While chasing dreams, raising families, and building fortunes, less attention might be given to the location of your sunset years. However, as the embers of employment cool and retirement glows on the horizon, the best state to settle down in becomes key. Bankrate produced a comprehensive study to make that decision easier, ranking all 50 US states across five categories: affordability, well-being, healthcare, crime, and weather. 2023’s underdog winner? Iowa.

Contrary to popular belief, Florida, the Sunshine State known for its tropical climate didn’t top the list in 2023, slipping to an 8th position from its 2022 glory. This year, the typically under-the-radar Midwest state, Iowa, stole the limelight. At this point, you may be asking, why Iowa?

Breaking the stereotype that retirement should equal swaying palm trees or vibrant city lights, Iowa beckons with its supreme affordability. Acknowledging the fixed incomes of retirees, lower living costs are crucial in allowing elders to enjoy their golden years, and Iowa delivers. As of July 2023, the national median home price stands at a robust $422,137. Iowa, on the other hand, opens welcoming arms with a far gentler median home price of $232,200.

Adding weight to the idea of affordability, “you have to make a decision not only about the way things look today, but whether a place is going to be sustainable and less expensive over the long term,” explains Larry Sprung, founder of Mitlin Financial. Adopting this viewpoint, Iowa not only appears but also promises to remain, an economic safe haven for retirees.

Counter to Iowa’s affordability triumph, Delaware fell to 31st position concerning the cost of living. However, it secured a respectful second rank overall on Bankrate’s retiree-friendly states list, courtesy of its superior healthcare and light tax burden. Residents there bask in some of the lowest property taxes nationwide and rejoice in untaxed Social Security benefits.

While affordability reigns supreme in the retirement decision, it’s only part of the picture. For some, being near loved ones usurps financial considerations, while others prioritize available activities for their newfound leisure time. Hence, the ultimately best state for retirement is deeply personal, and the ideal place will balance various factors according to different individual necessities.

Examining Bankrate’s study closely, it reinforces that planning for retirement isn’t solely about stashing your nest egg but also about deciding where you want to nest. Whether you choose the affordable fields of Iowa, Delaware’s generous healthcare, or even the higher-priced sunshine allure of Florida, prepare thoughtfully to springboard into a satisfying retirement that delivers the lifestyle you’ve earned and deserve.