Idaho’s a fine place to retire

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Idaho made yet another top 10 list of best places to retire. Talk about stating the obvious; gorgeous scenery, affordable living, quality medical facilities, vibrant and friendly communities.

All good, if we’re ready.

According to the Federal Reserve’s 2016 Report on Economic Well-Being of Households, nearly 30 percent of working adults haven’t saved a penny for retirement. It’s a mistake to think Social Security, which only replaces an average 38 percent of annual income, will be enough.

Still, our relatively low cost of living helps. Idaho ranks 11 (of 50) in affordability among Wallethub’s 2018 Best and Worst States to Retire. We fall closer to midline in their quality of life index (20) and health care (25).

That less-than-stellar quality of life rank stung a bit, so I asked Wallethub what put us there. In short, the answer is too much poverty, coupled with too few public resources. Idaho (especially north of Boise) has little to no public transportation — a problem for seniors with health challenges who can no longer drive, not to mention the poor who can’t afford to (transportation rank: 40). Speaking of affordability, Idaho’s share of elderly living in poverty is relatively high (rank 33). Idaho ranked 23 in its cost of in-home services, and close to the bottom (45) in adult daycare cost.

Idaho’s health care rankings were mixed. We enjoy top-notch hospital care, ranking first in health care facilities per 100,000 residents, and ninth in quality of hospitals. However, our state could improve in its share of 65 and older who can’t afford a doctor visit (22), ranking near-bottom in shortfalls of geriatric specialists (49), nurses (42), and dentists (47). Idaho would also do well to bolster its legal protections against elder abuse (37).

Yet overall we earn that top 10 spot. Idaho places 17 in general cost of living, No. 1 in inheritance tax, and seventh in overall tax-friendliness (but 29 in taxing pensions and SSI). For those who do work, Idaho’s elderly-friendly labor market ranks seventh, and our weather, scenery and air quality (despite summer fires) also made the top 10.

We have it pretty good. If you’re curious, the top 10 in order are Florida, Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa, Virginia, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. The worst is Kentucky. For more state data see https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-states-to-retire/18592/.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” — Mark Twain

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Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Contact her at Sholeh@cdapress.com.

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