Hawaii Tops List of Best States for Retirement While Alaska Ranks as Worst

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The two noncontiguous U.S. states take top and bottom honors in the 2014 MoneyRates.com Best and Worst States to Retire study, with Hawaii leading the U.S. for retiree-friendly conditions and Alaska rating as the least favorable state for retirees.

It’s important to look at a wide range of conditions, both when you are doing a study like this, and when you are actually choosing a place for retirement, Could you really enjoy a pleasant climate if you were worried about crime every day?

Hawaii is the best U.S. state for retirees in 2014, according to a new study by personal finance website MoneyRates.com. The study, which examined a variety of economic and lifestyle factors that relate to retirement living, ranks Alaska as the worst state for retirees.

Hawaii claimed the top spot via strong scores across most of the study’s categories, which comprised factors such as taxes, cost of living, unemployment, crime, weather, senior life expectancy and the percentage of seniors in the state’s population. While Hawaii scored predictably well for its climate, its life expectancy scores for seniors were also very strong, ranking No. 1 in the nation.

Hawaii’s only weak spot in the study was its cost of living, which is higher than any other state in the union. But the state’s strengths in other categories outweighed this downside in the overall rankings.

Alaska earned the bottom spot in the study via below-average rankings in every factor the study measured. Its scores were the worst in the nation for climate and the percentage of people 65 or older in the population, and its economy ranked as one of the country’s 10 worst for retirees.

Richard Barrington, CFA, senior financial analyst for MoneyRates.com and the author of this study, says that this list shouldn’t be looked at as the final word on a state’s attractiveness to retirees, but rather a starting point for retirees who wish to choose their retirement surroundings wisely.

“It’s important to look at a wide range of conditions, both when you are doing a study like this, and when you are actually choosing a place for retirement,” Barrington says. “For one thing, people value different things. On top of that, a strong negative can easily offset a positive. Could you really enjoy a pleasant climate if you were worried about crime every day?”

Barrington notes that stark differences appeared between various states in the study, which counters the notion that it doesn’t matter where one chooses to live in retirement. Among the contrasts:

  •     As a percentage of property values, property taxes are seven times higher in New Jersey than in Hawaii.
  •     Tennessee residents suffer from five times as many violent crimes per capita as Maine’s residents.
  •     The average 65-year-old in Hawaii can expect to live more than four years longer than the average 65-year-old in Mississippi.
  •     Arizona gets more than twice the sunshine that West Virginia gets.

Barrington says that if the study helps open retirees’ eyes to more welcoming places to live, it will have done its job.

“People tend to vote with their feet, moving from places where conditions are bothersome to where they are more welcoming,” says Barrington. “We are hoping this study will help people identify those welcoming places a little more easily.”

Here are the 10 best states for retirees in 2014, according to MoneyRates.com:

1.    Hawaii
2.    Iowa
3.    Idaho
4.    Florida
5.    Vermont
6.    Arizona
7.    (tie) Colorado
7.    (tie) Maine
9.    Virginia
10.    Montana

Here are the 10 worst states for retirees in 2014, according to MoneyRates.com:

1.    Alaska
2.    Louisiana
3.    Tennessee
4.    Illinois
5.    Nevada
6.    (tie) New York
6.    (tie) Maryland
6.    (tie) Georgia
9.    Michigan
10.    Alabama

For more details on the study, please see the MoneyRates.com features on the best states for retirement and worst states for retirement, as well as the full 50-state rankings.

About MoneyRates.com

MoneyRates.com has been a leading source of information on bank rates, personal finance, savings accounts and investing since 1999. The site seeks to provide the highest rates on CDs, money market accounts and high-yield savings accounts. MoneyRates.com is owned and operated by QuinStreet, Inc. (NASDAQ: QNST), one of the largest Internet marketing and media companies in the world. QuinStreet is committed to providing consumers and businesses with the information they need to find, research and select the products, services and brands that best meet their needs. The company is a leader in visitor-friendly marketing practices. For more information, please visit QuinStreet.com.

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