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Top 5 States: Where to Retire

South Dakota, Utah and Colorado are given the nod for best places to retire in a collection of data from Bankrate.

| BY Kent McDill

Americans are a diverse bunch, and have a wide array of factors when they are trying to determine where to retire.

But, based on a variety of criteria set forth in a study by Bankrate, the sparsely populated states are among the best places to retire, and the two non-continental states are among the worst places to settle down.

The criteria for the ratings included: Well-being (as determined by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index), cost of living (determined by the Council for Community and Economic Research), health care quality (determined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), tax burden as a percentage of state income (determined by the Tax Foundation), violent crime per 100,000 people (determined by the FBI), property crime per 100,000 people (determined by the FBI), possible sunshine and average humidity (as determined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Here are the best states to retire, based on the state’s total score from all of these criteria combined:

1.       South Dakota – The Dakotas were the only two states with a well-being score of 70 or better. South Dakota also has one of the lowest tax burden percentages, and one of the lowest property crime rates.

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2.       Colorado – The well-being score is 68.9, one of the highest, and Colorado ranks in the top 15 in health care quality. Its tax burden is low, and its possible sunshine rating is one of the top five in the country. It also has low humidity, a key factor among retirees.

3.       Utah - Utah has high numbers in terms of well-being and health care quality, and a very low number in terms of violent crime. Its possible sunshine is at 68 percent and its average humidity is at 55.

4.       North Dakota – North Dakota obviously shares much of the same weather percentages as South Dakota, It actually has the highest well-being number, but does not show as well in terms of cost of living or tax rate.

5.       Wyoming – Wyoming has the lowest tax rate in the nation, virtually non-existent property or personal crime, an average temperature in the 60s and humidity in the 50s.

When trying to decide where to retire, keep in mind these are the five worst states, according to the collection of data: No. 50 New York, No. 49 West Virginia, No. 48 Alaska, No. 47 Arkansas and No. 46 Hawaii.

About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.