Utah as a retirement mecca?


Move over Sun City. A better retirement community is Provo, or maybe Saratoga Springs, or perhaps St. George.

I’m betting on Southern Utah.

It’s hard to tell, because the folks at bankrate.com didn’t go into that kind of detail. But they did rank Utah just head of Arizona on a list of the best states in which to retire. Utah just missed the top-10, finishing 11th, right behind Idaho. Arizona came in 12th.

The best retirement state? New Hampshire. No, seriously.

Hey, you probably aren’t much interested in a tan, anyway, if you’re of retirement age. Skin cancer could be a bigger concern. Then again, shoveling snow might not be high on your list of things to do in the golden years, either.

Lists like these can be useful, but they may not mean much for people contemplating where to spend their twilight years. And make no mistake, many of you are contemplating such things.

Bankrate says its polling shows 47 percent of Americans would consider relocating when they retire. Most of those are either high earners or currently young people who may change their minds as they get older.

But when the time comes, Bankrate says people’s top priorities in retirement are cost of living, quality health care and a low crime rate. Weather was a priority for only 49 percent.

Utah scored highest, 7th, in something called senior citizens’ wellbeing. The state scored 8th in quality health care and a respectable 16th lowest in terms of cost of living. It didn’t do so well (a dismal 49th) in terms of finding other seniors with which to frolic, and it finished 30th in tax burdens and 24th in crime.

As a side note, if you’re an old guy who doesn’t like little kids running around everywhere, Utah probably isn’t the place.

As for other states in the Mountain West, besides Idaho’s 10th place, Colorado finished second, while Wyoming was 21st.

Given the growth rate of senior citizens — the Census Bureau estimates people 65 and older will grow from 43.1 million in 2012 to 83.7 million nationwide by 2050 — politicians could do worse than to focus on making the state more attractive to older people.

For one thing, as the National Council on Aging reports, a large chunk of these people are struggling financially. These, mainly homegrown seniors who don’t move elsewhere to retire, would benefit from a more senior-friendly environment. But the ones who might move here would have money to spend, and that could boost the economy.

Despite ranking such as these, I’m guessing Utah and Colorado won’t ever beat out places like Arizona and Florida (17th place) as gray-hair magnets. But St. George has a lot to offer, including the chance to put old snow blowers for sale on eBay.

It may be hard to do much about tax burdens in a state with so many children who need to be educated, but reduced crime and greater cultural amenities for seniors may be targets worth pursuing.




Categories: Utah issues

About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

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