Analysis: Virginia edges Florida as best state to retire

Virginia is the best state to retire in, according to a new analysis from WalletHub, edging out perennial stronghold Florida for the honor.

Using a scale that compared all 50 states across 47 key indicators topped by such variables as retirement-friendless, affordability, health-related factors and overall quality of life, WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez points out all those states at the head of the list share similar characteristics.

"Overall, the states that are the best to retire tend to be more affordable, and offer a higher quality of life and better health care,” Gonzalez told The Center Square. “In terms of affordability, the states at the top of the list are more tax friendly, especially for retirees. These states also have a lower risk of social isolation, a smaller share of the elderly population in poverty and a lower food insecurity rate for the elderly.”

With Colorado, Wyoming and Delaware rounding out the list of top 5 places to retire, Gonzalez notes the similarities don’t end there.

“They have better access to public transportation, as well as more museums, theaters, and more access to adult volunteer activities and thus a higher volunteer rate,” she added. “They also have a higher well-being index for the population aged 55+, fewer retirees with a disability and the elderly population has better mental health, adequate sleep and is more physically active. These all lead to a higher life expectancy and a lower death rate."

With an average of one in four non-retired adults not having saved any money for retirement and Social Security accounting for only about 37% of the average worker’s earnings, panel experts for the study make it a point of adding advice about living on a fixed income.

“Living on a fixed income can be challenging, particularly in inflationary times,” Widener University Associate Professor of Finance Tunde Odusamidi said in a statement. “You need to clearly distinguish between your needs and wants. A lot of your preretirement expenses may now fall under ‘Wants,’ particularly if you are an empty nester. Once you have clearly marked out what your needs are, then know that if your needs still exceed your fixed income, then you might need supplemental sources of income.”

At the other end of the spectrum, New York, Oklahoma, Mississippi, New Jersey and Kentucky all ranked among the bottom five states to retire, with Gonzalez adding they too have their commonalities as well.

"The states at the bottom of the list tend to have a larger share of elderly residents who can't afford to see a doctor,” she said. “They also have fewer recreational activities available, with not that many museums and a lower volunteer rate. Lastly, the older population in these states has a lower well-being index score and more of them report getting inadequate sleep."

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