, South Dakota ranked No. 1, with Iowa, Minnesota, Alaska and Oregon rounding out the top five. West Virginia came in last as is "sorely lacking in important quality of life and health care offerings for seniors."
1. Arlington, Virginia
2. Franklin, Tennessee
3. West Des Moines, Iowa
4. Sarasota, Florida
5. Scottsdale, Arizona
1. Niagara Falls, New York
2. Milford, Connecticut
3. San Bernardino, California
4. Troy, New York
5. Worcester, Massachusetts