Choosing where to retire can be an exciting decision, a challenging one or perhaps both.
We all want somewhere affordable that can support a good quality of life within our budget as well as somewhere with excellent health care. And we may have personal priorities, such as living close to family or fulfilling old dreams.
If juggling all those factors seems difficult, perhaps a recent analysis from WalletHub can help. By ranking all 50 states based on dozens of factors ranging from social isolation to tax-friendliness, the site found the best — and worst — places to retire.
Following are the worst states for retirees.
15. New Mexico
Total score: 47.56 out of 100 points
New Mexico’s conditions for retirees have improved since 2021, when it ranked as the fourth-worst state in WalletHub’s analysis. However, there is still work to be done. New Mexico has the second-highest property crime rate in the country and also ranked No. 46 on quality of life.
However, just in case petting animals is your chief preoccupation in retirement, know that New Mexico is home to the fourth-most dog-friendly city in the U.S.: Albuquerque.
Total score: 47.03 out of 100 points
Alaska has the second-lowest population of seniors but is the state with the third-highest percentage of the workforce who are seniors, according to WalletHub.
However, it’s a great place for keeping your taxes low.
Total score: 46.89 out of 100 points
Oregon’s place on this list seems to stem primarily from how much it costs to live there — it ranks 43rd on affordability, but it scores reasonably well on both quality of life and health care.
One bright note on cost is that seniors in Oregon are eligible for property tax deferral.
Total score: 46.64 out of 100 points
In sharp contrast to the previous state, Tennessee ranks No. 2 for affordability — but very near the bottom for quality of life and health care, WalletHub found.
It seems affordability is the most important factor, however, since Tennessee is among “The Top 10 States Where Americans Want to Retire.”
Total score: 46.22 out of 100 points
Washington state has the most expensive in-home services in the country and one of the highest property crime rates, according to WalletHub. However, it ranks No. 8 for quality of life.
Total score: 46.03 out of 100 points
Louisiana ranks No. 7 for affordability but fares quite poorly in WalletHub’s other major categories. It is among “5 States That Just Lowered Sales Taxes” this summer.
9. West Virginia
Total score: 45.63 out of 100 points
Relatively affordable West Virginia takes the No. 3 spot among the states with the highest percentage of seniors in their populations. And, as we wrote in “The 10 Cheapest States for Household Bills,” it’s the cheapest state in the country for paying common monthly costs.
Total score: 44.43 out of 100 points
Arkansas ranks No. 16 for affordability, but it may be a little harder to find activities here compared with other states.
Arkansas is near the bottom for its number of theaters and museums per capita, WalletHub found. But you might try moving to tiny Eureka Springs, which we noted is one “8 Great Small Towns to Retire In” partially because of its many art galleries and festivals.
7. Rhode Island
Total score: 44.35 out of 100 points
Rhode Island enjoys better health care (No. 19) and quality of life (No. 39) than several states on this list, at the cost of being among the least affordable (No. 40).
As we reported last September, it’s also among the “The 10 Best States for Homeowners.”
Total score: 44.27 out of 100 points
Illinois ranks near the bottom 10 for affordability, at No. 47. It does somewhat better on quality of life and health care, placing No. 23 and No. 21, respectively.
Total score: 43.97 out of 100 points
Oklahoma has the fifth-lowest adjusted cost of living, WalletHub found. It is also among “10 States With the Worst Drivers.”
Total score: 42.49 out of 100 points
Kentucky ranks No. 26 out of 50 for affordability, but that’s its best showing in this study. It ranks in the bottom five states on health care and life expectancy and in the bottom 10 on quality of life.
3. New York
Total score: 42.47 out of 100 points
New York is the least affordable state in the country (No. 50) but scores well on cost of living (No. 12) and health care (No. 7).
Total score: 41.17 out of 100 points
Mississippi is the 12th most affordable state for retirees, according to this ranking, but it takes last place (No. 50) for quality of life and second-last (No. 49) when it comes to health care.
However, it’s home to Hattiesburg, one of “10 Great Warm and Sunny Places to Retire in the U.S.”
1. New Jersey
Total score: 40.27 out of 100 points
New Jersey is near the middle of the pack in categories like health care (No. 28) and quality of life (No. 34) but is among “9 States Where Quality of Life Is Improving for Seniors,” as we wrote this summer.
Unfortunately, New York’s neighbor ranks second-to-last (No. 49) in the category of affordability, WalletHub found. That’s enough to make it the worst state to retire for the second year in a row.
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