Our methodology: We combined each state's retirement rankings from WalletHub, MoneyRates and The Motley Fool to create scores out of a possible 150. The higher the score, the lower the state ranks as a retirement destination.
Comments have been edited for clarity and spelling.
The Land of 10,000 Lakes offers gorgeous scenic views and excellent health care, but it’s not particularly affordable for a retiree on a fixed income.
It’s not tax friendly for retirees, as the state taxes Social Security benefits and other forms of retirement income in addition to having relatively high sales taxes. WalletHub says Minnesota also has the second-highest cost of in-home services.
You'll also want to factor in that the state is infamous for its frigid winters and the occasional blizzard.
“You may end up being a shut-in or getting cabin fever in winter if you don’t embrace it or learn to cope with it. But many cope by becoming snow birds or going south for the winter months,” writes Karl Broberg on Quora.
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The nation's poorest state doesn’t sit quite as far down on this list as you’d expect, perhaps due to its low cost of living and tax friendliness — but it misses the mark for quality of life and health care.
The Magnolia State has one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the country and is also considered one of the worst states for elderly health care, says health insurance site Medicare Guide.
And of course there’s the muggy weather — it’s one of the rainiest states in the U.S. thanks to its humid, subtropical climate.
“The weather changes often; we have hot, sickeningly humid summers, relatively mild winters (any amount of snow will shut the schools down). Throw in the odd hurricane, a few tornadoes, and some thunderstorms and you’ve got it covered,” says Claire Weeks-Kelly on Quora.
23. South Dakota
South Dakota’s considered quite tax friendly for retirees, thanks to its lack of a state income tax and low sales tax.
Despite its affordability, however, the state doesn’t rank so well for its weather and falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to quality of life.
Plenty of Redditors complain about the unpredictable climate, and Zachafinackus also warns of an influx of tourists on the western side of the state.
“It's pretty calm in the winters (people-wise) on this side of the state, but it really picks up in the summer as the tourists come to see Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and all the other things. The busiest time of the year is for sure the first week of August when the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally takes place. It floods this side of the state with bikes for a straight week.”
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Michigan falls somewhere in the middle of the pack for its quality of life and crime rate, but ranks poorly for its weather.
“The weather is miserable six months of the year. If you're into winter sports, roads so icy that you fear for your life every time you get behind the wheel every winter, and constant gray dreary skies, then Michigan winters might be fine for you,” says one Quora user.
You won’t have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefits and you can claim a sizable deduction on other forms of retirement income, but property taxes are relatively high.
The Great Lake State also ranks lower than average for its elderly health care for cost and access reasons, according to Medicare Guide.
21. North Carolina
North Carolina boasts relatively affordable home values and some lovely mountain views, but scores low on the list for health care and crime.
The Tar Heel State is considered somewhat tax friendly for a retiree — you won’t pay taxes on your Social Security — but there’s a flat income tax rate of 5.25% on other forms of retirement income.
The humid climate can also be hit or miss, with some Redditors complaining about the abundance of bloodsucking pests like deer flies and mosquitoes.
“Days like today where the heat index is 110 degrees make me not want to live here. Sucks walking out to your car at 8:00 a.m. and breaking into a sweat,” says BagOnuts.
The Natural State is cheap to live in, but lags behind for its poor health care and high crime rate.
WalletHub says Arkansas is considered one of the worst states in the nation for its health care access and outcomes, and it has one of the highest heart disease rates.
The state won’t tax you on your Social Security, and property taxes are pretty low, but watch out for the high sales tax.
The climate isn’t anything to get excited about either — retirees with seasonal allergies should beware.
“Great merciful heavens, but the humidity can be vicious. When it’s really bad, it’s easy to want to just stay inside away from it. The pollen in the spring, I refer to it as the mutant, radioactive homicidal pollen,” says Marsha Jackson on Quora, who adds that the state could be worth it for someone seeking a more laid-back lifestyle.
Despite the relatively low cost of living, Arizona’s dry, arid heat and high crime rate present a significant deterrent for retirees.
“[There is] excessive heat for 4-5 months of the year. That said, there are a few months that have fabulous weather. No ocean access, which would be nice during the hot summer months,” writes Craig Guymon on Quora.
Property taxes are low, but be prepared for high sales taxes in the state. And although your Social Security benefits will be exempt, Arizona does tax other types of retirement income.
The Grand Canyon State draws plenty of tourists to its national parks and stunning landmarks each year — so while you’ll enjoy numerous outdoor activities right at your doorstep, you'll have to fight the crowds.
Sure, the lobster’s delicious in this New England coastal state, but you’ll pay a pretty penny to live out your golden years here.
According to WalletHub, Massachusetts has one of the highest adjusted costs of living and annual costs of in-home services. While the state exempts Social Security benefits from being taxed, you will get taxed on most other forms of retirement income.
“Renting or buying is for the rich. Going out of town to downmarket places means fighting traffic to get back in. For retiring Boston natives, if they are homeowners, they may be looking at a windfall that will finance a comfy living someplace else,” writes Joe Bergin on Quora about Massachusetts’ capital.
As if that’s not enough, a retiree may need to pull out their parkas to deal with the Bay State’s cold, snowy winters.
Be prepared for heavy snowfall and a high cost of living if you choose to retire in the Centennial State.
The median home value is around $558,200, according to Zillow, and the state crime rate is fairly high. The cost of living in Colorado may be offset by a substantial deduction on your retirement income, but there is a high sales tax to worry about.
Don’t forget about the climate, either — it's certainly not for the faint of heart.
“It's got some atrocious weather. I have a few joints that let me know when the weather is changing. I felt them a lot when I lived there. Plus, it gets seriously cold (and windy in the east). And you will get ample snow,” claims Dallas McKay on Quora.
Oregon boasts stunning mountain vistas and offers a relatively high quality of life — but only to retirees who can actually afford to live there.
While you won’t pay taxes on your Social Security income, income from other retirement accounts, like a 401(k) or an IRA, will be taxed at the state income tax level.
Housing and health care costs are quite pricey, with the median home value in the state listed at over $500,000, according to Zillow. Oregon also ranks lower than average for crime.
Residents have a lot to say about the climate and population density:
“Weather is good during September and then it's rainy and cold for 7-8 months and freaking hot for 2-3 months. Traffic is getting bad because all freeways have three lanes and that's not enough to host all the people driving,” says Apart-Direction170 on Reddit.
Oklahoma might be super affordable, especially for a retiree on a fixed income, but watch out for its notoriously poor health care and high crime rate.
The Sooner State may have some positives in terms of taxation — it exempts Social Security benefits and you can claim a significant deduction on other forms of retirement income — but it's ranking suggests that’s not enough to outweigh the negatives.
Oklahoma is considered the worst state in the entire country for elderly health care, according to Medicare Guide, and it also tanks for its low life expectancy rate.
Some residents say the lifestyle isn’t up to par, either.
“There is not a lot to do. Very few concert venues, very few events, art exhibits, shows, no major league sports besides OKC Thunder. The restaurants are okay, somewhat cheaper, but also the quality of food and food options are significantly lower. Produce in grocery stores seems worse. Quality of life is poor,” writes Redditor ChelseaSpikes about living in Oklahoma City.
14. New Jersey
Retiring in New Jersey means dealing with expensive housing and high taxes — while you won’t get taxed on your Social Security, withdrawals from other retirement accounts face partial taxation.
The median home value in the state has surged to over $440,000, says Zillow, and property taxes are quite high as well.
The Garden State also ranks among the worst states for elder abuse protection, according to WalletHub.
“New Jersey is expensive, so people without money are not going to retire there unless they can arrange senior citizen housing, which can be pretty plain and difficult to get. The weather is not very nice [for] much of the year, so most people who don’t need to be near family in New Jersey are not going to move there,” writes Richard Potter on Quora.
Maryland is one of the least affordable states for retirement in the U.S. It’s the only state in the country with both an estate and inheritance tax, plus some of your retirement accounts might be subject to taxation as well.
While it may have a decent health care system, the Old Line State ranks worse than average for its housing costs and crime.
The median home value is higher than average at over $389,000, according to Zillow, so be ready to fork over your hard-earned savings for lodging.
“Taxes aside, what retiree would choose to deal with our traffic, sometimes harsh summers and winters (relative to other places), and housing prices? Regardless of what Maryland does, retirees wealthy enough to retire wherever they choose will continue to pick the classic spots with better weather and lower density,” says dmartin1500 on Reddit.
11. (tie) Tennessee
Beyond a thriving music scene and low cost of living, retirees may not find much to love about the Volunteer State, which lags behind for health care and crime.
You won’t get taxed on your Social Security or retirement income and property taxes are quite low as well, but be prepared for the state's high sales tax.
Tennessee also has one of the highest rates of elder abuse, gross neglect and exploitation complaints and low long-term care ombudsman program funding, according to WalletHub.
Ryan Richards on Quora warns newcomers of the climate: “If you can tolerate extreme pollen, getting allergies, gray, cloudy, rainy skies most of the year, ice, some snow, extremely cold frigid winters, and sunshine maybe 4-5 months out of the year. If weather is not an issue for you … this might be the place for you.”
11. (tie) Georgia
Things aren’t quite as rosy in the Peach State as they may seem, especially in regards to its poor ranking for health care and quality of life.
While Georgia is pretty tax friendly and relatively affordable to live in, the studies show it is seriously lacking in other important areas.
Medicare Guide names Georgia as the second-worst state in the nation for elderly health care, especially when it comes to quality and access. The state also ranks poorly for its crime rate.
“The biggest downside is the population density. There’s just a whole lot more people around than I’m used to. Traffic is a drag everywhere, but of course gets worse as you approach Atlanta. Traffic lights last forever,” writes resident Mitch Anderson on Quora.
9. (tie) New Mexico
The Land of Enchantment ranks better than average when it comes to affordability, but retirees must contend with a high crime rate and less-than-enchanting quality of life.
The state also ranks among those with the worst elder abuse protections, according to WalletHub.
The state taxes your retirement income — you might be able to claim a deduction based on your household income — although property taxes are fairly low. And while many appreciate the mild climate, others say the quality of life just isn't enough to satisfy them.
"It is among the poorest states in the U.S. You won't find a lot of high-end shopping or services, except in a few pockets in places like Santa Fe," comments Michael LaTorra on Quora.
9. (tie) Hawaii
Hawaii boasts beautiful beaches and excellent weather, but it’s also one of the costliest states in the country to reside in.
The state won’t tax you on your Social Security and public pension income, but income from private pensions and other retirement accounts are fair game. Property taxes are low, but housing costs are high, with the median home value at a whopping $842,500, according to Zillow.
The state also reportedly faces some of the highest grocery costs in the nation, in part since so much of its food has to be imported.
“One of the major drawbacks of living in paradise is the fact that unless you're rich, you basically are living paycheck to paycheck as just the basics (food, gas and lodging) alone are outrageous. Most people have more than one job to keep afloat from day to day. Retirement? Probably not!” says resident Ashley Jeffries on Quora.
The Prairie State isn’t very affordable to live in — and it’s considered pretty average when it comes to things like quality of life, health care and the weather.
You won’t pay taxes on most of your retirement income, but Illinois has some of the highest property and sales taxes in the entire country.
The state also lacks recreational opportunities outside of Chicago — while the city itself suffers from high crime and poverty.
“Downstate, which is most of the state by the way, it is boring as hell. It’s all bean and corn fields … If you have been entertaining the thought of moving here, my advice is simple. Unless you are filthy rich, don’t,” writes resident Shirley Davis on Quora.
Despite its gorgeous stretch of beaches and warm weather, the Golden State loses its allure when it comes down to affordability.
The state is costly to live in — and not just in terms of housing, but health care and in-home services as well. California also fully taxes retirees on income from retirement accounts and pensions (Social Security is exempt), and sales taxes are quite high, too.
The state has one of the highest rates of elder abuse, gross neglect and exploitation complaints, according to WalletHub, and its crime rate is higher than average.
“Housing costs are astronomical, gas costs twice as much as in other states … the traffic is awful, Los Angeles and San Francisco have huge numbers of homeless, the state is in perpetual drought, and every fall we can look forward to massive wildfires,” writes one Redditor.
6. New York
You won’t find a slow-paced life in busy, bustling New York.
With its sky-high cost of living, you’ll require a substantial nest egg to settle down in the Empire State for your golden years. Housing and rent are extremely expensive — with the median home value at over $746,000, according to Zillow.
“If you lose your health or mobility at any point, the options for home elder care, oversight and/or a facility are very expensive!!” says Ruti Amit on Quora.
In fact, the state website says nursing home care can cost anywhere from $264 per day in Central New York to $308 per day in the Rochester area, and this increases if you live downstate.
And think long and hard if you were planning to settle down amid the fun and glamour of the Big Apple. Amit warns: “Cockroaches and rats are NY’s real native residents and you might want to take that into account — especially seeing them climb over the subway tracks while waiting for a train!”
Louisiana’s affordable housing costs and decent quality of life may attract plenty of residents, but you won’t be living every day like it’s Mardi Gras in the Pelican State.
Keep in mind that while you’ll get a break on your Social Security and property taxes, sales taxes are pretty high.
WalletHub ranks Louisiana as one of the worst states in the country for its health care system. You’ll pay some of the highest monthly premiums on insurance, while health care access and outcomes score below average as well.
Redditor galacticdude7 says the state’s climate is one of its worst aspects. “I went to New Orleans in July once and it was so hot and humid that you just wanted to drop dead. And the worst part is that … all the public buildings crank their ACs to the max, so either you dress for the weather and are able to tolerate being outside for a minute or two, or you dress so you are comfortable indoors and then treat outside like the surface of the sun.”
You’ll score cheaper housing and enjoy a milder climate in the Lone Star State, but that may not be enough to compensate for poor quality of life, health care, and high crime rates, according to the state's rankings.
Despite the lack of state income tax, Texas has some of the highest sales and property taxes in the country.
According to WalletHub, the state also lags behind for elder abuse protection resources — it has some of the fewest elder care organizations and services and the lowest total expenditures on elder abuse protection.
And be prepared for the sheer size of the state. “If you hate driving, Texas is not for you. A three-hour drive along wide-open interstates going 60+ mph is 'next door' by Texas standards. And our public and regional transit is abysmal, so driving is your only chance to go farther than across town,” writes resident Daniel Lunsford on Quora.
Nevada might be home to Sin City, which means there are plenty of entertainment options for seniors — but watch out for limited health care access and high housing costs and crime.
Property taxes are relatively low and you won’t have to worry about your Social Security or retirement income getting taxed, but sales taxes in the state rank higher than average.
Housing prices in the Silver State soared to record highs last year as well — the median home value is about $434,700, according to Zillow.
While plenty of residents enjoy the mild winters, others say the dry heat in the summers can be unbearable.
“It can feel like you are in a rotisserie from June through August. I visited there over Labor Day and it was over 100 degrees … The breeze was just more hot air that was moving. There is very little natural greenery besides shrubs and cactus. The mountains are orangish red. There's a reason there are wide open spaces — it's tough to live in a desert,” says Susan Dworshak on Quora.
This snowy state is the runner-up for the worst place to retire in America — and for reasons beyond just the cold climate and isolation.
Health care and housing are expensive, although you’ll benefit from zero state income tax and sales tax. Tax break aside, there’s not much to look forward to as crime rates are high and quality of life ranks low.
WalletHub also says Alaska has the second-lowest percentage of the population aged 65 or older, which means your social life could suffer in your golden years as well.
“I would have to say that the level of remoteness, cost of living, wildlife hazards and weather are substantial cons and unless coastal life and self-sufficiency off the land are priorities, you can do better with less overall isolation and cost,” says XscapeVelocity on Reddit, who recommends retiring in Wyoming instead.
What’s wrong with Washington? Well, with plummeting scores in both cost of living and crime rates, the Evergreen State ranks as the absolute worst state to retire in.
Housing and health care are expensive, too. Although the state has no income tax — so you won’t deal with taxes on your Social Security or retirement income — you will have to contend with high sales taxes.
“My husband and I are retirees in our 80s from the nonprofit sector; we live in a smaller city south of Seattle. Although the cost of living isn’t as high as it would be in Seattle itself, it continues to increase as more and more young, well-paid techies move here and drive up prices. We manage, but there’s not a lot of wiggle room in the budget,” writes Elizabeth Rogers on Quora.
Plenty of residents complain about the gray, rainy weather in the state as well. Seattle accumulated a record 19 inches of rain last fall, reports The Guardian. If you have health conditions that will suffer from the damp climate, you’ll want to retire anywhere else.
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