West Sussex is still the best place to retire offering pensioners the highest quality of life, according to Prudential’s 2018 Retirement Quality of Life Index.
For a second year in a row the county has been awarded the top spot of any in England and Wales, beating Dorset which came in second position, East Sussex in third, the Isle of Wight in fourth with Norfolk in fifth.
The Isle of Wight knocked Devon out of the top five for 2018, rising four places with Devon slipping to sixth.
Analysis of the latest publicly available data for England and Wales shows that West Sussex is the most attractive for pensioners based on the following key indicators of happiness and comfort:
- Resident pensioners as a proportion of county’s population – an indicator that the county has previously been an attractive location for pensioners
- Disability-free life expectancy – an indicator of pensioners’ ongoing health and well-being
- Access to healthcare – an indicator of the quality of healthcare likely to be available should a pensioner fall ill
- Crime levels – an indicator of how safe someone is likely to feel in retirement
- The number of pensioners moving to the county – an indicator of how attractive the area is to other retired people
- Pension income – an indicator of the health of pensioners’ finances
- Weather – an indicator of the attractiveness of the county’s climate
- Healthy lifestyle data – an indicator of how proactive the population is in pursuing a healthy lifestyle
- Happiness – an indicator of how happy on a scale of zero to 10 the current population feel
The South Coast of England dominates the top places to live in. Just three of the top 10 counties for pensioners to retire to are not in the South of England: Norfolk, Worcestershire and Shropshire, the latter of which jumped seven places from 2017’s rankings to reach the top 10.
Somerset also jumped significantly compared to last year, rising nine places to appear in 2018’s top 10. Suffolk and North Yorkshire, on the other hand, both dropped out of this year’s top 10, falling three and eight places respectively.
Table: Top 10 Counties for Retirees
|County||Region||Rank||Rank change from 2017|
|West Sussex||South East||1||Unchanged|
|East Sussex||South East||3||Unchanged|
|Isle of Wight||South East||4||+4|
|Norfolk||East of England||5||Unchanged|
Source: Prudential 2018
Of the nine individual indicators of quality of life, seven had top counties which were not listed in the overall top 10 counties for retirees. Rutland topped the charts for both healthy lifestyle factors and having the happiest population, despite ranking 16th overall.
The West Midlands was ranked one of the safer counties for retirees, boasting the lowest crime rate per 1,000 people, followed by North Yorkshire and Dyfed.
Retirees in Bedfordshire are now the wealthiest, with the best score for pensioner income, knocking Surrey off the top spot and followed by Essex and Hertfordshire. Surrey dropped five places, to sixth for pensioner income. Essex, for the second year running, is the county boasting the best weather considering the annual hours of sunshine, days of rainfall and days of frost, followed by Dorset and Kent.
Over 65s in Herefordshire can look forward to their retirement in the knowledge that they were the best performing county for disability-free life expectancy with people aged 65 years old in the county expected to live 13 years on average, followed by Rutland (12.6 years) and Worcestershire (12.4 years). Those in Gwynedd, on the other hand, enjoy the best score for the number of healthcare workers per 1,000 people, followed by Shropshire and Bristol.
Dorset, for the second year running, is the most attractive for over 65s as it was the county with the highest proportion of population over 65 years – accounting for 28% of the county’s residents. However, in terms of the net flow (those moving in and out of a county) of over 65-year olds, Devon has the highest retention rate.
Kirsty Anderson, retirement specialist at Prudential, said: “There are currently 12 million over 65’s in England and Wales, up 1.4 million from 2017. Retirement is an exciting time for many, but it does come with major decisions which should not be taken lightly, one of which is where to live. Many of us currently live in a location close to work and wish for a retirement somewhere away from the hustle and bustle of being near a major city.
“Our analysis hopefully helps future retirees with this decision and highlights that every county has something different to offer and considers some indicators that might not be obvious when making the decision, such as net flow of other over 65s or healthy lifestyle data. It is understandable that many want to relocate but it is a decision that must be well thought through and ensure the new location has the provisions they require.
“Finding the right location is tricky but extremely important. To get the most choice when the time comes to give up work, people will benefit from saving as much as they can into a pension as early as they can in their working lives. And before taking any decisions on how to turn pension savings into an income, retirees should consider having a conversation with a professional financial adviser.”