This Surprising State Is the Best Place to Retire

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Happy retiree
Bobex-73 /

If you’re looking for a place to retire, you won’t do much better than to look north to South Dakota.

The home of the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore tops the list of the best places to spend your golden years, according to

How did a small northern state come out on top? Bankrate points out that the state’s residents are “content with their lives.” According to Bankrate:

Gallup’s State of American Well-Being series enlists more than 2.5 million surveys to judge how people feel about five aspects of their lives: purpose (a reason to get up in the morning), social (loving and meaningful relationships), financial (lack of money stress), community (love where you live) and physical (good health). Residents of South Dakota scored the highest on the well-being score and have been in the top six since 2013.

Other pluses include that South Dakota has:

  • No income tax.: Residents live in the second-most tax-friendly state in the country, according to the Tax Foundation.
  • Good health care: Bankrate notes that the state also scored well on both health care value and cultural vitality.
  • Opportunities for outdoor fun: According to Bankrate, fun-loving seniors can “ping-pong between the likes of Badlands National Park and Custer State Park. And, of course, there’s Mount Rushmore.”

The best 5 states for retirement

While South Dakota’s top ranking might raise a few eyebrows, the next four states on the list also are not traditionally viewed as retirement dream spots.

Utah finishes second. Bankrate cites the Western state for its great health care and excellent weather. Overall, the top five states for retirement are:

  1. South Dakota
  2. Utah
  3. Idaho
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Florida

What do these top-ranking states share in common? Bankrate notes that they had to score well in a combination of seven different categories. These were weighted as follows:

  • Cost of living: 20 percent
  • Taxes: 20 percent
  • Health care quality: 15 percent
  • Weather: 15 percent
  • Crime: 10 percent
  • Cultural vitality: 10 percent
  • Well-being: 10 percent

Other factors when choosing the best state for retirement

Of course, it’s a mistake to simply choose your retirement home from a list like this. As Bankrate points out, other factors can be far more important than good weather and cultural vitality.

For example, Bankrate notes that studies have found a strong relationship with your spouse “plays an outsized role in your happiness in retirement, even more than how you spend your money or even the size of your nest egg.”

By contrast — and somewhat surprisingly — living closer to your kids might not make you as happy as you imagine.

According to Bankrate:

Strong relationships with friends are also important, but the researchers found no evidence to support that children improve the life satisfaction of retirees. You, then, should think long about moving closer to your children if you sacrifice your network of friends in the trade.

For more retirement advice, check out:

Where do you plan to retire? Sound off in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.