This Is the Best State for Retirement in 2022, According to WalletHub

Hint: It's definitely not New Jersey.

A sunset of Miami Beach in Florida. The state just topped WalletHub's Best State to Retire list.
While not topping any individual category, Florida was the overall winner in WalletHub's retirement survey.
Denys Kostyuchenko / Unsplash

While everyone (young or old) seems to moving to Florida, it’s still also the top state destination for retirees, according to a new report by WalletHub.

The financial site’s 2022 Best States to Retire list had a panel of experts score the 50 states on 47 different affordability, quality of life and health care metrics.

Given that these findings came during a pandemic, it’s interesting that Florida — which by almost no one’s measure handled the situation ideally — still came out on top overall. “States and localities have handled the pandemic very differently and this creates an opportunity for retirees to see how localities may approach other emergency issues,” says JoEllen Pederson, an Associate Professor at Longwood University and one of the experts WalletHub utilized. “The way localities are handling the pandemic can be an indicator of overall community health and government response to other emergencies. Therefore, while looking for the perfect place to retire, consider how the community and local government approached the pandemic. Does it fit with your personal ideologies?”

Some other findings:

  • While Florida was first overall, the other winners include Minnesota (best in health care), Alabama (affordability) and Massachusetts (quality of life).
  • New Jersey was the overall worst-ranked state for retirees. Broken down by individual categories, the worst states were New York (affordability), Mississippi (quality of life) and Alabama (health care).
  • South Dakota has the highest share of the population aged 65 and older still working, 22.98%, or 1.7 times higher than in West Virginia (13.27%).
  • Florida has the highest share of the population aged 65 and older (20.1%). Utah had the lowest at 10.8%.
  • Hawaii isn’t cheap, but it does have the highest life expectancy of any state.

The good news? Even if a desired state didn’t rank high on this list, you can probably find somewhere within its borders that can work as a retirement destination. “People too often move somewhere based on their health status and preferences at the time that they retire,” explains Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, Ph.D., an Associate Professor at Boston College. “Retiring to a living situation that will be manageable should health decline — i.e., locations like grocery stores and pharmacies are nearby, master bedrooms are on the first floor, a relative or friend is nearby for assistance — is important. It is also a money saver — if you are somewhere you can live for the long-term, you do not need to go through a process of selling and buying a new home that might be rushed. The good thing is that all states have these sorts of locations within them.”

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