When you think of the ideal places to retire in the United States, what comes to mind? Florida is an obvious example, and perhaps other warm destinations such as Hawaii or California. However, according to Bankrate's latest rankings, weather isn't one of the most important factors to most retirees, and therefore these states are absent from the top of the list.

With that in mind, here's what's important to retirees, and the five best states to retire based on these factors.

Smiling older couple sitting on a couch.

Image source: Getty Images.

What matters to retirees

What I found most interesting about Bankrate's methodology was that it surveyed retirees to find out what factors were most important to them and used the results to weight their rankings. Here are seven categories, and the percentage of retirees who consider them to be either "most" or "very" important.


Respondents Who Said "Most" or "Very" Important

Cost of living


Health care quality


Crime rate


Culture and social






Retiree population


Data source: Bankrate "Life's Financial Journey: Retirement" survey.

Admittedly, I was a bit surprised by this data. Specifically, I would have thought that weather was a more important factor -- but that's probably because virtually all my older relatives retire to warm places. However, the top three factors certainly make perfect sense.

The five best states for retirees

With the survey results in mind, here are Bankrate's top five states to retire, ranked in descending order.

5. Minnesota

Minnesota lake in summer.

Image source: Getty Images.

It's a good thing weather wasn't a top priority for most retirees, as Minnesota is ranked number 47 in that category. However, Bankrate's report found that Minnesota has the third-best healthcare quality in the nation, as well as a vibrant cultural scene for senior citizens, which earned it a spot in the top five.

4. Iowa

City skyline of Des Moines.

Image source: Getty Images.

Iowa is a well-rounded retirement destination, according to the rankings. The state didn't rank better than ninth in any one category, but it ranked 20th or higher in six out of Bankrate's eight categories (the seven from the survey results discussed earlier, plus "overall retiree well-being"). Iowa's best scores were in healthcare quality and the population of senior citizens -- both ninth place.

3. Maine

Evening view of Portland, Maine.

Image source: Getty Images.

Maine doesn't have great weather, and has a cost of living that's significantly above average, so at first glance it may seem like a poor choice for retirees. However, Maine ranked No. 2 for its low crime rate and the prevalence of other seniors. And perhaps most importantly, Maine is Bankrate's No. 1 state for healthcare quality.

2. Colorado

View of river and Rocky Mountains.

Image source: Getty Images.

Colorado is a beautiful state, but has a high cost of living and a low senior population, two big turn-offs for retirees. However, it scored highly for healthcare quality and culture, and is one of the top places for overall senior citizen well-being.

1. New Hampshire

New Hampshire in autumn.

Image source: Getty Images.

The top spot goes to yet another state with cold winters and an expensive cost of living. However, New Hampshire ranks in the top 10 for healthcare quality (fourth), crime rate (third lowest), taxation (seventh), culture (sixth), and overall senior well-being (second).

What's the best choice for you?

The point is that the decision of where to retire should be based on a lot more than where the most beautiful beaches are. Furthermore, in addition to the factors discussed here, it's important to take personal considerations into account such as your proximity to relatives. The bottom line is that no two retirees are the same, so it's important to decide which factors are most important to you and weight them accordingly when you make your decision.

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