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West Sussex beats Dorset as UK’s top spot for retirement quality of life


West Sussex is the county where pensioners have the highest quality of life, according to analysis of the latest publicly available data for England and Wales.

The analysis, carried out by Prudential as an update to its Quality of Retirement Index, also ranks Dorset and East Sussex in its top three most attractive retirement counties for pensioners.
Prudential’s rankings are based on eight 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: 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; and Healthy lifestyle data – an indicator of how proactive the population is in pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
Prudential’s new expanded methodology for 2017 builds on the findings of the previous Quality of Retirement Index, published in last year, in which Dorset topped the rankings using a slightly smaller set of indicators based on the most up to date data available at the time.
Stan Russell, a retirement income expert at Prudential, says: “There are now 10.6 million people aged 65 or over in England and Wales, a million more than five years ago, and accounting for nearly one in five of the total population. So deciding on the right place to retire to is a challenge faced by a huge number of people each year.
“Our analysis shows that every part of the country has something different to offer pensioners, but the counties with the most attractive attributes tend to be along the southern and eastern coasts of England. Counties like West Sussex and Dorset may be attractive because of their low crime rates or the quality of their health care. However finding the right spot to live in such popular locations can be tricky. 
“It is understandable that many people want to choose somewhere attractive to live in retirement. 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 their pension savings into an income, many will also benefit from a conversation with a professional financial adviser.”  
In terms of the individual indicators, pensioners looking to live with people of a similar age could do a lot worse than relocate to the Isle of Wight, where nearly 38,000 people, or more than one in four of the population there, is aged 65 or over. Older people in Herefordshire can look forward to their retirement in the knowledge that they have the highest disability-free life expectancy, while pensioners in Wales have reasons to be cheerful, with Gwynedd enjoying the highest number of healthcare workers per capita and Dyfed and Powys having the lowest crime rates in England and Wales.
According to official figures, Devon is the most attractive county for pensioners moving house, with the highest net influx of over 65s last year. Surrey remains the county with the highest mean pension income, with an average income of GBP21,400, nearly a third higher than the average in England and Wales.
While the south coast dominated the overall rankings this year, it was the East coast that came out on top when it comes to the weather, with Essex scoring highest. The final category, covering a range of health and lifestyle factors including diet, smoking, obesity, physical activity and alcohol-related hospital admissions, found Rutland to be the county with the healthiest lifestyle habits.

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