If you think of retirement as sitting on a beach sipping a cold beer, South Dakota likely doesn't come to mind. So it might be a surprise to learn that this sparsely populated state tops the list of best states to retire.
A recent ranking by Bankrate looked at seven relevant features in the life of a retiree and used government and expert sources to compare states against one another. They then weighed those rankings based on the importance given to them by responses to a survey, which found that 47% of Americans would consider moving when they retire.
The study examined seven categories, starting with cost of living and taxes -- both weighted 20%. Healthcare quality was weighted 15%, weather 15%, crime 10%, cultural vitality 10% and well-being 10%.
Based on Bankrate's ranking, these are the best states to retire:
1. South Dakota
Cost of living ranking: 19
Taxes ranking: 2
People are content in South Dakota, according to Gallup's State of American Well-Being series, which surveys how people feel about aspects of their lives such as purpose, relationships, lack of money stress, community and good health.
South Dakota is also the second most tax-friendly state in the country, according to the Tax Foundation. Above, Rapid City, S.D.
Cost of living ranking: 25
Taxes ranking: 8
The Beehive State finished six spots behind South Dakota for cost of living, one for overall crime rate, eight for well-being, six for taxes and five for cultural vitality. It won out for health value by two and weather by six. Above, Zion National Park, Utah.
Cost of living ranking: 12
Taxes ranking: 20
Idaho is both more affordable and significantly safer than the top two states, while also posting a superior health score and a top-10 well-being ranking. But Idaho has a higher tax burden and ranked poorly for cultural options. Above, Boise.
4. New Hampshire
Cost of living ranking: 43
Taxes ranking: 7
Fourth-place New Hampshire is the safest place to live, provides excellent health care, low taxes and has plenty of things to do. But the state ranks poorly on cost of living--43 out of 50--and weather. Pictured is Portsmouth.
Cost of living ranking: 27
Taxes ranking: 4
Florida residents enjoy an average annual temperature of 70 degrees. It's also a low tax haven and ranks just outside the top 10 in well-being. Every other metric, though, finished middle-of-the-pack, with healthcare placing 36th, a major concern for retired couples, who could spend an average of $280,000 on healthcare costs, according to Fidelity.
Cost of living ranking: 23
Taxes ranking: 6
It's hard to beat the scenery in Montana. Montana scored high on culture, but, ranking No. 45 in the nation for weather, the winters could be tough. Above, the historic center of Livingston, Montana, near Yellowstone National Park.
Photo: Nick Fox / Shutterstock
7. North Carolina
Cost of living ranking: 12
Taxes ranking: 11
With a pleasant climate and low cost of living, North Carolina makes a good place for retirees. Above, the Corolla wild horses in North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Cost of living ranking: 28
Taxes ranking: 1
You won't get hammered by taxes here, but if you prefer warm weather, this may not be the place for you: Wyoming came in at No. 46 in the nation in that category.
Photo: Audrey Snider-Bell / Shutterstock
Cost of living ranking: 17
Taxes ranking: 25
Cost of living ranking: 1
Taxes ranking: 24
Mississippi has the lowest cost of living, but is among the lowest ranked states for cultural vitality. Above, the lighthouse in Biloxi.
Cost of living ranking: 48
Taxes ranking: 27
Hawaii is the No. 1 state for weather, and among the top three for cultural options and well-being, but the cost of living is extremely high, faring better only than California and New York, the most expensive states.
Cost of living ranking: 46
Taxes ranking: 22
Massachusetts is one of the most expensive states for retirees, but in the top three for both culture and healthcare.
Cost of living ranking: 30
Taxes ranking: 31
Virginia is notable for being in the top four states for low crime.
Cost of living ranking: 4
Taxes ranking: 12
Cost of living ranking: 3
Taxes ranking: 16
Cost of living ranking: 11
Taxes ranking: 40
17. Colorado (tied with Texas)
Cost of living ranking: 35
Taxes ranking: 18
Colorado is sixth in the nation for well-being. Above, Piney Lake near Vail, Colo.
17. Texas (tied with Colorado)
Cost of living ranking: 20
Taxes ranking: 13
Texas has more desirable weather than most states, ranking No. 4 in that category. Pictured is Galveston.
Cost of living ranking: 32
Taxes ranking: 15
Delaware is notable for quality healthcare, ranking No. 6 in that category. Above, the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Photo: Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock
20. North Dakota
Cost of living ranking: 29
Taxes ranking: 30
Above, the Little Missouri River running through Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Cost of living ranking: 7
Taxes ranking: 14
Above, blues clubs on historic Beale Street in Memphis.
Photo: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Cost of living ranking: 39
Taxes ranking: 28
Despite a relatively high cost of living, Maine is No. 2 for low crime, and in the top ten for cultural options and quality of healthcare.
22. Indiana (tied with Maine)
Cost of living ranking: 9
Taxes ranking: 9
Pictured above, Indiana University campus in Bloomington.
Cost of living ranking: 6
Taxes ranking: 35
Alabama ranks in the top 10 for weather. Above, Mobile, Ala.
Cost of living ranking: 14
Taxes ranking: 23
Kansas is middle of the road in most categories, faring best in cost of living. Above, people watch lightning from an approaching thunderstorm during a convective field study near Wakeeney, Kan.
Photo: WillWight / Shutterstock
Cost of living ranking: 41
Taxes ranking: 47
Vermont ranked No. 1 in the nation for cultural options and No. 2 for quality of healthcare. Above, a covered bridge blanketed in fresh snow near Stowe, Vt.
26. Wisconsin (tied with Vermont)
Cost of living ranking: 21
Taxes ranking: 38
Wisconsin was in the top six states for quality of healthcare.
Cost of living ranking: 26
Taxes ranking: 46
Cost of living ranking: 34
Taxes ranking: 21
Arizona ranked No. 11 for weather. Above, fans arrive at Tempe Diablo Stadium for a spring training baseball game.
Photo: John Dvorak / Shutterstock
Cost of living ranking: 9
Taxes ranking: 33
Above, historic Maysville, Ky. on the Ohio river.
See the Bankrates ranking of all 50 states.
Photo: Sharon Minish / Shutterstock