What are the worst states for retirees?

September 28th, 2020

In a previous blog post, we mentioned that the average retiree household income was a surprisingly low $27,000 per year. Another recent study shows that that income will certainly get you further in some places than others.

Each year, WalletHub ranks the states by which are best for retirement. Florida, thanks to its sunny clime, senior-oriented communities, and affordability, usually ranks high. But which states rank worst?

WalletHub uses three metrics to rank states: Affordability, Quality of Life, and Health Care. The affordability statistic is based on things like cost of living, tax rates and costs for in-home services. 

Quality of life scores are based on lifestyle factors like risk of social isolation, elderly poverty rate, and elderly food insecurity rate. It also accounts for whether the state has entertainment like museums, theaters, and golf courses. 

Finally, health care is measured by the number of doctors, dentists, and nurses per capita, as well as the quality of healthcare facilities.

When taking all three scores into account, the worst states to retire in were: 

  1. Kentucky
  2. New Mexico
  3. Rhode Island
  4. New Jersey
  5. West Virginia. 

Of the five, Kentucky was the worst of the worst. It scored an almost-middling 32 for affordability, but quality of life and health care both ranked among the lowest in the United States. West Virginia scored the worst healthcare in the nation, ranking #50.

However, the worst states for retirees don’t completely match up with the least affordable states for retirees. If you’re basing post-retirement plans solely on the most affordable states, you’ll want to avoid these five:

  1. New York
  2. Vermont
  3. New Jersey
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Minnesota

It’s probably not surprising that New York is the most expensive state to live in. Alaska, Oregon, California, and Hawaii also have extremely high adjusted cost of living. Alabama, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, and Mississippi are the least expensive states to live in. Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Alabama have the lowest adjusted cost of living. 

Of course, not everyone will move after retirement. Often, the best place to retire is right where you are. Think about it—you already have a support network and an established life. But, if adventure calls, you’ll want to take everything—including personal preference—into account.

Want to see where your state falls? Check out the full ranking on WalletHub’s website.

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