The best county for retirees in every state

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Retirement may be the time to move closer to family or put down new roots in a warm climate. Helping make that decision a bit easier is an index of the best places to retire in each of the 50 states, which was created by 24/7 Wall St.

Suggesting locales from Alaska’s majestic Kenai Peninsula to Arizona’s desert Pima County, the index weighed health costs, taxes and housing expenses, all significant for retirees likely to be living on fixed and reduced incomes.

“Because of the medical, social, and financial consequences of entering old age, life can change dramatically in retirement,” said 24/7 Wall St.

Among the best spots were Arkansas’ Baxter County in the Ozark Mountains; Chaffee County in the Colorado Rockies; and Park County, Wyoming, home to Yellowstone National Park.

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Lovers of sun and sand could find a haven on the beaches of Delaware’s Sussex County, Florida’s Sarasota County or Beaufort County, South Carolina, and fishing fans might opt for Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish on the Gulf of Mexico or the lakes and ponds of Cumberland County, Maine.

The index took into consideration health factors such as the number of medical professionals per capita and access to exercise opportunities. Economic factors included median home values, the monthly cost of living and state and local taxes.

It only considered counties where the 65-and-over population grew at least as fast as the rest of the nation and was larger than the national average.

Demand for retirement locales will only grow bigger. The U.S. Census Bureau says by 2035, the number of adults age 65 and over will hit 78 million and outnumber children under age 18.

Image Credit: Christoph Strässler / Flickr.

Retirement plan: Other factors to focus on beyond your finances

When it comes to retirement planning, our thoughts usually jump straight to finances. Do I have enough saved in my 401k? How will I manage healthcare costs? When should I start collecting Social Security?

All valid concerns, for sure. But Eric Thurman, author of Thrive in Retirement: Simple Secrets for Being Happy for the Rest of Your Life, says money is just one key factor to consider as you transition to this new life stage. 

“Many people expect to live ‘happily ever after’ in retirement but haven’t thought much about how that will occur,” he says. He lists these areas as focus points for a happy retirement.

Image Credit: monkeybusinessimages/istockphoto.

Nurture your mind

Thurman points to two key factors for keeping your mind healthy in retirement — cognitive strength and mental health. He says there are lots of options for maintaining a strong brain as you age, and he doesn’t think crossword puzzles and card games are enough. “You need to stretch. You need to be learning a foreign language or a musical instrument — something that’s forcing you to develop new skills,” he says. 

Appreciating or creating art might help too. One study found that artistic activities boosted cognitive function in older people. And another study found that people predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease who were intellectually active delayed the start of the disease by nine years. 

Your mental health needs attention, too. Thurman says that the unresolved hurts and losses that can surface in retirement may need attention. “If you’re raising children and busy with your career you can get distracted all of the time. Once you’ve got a lot of free time you can ruminate,” he says. 

Counseling, support groups, or grief recovery programs could help. “Don’t let your mind be captive to old wounds that keep coming up,” he says. 

Image Credit: simonapilolla/istockphoto.

Nurture your body

Your retirement years won’t be nearly as happy if you’re frail and unhealthy.Thurman thinks some people stop taking care of their health as they age because they may not realize how much longer they are likely to live. By 2050, a projected 19 million people in the US will be age 85 or older.

He encourages people to think about themselves in the future: “If you get to be 90, what kind of a 90-year-old do you want to be? Do you want to be stuck in a chair, or need help or a walker to get around? Or do you want to be able to do anything you want to do?”

You don’t have to train for a marathon, or eliminate cookies and potato chips. Just boosting the intensity of what you already do and adding more nutritious foods to your diet can help you stay fit and healthy. 

Image Credit: interstid/istockphoto.

Nurture your relationships

“I have a friend who is a psychiatrist who says that the number one health issue in the U.S. and the world is loneliness,” Thurman says. “We can have hundreds of followers on Instagram or Facebook and not have that personal human contact necessary for wellbeing. We aren’t good about that.”

He says employment patterns in the last generation or two have increased isolation, since it’s more common for people to relocate for work and live further away from their families. 

According to the National Institute on Aging, social isolation and loneliness are linked with high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, reduced immune system function, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Image Credit: jacoblund/istockphoto.

1. Alabama: Baldwin County

Population: 203,360

65 and over %: 19.0% (15th of 67 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,343.67 (2nd out of 67 counties)

Median home value: $182,000

Image Credit: Chris Pruitt / Flickr.

2. Alaska: Kenai Peninsula Borough

Population: 57,961

65 and over %: 14.8% (5th of 29 borough)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $5,341.27 (14th out of 29 counties)

Median home value: $234,600

Image Credit: Christoph Strässler / Flickr.

3. Arizona: Prima County

Population: 1,007,257

65 and over %: 18.1% (7th of 15 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,876.65 (14th out of 15 counties)

Median home value: $166,300

Image Credit: Gillfoto / Flickr.

4. Arkansas: Baxter County

Population: 41,093

65 and over %: 30.5% (1st of 75 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,478.55 (39th out of 75 counties)

Median home value: $124,400

Image Credit: Sweetmoose6 at en.wikipedia / Public domain.

5. California: Plumas County

Population: 18,724

65 and over %: 25.8% (4th of 58 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,201.70 (32nd out of 58 counties)

Median home value: $228,900

Image Credit: Ken Lund / Flickr.

6. Colorado: Chaffee County

Population: 18,818

65 and over %: 24.1% (10th of 64 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,197.89 (37th out of 64 counties)

Median home value: $313,200

Image Credit: Jeffrey Beall / Flickr.

7. Connecticut: Hartford County

Population: 897,417

65 and over %: 16.2% (4th of 8 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,257.11 (8th out of 8 counties)

Median home value: $235,300

Image Credit: almdesign/pixabay.

8. Delaware: Sussex County

Population: 215,551

65 and over %: 25.2% (1st of 3 counties) 

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,249.98 (3rd out of 3 counties)

Median home value: $242,900

Image Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli / Flickr.

9. Florida: Sarasota County

Population: 404,839

65 and over %: 34.8% (4th of 67 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,156.50 (19th out of 67 counties)

Median home value: $215,300

Image Credit: Ebyabe / Flickr.

10. Georgia: Towns County

Population: 11,173

65 and over %: 33.6% (1st of 159 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,103.24 (49th out of 159 counties)

Median home value: $197,900

Image Credit: John Trainor / Flickr.

11. Hawaii: Hawaii County

Population: 196,325

65 and over %: 18.5% (1st of 5 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,848.14 (5th out of 5 counties)

Median home value: $316,000

Image Credit: W Nowicki / Flickr.

12. Idaho Valley County

Population: 10,104

65 and over %: 24.6% (6th of 44 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,917.45 (11th out of 44 counties)

Median home value: $256,000

Image Credit: Charles Knowles from Meridian Idaho, USA / Wikipedia.

13. Illinois: Sangamon County

Population: 198,134

65 and over %: 16.1% (80th of 102 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,979.79 (66th out of 102 counties)

Median home value: $136,100

Image Credit: Larry D. Moore / Flickr.

14. Indiana: Warrick County

Population: 61,581

65 and over %: 16.1% (57th of 92 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,990.13 (6th out of 92 counties)

Median home value: $158,100

Image Credit: Nyttend / Public domain.

15. Iowa: Winneshiek County

Population: 20,575

65 and over %: 18.7% (61st of 99 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,143.31 (8th out of 99 counties)

Median home value: $161,500

Image Credit: Karen Noecker / Flickr.

16. Kansas: Harvey County

Population: 34,683

65 and over %: 18.4% (63rd of 105 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,864.68 (72nd out of 105 counties)

Median home value: $120,000

Image Credit: Steve Meirowsky / Flickr.

17. Kentucky: Daviess County

Population: 99,258

65 and over %: 16.2% (73rd of 120 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,649.43 (57th out of 120 counties)

Median home value: $123,200

Image Credit: W.marsh / Flickr.

18. Louisiana: Jefferson Parish

Population: 437,038

65 and over %: 15.6% (25th of 64 parishes)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,036.27 (19th out of 64 counties)

Median home value: $176,000

Image Credit: dbking / Flickr.

19. Maine: Cumberland County

Population: 289,173

65 and over %: 16.8% (15th of 16 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,721.10 (1st out of 16 counties)

Median home value: $259,400

Image Credit: Ken Lund / Flickr.

20. Maryland: Worcester County

Population: 51,559

65 and over %: 26.2% (2nd of 24 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,171.72 (16th out of 24 counties)

Median home value: $252,100

Image Credit: Famartin / Flickr.

21. Massachusetts: Hampshire County

Population: 161,197

65 and over %: 15.3% (10th of 14 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,639.86 (9th out of 14 counties)

Median home value: $272,700

Image Credit: Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism / Flickr.

22. Michigan: Emmet County

Population: 32,978

65 and over %: 20.2% (33rd of 83 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,849.82 (29th out of 83 counties)

Median home value: $171,100

Image Credit: Royalbroil / Flickr.

23. Minnesota: Cook County

Population: 5,270

65 and over %: 26.1% (2nd of 87 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,284.08 (23rd out of 87 counties) 

Median home value: $241,400

Image Credit: Norstrem / Flickr.

24. Mississippi: Lauderdale County

Population: 78,221

65 and over %: 15.7% (45th of 82 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,620.78 (65th out of 82 counties)

Median home value: $88,500

Image Credit: Dudemanfellabra / Flickr.

25. Missouri: St. Louis County

Population: 999,539

65 and over %: 16.9% (79th of 115 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,897.75 (74th out of 115 counties)

Median home value: $181,100

Image Credit: Nicolas Henderson / Flickr.

26. Montana: Lewis and Clark County

Population: 66,290

65 and over %: 16.6% (44th of 56 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,290.89 (9th out of 56 counties)

Median home value: $220,600

Image Credit: Robstutz / Flickr.

27. Nebraska: Nuckolls County

Population: 4,318

65 and over %: 26.7% (5th of 93 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,311.88 (41st out of 93 counties)

Median home value: $62,300

Image Credit: Ammodramus / Flickr.

28. Nevada: Douglas County

Population: 47,632

65 and over %: 25.4% (4th of 17 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,277.85 (9th out of 17 counties)

Median home value: $311,400

Image Credit: Patrick Nouhailler / Flickr.

29. New Hampshire: Grafton County

Population: 89,280

65 and over %: 18.8% (5th of 10 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,092.95 (6th out of 10 counties)

Median home value: $215,600

Image Credit: Jet Lowe / Public domain.

30. New Jersey: Hunterdon county

Population: 125,717

65 and over %: 16.5% (4th of 21 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $5,346.02 (1st out of 21 counties)

Median home value: $393,800

Image Credit: JERRYE and ROY KLOTZ MD / Flickr.

31. New Mexico: Los Alamos County

Population: 18,031

65 and over %: 17.2% (20th of 33 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,934.80 (4th out of 33 counties)

Median home value: $285,300

Image Credit: Aaron Zhu / Flickr.

32. New York: Warren County

Population: 64,701

65 and over %: 20.3% (5th of 62 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,330.03 (23rd out of 62 counties)

Median home value: $192,800

Image Credit: Mobilus In Mobili / Flickr.

33. North Carolina: Buncombe County

Population: 252,268 

65 and over %: 18.4% (49th of 100 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,329.91 (37th out of 100 counties)

Median home value: $209,800

Image Credit: Warren LeMay / Flickr.

34. North Dakota: Ramsey County

Population: 11,574

65 and over %: 18.8% (33rd of 53 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,703.54 (51st out of 53 counties)

Median home value: $130,400

Image Credit: Andrew Filer / Flickr.

35. Ohio: Cuyahoga County

Population: 1,257,401

65 and over %: 17.0% (43rd of 88 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,458.20 (78th out of 88 counties)

Median home value: $123,900

Image Credit: Pixabay.

36. Oklahoma: Garfield County

Population: 62,421

65 and over %: 15.2% (60th of 77 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,882.56 (64th out of 77 counties)

Median home value: $104,000

Image Credit: Kiddo27 / Flickr.

37. Oregon: Lane County

Population: 363,471

65 and over %: 17.7% (23rd of 36 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,034.99 (29th out of 36 counties)

Median home value: $232,800

Image Credit: Visitor7 / Flickr.

38. Pennsylvania: Montour County

Population: 18,302

65 and over %: 20.1% (20th of 67 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,378.06 (16th out of 67 counties)

Median home value: $173,800

Image Credit: Jakec / Flickr.

39. Rhode Island: Bristol County

Population: 49,028

65 and over %: 19.1% (2nd of 5 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,451.59 (2nd out of 5 counties)

Median home value: $341,300

Image Credit: Angusdavis/Public Domain.

40. South Carolina: Beaufort County

Population: 179,316

65 and over %: 24.9% (3rd of 46 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,702.03 (1st out of 46 counties)

Median home value: $283,800

Image Credit: Ken Lund / Flickr.

41. South Dakota: Hughes County

Population: 17,572

65 and over %: 15.6% (50th of 66 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,814.69 (62nd out of 66 counties)

Median home value: $173,400

Image Credit: Jeffrey Beall / Flickr.

42. Tennessee: Washington County

Population: 126,437

65 and over %: 17.1% (62nd of 95 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,609.55 (82nd out of 95 counties)

Median home value: $152,800

Image Credit: Brian Stansberry / Flickr.

43. Texas: Gillespie County

Population: 25,939

65 and over %: 28.7% (8th of 254 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,750.25 (125th out of 254 counties)

Median home value: $269,900

Image Credit: Larry D. Moore / Flickr.

44. Utah: Washington County

Population: 155,577

65 and over %: 19.9% (3rd of 29 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,040.76 (14th out of 29 counties)

Median home value: $240,300

Image Credit: Tony Webster / Flickr.

45. Vermont: Bennington County

Population: 36,054

65 and over %: 21.4% (2nd of 14 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,641.36 (10th out of 14 counties)

Median home value: $208,600

Image Credit: Daniel Case / Flickr.

46. Virginia: Winchester City

Population: 27,516

65 and over %: 15.2% (97th of 133 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,005.88 (73rd out of 133 counties)

Median home value: $226,200

Image Credit: AgnosticPreachersKid / Flickr.

47. Washington: Chelan County

Population: 75,138

65 and over %: 17.6% (22nd of 39 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,839.28 (16th out of 39 counties)

Median home value: $256,400

Image Credit: Jon Roanhaus / Flickr.

48. West Virginia: Ohio County

Population: 42,906

65 and over %: 20.2% (18th of 55 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,779.52 (54th out of 55 counties)

Median home value: $114,800

Image Credit: Jon Dawson / Flickr.

49. Wisconsin: Wood County

Population: 73,427

65 and over %: 19.2% (28th of 72 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $3,754.34 (51st out of 72 counties)

Median home value: $127,700

Image Credit: TheCatalyst31 / CC0.

50. Wyoming: Park County

Population: 29,276

65 and over %: 20.4% (5th of 23 counties)

Est. monthly expenses for family of 2: $4,269.06 (11th out of 23 counties)

Median home value: $236,200

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This article originally appeared on Considerable.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

Image Credit: halfuur / Flickr.

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