Best Cities and States for Retirement: Lowest Cost of Living

After my recent trip to Hawaii, it's easy to see why The Aloha State took the top spot in 2012's Best-Rated States For Retirement...

The predictable warm weather, breathtaking views, friendly people, fresh food, high life expectancy age, and surplus of entertainment make it well worth the pricey cost of living. (Retirees be warned: A gallon of milk in Maui ranged anywhere from $5-$8 during my stay.)

Other obvious choices for retirees are Florida and Arizona, two hot spots that boast a large number of seniors amidst plenty of rare, natural beauty. From abundant pools and lakes in Florida to the glorious desert mountains, dry air, and clear skies of Arizona, your family won't mind taking a trip to either one of these destinations.

Interestingly enough, Idaho and Utah actually received the red and yellow ribbons in this competition thanks to promising economic forecasts and low crime rates.

Here's the full list, courtesy of, of the top 10 states for retirement and a couple of reasons why each fared so well:

10. Texas (tie) — warm weather and solid economy


10. California (tie) — good weather and high life expectancy


9. South Dakota — low crime rate and high life expectancy


7. New Mexico (tie) — good weather and gorgeous natural landscapes


7. Florida (tie) — good weather and plenty of sandy beaches for relaxation and meditation


6. Colorado — high life expectancy and beautiful mountain ranges (great for winter sports for the grandkids!)


5. Virginia — good economy with four very distinct yet moderate seasons


4. Arizona — good weather and high life expectancy


3. Utah — good economy with a landscape famous for its amazing canyons


2. Idaho — low crime rate and good economy


1. Hawaii — great weather and high life expectancy

HI compiled this list basted on five crucial considerations seniors reflect upon when choosing where they will spend their retirement years. These factors include senior population growth, economic conditions, crime rate, climate, and life expectancy.

However, this particular compendium left out one salient feature. While these results reflect real economic circumstances, such as property taxes and cost of living, this comprehensive list did not necessarily prioritize low cost of living over the other desirable conditions, like weather and life expectancy.

For today's 78 million baby boomers, one of the best ways to ensure you're getting the most bang for your buck during your retirement years is by taking advantage of the cost of living in your city of choice — without settling on quality of life.

Earlier this month, NerdWallet released a list of the 10 best cities to retire in 2013 based on the following criteria:

  • the ACCRA cost of living index
  • the number of physicians per 100,000 people
  • public transportation
  • the percentage of the population between ages 50 and 70
  • If you love the hustle and bustle of city life and want to stay actively involved in a thriving city — but also hope to enjoy the company of other seniors in your age group — we've got you covered...

*Bonus: If you're thinking of starting a small business to help fund your retirement, it's advantageous to do so in a city, as more people means more customers.

1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Considering all factors listed above, Pittsburgh received an overall of 79.9 in NerdWallet's ranking of the best metro areas. Steel and coal built this city and names like "Mellon" and "Carnegie" are posted with pride all over the place. But the city has come a long way since then... and it now this harbors the famed Waterfront Complex, a diverse collection of quaint shops, dozens of posh restaurants, and two new professional sports stadiums. History buffs will appreciate historic sites like the Point State Park, home of the Fort Pitt Museum, and the Duquesne Incline, where you can ride an antique cable car and browse displays about this unique form of transportation.


2. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio

This metro area had an overall score of 78.2 in NerdWallet's ranking of the best metro areas for baby boomers. Cleveland is the most populated county in the state of Ohio (and home of many proud Browns fans!). From wineries to beautiful golf courses and family-friendly attractions guaranteed to keep the grandchildren entertained for hours, this city has it all... And if art and culture happen to be your cup of team, you won't want to miss the opulent theaters of Playhouse Square for an off-Broadway performance or a night spent with the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra. Spend your summer days setting sail on the lake, cruising a crooked river, or hit up an Indians game to get your fill of America's favorite pastime...


3. Buffalo-Niagara Falls, New York

This metro area had an overall score of 76.8. If you haven't visited Niagara Falls yet, you're missing out... Ride the Maid of the Mist during the day and it'll take you as close to the Falls as you can get — but be sure to get back out around dusk to look over the beautiful Niagara Falls Illumination. (And take note: When you live in a place this naturally beautiful, your friends and family are likely to overstay their welcome!)

Niagara Falls

4. Baltimore-Towson, Maryland

This metro area had an overall score of 72.2 in NerdWallet's ranking of the best metro areas for baby boomers. I should tell you I might be a little biased on this area, being a resident myself... but I can safely say you'll never be bored here. Whether you want a day out in the county at a vineyard or a farmers' market... or would prefer to do some sight-seeing for the day with the family in the Inner Harbor, Baltimore has something for everyone. The National Aquarium, the American Visionary Arts Museum, historic libraries and landmarks, local parks, and hundreds of specialty restaurants are guaranteed to keep you entertained, day and night. There are dozens of breathtaking hiking trails, dog parks, nearby farms, rivers, and even a few waterfalls to appease the nature lover. Sports lovers will appreciate the convenience of the M&T Ravens Stadium and Camden Yards for Orioles' games. And our nation's capital is just a 40 minute ride south for more museums, culture, art, history, and world-renowned restaurants and eateries.


5. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Florida

Let's be honest; it's pretty difficult to live near a beach and not be happy. I'm pretty sure there's some sort of mathematical equation out there proving this thesis, which is probably why this metro area scored 71.8 in NerdWallet's ranking. It's 80 degrees in November and jam-packed with other active seniors just as happy to be living in the fifth-best city for seniors. What more could you want?Miami

6. Louisville-Jefferson County, Kentucky

This metro area had an overall score of 69.9 in NerdWallet's ranking of the best metro areas for baby boomers. If you want to look more into Louisville, check out the Metro Parks Senior Services. They offer a wide variety of social and athletic programs specifically designated for senior citizens. They host the annual Fifty and Over Games and provide various programs from senior citizens in the Kentucky State Fair's Heritage Hall.


7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington

If you've always wanted to move out West, here's an excuse to make your fantasy a reality. This metro area had an overall score of 69.4. Seattle is a major coastal seaport, and recent retirees that have moved here often report "there's nowhere in the country I'd rather live." Inhabitants report that most of the people are a "pretty laid-back bunch" and ultra-casual attire is accepted practically everywhere. And for you early birds who rely on your caffeine fix to start the day, there's a coffee shop on every block — and the world's largest coffee company is the city's best-known local business.


8. St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis had an overall score of 69 and was listed as the "best place to raise your kid" by Businessweek in 2012. The city was ranked No. 11 on Parenting Magazine's 2011 "Best Cities for Families." And now it's listed as No. 8 for seniors as well! It sounds like every generation of your family would fare quite well here...

St. Louis

9. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wisconsin

This metro area had an overall score of 68.7 in NerdWallet's ranking of the best metro areas for baby boomers. Milwaukee is the 28th most populous city in the United States, just 90 miles shy of Chicago. It's famous for its serene lakeside views, various ethnic festivals, and huge breweries. You'll also find the city very aesthetically pleasing: a mix of elegant architecture, Victorian warehouses, and revamped waterfront developments. Milwaukee has been coined "A Genuine American City," rich in culture, history, and good food and drink.


10. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pennsylvania

The City of Brotherly Love and its surrounding metro area ranked 68.4 for baby boomers. If you know any Phillies fans, you know how they can talk your ear off raving about Philly. It's home to some amazing restaurants, historic neighborhoods, and plenty of summer festivals with fireworks, concerts, and more. There's something to do (and dozens of free activities to take part in!) nearly every day of the week. For all you beer connoisseurs, Philly Beer Week is an event you can look forward to in the late spring or early summer. This is an annual 10-day celebration filled with Philly's best brews, home-brewing demos, and special dinners. Seniors perhaps most appreciate Philly as being the home of the non-profit organization known as CARIE that has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for older people.


We're thrilled that the Outsiders' hometown of Baltimore made the list, and hope you too will consider the perks of our dynamic and industrious stomping ground when you're reading about the allure of these other animated cities.

Wherever the road takes you, we wish you the very best of luck in your future endeavors! 

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