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2014′s Best and Worst Places to Retire

from – WalletHub.com – by Richie Bernardo

After decades in the workforce, it seems only natural for retirees to expect financial security in their Golden Years. But gone are the days when Americans looked forward to a worry-free retirement. Many are working longer years with an increasingly unreachable goal of securing financial freedom for the rest of their lives. In 1991, only 8 percent of Americans delayed retirement to age 65. Today, that figure has doubled, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s annual “Retirement Confidence Survey.”

And the reasons for extending their working lives are somewhat obvious: With a number of local economies still struggling to rebound from the Great Recession, a quarter of respondents to the EBRI’s survey said they can’t afford to retire when they want or plan to. Eighteen percent cited “inadequate finances” as the other primary hurdle to retiring on schedule. Fifty-eight percent of workers and 44 percent of retirees also disclosed having problematic debt levels, which some claim are higher than they were five years ago.

It’s no wonder a fifth of American workers approaching retirement age haven’t saved for it, the Federal Reservereported this past August. More than half of workers surveyed by the EBRI cited cost of living and daily expenses as impediments to saving — or saving more — for retirement. So if simply making ends meet prevents workers from growing a nest egg for the future, what options are left for investing in retirement? One solution is to relocate to an area where retirees can stretch their dollars and live out their lives as comfortably as possible.

To help Americans find the best places to retire, WalletHub analyzed the 150 largest cities in the United States across 25 key metrics. They range from cost of living to job prospects for workers aged 65 and older to the availability of recreational activities. The study also includes an examination of each city’s quality of life and health care conditions. By highlighting the most retirement- and wallet-friendly cities, WalletHub aims to ease the process of finding a new place to call home.

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Methodology

To help American retirees find the best places to call home for their Golden Years, WalletHub analyzed the retirement-friendliness of the 150 largest cities in the United States. We examined each city across five key dimensions, namely affordability, jobs, activities, quality of life and health care. All dimensions were weighted equally with the exception of “Jobs,” which received a smaller weight. We then identified 25 metrics that were relevant to those dimensions. They range from cost of living to job prospects for workers aged 65 and older to the availability of recreational activities.

For this study, we assessed the costs that retirees would face under the assumption that many of them will have fixed incomes. The lower their expenses, the better retirees will fare in a particular city. In addition, we chose each city based on the size of its population. Surrounding metro areas were excluded.

Affordability – Weight: 5

Adjusted Cost of Living: Full Weight
States with the Best & Worst Taxpayer ROI Ranking: Half Weight
Annual Cost of In-home Services: Half Weight
Jobs – Weight: 2

% of People Aged 65 and Older Working: Full Weight
Number of Part Time Employees for Every Full Time Employee for People Aged 65 and Older: Full Weight
Activities – Weight: 5

Recreation and Senior Centers per Capita: Full Weight
Fishing Facilities per Capita: Full Weight
Hiking Facilities per Capita: Half Weight
Public Golf Courses per Capita: Full Weight
Adult Volunteer Activities: Full Weight
Best & Worst Cities for Recreation Ranking: Half Weight
Quality of Life – Weight: 5

Percent of Population Aged 65 and Older: Full Weight
Weather Ranking (Mild Weather) – WalletHub Research: Double Weight
Violent Crime Rate: Full Weight
Property Crime Rate: Full Weight
Air Quality: Half Weight
Water Quality: Half Weight
Health Care – Weight: 5

Number of Physicians per Capita: Half Weight
Number of Dentists per Capita: Half Weight
Number of Nurses per Capita: Half Weight
Number of Health Care Facilities per Capita: Half Weight
Public Hospital Rankings: Full Weight
Emotional Health: Half Weight
Home Care Facilities per Capita: Half Weight
Death Rate for People Aged 65 and Older: Full Weight

Sources: Data used to create these rankings is courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Council for Community and Economic Research, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Genworth Financial, the American Lung Association – State of the Air, the Environmental Working Group, the Trust For Public Land, Medicare.gov, Charity Navigator, Gallup Healthways, Yelp.com, Golf.com and WalletHub Research.

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Heartbeeps

Moved from Atlanta to Green Valley, AZ (20 minutes south of Tucson) three years ago. Retired and downsized. More than halved my monthly expenses. My all electric 1600 square foot home utility bill has never been over $150 a month. Lots of months well less than $100. Activities out the galore with 13 recreation centers just for our community including pools, classes, pickleball, tennis courts, shuffleboard, and a hoard of interest clubs. Weather is great. We have the most beautiful mountain views, blues skies, and lots of beautiful desert flora. After 35 years in the humidity of Atlanta, it is great to live with open windows and doors. It gets hot in the summer but is always 10-20 degrees color in the shade. At night, the desert cools. This was the best decision of my life and I can’t think of a place I would rather live.

Gabby Jim

Would have liked to see the chart in spreadsheet format – so I could sort by what matters most to me – and “Freeze Pane” the labels at the top. (*sigh) Can’t have everything, I guess. Idaho Falls is “OK” for cost of housing. We have a nice 2-bed apt for just $425/mo, heat included, and our electric is about $65/mo (both facors probably not common, but shows what is possible.) However automotive fuel is high – higher than most areas. On average, weather is nice – but since when is weather ever average? Winter is the pits and we are seriously thinking of moving South. However, the other three seasons are usually mild. So, we like to make tracks south in winter when we can. We have a beat up old camper trailer that we pull with a van, so “boon-docking” makes getting away affordable, except for the high… Read more »

Sallie G

My husband and I have lived in California since 1981. (just outside of San Diego). We moved from Massachussetts. WE have watched the cost of living get so ridulculous that we re in the process of moving. Was gld to see Tampa was so high on the list as we are moving about 20 miles north of downtown Tampa. Its a shame what the ultra liberal’s have done to this once great state.

Ivan Berry

Sure was a complicated mess to try and wade through to determine if it was anything helpful. Think staying where we are makes the most sense, even with wildfires one year of no rain to speak of and floods ( of the flash type) the next. It so happens that the medical care is well above average as is the cost of living. No debt makes a big difference. Being in the heart of East Texas, with a County Seat of less than 5,000 and 30 miles from two Interstate Highways, one north and one south, makes access to east/west travel easy. To visit Oklahoma is a quick trip on a good north route. Dumps you off near the Indian Nation Turnpike or the Oklahoma so called “bad lands” to the east. And Lousiana is only a couple hours (or less) away. So is Arkansas, usually through Texarkana. This is… Read more »

Howard Last

I relocated to Laramie County Wyoming (outside of Cheyenne) in 2005 from the Peoples Republik of New York (Long Island). Best decision I ever made. No state income tax, low property tax, less regulation, small population (more antelope than people), great hunting and fishing. Friendlier people (drivers wave at you with all their fingers). Politics are a lot better (2 to 1 Republicans to Democraps). Second Amendment friendly, no permit needed to carry open or concealed.

There are some drawbacks, we get snow, winds of 50 mph + are common, temps of minus 20 are frequent and we get hail. At the beginning of Sept. we had snow, but yesterday it was 88. My advise to liberals stay away you will not like it. Go to Kalifornia or Taxachussetts.

David Rice

Surprised that Boise, Idaho isn’t a bit higher on the rankings. So many activities nearby, such as snow skiing in winter to river tube floating in the summer. (The Snake river flows thru the middle of town) It’s a college town, so lots of good, lively places to eat, and lots of events all year long, such as the downtown outdoor market each weekend thru the summer months…with lots of local growers. Beautiful parks with events, to hot air balloon rides to hiking or biking the many hills right in town. Also has two major hospitals and also a VA hospital, as many of us seniors are vets. Home of Joe Albertson, founder of Albertsons grocery chain, J. R. Simplot, supplier of McDonald french fries, and Micron Technology. Lots to do and see without the huge population, long lines and crowds that many of the larger cities have. Wish I… Read more »

Yankee Cat

Gee, Connecticut didn’t make the list. Hmmmmm?
No surprise here. This is one of the worst states to live in.
High taxes, utilities, food, and good jobs are few.
We have state elections coming up this November. Hopefully, we can remove the ultra-liberal Damn-a-craps.
They have ruined the state!