The best state to retire in is Wyoming, concludes a new report from Bankrate.com. The report examines a variety of factors that matter most to retirees and finds that the Equality State -- so called because it was the first state to grant women the right to vote -- comes out on top.
For people who have long considered states such as Florida and Arizona as the nation's greatest bastions of retirement, this may come as a surprise. After all, as a Wyoming native, I can attest that its weather is far from conducive to year-round golf and afternoon strolls.
That's not to say Wyoming is the most inhabitable state on the list when it comes to weather. Far from it, in fact: It ranks a surprising eighth out of the nation's 50 states, according to Bankrate.com, based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
But just as important as weather were issues such as the tax rate and the overall cost of living. "There are many factors retirees should consider before deciding where to put down their roots," said Bankrate.com analyst Chris Kahn. "Warm weather may be an initial draw, but all the sunny days in the world won't make you happy if you're constantly stretching your budget or don't have access to quality healthcare."
When it comes to taxes, for instance, Wyoming has long been known as one of the most tax-friendly states in the union. It has one of the lowest sales tax rates after taking into consideration both state and local assessments. The same is true of property taxes. And it's one of seven states with no income taxes.
Wyoming's generosity in this regard stems from its thriving energy industry and small population. In 2013, the latest year for which data is available, Wyoming was far and away the nation's biggest coal-producer, accounting for 39% of total domestic coal-production. The runner-up, West Virginia, accounted for only 12% of the nation's supply.
Moreover, when you consider all forms of energy, the picture is similar. Not surprisingly, Texas ranks No. 1, having produced the equivalent of 14,201 trillion BTUs in 2012. But keep in mind that Texas is considerably larger than Wyoming and sits atop some of the world's largest oil and natural-gas reserves. By comparison, No. 2 Wyoming produced the equivalent of 9,611 trillion BTUs.
To put these two states' relative sizes in perspective, consider this: On a per-capita basis, Wyoming produces 31 times more energy than Texas. Thus, it's easy to see why Wyoming has the flexibility to subject its citizens to such low tax rates.
At the end of the day, of course, there are countless factors that play into a person's decision about where to retire. As Bankrate.com acknowledges, "For some retirees, the most important factor is to simply live near their friends and family, even if that means moving to a low-ranking state." But exceptions like this aside, rankings like the ones here are still important for retirees who aren't married, so to speak, to one state in particular.
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