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Affordability, healthcare access and quality of life weighed heavily in two recent reports on the best cities and states to retire to in 2022.

Florida bested the rest again in Tulsa, OK-based RetirementLiving’s Best and Worst States for Retirement in 2022.

At the city level, Winchester, VA, ranked as the best U.S. city for older adults to age in place, according to Santa Clara, CA-based artificial intelligence technology platform Zemplee’s 2022 Top 10 U.S. Cities to Age in Place whitepaper and senior living guide. 

Best states

Using reader feedback, RetirementLiving used housing costs, state taxes, healthcare availability and quality of life for retirees to rank the states. 

The report also considered the population percentage of older adults aged more than 65 years, affordability and available parkland. Its cost of living metric looks at the cost of assisted living care, state tax rate, affordability score, average home price and median household income.

Florida, with 21% of its population over 65, has an abundance of parkland as well as senior living communities and activities, according to the report. Readers cited low taxes, a favorable political climate and the ability to play golf 365 days a year as reasons for retiring to the Sunshine State.

The state has no income tax, but the sales tax rate is slightly elevated, RetirementLiving noted. Healthcare availability rated average. Hate crowds? The report recommended avoiding Broward, Orange and Seminole counties.

New Hampshire also rated among the best states, offering beaches, lakes, mountains, cities and countryside for active retirees due to the abundance of independent living communities in the state.

Rounding out the top 10 best states were Arizona, with most retirement communities sitting on a golf course; North Carolina, which offers free college classes to older adults over 65; Alaska, for those who enjoy the great outdoors; Texas, noted for its friendly people, wide-open spaces and “exciting” cities; South Dakota, with more healthcare workers per capita than any other state; Washington, offering coastlines, national forests and mountain ranges; Nebraska, with a 10.5% lower cost of living than most other states; and Alabama, which does not tax retirement income.

Worst states

RetirementLiving also ranked the worst states for retirees, citing high taxes and housing costs as the main reasons for landing on the list. 

Illinois claimed the top ranking for worst states due to its high sales, fuel and property taxes, making it among the 20 most expensive states in which to live.

High property taxes — among the highest in the nation — also dropped New Jersey into the bottom worst states. Although the state doesn’t tax Social Security benefits, it may tax other forms of retirement income.

Other states falling into the bottom tier of retirement locations were Connecticut, the fifth highest taxed state in the nation; California, with its lack of retirees and its crowded roads and high property taxes; New Mexico, which taxes all retirement income and lacks healthcare workers; Indiana, which has among the lowest household incomes in the country; Nevada, which lacks hospitals and healthcare staffing; New York, which has high housing costs and taxes; Michigan, with its high taxes; and Colorado, where independent and assisted living communities are priced higher than the national average.

Best cities

Zemplee curated and ranked its list using baseline factors including local taxes, property values, healthcare quality and older adult population size. It also included home health aides per capita and quality of support for caregivers.

Although Winchester, VA, ranked first overall, it was second for finances, fourth in healthcare and seventh in quality of life. The report noted that there isn’t much choice of continuing care retirement community providers, but the city falls in the first quartile in the country for home health aides per capita and in the second quartile nationally for support for family caregivers.

Zemplee measured choice of setting and long-term services and supports providers using The LTSS Scorecard. Indicators making up the choice of setting / provider score included assisted living supply, percentage of Medicaid and state-funded LTSS spending on home- and community-based services, estimated percentage of LTSS users receiving HCBS, self-direction, home health aide and adult day services supply, and subsidized housing opportunities.

San Antonio, TX, which ranked sixth overall, ranked first for finances, ninth for healthcare and sixth for quality of life. Sebastian–Vero Beach, FL, took the top ranking for quality of life, was ranked fifth overall and for finances, and tied for seventh with Sarasota, FL, for healthcare.

Grand Junction, CO, ranked fourth overall but came in first for healthcare and seventh for finances, and the city tied for eighth place with Asheville, NC, for quality of life. The city fell into the second quartile in the nation for access and choice in assisted living communities and nursing homes.

Other cities making the Zempee Top 10 list were Raleigh Hills, OR; Bellingham, WA; Portsmouth, NH; and Athens, GA.

Raleigh Hills and Bellingham earned shout-outs in the report for falling in the highest quartile in the country for access and choice of assisted living communities and nursing homes. Athens fell in the third quartile for choice of assisted living communities and nursing homes. 

“When choosing a city to age in place, expense is often at the forefront of retirees’ minds,” the report reads. “However, other factors, such as access to healthcare, livability and community are equally impactful to quality of life.”