Unlikely US cities are topping latest list of “best places to retire” survey.
If you’re thinking about the best places to retire, you may want to consider a winter coat and some snowshoes. The beaches in California and Florida and year-round golf passes in the desert Southwest are out of the equation in this year’s MONEY Magazine’s “Best Places To Retire” list. If you’re looking for a place where you’ll have more financial security than warmth, this is the list for you.
MONEY named Bella Vista, AR., Iowa City, IA and Northfield, MN as the best places to retire. Others on the list include Casper, WY, Bozeman, MT, Morgantown, WV, Bellingham, WA, Sioux Falls, SD and Manchester, NH.
Last year’s list included such cities as Pittsburgh, Raleigh, NC, Lexington, St. Petersburg, FL, Boise, ID and Spokane, WA.
“We change the theme every year with the best place to retire, and it definitely varies with us every year,” says MONEY Senior Editor Kristen Bellstrom. “We ended up with a lot more Northern and Midwestern places than we have normally included. I think what is most interesting to us is that basing it on retirement security factors took out a lot of places that pop to mind immediately when you think about retirement. There were no places in Florida and no places in Arizona and it was just a challenge to readers to think beyond where people have always retired and think beyond concerns like the weather and consider other places in the country that have a lot going for them but might not be on the tip of people’s tongues when they think retirement.”
The reason is the best retirement places story isn’t like Best Places to Live where there is a consistent set of factors to base the rankings, Bellstrom says. This year’s list was based on a report from the National Institute of Retirement Security.
“We thought their survey was interesting and well done study,” Bellstrom says. “They were looking at which states were strongest in a few different metrics that determine whether folks that are retired there are likely to have a secure retirement. We thought it would be interesting to take the states that scored the highest in their survey and use that as a starting place. That limited us to 12 states that scored the highest and we were looking at places in that small universe of states.”
Bellstrom says the study looked at factors that contribute to a secure retirement, which includes having low costs across the board. The other factors include having low unemployment and strong job growth. Those last factors are important to those interested in an encore career and continuing to work in retirement, she says. The final category was looking for a place that offered a well-rounded retirement, she says.
“They were looking at housing prices, taxes on pension income, job opportunities specific to older workers and how much older workers earn in the state, Medicare reimbursements and Medicaid within a state,” Bellstrom says. “They are looking at several different factors that boil down to a strong place for retiree’s finances.”
Last year’s survey had an urban theme looking at second cities—places retirees who wanted to live in an urban environment but who didn’t want to settle in major metropolitan areas like New York City, Bellstrom says.
“We wanted to think beyond some of the places you see beyond story after story,” Bellstrom says. “We didn’t want them to skim over a great place when they’re thinking about retiring.”
Bellstrom says they were upfront with readers by telling them if you’re expecting to read about a Florida beach town, these aren’t the places for you. It’s not that that is a bad place for them to retire, but this is about places “where your money is going to go a lot further, and you’re going to feel really secure. Maybe, you’re going to take some of that money for getting out of town for a month in the winter.”
For more information on the list of retirement cities: http://time.com/money/3542197/9-great-places-to-retire-2/