Bankrate's study of the best and worst states for retirement pegs Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Florida as the top five. It's easy to just take a list such as this and call the movers, but it's the details that matter.
All 50 states in the study were ranked in terms of affordability, crime, culture, weather and wellness.
Nebraska, at the top of the list, had a rating of only 14 for affordability but did well on the other criteria.
Missouri, third on the list, was No. 1 for affordability, but only average or below average ratings on the other benchmarks.
Kentucky, at No. 6, came in at a respectable 9 for both affordability and crime. Its downfall was culture, which rated only a 46.
At the bottom of the list, while New York scored very high for culture, it had the worst affordability rating.
So, how to decide where to retire? Not with a list like this. To pinpoint a location where you'll be happy in retirement, you need to get to know the area in person.
Go there. Stay as long as you can, at least through a vacation. Make contacts. Call real estate agents and tour homes to see what you can get in your price range. Contact the medical center and see if they have what you need. (Check Hospital Compare on medicare.gov.) Read the local newspaper.
Visit the police department and ask about crime, as opposed to believing a study. Check the nearest college for senior classes. Drive around and look for depressed areas. Is there a senior center with interesting activities?
Do the math. Can you afford your new location? Are there part-time work options if you need more money?
Deciding where to retire really does mean visiting the location and doing your homework.