How did Florida and Arizona rank so low in new best places to retire analysis?
We all know retirees who have moved to Florida and Arizona or some other locale. Just look at the nation’s migration patterns, and we see people flock to warm weather. But those sites with the beaches, sun or year-round golf didn’t fare as well in the latest Bankrate survey of best places to retire with presumed favorites Arizona (16) and Florida (39) being good examples.
The survey doesn’t factor migration patterns, says Chris Kahn, Bankrate’s research and statistics analyst.
“A lot of folks during their careers—instead of thinking about where to retire, they are thinking where to vacation—where would you like to be if you’re picking your golden years,” Kahn says. “A lot of times you’re thinking of Florida and Arizona and places near the beach. I’d suspect the cost of living, healthcare system and tax rate is something that some of the more astute folks might be looking at, but not everybody is. I also think that weather is a big issue. I’m in New York City. We just endured a horrible winter up here. Anyone who lives in the Northeast over many decades is going to be dreaming about the Sun Belt.”
But Kahn says the survey isn’t a poll or a popularity contest, otherwise, Arizona and Florida, long considered a mecca of retirees, would be high on the list. Neither Arizona nor Florida score as high when it comes to healthcare quality compared to other states, and that hurts their rankings, he says. Cost of living and higher crime rates also hurt their standing.
“I grew up in Arizona and lived in Phoenix and Arizona and Florida are well known for having not just a high percentage of 65-plus residents, but also creating a legacy of catering to the older folks of Sun City in Phoenix or Century Village in South Florida,” Kahn says. “Those are places that as a community have a lot to offer and are a draw. If you’re going to be moving anywhere, you may want to move into a community that really has it down. It has a whole network for people of a certain age—you can’t discount the efforts of those communities.”
Kahn says the ranking is about state averages so it’s going to take Sun City and Century Village, and average it over the entire state.
“It’s really looking at a broader view of how the state is ranking all together,” Kahn says. “In every state you can probably make an argument for a place that on its own has a lot of services and lot of good things for seniors.”
Among other states, California ranked No. 28. Its score was understandably hurt by cost of living and tax burden. The violent crime rate was also higher than many states. New York came in at No. 50 and in descending order was followed by West Virginia, Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Maryland and Kentucky at 41.
This is the second year Bankrate has ranked the top retirement destinations, but it’ has totally revised the factors determining the list to focus more on healthcare and how people rate their satisfaction. Tennessee led the list a year ago and Kentucky was ranked high. Both are out of the top 10 now.
Kahn says the two lists can’t be compared because it now includes healthcare and people’s satisfaction.
“Last year, we were looking at upper Appalachia with such states as Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky and lot of states have moved out of top ten,” Kahn says. “A big reason is healthcare quality, and a lot of those states that fell didn’t do rate very high with personal well being. A lot of the surveys of people who lived in those states didn’t rank as high as other states.”