Florida Ranked 39th Best State For Retirement, South Dakota Tops List

May 9, 2014

Despite being widely considered a hotspot for senior living, a new report has ranked Florida as only the 39th best state to retire in.

The report, from personal finance website Bankrate.com, measured the cost of living, crime rate, health care, taxes, personal well-being and weather across the country.

The Sunshine State rated better than average in average annual sunshine and cost of living, but ranked high in property crime with 3,275 incidents per 100,000 residents and in average humidity.

South Dakota took the top spot with Colorado, Utah, North Dakota and Wyoming rounding out the list.

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"With all due respect to my good friend and colleague who is the AARP state director in South Dakota, I can't imagine that many people rushing to her great state based on the fact that they turned up number one in this ranking," said AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson

Despite taking the rankings with a grain of salt, Johnson said that the report does examine some important issues.

"One of the underlying things that I think we as a state ought to recognize is that having retirees relocate to Florida has been a big driver in our economy in the past, that doesn't necessarily mean it will continue to be that way," he said.

Johnson said one area left out of the report that matters to seniors is ease of transportation, an area he said the state needs to work on improving. He identified quality of health care, voting issues, and climate change as other factors that might make seniors think twice before moving to Florida in retirement.

"The current generation, the Baby Boomers, who are on the verge of retiring, or at least reaching the age that we would traditionally think of as retiring age, are seeing things much differently than their parents," he said, noting that many older Americans don't stop working, either for financial reasons or simply to stay mentally stimulated. 

Johnson added that more often than ever retirees are choosing to settle down in places with thriving cultural centers or are close to outdoor recreation, factors that are also attractive to young professionals and people in their mid-20's.

You can follow Patrick Donges on Twitter at @patrickhdonges.