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From affordability and mobility to community and culture, there's a range of factors those approaching their golden years need to take into consideration when deciding whether to retire in place or put down roots in greener — and less stressful — pastures.
Bankrate.com has updated its annual list of the best states for retirees. There have been some changes since last year. For example, Utah, Idaho and New Hampshire — the second, third and fourth best places to retire in 2018 — have dropped out of the top five. Meanwhile, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico scored high enough to move out of the bottom five. And New York, last place in 2018, improved enough to cede the bottom spot to a new loser.
The study examined 11 public and private criteria significant in retirement, sorted into five broader categories (weightings in parentheses): affordability (40%), wellness (25%), weather (15%), culture (15%) and crime (5%).
"There are many factors to consider when deciding where to retire," said Bankrate.com data analyst Adrian Garcia, in a statement. "Some people may choose to stay close to family, while others prefer to seek out warm weather or affordable living."
"It comes down to very personal preferences, so it's important to weigh all factors and determine what is most important for your happiness," Garcia said.
Bankrate.com offers an interactive online tool that helps users determine the best and worst states for retirement, based on personal preferences. The tool can be accessed here.
Here's a look at Bankrate.com's own assessment of the top and bottom five states for retirement in 2019.
The Pacific Northwest generally boasts a positive image of health and eco-consciousness, but Washington state came in at fifth worst for retirees. The Evergreen State is in the bottom 15 for affordability, crime, weather and wellness.
The Prairie State came in second worst for wellness and 11th worst in affordability for retirees.
Leisure cruisers may love Alaska's magnificent scenery, but the state ranked worst for weather and tied for worst in crime with New Mexico.
The good news for the Empire State is that it's no longer the absolute worst in the bunch for retirees. But it still comes in dead last in affordability — Bankrate.com's most important metric — and places 13th lowest for weather. New York does do better in culture (seventh best) and crime (tied for 11th best with Massachusetts.)
Maryland is this year's worst state for retirement, according to Bankrate.com. The Old Line State is in the bottom 15 for affordability (fourth worst), culture (ninth worst) and wellness (tied for 13th worst with Washington), and is just outside that threshold in crime (18th worst). Any top 25 rankings? Yes, for weather (18th best).
The Sunshine State repeated its fifth-place finish from 2018, largely thanks, unsurprisingly, to its No. 2 ranking for weather. (It was only bested in the weather category by Hawaii.)
Sparsely populated South Dakota came in among the top 15 states for wellness (10th) and, perhaps more unexpectedly, culture (12th).
Missouri tied with Michigan for the No. 1 spot in affordability.
Iowa scored well in affordability (eighth), wellness (12th) and crime (15th). A shortcoming? The weather (34th).
Nebraska made the top 15 overall in important rankings such as wellness (8th) and affordability (14th), while also scoring in the top half for crime (19th) and culture (21st). The Cornhusker State's only bottom-half finish is, as with nearby Iowa, in weather (30th), says Bankrate.com.