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New York is the worst state to retire, South Dakota is best

Aarthi Swaminathan
Finance Writer

South Dakota is the best state to retire, and New York’s the worst, according to a new report by Bankrate.com.

With 10,000 people turning 65 each day, Bankrate.com based its ranking on seven categories that would impact a retiree’s decision to move (weighting in parentheses): cost of living (20%), taxes (20%), health care quality (15%), weather (15%), crime (10%), cultural vitality (10%) and well-being (10%).

Bankrate.com found that South Dakota was the best state for retirees, beating out Utah (No. 2), Idaho (No. 3), New Hampshire (No. 4) and Florida (No. 5).

No one would think of South Dakota as a winner to retire. But if you look into it, you see how people there have very good social relationships, and feel a sense of purpose with the community,” said Bankrate.com analyst Taylor Tepper in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

In South Dakota – one of the most tax-friendly states in the U.S. – residents pay no personal income tax, and the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is $565, according to data from Apartment List.

“They savor their day-to-day lives, feel financially secure and have a strong sense of community,” said Tepper. “Residents in the other top states feel similarly. These attributes may better determine what makes for a satisfying retirement than, say, warm weather.”

A man enjoys the sunshine and the New York City skyline from a park in Weehawken, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New York was the worst – not a huge surprise given the state’s high cost of living, high taxes, and the lower quality of health care. 

In New York, the average personal income tax rate ranges from 4% to 8.82% over eight income brackets. The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment ranged from $1,231 to $2,115, according to Apartment List.

The South Dakota state capitol building is seen in Pierre, South Dakota, in 2018. (REUTERS/Lawrence Hurley/File Photo)

“For retirees, especially those living on fixed income, it’s hard,” said Tepper. “If you were on a fixed income living in a place with high cost of living — life’s going to be hard.”

New Mexico and Maryland tied for the second-worst spot on the list.

Florida, a popular retirement destination, didn’t do so well on the list, turning up at fifth, because of a relatively high crime rate and a subpar grade for health care quality.

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