Personal Finance

Skip the Sun Belt: 10 perfect states for retirees

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If you're gearing up for retirement, forget the Sun Belt states.

Beaches, sunny days and low taxes are just a handful of criteria you ought to consider when finding a place to live for the remainder of your life, said Claes Bell, an analyst at Bankrate.

"It's not a place where you're going on vacation," he said. Florida, for instance, ranked 17th, because crime was a bigger issue there than in other locales.

California, meanwhile, offered the best weather, but ranked 42nd due to its high taxes.

Be sure to weigh your options if you can't drive and whether you can easily access your care providers.

Your accessibility to a social network also is important.

"A support network of family and friends will be important as you get older," said Bell. "You can't get isolated — it can lead to issues with well-being."

The following is the top 10. Find out how your state ranks here.


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Ranking at No. 10, the Gem State received recognition for its low cost of living and low crime rates. Individual income taxes here range from 1.6 to 7.4 percent.


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In ninth place, Wisconsin earned high rankings in health-care quality and well-being, according to Bankrate. Individual income taxes can be steep, however: They range from 4 percent to 7.65 percent, based on marital status and income.

South Dakota

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South Dakota doesn't tax individual income, which made the state a standout on Bankrate's list. The state also got respectable ratings for health-care quality and well-being for seniors.


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In seventh place, the Bay State hits earners with a 5.1 percent tax on earned and unearned income, an issue of concern for retirees who might be living on capital gains and dividends. Nevertheless, this is where you want to be if you're looking for fun things to do; it ranks third for cultural events.


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Virginia brings a healthy combination of access to good health care and enjoyable weather, according to Bankrate. The Old Dominion's average temperatures in July tend to reach the mid-80s. State income taxes don't apply to Social Security retirement benefits, either.


Canoer on Kekekabic Lake in the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.
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This state scored high in health care, making it fifth among the best states. It also offers a decent amount of cultural events that retirees can enjoy. "Seniors in Minnesota have really high levels of well-being, crime rates are low and the cost of living is pretty reasonable," said Bell.


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Iowa had notable strengths in health care, an abundance of older residents and overall well-being.


Reilly Harvey pulls a cooked lobster from a pot onboard her boat Mainstay Saturday.
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The Pine Tree State had a respectable rating for "cultural vitality," Bankrate's measurement of state and consumer spending on the arts. "When you're retired, you'll have time to enjoy those things, and Maine does well on that," Bell said.


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About 37 percent of the days in the Centennial State are clear, according to Bankrate. "Seniors report high levels of well-being, though not as high as New Hampshire," said Bell.

New Hampshire

Fly fishing in White Mountains, Albany, New Hampshire.
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Here's No. 1. The winters may be cold, but New Hampshire beats other states on taxes, crime rates and quality of health care. While there is no state income tax, interest and dividends are taxed at 5 percent.