The Best and The Worst States for Retirement
Do you plan to “retire in place” and stay in your current area, or are you interested in retiring in a different state? In either case, you may want to consult a recent study by WalletHub if retirement is imminent.
The study ranked all 50 states using 41 statistical metrics that were weighted and grouped into three major categories important to retirees: affordability, quality of life, and health care. You may be surprised at some of the states in both the best and worst categories. Let’s start with the top five.
You knew it had to be high on the list, didn’t you? In terms of affordability, Florida topped the list while it placed fifth in terms of quality of life, overcoming its 20th-ranked health-care rating.
Ranked second in health care while quality of life came in 8th place, Colorado is constrained by its 23rd-place ranking in affordability.
3. South Dakota
The home of Mount Rushmore is the second most affordable state and ranked sixth when it came to health care, but can’t break the top half in quality of life (ranked 32nd).
Not typically thought of as a retirement destination, Iowa has decent rankings across the board (9th in health care, 11th in quality of life, and 26th in affordability).
Quality of life ranks well in Virginia (9th) while affordability and health care rankings are above average (18th and 21st respectively).
The next five desirable retirement states are, in order, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. Minnesota barely missed the top 10 despite having number one rankings in both quality of life and health care, due to a dismal affordability ranking (42nd). Massachusetts also ranked high in quality of life and health care (second and fifth, respectively) and poorly in affordability (43rd).
What about the five states with the worst rankings? In descending order, they are:
Dead last in quality of life and 45th in health care, Arkansas is pulled up by its 20th-place showing in affordability.
The same principle applies to Mississippi, but even more so. The state is 49th in quality of life and last in health care, but it ranks 10th in affordability.
48. Rhode Island
Health-care is above average (22nd), but quality of life and affordability are poor at 46th and 48th place, respectively.
49. New Jersey
The least affordable state in the union also has below-average rankings in quality of life (28th) and health care (33rd).
Kentucky ranks 47th in both quality of life and health care and only 38th in affordability, earning the Bluegrass State WalletHub’s least desirable retirement state ranking for 2018.
Was your state not mentioned? Check the full study results for further details on your state’s rankings and a breakdown of all the statistical metrics and weightings.
Of course, each state has areas that don’t fit the rest of the state profile. Individual cities were ranked in a 2017 WalletHub survey, with the inclusion of an “Activities” ranking — and, while the results are similar, some differences emerge at the local level. For example, Louisiana fares poorly in the state rankings, but New Orleans ranks high in the city rankings (probably because, as you might expect, New Orleans ranks high for activities).
While the study is a useful baseline, it doesn’t mean everyone should converge on Florida or flee Kentucky in his or her retirement years. Find an area that makes you happy and gives you a fulfilling and healthy lifestyle — just know where the strong and weak points are in your chosen retirement state.