If you could choose any place in America to retire, which locale would be best? Florida perhaps? Or somewhere with a lot of culture, like New York or San Francisco? Not according to one new report, which finds the best U.S. state for retirees is...Wyoming.
According to Bankrate's annual "Best and Worst States to Retire" ranking, released on March 23, the "Equality State" state is the best place for seniors to settle down. The ranking is based on six different factors—cost of living, crime rate, community well-being, health care quality, tax rate, and weather—and weights the importance of each using a national survey on what Americans value in retirement.
Arkansas comes in last, with poor marks in everything but living expenses, while Wyoming gets the crown for its top-10 low crime and good weather, low tax burden, and a cost of living and well-being scores in the top 20.
Wyoming's biggest weak spot? Health care, where the state comes in a humble 37. Minnesota, the state ranked as has having the best healthcare in the country, is listed number 11 overall.
That might make some readers balk, but Chris Kahn, who has spearheaded the report for years, has become accustomed to criticism.
"I get a lot of letters saying this should be most important, that should be most important, there isn't consensus there," says Kahn. "I guess the one thing I've learned from all this is I'm never going to make a ranking that's going to please everyone."
If critics don't like the list, they have only their fellow Americans to blame. Respondents to Bankrate's survey ranked health care third on the list of retirement location priorities, behind crime and cost of living. In another surprise, more people (40%) said they would rather live near mountains, rivers, and other outdoor recreation than said they wanted access to a beach (25%), and only a quarter of respondents said being close to family was the most important factor in deciding where to retire.
"I consider this ranking a conversation starter," says Kahn. "Don't just go where you think you ought to go or where you had a good vacation. You should really be thinking about things like the cost of living, the health care system, the taxes—all that data is out there."
Here's the full list:
|State||Overall rank||Cost of living||Crime rate||Community well-being||Health care quality||Tax rate||Weather|
|South Carolina||25||24||48||26||35 (tie)||9||16|
Read next: The Complete Guide to Retiring Abroad