Golden Gate Bridge

California has long been famed for its natural beauty, from purple sand beaches and bright orange poppies to giant redwoods, but that’s not enough to boost its status as a great place to retire.

The Golden State now ranks as the 8th worst state to retire, according to a new Bankrate.com report. The study examined 11 metrics related to the life of a retiree, such as affordability, wellness, weather, culture and crime, and pegged California at number 43 out of 50.

The ranking may well sting natives of California, who have long been proud of the place they call home. The worst insult of all? New Jersey actually beat us, coming in at number 42.

Once you’ve bid adieu to your day job, you are no longer tethered to any particular city or state. Many retirees choose to downsize their house (less cleaning!) and trade their locale for green pastures or beaches or maybe even a place where people still know their neighbors. In the past, many may have turned to California to boost their quality of life in the golden years. No longer, perhaps.

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Of course, money is also a key concern and affordability is not one of California’s strong suits. The state ranks second worst, after New York, in affordability — the study’s most important metric — but it finished relatively well in weather. So we’ve still got sunshine going for us.

The bottom line in this report is that the top 5 states to retire are: Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Florida. For the record, Nebraska lagged on weather compared with other states, but it fared well on the measures of affordability, crime, culture and wellness. Wellness was an especially a bright spot for Nebraska because it scored well on health benchmarks.

Still, Californians can take heart that our state didn’t win the dubious distinction of being one of the top 5 worst states. That honor goes to Maryland, New York, Alaska, Illinois and Washington.

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