The Worst U.S. States to Retire In, Ranked
Deciding where to retire is tough, but some states are worse than others when it comes to offering quality, affordable retirement living. Some are plagued with expensive costs of living, terrible health care systems, brutal weather and high crime rates.
Bankrate scored important factors that most retirees consider before moving, including affordability, crime, culture, weather and wellness. Culture is determined by the number of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments per capita, restaurants per capita, and adults 65 and older per capita.
Take a look at the worst U.S. states to retire in — and where they come up short — based on Bankrate’s study.
The cost of living in Ohio is pretty affordable. However, the state drops the ball when it comes to wellness. High crime rates lead to serious health problems, such as shorter life expectancy. In fact, premature death has increased in Ohio in recent years.
24. Rhode Island
Looking for a low cost of living? Check elsewhere because the tiny state of Rhode Island actually comes with some huge expenses. U.S. News ranks Rhode Island No. 41 for affordable cost of living, which is close to last. It also has one of the highest tax rates in the nation.
Georgia scores poorly in wellness, crime and culture. It's one of the least physically active states in the nation. Maybe it's due to the terrible traffic conditions in the state, especially in Atlanta. All that nightmare traffic also contributes to high levels of air pollution.
Indiana is often listed as one of the most miserable states in the country, which might be due to the lack of mental health professionals in the state. For every category of well-being, the state scored poorly (including sense of purpose, social life, financial health and physical fitness). So, it's no surprise the state also experiences higher rates of premature death.
Connecticut isn't friendly to low-income seniors when it comes to affordability. In fact, residents pay some of the highest taxes in the nation, including real estate taxes. Retirees also get their social security benefits and other income taxed. There's no escaping the heavy toll.
There's a great reason Maine is called the "Pine Tree State." Forests make up almost 90% of the state's land. Much of the area is uninhabited, which could be due to the harsh and relentless winters. Maine winters are no joke!
Delaware performs weakly in the wellness category. Every day, residents face terrible air pollution — it's the ninth-worst in the country — and it’s extremely difficult to book doctors’ appointments because of the state’s shortage of doctors. The state has also experienced increasing rates of drug deaths among the population.
Colorado is famous for its stunning landscape of mountains, forests and plains. However, for some people, it's hard to enjoy the natural beauty due to the state's high altitude and dryness. If you’re one of the unlucky ones, the elevation and thin air could turn your world upside down with endless headaches, fatigue, nausea and dizziness.
Winter in Pennsylvania isn't too cruel, but it definitely affects people's lives. Residents deal with whiteouts, slippery streets and buried cars. If the cold doesn’t bother you, the air just might. Pennsylvania has the second-worst air pollution out of all 50 states.
If you want to settle down where there's a lot of entertainment and recreational activities, don't look at Utah. The state ranks low in the fun department, and its nightlife barely exists, according to WalletHub. Sadly, it’s often called a boring place. With few golf courses and country clubs per capita, Utah is the second-worst state in the category.
In 2018, Louisiana logged 557 murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents. The state topped the list for the worst murder rate in the nation that same year. The homicide rate was also the highest in 2017, 2014 and 2010.
14. New Mexico
New Mexico has a problem with high property and violent crime rates. In fact, when comparing property crime rates, New Mexico takes first place. The state also recorded 784 murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults per 100,000 population in 2018.
Arizona isn't one of the safest places to live. In fact, its violent crime rate is higher than the national average. In 2018, the U.S. logged 382.9 total murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents, while Arizona recorded 508. The state’s property crime rate is also huge, with 2,676.8 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2018.
Virginia faces some serious wellness challenges. A low number of mental health providers and a lack of public funding led to a poor score in the category. Also, the state has a high uninsured population, making health care even harder to access for many residents.
Is the weather in Minnesota really that bad? Yes, it's horrific. The state struggles with the most brutal winters out of all 50 states. Residents in northern Minnesota experience up to 170 inches of snow annually, and the temperature can fall down to -60 degrees Fahrenheit.
10. South Carolina
When it comes to health, South Carolina performs poorly. The state has one of the worst healthcare systems among all 50 states, with health plans and out-of-pocket costs that are expensive. Experts believe the awful system may contribute to the state’s high premature death rate.
9. New Jersey
The Garden State, otherwise known as New Jersey, ranked dead last among all 50 states when comparing financial strength. In the short term, New Jersey is doing okay. Overall, experts describe the situation as getting worse, thanks to its massive debt from pension and retiree health care costs for state workers.
California's beaches, vineyards and great sunny weather make it seem like the perfect place to retire. However, the biggest question is probably whether you can you afford it. When it comes to cost of living and housing affordability, the Golden State ranks second to last.
In Oregon, the cost of living for general expenses, such as shopping for groceries and transportation, is 18% above the national average. Housing also costs an arm and a leg, meaning retirees with low income and savings may struggle to live within their means.
Nevada residents deal with terrible health care access and outcomes due to the poor health care system in the state, but residents actually have more to worry about than just health care. The state has the sixth-worst air pollution of all 50 states. Every day, residents breathe in unhealthy air that can irritate the lungs and make it into the bloodstream.
Cars are popular in Washington — to steal. In fact, Washington has the seventh-highest car theft rate in the nation, and the issue keeps getting worse. Police logs show car prowling and motor vehicle theft rose in 2018. Even worse, finding a temporary replacement or buying a new car is expensive.
The health care system in Illinois is mediocre. When comparing states with the best systems, Illinois ranked near the middle. This includes costs, access and outcomes. However, wellness still has a terrible ranking for the state, probably due to its high prevalence of excessive drinking and terrible air pollution.
If you're looking for danger, Alaska would be the perfect place to retire. Logging 829 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2018, Alaska is considered the deadliest state in the country. Experts blame the state's poverty, lack of police services and remote location for the high crime rates.
2. New York
New York ranks as one of the worst places in the country for cost of living and housing affordability. The state's cost of living is 22% higher than the national median, and it gets worse in Manhattan, which is a whopping 138.6% above the U.S. average. The affordability crisis in New York is so bad that the state is plagued with the second-highest rate of homelessness in the country.
Maryland is the worst state to retire in, according to Bankrate.com. It scores terribly in affordability, crime, culture and wellness. The only category where it performed well was weather. In 2018, the state logged 500 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, and the state's major city, Baltimore, ranked as the third most dangerous city in the U.S.