The No. 1 best state to retire in the U.S.—it’s not Florida

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The title for the prime retirement spot in 2023 doesn’t belong to the usual suspect, Florida. Surprisingly, it’s not even situated in the Southeastern region. Instead, this year’s crown for the top retirement state goes to Iowa, as unveiled by a recent comprehensive study carried out by Bankrate.

In their meticulous quest to pinpoint the most retirement-friendly states, Bankrate meticulously amalgamated data from various credible sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Tax Foundation, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. This vast reservoir of information was then skillfully evaluated, resulting in the ranking of all 50 states across five distinct categories, each bearing a specific weightage:

  1. Affordability (40%)
  2. Well-being (25%)
  3. Health-care quality and cost (20%)
  4. Weather (10%)
  5. Crime (5%)

At the zenith of the retirement state hierarchy is Iowa, capturing retirees’ attention primarily due to its impressive affordability quotient. Given that a majority of retirees subsist on a fixed income, the allure of reduced housing expenses can be a game-changer, enabling retirees to extend the value of their savings better than what many other states might offer, as clearly outlined in Bankrate’s insightful report.

Taking a glimpse at the real estate landscape as of July 2023, the nation’s median home price stands tall at $422,137. In stark contrast, Iowa’s median home price stands notably lower at $232,200, according to the data curated by Redfin.

In tandem with Iowa’s remarkable performance, Bankrate’s list also brings forth Delaware as a strong contender, securing the second spot. This commendable ranking can be attributed to Delaware’s top-notch healthcare provisions and lenient tax obligations. The state stands as a haven for property owners, boasting some of the nation’s lowest property taxes and a unique feature of not taxing Social Security benefits. However, juxtaposed with Iowa’s affordability stronghold, Delaware finds itself ranked 31st in the corresponding category, an important facet that discerning retirees might take into account.

Meanwhile, Florida, which held the prestigious title of 2022’s premier retirement destination, experienced a slip in its ranking, settling for an 8th place this year. While Florida’s perennially sunny weather remains a major draw for retirees, the higher housing costs could present a setback. Statistical records for June 2023 reveal that the median sale price for a home in Florida stood at $409,100, per data sourced from Redfin.

In the grand scheme of choosing your ultimate retirement haven, a host of factors warrant thoughtful consideration. Although affordability might rightfully claim a spot at the forefront of your priority list, the range of activities at your disposal and proximity to family might hold equal significance. Additionally, it’s prudent to gauge the trajectory of change over time for any potential location.

Larry Sprung, an astute financial advisor and the visionary behind Mitlin Financial, emphasizes the need for comprehensive decision-making. In his expert opinion shared with Bankrate, he aptly states, “You have to make a decision not only about the way things look today, but whether a place is going to be sustainable and less expensive over the long term. You have to look at the full picture.”

As you traverse the intricate landscape of retirement destination choices, remember that your future contentment and financial serenity depend on a well-rounded evaluation, taking into account both immediate benefits and long-term sustainability. After all, making an informed decision today ensures a gratifying and secure tomorrow.

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