Finding the perfect spot to retire may be more than a matter of taste — research suggests it could be a literal lifesaver.
A new study has taken a comprehensive look at the relationship between retirement destinations and longevity. It turns out sunny climes are not the only predictors of where retirees will live longest.
The study by economists at Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reviewed data on individuals who received Medicare between 1999 and 2014 and examined the differences in longevity among people over 65 who moved to different destinations or remained in place.
The researchers looked at the average lifespans in different parts of the United States, which vary widely. (At the county level, life expectancy at birth in 1999 ranged from 66.6 years in Bennett County, South Dakota, to 81.3 years in Summit County, Colorado.)
Then they analyzed how individual retirees fared on average moving from identical locations to destinations with high or low life expectancies.
The result? People who moved from places in the bottom 10% for lifespan to places in the top 10% lived 1.1 years longer on average than those who didn’t trade up.
What’s more, while some places with good weather are among the best bets for longer life, they don’t dominate the top of the list. That distinction belongs to five locations in New York (Yonkers, New York City and Syracuse) and Florida (Port St. Lucie and Naples).
The bottom five destinations? Gulfport, Mississippi; Las Vegas, Nevada; Bakersfield, California; Beaumont, Texas; and Lake Charles, Louisiana.
So what are the keys to relative longevity among different retirement destinations? The researchers pointed to the “health capital” that the population has built up, thanks to a combination of good genes and good habits. In addition, they cited the availability of high-quality health care, the local climate, and rates of crime and accidents.
With stats like this, how can you afford not to move?