Best Place to Retire? Dorset is Top of the Pops, with West Sussex 2nd and East Sussex 5th!

Pensioners looking for the highest quality of life in retirement should head to the county of Dorset, according to new analysis of publicly available data for England and Wales by Prudential1. Its updated Quality of Retirement Index ranks Dorset as the most attractive retirement county for pensioners, with West Sussex and Herefordshire in joint second place.

Prudential’s quality of retirement rankings are based on seven sets of recently published data which it has identified as indicators of a happy and comfortable retirement for each of the 55 counties in England and Wales:

1. Resident pensioners as a proportion of county’s population – an indicator of the likelihood that retired people will have fellow pensioners to socialise with.

2. Disability-free life expectancy – an indicator of pensioners’ ongoing health and well-being

3. Access to healthcare – an indicator of the quality of healthcare likely to be available should a pensioner fall ill

4. Crime levels – an indicator of how safe someone is likely to feel in retirement

5. The number of pensioners moving to the county – an indicator of how attractive the area is to other retired people

6. Pension income – an indicator of the health of pensioners’ finances

7. Weather – an indicator of the attractiveness of the county’s climate Prudential’s new methodology for 2016 provides an update to the findings of the Quality of Retirement Index previously released in 2014, in which Dorset also topped the rankings using a slightly different set of indicators based on the most up to date data available at the time.

Vince Smith-Hughes, a retirement income expert at Prudential, said: “Our analysis shows that every part of the country has something different to offer when the time comes to give up work, but of course for many it simply isn’t possible to up sticks and move somewhere new when they retire.

“Irrespective of where you live, if you are looking to secure a comfortable life in retirement it is vital to plan ahead. Many people will benefit from regular consultations with a professional financial adviser as they prepare for retired life. “Changes to pension rules over recent years have made retirement saving more attractive for many people, so now more than ever, simply saving as much as possible as early as possible in your working life is the best way for most people to build up their retirement income.”

Prudential Quality of Retirement Rankings Top five for 2016

First place – Dorset

Home to much of the Jurassic Coast and famously the birthplace of Thomas Hardy, Dorset tops the rankings for quality of retirement due to its all-round appeal to pensioners. The county is ranked in the national top 10 in four of the seven indicators, including being the sixth most popular destination for retirees moving home and having the country’s third highest concentration of people over the age of 65.

Second equal West Sussex

Ever since the Romans built a palace at Fishbourne, West Sussex has proved a popular location to set up home – the county ranks as the fourth most popular destination for retirees moving home. Pensioners in West Sussex also have the third highest retirement income in the country. The county only missed out on the top spot as a result of its national ranking of 52 out 55 for provision of healthcare workers.

Second equal Herefordshire

The only county in the top five not located on the South Coast of England, Herefordshire, one of England’s most rural and sparsely populated counties, returned an interesting mix of scores in Prudential’s index. It is the county where people live disability-free in retirement the longest (13 years), but its overall ranking suffers from being 33rd in terms of retirement income and 26th for hours of sunshine.

Fourth place Devon

The traditional home of the cream tea, the Devonport Royal Navy base and more recently the Met Office, Devon is ranked in the national top 20 for all but one of Prudential’s quality of retirement indicators. The county has the third lowest crime rate in England and Wales.

Fifth equal Isle of Wight

Ever since Queen Victoria decided to spend the later part of her life on the island at Osborne House, the Isle of Wight has continued to be a magnet for retirees – it remains the most popular destination in England and Wales for pensioners moving home. Now more famous for its music festivals, the county also tops the national rankings for the number of pensioners per head of population and is joint top for sunshine hours.

Fifth equal East Sussex

The site of the Battle of Hastings and home to the seaside resorts of Brighton and Eastbourne, East Sussex owes its top five place to the fact that it is the only county to rank in the national top 30 in all seven of Prudential’s indicators. In terms of the individual indicators, Surrey’s pensioners receive the highest average annual retirement income at £21,200. Meanwhile those living in Dyfed or Powys enjoy the lowest crime rates and Rutland has the highest number of healthcare workers per head of population

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