Nebraska, the namesake of one of Bruce Springsteen‘s finest albums and Alexander Payne’s finest films, is also the best state in the country to retire to.
This according to a study by Bankrate, a consumer financial services company. Fellow Midwestern states Iowa, Missouri, and South Dakota were second, third, and fourth on the list, with popular retirement destination Florida rounding out the top five.
So what makes the Cornhusker state so great for the newly, purposefully jobless? Bankrate ranked each state on five different dimensions: affordability, crime, culture, weather, and wellness. Nebraska did pretty well in almost all of them.
It’s highest ranking, eighth, came in wellness. An HHS report found that the healthcare system in Nebraska met or exceeded 61 percent of benchmarks, a strong showing. Other metrics like Census data and Gallup rankings also went into the wellness ranking, which made up 40 percent of the total score.
It’s also pretty cheap to live there, a big concern for retirees on fixed incomes. Affordability metrics like the cost of living index and tax rates and the percentages of people who didn’t see a doctor due to cost were used to rank the states. Its weighting of 40 percent made affordability the biggest contributor to the overall ranking.
Nebraska was also in the top half of states in terms of crime (weighted at 5 percent) based on FBI data, and culture, a measure of arts, entertainment, recreation, restaurants, and elderly adults per capita, 15 percent of the overall ranking.
It didn’t do so great on the weather metric, the 15 percent of the overall ranking tied to the average daily temperature from 1985 to 2018 as measured by NOAA.
Missouri was the most affordable state, while Hawaii, tenth overall, was the top state for weather.
Washington, Illinois, Alaska, New York, and Maryland were the worst states to retire to. All save New York had low scores across the board; high rankings in crime and culture couldn’t save the Empire State from its last-place finish in affordability and poor showings in weather and wellness.
The Census Bureau says that almost 570,000 adults 65 and older moved to a new state or D.C. in the past year, and 38 percent say they’ve moved once since leaving work.
So while it might be a bit early for you to start thinking about retirement, this study tells us that, while popular destinations with sunny climes have their charms, its the heartland that might be the best destination when you cash in that 401(k).