Minnesota, retirement paradise

Despite the daily news cycle, which tends to portray the situation in Minnesota in the most dire terms, there’s a reality here we should consider: Survey after survey on topic after topic (with exceptions, of course) shows that things are better here than almost anywhere else.

And we know this to be true with Bankrate’s release of the the top 10 states to retire to. We don’t even have to look; we know Minnesota is going to be there somewhere.

It’s No. 5. And there isn’t a single sun-belt state ahead of us — only New Hampshire, Colorado, Maine, and Iowa.

The survey considered costs, weather, health care, crime, taxes, cultural amenities and a other things of interest to seniors.

How good do “other things” need to be to offset weather and taxes? Pretty good.

No surprise that the state that’s home to Mayo Clinic ranks near the top for health care. Minnesota also provides retirees with low costs, safe cities and an all-around comfortable way of life. Just be sure to bundle up during the often harsh winters.

Wisconsin, for the record, came in at No. 9 on the strength of health care quality, cost of living, and overall well-being, buoyed, no doubt, by its proximity to Minnesota.

Here’s the full list, best to worst:

New Hampshire
Colorado
Maine
Iowa
Minnesota
Virginia
Massachusetts
South Dakota
Wisconsin
Idaho
Utah
Arizona
Nebraska
Vermont
Pennsylvania
North Dakota
Florida
Delaware
Rhode Island
North Carolina
Wyoming
Michigan
Texas
Kansas
South Carolina
Oregon
Tennessee
Missouri
Montana
Alabama
Washington
Connecticut
Ohio
Illinois
Georgia
Hawaii
New York
New Jersey
Indiana
Maryland
Mississippi
California
Oklahoma
Nevada
Kentucky
Louisiana
New Mexico
Arkansas
West Virginia
Alaska

  • Rob

    Minnesota does indeed deserve to be in the top tier, but only from mid-March to the end of October.

    • I was in Florida a few weeks ago and while I enjoyed the weather and location, I wondered, “how the heck can people live like this.” The traffic is awful, it’s like living in a giant assisted living metropolis, there’s strip malls everywhere, and for what? You save a little money on taxes (which you lose in having to buy a place and restarting your mortgage debt), and you’re removed — mostly likely — from your children and grandchildren.

      No thanks. Keep it. I’ll put on a jacket.

      • Will

        My uncle and aunt rent a place on the coast in Florida to do a lot of ocean fishing… just in the winter though.

      • Rob

        No argument that Florida sucks majorly, for all the reasons you cited. The environs of Flagstaff, AZ, OTOH, suck very little between November and April. And it’s nice to get away from the rellies every now and then for a few months. Snowbirding is the way to go.

        • josh

          Flagstaff is alright, if you like being removed from most things. They don’t have a lot of cultural amenities, though they are rich in environmental amenities. But if you ever wanted to eat good food or see a good play or concert (or visit your friends and family) you’d have a 3 hour drive. Not for me.

        • Jerry

          The only time I’ve been to Flagstaff, I woke up to 6″ of snow.

          • Rob

            Gone the next day, though, right?

          • Jerry

            I can’t remember. I was like 8

      • Anna

        I grew up in the Deep South but I’ve lived in Minnesota for most of the last 30 years. That being said, the weather patterns now are very different than when I was growing up down there.

        I can’t imagine my life without bright autumn leaves and orchard-fresh apples in the fall, the immense calm and quiet after a heavy snowfall and the anticipation of those first green leaves in the spring.

        Summers are perfect here and if the legislature has its way, taxes on Social Security will be reduced for a lot of retirees.

        My first grandchild will be here soon and I’ve waited a long time for that happy day.

        I’m with you, Bob. I’ll put on a jacket.

        • Jack

          Also just putting on more clothes. We are in the process of fixing up the house so everything is done while we are still working.

          I’m aging in place. Have visited all but Alaska and did two years out of the U.S. Minnesota is definitely the place for me.

      • tboom

        I don’t believe officials in Florida have heard about the concept of zoning and planning.

  • Zachary

    Holy cow! – that is an awful website to navigate.

    My mom had always wanted to retire to New Mexico. She visited once a while back and fell in love with the more mountainous areas. I wonder why it’s so low.

    And poor Alaska – I thought that would be the perfect place to retire to if you don’t want people around. Personally, I’m partial to Montana, Idaho or Wyoming.

  • MrE85

    While we have spoken of living elsewhere after retirement, we have never settled on a location..

    • Rob

      Flagstaff AZ, anybody?

      • king harvest

        Too cold. Too much snow. Too far away.
        To each their own.

  • John O.

    Everyone has different tax situations, family and housing variables, health-related factors, mobility, etc.

    I know retirees in Nevada that love it there. I know folks in Minnesota that are getting ready to leave here because of taxes. I have zero idea what our situation may be when (and if) one or both of us make it to retirement. We have a good financial adviser, so that is a huge benefit in the decision-making process.

    Bottom line is everyone’s situation is unique. Like those stupid business climate rankings that appear annually, no one size fits the same. Do your homework.

    • Jeff C.

      ” I know folks in Minnesota that are getting ready to leave here because of taxes.”

      Really? I’d love to know more. I often hear people say things like this but never hear the details. I’d love to understand a scenario in which moving because of taxes is a wise financial move.

      • John O.

        Short version of a longer (and more complex discussion/situation): in *their* case, one of them has a pension where 28 percent is being withheld monthly. Again, your mileage may vary.

        • Josh

          I do find tht interesting. Presumably almost any state will tax part of that pension. And some of that 28% is federal taxes, no? Meaning I’d guess you’d be hard pressed to move to a state where less than 15% is removed monthly. So now you are “gaining” at most 13% of your income. And unless you make a lot (and if you made a lot you wouldn’t need to move for financial reasons), moving costs are going to swamp that 13%. So you would be moving counting on starting to recoup those moving costs in a few years time. And I can’t imagine myself choosing to leave my friends and family just to make some more money in 4 years time.

          Obviously I do not understand this person’s situation AT ALL and am not saying they are making the wrong decision. But I dinf it interesting to walk through.

    • Jim in RF

      Taxes should mean much less to a retiree. Yes, MN (and WI) have above-average income taxes but lower real-estate taxes, which is essentially a wealth tax. Retirees have lower income (they’re retired!), but higher wealth (own property), so they come out ahead. And yes, maybe we should have an accumulated wealth tax instead of an income tax.

      • Tim

        It really all depends. For example, a relative of mine who retired from the military moved to a different state that didn’t tax his retirement pay, while Minnesota did (up until last year). That, in addition to a lower cost of living and the ability to sell his house for a good price, made moving out of state quite attractive. But each situation is different.

      • I guess what I find most interesting about discussions like this — and we’re in a discussion in my house about where to go when we retire — is how much the selection process is on taxes . I vaguely recall a study somewhere years ago that showed the reason why retirees often move BACK to Minnesota — family.

        Granted I’m a (real) family values kind of person — I like to be around mine — but I’m always surprised by the low weight that item gets in the apparent decision-making process.

        To me scenery is nice, weather is nice, taxes are nice, but I just can’t square trading family in for that.

        • Rob

          I’m with you on the tax question; I’ve always been happy to pay higher taxes for more and better services, and tax rates have played no role whatsoever in my retirement planning. Crappy weather, on the other hand…

  • Ralphy

    I have taken a vow to not do business with or spend time in what I call “hostile states”, which includes most of the deep south and the cowboy belt.
    Why would I want to spend time and $ where my family is not welcome?

    • Rob

      Good points. I’ve never been a fan of what I call the Cracker States either.

  • Erick

    Pity poor Florida, ranked just below North Dakota.

  • Gary F

    Black Hills of South Dakota. Beautiful and lower taxes.

    • Rob

      I grew up there, and still get back a often as I can. Great motorcycling area. Taxes don’t bother me one way or the other, and I’m not a fan of the state’s regressive politics, but what can you do? The winters tend to be much more more hospitable, too, thanks to the Chinook winds.

    • Joe

      That’s going to grade real low on the cultural amenities scale, and not too great on the health care scale either.

      • Rob

        You just have to stay healthy, and drive over to Denver or Boulder when you need some culture. : )

        • wjc

          Yeah, only an 8 or 9 hour drive, eh? No thanks.

          • X.A. Smith

            South Dakota: come for Mount Rushmore, stay for the high level of political corruption!

          • Jerry

            Don’t forget the homophobia

          • X.A. Smith

            Believe me, I won’t.

          • Rob

            : )

  • dave

    ANY ranking of places with more than one factor depends on how the relative importance of the factors to the person making the ranking.

  • Kassie

    It must be nice for you all to part of generations that believe you will be able to retire. My student loans won’t even be paid off until I’m 66, then I’ll be able to start saving for retirement in earnest.

    • It is nice. I never thought when I started out in this business making $110 a week for a six day week, driving 40 miles each way to the job, that I would be able to retire.

      How did it happen? I don’t know. I remember sitting in my house once in Mass., with two little kids and saying to my wife, “we only have $800 in the bank.”

      Parents were certainly helpful which is why my focus in these last years is figuring out how to leave as much as I can to my kids, because this next generation is going to be in a world of hurt.