The popular answer for the best states for retirement seems to be anywhere along the Sun Belt, where retiring Americans have flocked for generations in search of sunshine, swimming pools and year-round golf.
Yet, if you consider other factors that are important for seniors, you’d find that some of the best spots are actually located farther north.
Bankrate pored through a slew of key factors, including access to medical care, cost of living, local crime rates, state and local taxes — as well as climate.
Here are the top 10 states for retirement in Bankrate’s analysis:
3. South Dakota
7. West Virginia
10. North Dakota
“Virginia isn’t just for lovers. It’s for seniors looking for an all-around good place to settle down,” Bankrate said Monday in its write-up about the list.
“The Old Dominion is better than average in most categories that Bankrate considered, including cost of living, warmer temperatures and access to physicians.
“With only 2,446 property and violent crimes per 100,000 people, Virginia has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.
“Throw all of that in with Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, the Blue Ridge Parkway and other gems, and you have one of the best states in the U.S. for retirees.”
Virginia was flanked by West Virginia, which ranked No. 7, and Mississippi, at No. 5.
No. 1 was Tennessee, which was deemed an exceptional place for retires, especially for those on tight budgets and fixed incomes. Its one drawback was a high crime rate.
This list had a few surprises — North Dakota, No. 10, and South Dakota, No. 3. If people can get past the frigid temperatures, the two states have a lot going for them, Bankrate said.
Chris Kahn, an analyst with Bankrate.stated “This year we wanted to focus on the kind of questions retirees should be asking themselves if they decide to make a move,” Kahn said.
Kahn, who lived briefly in the Fan District in 2000 and Roanoke for four years in the mid-2000s, said he was not surprised Virginia made the list.
“Everyone has their own private list of what they want. Some people absolutely need to be near the beach. Some want to be near the grandkids. Some want to live in the city and some want to live outside the city.”
These variables can’t be addressed, Kahn said. “We try to take subjectivity out and provide a baseline of questions.”
The methodology was based on medical statistics on the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the number of doctors per 100,000 residents from the U.S. census.
Crime statistics on violent crimes and property crimes per 100,000 people came from the 2011 FBI Uniform Crime Report. Tax rates were based on an estimate of the state and local tax burden (income, sales, property and other taxes) by the Tax Foundation.
Average temperatures over 30 years (from 1981 to 2010) were provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Western Regional Climate Center. Cost-of-living stats were from the Council for Community and Economic Research.