Why Shouldn’t I Retire in Michigan?

Making it through another birthday last Sunday made my thoughts go once again to the “Big R” – Retirement. While I can’t see myself giving up the “data business” entirely, nor divorcing myself from Data Driven Detroit, I do find the thought of a leisurely coffee (or two or three), comfortable clothes and some reading material an attractive alternative to a quick coffee (or two or three), a shower, a suit and a drive to the office.  I also see Michigan as my retirement base of operations (I have drunk the cool aid), with a six week stay during January – February someplace warm.

While developing the plan I came across a rather disturbing, though not surprising, finding in a study commissioned by the AARP, originally standing for the American Association of Retired People, but just AARP now – probably because membership invitations seem to get sent out to those younger and younger each year.  The move to letters, with no words attached, puts AARP in league with KFC.

I digress.  The survey was done by MoneyRates.com, a site that provides rates galore – savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and much more.  While the AARP recognizes that many highly personal factors come into play when it’s time to pick the perfect place to retire, they wanted to “add some objectivity to what’s otherwise a very individualized life choice.”  Therefore they had  the finance website looked at a number of factors, including climate, crime rate, life expectancy and economic conditions such as cost of living, job opportunities and taxes, to come up with their state rankings.  The interesting thing is that MoneyRates.com weighted each factor according to a poll that asked readers to rate its importance in the context of retirement. Based on their responses, the following weights were applied – economics (47 percent), climate (33 percent), life expectancy (12 percent) and crime (8 percent).

Well, with those measures as the base, it is not difficult to predict where Michigan might fall in the rankings.  Last you say?  Well…not quite.  We came in second last to Maine!  Let me give you the Bottom 10 in the list, and provide their account of Michigan.  After Maine and Michigan we have:





Rhode Island


New York


Interesting that there isn’t a great deal of winter warmth here, nor is any on this list a right-to-work state.

As for the comments on Michigan:  ” Michigan duplicated its ranking from last year as the second-worst state for retirement. Because it was similarly below average in all four categories, the reader weightings did not make much of a difference. Unemployment is high, and tax burdens are also above average. Michigan rated well below median for its climate. At 76.3 years, this was another below-average factor.  Michigan’s violent crime rate is also worse than average.”

It may seem strange, but after reviewing the data, and looking at what they judge as the Top 5 states for retirement – Texas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Idaho and Louisiana – I will stick with my plan to remain here.  In spite of its flaws, Michigan provides me with almost everything I need to live a long and fulfilled retirement.  All I ask is that it understand that I just need a little “southern exposure” early each year.