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Spoiler alert: Florida didn't rank as the top spot for the over-65 set. 

Michelle Darrisaw
October 12, 2017

When it comes to ideal locations to retire, that distinction usually belongs to Arizona and those cities along Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts. But a new study suggests Florida and the commonly sought-after retiree locale, Arizona, might not be the best places to spend your golden years.

This year’s Best States for Aging study conducted by U.S. News & World Report may surprise you, because you won’t find the standard beach-and-golf destinations in the top five senior-approved states. In fact, Americans on the verge of retirement, may want to reconsider their warm-weather expectations for chillier climates, and trade in the beaches and palm trees for rockier terrains. The reason for this is because desirable weather found at your typical retirement destinations doesn’t always equate to security for the over-65 crowd.

Many cold-weather states offer an attractive lifestyle by means of being home to vast national parks and other outdoor activity spaces," said Deidre McPhillips, data editor at U.S. News & World Report. "We include a factor that measures which states’ seniors are the most physically active.

Of the 12 metrics used to assess the best retirement states, U.S. News & World Report based its ranking on cost of care, nursing home quality, primary care coverage, and life expectancy.

Although Florida didn’t rank as high on the list, we’re glad the Southern sunny escape still serves as a viable top 10 post-work haven, with Arizona coming in at number 23. If you’re wondering which state came in last, it’s Alaska. Apparently, even for most seniors, "The Land of the Midnight Sun" is still far too cold.

Here are the 10 best states (in order of health and security) to kick back and enjoy your retirement in, per U.S. News & World Report:

1. Colorado

According to McPhillips, Colorado claims the top spot because of its quality nursing homes and the number of seniors reporting “good health.” The state’s vast mountains and valleys tend to promote a healthier lifestyle because its residents are constantly walking and hiking. Not to mention, the governor recently announced that a new senior health adviser would be joining his executive staff to lead the charge on aging-related efforts.

2. Maine

Maine has a higher percentage than any other state of residents who are 65 and older. Adding to its bragging rights, is the fact that it also has the third-best Medicare coverage.

3. Hawaii

Hawaii has the longest life expectancy in the country, where the 65-and-older population can expect to live around 20 more years. Nursing home care is also top notch on its islands.

4. Iowa

In regards to mental distress, Iowa has the lowest proportion of residents suffering from it.

5. South Dakota

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), besides Iowa, South Dakota also has less mental distress than any other state.

6. Wisconsin

America’s Dairyland isn’t just known for producing cheese, it’s also home to more than 68 percent of able-bodied seniors. This is the third-highest percentage in the country.

7. Minnesota

Based on data compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, more than 90 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees are in plans rated 4 stars or higher. It’s the highest percentage of any state.

8. Vermont

Vermont has the fourth-best nursing home quality care in the U.S., with 59 percent of its nursing homes earning a high rating.

9. New Hampshire

The state’s license plates bear the motto, "Live Free or Die," and nearly 83 percent of seniors are living free, reporting that their health is "good," "very good," or "excellent." In addition, approximately 96 percent of the state’s older population has a dedicated primary care physician.

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10. Florida

Florida does, indeed, have one of the largest 65-and-older populations in the nation, but it also has the second-highest life expectancy. According to the CDC, Florida residents can expect to live around 20 years longer. Perhaps we can give credit to those sweeping stretches of sand and tranquil waters for Floridians staying around much longer.