Move over, Florida. The best city for retirement isn’t in the Sunshine State, but much further north, near the nation’s capital.
Despite its relatively high cost of living — its only drawback — Arlington, Virginia, takes the top spot for the best retirement city, according to a new Bankrate study of 196 U.S. cities. Bankrate ranked the cities based on eight categories: cost of living, crime, well-being, walkability, taxes, health care, weather and cultural vitality.
Cities in nine states — Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia — made up the top 25. But give Florida its due; it had the most cities, with six in the top 25.
“Other than Arlington, what the top ten cities have in common is a reasonable cost of living,” says Jill Cornfield, Bankrate’s retirement analyst. By contrast, the bottom ten cities for retirement all suffer from harsher winters, she says.
“Weather ends up being a big factor,” says Cornfield. “The bottom ten cities also can get very hot in the summer. Extreme weather is something that retirees tend not to like.”
That’s probably why 15 of the bottom 25 cities for retirement are in the Northeast, with another in chilly Michigan. New York had the most cities in the bottom 25, including the very worst — Niagara Falls. California and Connecticut followed with five cities each.
Cornfield cautioned soon-to-be retirees from solely relying on the ranking to determine where to live. Instead, consider it a starting point to narrow down your choices by figuring out what city features you like most and where those are most abundant.
“There’s no perfect place to retire,” she says. “There’s not one place in the world everyone is going to love.”
Bankrate analyzed 196 U.S. cities across the eight categories using data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; the Council for Community and Economic Research; the FBI; HealthView Services; Gallup-Healthways; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the Tax Foundation; WalkScore.com; and the Western States Arts Federation.