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These Are The Best (and Worst) States to Grow Old

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Man and woman holding hands riding bicycles.Photograph by Getty Images

Florida and Arizona might be retirement hotspots due to their temperate climates, but when it comes to quality of life for senior citizens, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. In fact, you might want to start thinking about the Upper Midwest.

A new study from Caring.com finds that South Dakota is actually the best state in which to grow old, thanks to its quality care for aging citizens – and the below-average cost of that care.

Best states to retire

Northern states, in fact, had a remarkably strong showing, with three Upper Midwest states sweeping the top three spots. Take a look at the site’s top five states to grow old:

1) South Dakota
2) Iowa
3) Minnesota
4) Alaska
5) Oregon

Florida and Arizona both had fairly disappointing results, coming in 31st and 17th, respectively. And West Virginia came in dead last, thanks to its poor healthcare and quality of life rankings.

“The main takeaway from this research is that the traditional retirement destinations don’t always offer the best mix of cost and quality,” said Dayna Steele, Caring.com’s chief caring expert in a statement. “This is why it’s so important for people to do their homework while they’re still relatively young and healthy in order to set themselves up for retirement years that are truly golden.”

Worst states

Where else should you avoid? The worst five, per Caring.com, were:

50) West Virginia
49) New Jersey
48) New York
47) Kentucky
46) Indiana

Caring.com’s study included data from Genworth, Long-Term Scorecard (a joint effort that included the AARP) and Gallup-Healthways – along with data of its own. Collectively, the groups looked at the median costs of home health services, assisted living, quality of life and care, current well-being and more. The group made its rankings on 12 categories – half related to finance and half tied to quality of life and care.

Somewhat surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Northern states have been given the definitive nod over states many people connect with an aging population. In March, Wyoming topped Bankrate.com’s list of the best places to retire, with South Dakota coming in second. While it’s a slightly different category, it’s certainly closely tied. (West Virginia and New York, it’s worth noting, were also among the five worst on that list.)

If you’re looking to age in a state with warm weather in which to approach your golden years, South Carolina was tops in the survey, ranking eighth overall. And North Carolina came in 15th.