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Honestly, it’s not for everyone
Portugal, and 50 other places to retire, in an order you likely would not have predicted. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
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In first place, Nebraska
One of the most popular items I’ve linked to recently in “7 Other Things” was an article from The Wall Street Journal:
“Want to Retire in Portugal? Here’s What to Know, as Americans Move There in Droves”
It sounds like a pretty good plan, truth to tell. But, I was reminded of another study about American retirement locations, which had a surprising state at the top of the list: Nebraska.
Before we go any further, I want to give props to this state for having what might be the most memorable tourism slogan ever, prizing candor over glitz: "Honestly, it's not for everyone."
Apparently, it works: The state adopted the slogan in 2018, and Nebraska had its best-ever year in terms of incoming tourism dollars: $3.5 billion in 2019. Then the pandemic hit, and all bets are off.
But, I hope my Nebraskan readers can take solace in a ranking, compiled by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (funded in turn by the Transamerica Life Insurance Company), which ranked all 50 states in terms of how attractive they are for retirees, and put Nebraska at number-1.
Again, this was pre-pandemic, but the order was something I doubt you’d find anywhere else.
Top tier (1-4):
Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota.
All four of these states are surprises for the top of the list, at least from an anecdotal point of view. Ask most people to name an older person living in No. 1 Nebraska, and they'd possibly answer Warren Buffett, who is anything but retired.
Individual state superlatives here include Missouri, which came in as the No. 1 most affordable state in which to retire, plus Nebraska and South Dakota, which come in at 8th and 10th, respectively, for wellness.
Drawback: If your goal is to make money, retire, and kick back on a beach, there are no beaches. (Advantage: Portugal, on that one.)
Rest of the top 10 (5-10):
Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Montana, Hawaii.
The scandal of this entire ranking is that somehow Hawaii isn't No. 1. It's where I plan to retire, for sure. (This is how we learn if my wife reads my newsletter, by the way.)
However, despite being No. 1 for weather, No. 9 for wellness, and No. 9 for culture, it's No. 45 for affordability. So maybe that's an issue.
Florida is No. 5 overall, which is not a big surprise to anyone who has spent time in Florida, even though it's actually right in the middle of the country for affordability, at No. 25.
The B+'s (11 to 19):
Arkansas, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Alabama, Texas, Idaho, Mississippi, Wyoming.
These states all have strong quantifiable characteristics.
Vermont and New Hampshire are tied for the least amount of crime; rank No. 1 and No. 3 for wellness; and rank No. 3 and No. 4 for culture. But as someone who spends a lot of time in New Hampshire, I can tell you: They get very cold.
As for Southern states, like Alabama and Arkansas, I can see the appeal from a weather and cost of living standpoint. Texas is probably insulted to be included in a category with any other state.
“Oh, do you have family there?” (21 to 30)
(No. 20-30): Oklahoma, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Michigan, West Virginia, Ohio, Rhode Island, Georgia, Indiana, Connecticut.
This is the middle of the pack. Again, some surprises. I grew up in two of these states (Rhode Island and Massachusetts) and lived in a third (Connecticut), so I feel like an expert. In fairness, Rhode Island does seem to have a lot of retired people.
Superlatives include Michigan somehow winding up as the No. 1 most affordable state in the U.S. for retirees according to this study. (Michiganders, please discuss.) Indiana is ranked third, and Ohio is fifth.
Also, Massachusetts is ranked fourth for wellness and ninth for culture.
Overall, however, I suspect people who pick these states to retire in likely have ties already. It's just that they don't choose to leave.
“Thank God for Maryland” (31 to 40)
Maine, Delaware, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Utah, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, Virginia, Minnesota.
What's fascinating about this is that so often when we look at lists of the happiest or healthiest states, we also find states that are toward the end of the list for retirees.
Minnesota, especially, and Colorado. Maine ranks first for culture and third for lowest crime. Arizona ranks 10th for weather. (But it's a dry heat, they say.)
Bottom quint (41 to 50)
South Carolina, New Jersey, California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Illinois, Alaska, New York, Maryland.
Cost of living just kills several of these states at the end of the list, which makes it challenging for many retirees.
Anyway, that's why people apparently might want to avoid retiring in New Jersey (48th least affordable), California (49th least affordable), or New York (the least affordable state for retirement among the 50 states).
Maryland, poor Maryland, ranks dead last. Blame it on the poor rankings for affordability (47), culture (42), crime (33), or wellness (37).
But don't discount the fact that retirees might be reluctant to take on new, weird habits just to fit in: like pretending they actually like crabs.
(I think I'd prefer cataplana de marisco.)
Related: At the suggestion of a reader, I’m going to share one more bit of data next week from the happiness study we did, which has to do with where the people who reported the highest happiness actually live. Honestly, I was going to share it here, but I need a bit more time to check that I calculated everything correctly, and besides, this is already a pretty long newsletter anyway. I think you’ll find it interesting.
7 other things worth knowing today
More retirement resources, since we’re talking about this: Best places to retire in the world according to one source, and an alternate and very specific look at where to retire in the USA. (Travel & Leisure, Money)
I don’t think I’ve covered every single development on this, but you might know that Florida voted to rescind Disney's special tax status. Now Disney, which apparently wasn't very active in lobbying against the move, says Florida will be on the hook for $2 billion in bond payments under the Mouse's 50+ year old deal with the state. About the only thing I'm sure of here is that there will be a lot of litigation. (Daily Mail)
The Biden administration is apparently "warming up" to the idea of canceling student loans for possibly millions or even tens of millions of Americans, with details to come later this spring or summer. (CNBC)
In a surprise development, Russia traded an American ex-Marine who has been imprisoned for allegedly assaulting police officers while drunk, for a Russian citizen who had been serving time in the U.S. on drug charges. (AP)
The early 1990s recession is the one that people seem to forget (unless, like my contemporaries, they graduated college right into it). Here’s a take on why it might be the closest model for the risks the economy currently faces. Comparatively speaking, it’s not as bad as it could be. (Business Insider)
Harvard University has released a report detailing the school's involvement in the U.S. slave trade, including faculty and staff owning slaves and professors teaching racial eugenics. The committee found that Harvard faculty and staff enslaved 70 people from the school's founding in 1636 to the banning of slavery in Massachusetts in 1783. (NPR)
Alphabet Inc's Google has begun entertaining people's requests to remove search results containing their home addresses, phone numbers and email accounts, the latest shift in its stance between personal privacy and access to information. (U.S. News)