Bankrate recently ranked the 50 states for the purposes of retirement. The best? Nebraska. The worst? Maryland. Cities were ranked based on affordability, crime, weather, culture and wellness.
Arizona ranked 38th. Apparently, we’re 43rd in crime (as in, the seventh worst state in the nation). Really? Not to mention 39th in culture. Ouch. But fair. And 29th in wellness.
That last one actually isn’t fair because I’d wager that the ranking is slanted. After all, we have such a large older population, who are going to come with more health problems. I don’t think that residents’ poor health is a reflection of what people can expect to experience when they move here. Heck, if anything the heat is great for joint pain, and apparently the state’s environment is pretty decent for breathing issues like COPD. At least, when it’s not oppressively hot.
Speaking of which, bizarrely enough, Arizona scored 10th in weather. I understand that seven months out of the year, the weather is pleasant as hell for outsiders. But you acclimate pretty quickly to where 55 degrees is cold.
Still, I guess you do get used to the 100+ degree temperatures up to a point. I can stay out in 103 degrees for a surprising period of time. Well, with linen pants and a tank top/very breezy shirt. Still, anything over 105 is a no-go and leaves me miserable.
But apparently Bankrate doesn’t agree with my opinions because, like I said, we’re 10th in weather.
So how did the best state (Nebraska) do? It scored 30th in weather. Which makes sense as I’m sure its winters can get pretty darn unpleasant. But the state made up for that with affordability (14th), crime (19th) and wellness (8th). I guess that evened things out.
The most affordable state, by the way, is Missouri, which ranked 3rd overall.
One of the worst states was Alaska, which came in 48th. It ranked 49th in crime and 50th in weather. No argument on the weather, but crime must’ve gotten a lot worse since I lived there. That, or I was even more clueless as a teenager than I thought.
Of course, not all categories are weighted equally. Affordability was given 1/3 the weight of crime and 1/2 the weight of weather. Not quite the way I’d parcel out importance.
Luckily, if you disagree with the study’s weighting of each factor, there’s an interactive tool that lets you fuss with the categories’ weights.
But no matter how I played with the interactive tool, I still didn’t get Arizona as a top state to retire in. Which I disagree with. I still say Arizona is a good place to retire. For one thing, groceries here are pretty darn cheap, lowering one major life expense.
Yes, Phoenix housing costs aren’t what they used to be, but there are other areas of the state to live. And Phoenix is still cheaper than a lot of other major cities. (Apparently, we are actually a major city. In fact, I’ve been told we’re the fastest growing city in the country right now.)
You can still get a house under $300,000 — which seems to be the new metric for “affordable.” (Excuse me while I go puke.) My house is worth about $180,000 to $200,000, so there are still some actually affordable places around the city too.
Meanwhile, the weather… Well, it’s a mixed bag. About half of the year it’s pretty pleasant. As for the rest of the time… Well, as I’ve said before, the heat is excellent for aging joints.
The extreme heat can apparently be bad for people with certain respiratory conditions, but I believe cold can have the same effect. Besides, if you’re retired, you don’t necessarily need to leave the house and wade out into the heat as often as a working person.
I will say that the energy bills are killer. My averaged-out bill is still about $180 a month, even with barely using the heat this winter and keeping the house pretty warm this summer. But my city services bill generally hovers around $40-50, and my gas bill (for the water heater) never goes above $35.
As for culture, well it’s popping up more and more since we’re such a fast-growing city.
More concerts come to town. There are plays around to be seen. (I just never seem to get around to seeing them. It’s something I need to work on.) There’s a First Friday art walk each month. We have museums of interest. And we’re getting traveling companies coming in to town to put on Broadway shows. So culture does come our way. You just need to seek it out a bit more than in, say, New York City.
And as for crime. Obviously, it happens. But I hardly think Phoenix is where all of it is centered.
All in all, if you can stand the heat, then Phoenix is a pretty good place to retire — no matter what Bankrate says.
How did your state rank? Do you agree?
Do you think your town is a good place to retire? What do you think of these rankings?