In 2010, Tennessee was named one of the worst states in the nation for retirement by MoneyRates.com.
In 2011, Tennessee ranked No. 9 on the website’s list of the best states in the country for retirement.
The unemployment rate has gone down, but the overall economy hasn’t improved that much.
It turns out MoneyRates.com changed its criteria for the 2011 ratings based on reader responses to a questionnaire.
Based on what the readers said, the website determined economics should count for 47 percent of a state’s score, with 33 percent for climate, 12 percent for life expectancy and eight percent for crime rate.
Simply stated, Tennessee scored highest last year in economics and climate, which helped it overcome one of the lowest life expectancies in the nation (75.1 years) and the third-highest crime rate in the country.
Texas, which has to be biggest in everything, has bragging rights at the top of the top 10 list, followed by Kentucky, Oklahoma, Iowa, Louisiana, Virginia, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Kansas.
The worst states for retirement were Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Alaska, Maryland, Rhode Island, Washington, New York and Wisconsin.
Compare this to the 2010 list, in which most of the states in the bottom 10 posted top-10 scores in at least one category of the criteria.
Another curiosity: On the 2010 “best places” list, Hawaii was second behind New Hampshire.
New Hampshire a better place to spend one’s golden years than Hawaii? Seriously?
“Live Free or Die” is a wonderful motto, but “Live Warm and Tanned” works very well, too.
Hawaii plummeted all the way down to 13th on the 2011 list, largely due to high taxes.
Florida, long the destination for aging snowbirds escaping the Northeast and New England states, sank from 19th to 30th.
The new emphasis on climate didn’t seem to help the Sunshine State very much.
However, the change in criteria makes some sense.
It’s harder for people on fixed incomes to get by when the economy is as anemic as it has been in recent years.
And if you can’t afford to be reasonably comfortable, what good is a long life expectancy?
Still, perhaps the most telling statement is a finding of a joint poll by MoneyRates.com and GetRichSlowly.org.
Almost as an afterthought, MoneyRates.com mentions that the survey “confirmed that proximity to family often outweighs all other considerations in choosing a retirement location.”
So anywhere your loved ones live is home, even if you can’t afford health insurance, you have to choose between heating and eating every month, and you jump out of your rocker every time a car alarm goes off in the neighborhood.
Bette Davis, who died at the age of 81, was right.
She said, “Old age is not for sissies.”
But Betty White, who recently turned 90, is right, too.
She said, “Retirement is not in my vocabulary. They’re not going to get rid of me that way.” MP
Gina Logue can be contacted at email@example.com.