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The best and worst states to retire, ranked

The best state in the country to kick up your feet for good boasts perks like endless corn farms and the world's largest wooden nickel.
The best and worst states to retire, ranked
Posted at 1:59 PM, Aug 01, 2023

Hearing the word "retire" may make you think of sandy beaches, luscious golf courses, and perfect weather year-round.

But the best state in the country to kick up your feet for good boasts perks like endless corn farms and the world's largest wooden nickel.

That's according to a new report from Bankrate, which named Iowa as the top state in which to retire because of its lower cost of living, affordable and high-quality health care and low crime.

The report found Iowa is the sixth cheapest place to live in the U.S. Redfin data shows the median home price is below the national average of $388,800, with median costs lingering around $239,400.

As for taxes, Bankrate notes state property taxes rank 23rd while state and local sales tax rank 22nd in the country.

Delaware, West Virginia, Missouri and Mississippi rounded out Bankrate's the top 5 states for retirement.

Surprised popular states like Florida and Arizona aren't on the list?

"Sentiments aren't necessarily drifting away from warmer states," said Bankrate analyst Alex Gailey. "The cost of living has risen in so many of these popular retirement states. We see that the housing prices and increased cost of living in [states like] Florida can really put a strain retirement income."

Bankrate pinned Alaska as the worst place to retire, bogged down by low scores in affordability and weather.

SEE MORE: Americans need $233K salary to feel financially secure

The Northeast and West claimed the rest of the bottom five states for retirement including New York, California, Washington and Massachusetts; with high health care costs also affecting scores.

"It's ultimately more expensive to live in them. Your retirement income isn't going to go as far in the states, especially when you're on a fixed income," said Gailey.

A Gallup survey in May found 57% of non-retired Americans don't think they'll have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, the lowest level in over a decade.

And a recent report from the Government Accountability Office found in 2019, retirement savings among high-income households ($605,000) was nine times higher than middle income homes ($64,300).

Even if settling down is a long way off — thinking about your retirement location can help you build a wealth plan.

Corbin Blackburn, an advisor with Cleveland Wealth, says how much you need to save depends on the type of standard of living you want.

"Understand what you're going to need to spend in retirement. Step two is to then create a plan to generate that income. But make sure it's a plan that can weather the storm," said Blackburn.

Financial experts recommend regular financial check-ups. While it's easy to panic about the current state of your savings, they say the long-term game is the most important.

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