The Top Five Retirement States

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Cost of living, tax and crime rates, great health care and moderate weather are important criteria when deciding where to retire. Five states in particular may surprise you with how far your retirement dollar goes while offering safe and sunny environments.

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Wyoming

With moderate weather and a cost of living below the national average it's no wonder Bankrate places Wyoming first in its 10 Best States For Retirement. Wyoming also earns as 'most tax friendly' for retirees designation from Kiplinger, which factors sales and property tax, tax on retirement income and special tax savings for seniors into the rating. Its cost of living ranks 19th in the nation. Temperatures average between 18 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit in January to between 56 and 83 degrees Fahrenheit in July. Crime in Wyoming ranks way below the national average, coming in as the sixth safest state, and Bankrate ranks Wyoming's quality of health care 37th best in the nation. Attractions include the museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Devil's Tower National Monument, the Cody Firearms Museum, the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram Rides and 42-Mile Scenic Loop Drive in the Grand Teton National Park.

Colorado

You may think cold when you think Colorado, but winter may be more moderate than you'd expect with a 30 year average temperature of 30.8 degrees. Summers average 68.8 degrees. Kiplinger ranks Colorado as 'tax friendly' for retirees, and the state boasts a below national average crime rate as the 25th safest state in the Union. Bankrate puts Colorado 14th best in the nation for quality of health care, and the state ranks 30th best for cost of living. Colorado also offers many outdoor attractions including horseback riding and fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park, ancient cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park and the famous Pikes Peak at Pike National Forest.

Utah and Arizona

Utah and Arizona tie. Both boast dry, sunny climates. Arizona ranks higher than the national average in personal well-being and is second only to Hawaii in population wellness. Bankrate rates quality of health care at 22nd best in the nation while cost of living is ranked 32nd best in the nation, well below the national average. However while Arizona earned a 'most tax friendly' to retirees designation by Kiplinger, it has the 10th highest rate of violent crime in the country. Conversely, Kiplinger designates Utah as 'not tax friendly' for retirees, but it has the seventh lowest cost of living in the nation and is ranked seventh best in the nation for quality of health care by Bankrate. Both states are brimming with things to do. In Utah, you can play golf in Wasatch Mountain State Park and Soldier Hollow, hike and ride horses in Capital Reef National Park and at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. In Arizona, it may be hard to top the Grand Canyon, but you can also experience the Summer Scenic Skyride that takes you to the top of a volcano, and Lava River Cave, formed from a 700,000 year old lava flow.

Idaho

A sunny, moderate climate with a cost of living several percentage points below the national average makes Idaho worthy of consideration. The state has an annual average temperature in the mid 40s. Kiplinger rates it 'tax friendly' for retirees, but perhaps a bigger draw is its exceedingly low crime rate, the second lowest in the country. Idaho comes in 21st in the nation for quality of health care. And, with over a thousand lakes and 70 percent of the state designated as park or preserve, there's never a shortage of economical things to do for retirees on fixed incomes. Craters of the Moon National Monument boasts 15,000 year old lava flows, hiking and horseback riding can be found in Sawtooth National Forest, and boating, fishing and sailing are available on Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Virginia

While Kiplinger gives Virginia a 'mixed' tax friendliness designation the cost of living is 22nd best in the nation, and it ranks third lowest in personal crime and eighth lowest in property crime in the nation. Virginia also has low unemployment, which may be important to retirees who intend to continue working in some capacity. There are a variety of low cost activities to keep retirees busy, such as historic Colonial Williamsburg, the Caverns at Natural Bridge and Gap Caverns at Cumberland Gap, and the Appomattox Courthouse and National Historic Park. Virginia is also less than 20 miles from Washington D.C. where you can visit memorials and museums for free.

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