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10 Best and 10 Worst States to Retire

Florida — Best

Everyone knows that Florida is the spot to retire. It doesn’t matter if you’re a young adult aching for a visit to Orlando, or a middle-aged empty-nester longing for retirement. It’s easy to understand why, too. The weather there can definitely have its ups and downs, but in general, blue skies and white sandy beaches are the dream.

Florida — Best

Add in the fact that housing there is still recovering from the crash a decade ago, and you have cheap living. By 2030, there are supposed to be six million residents over age 65, meaning the state does an excellent job catering to that demographic. In Florida, you have your own tropical resort at a fraction of the cost. It’s a hard spot to beat.

Hawaii — Worst

Hawaii is gorgeous. The beaches are unparalleled, the mountains are gorgeous, and relaxation reigns supreme. This state should remain on your “Dream Vacation” lists, but it’s not too great for retirees. The life expectancy is long, but the cost of living on those beautiful beaches is extremely high.

Hawaii — Worst

In fact, some sources even list the housing costs at 87% higher than the national average. Healthcare is among the best, if you can afford to pay almost twice as much as most people. Basically, if all that sounds good, give Hawaii a shot. However, if you’re like most people, maybe look elsewhere.

Colorado — Best

Colorado is the new California. It’s the place to be. Culture is being born underneath some of the most beautiful mountains in the world, pulling in unprecedented amounts of people every year. There’s a seemingly perfect balance of cities and rural areas. Trails and iconic national parks are thrown into the mix with amazing restaurants and top-notch entertainment.

Colorado — Best

Not to mention all the fantastic festivals in and outside of Denver. On top of all that, the healthcare in the state is some of the best in the entire country. With all this goodness, we're starting to understand why everyone has decided to flock to Colorado. 

Arkansas — Worst

Arkansas is in the same boat as other southern states. It’s fairly cheap, but the quality of life and healthcare are ranked low. In fact, Arkansas is ranked 45th in quality of life and 49th in healthcare. Yikes! That isn't to say that there isn't a single place in Arkansas that isn't worth its salt.

Arkansas — Worst

There are a few areas that seem to be flourishing — like the Fayetteville area. Unfortunately, other areas have a high crime rate, which isn't appealing to most people. One of the few good things about the state is its beauty and the fact it doesn't tax social security income. The downside is that it does tax pensions. 

South Dakota — Best

South Dakota? What’s in South Dakota? Quite a bit, actually. There’s a rising economy, meaning there’s plenty of places to go and restaurants to eat at. There’s low unemployment, allowing you to casually work if you’d like. City sizes range from healthy small towns to growing cities.

South Dakota — Best

Couple that with the super cheap housing available and you can live almost anywhere you’d like. Plus, housing isn’t the only thing that’s cheap:. Healthcare is cheap and high quality, something that can be pretty tough to find. South Dakota is a great place to consider.

Louisiana — Worst

Louisiana has a ton of pull to it. New Orleans is a city unlike any other, and you won’t find many places in the states where the language varies as much as it does in this state. That’s shouldn’t be enough to pull you in, though.

Louisiana — Worst

Its in-home care is extremely cheap, but the quality is not there. You can see this evidenced by the low life expectancy. U.S. News also ranked Louisiana last in the overall ranking of states, something that's plagued the state for years. It's ranked dead-last in about everything from education to healthcare. Plus, there’s a high rate of property-related crime. Not the place you want to retire. 

Iowa — Best

Iowa has managed to fly under the radar. It sits just on the edge of bustling states like Illinois and Missouri, riding on their coattails a bit, but this isn’t a bad thing. It’s given Iowa a great quality of life while keeping tourists out, driving down the cost of living, and raising the healthcare.

Iowa — Best

For the outdoorsy people, there are plenty of trails, tons of lakes, and cheap golf. Iowa has tons of state parks that are appealing to both experienced hikers and beginners alike. It’s a state that definitely warrants more consideration on retirement lists than people have given it in the past.

New Jersey — Worst

New Jersey seems to be middle of the road on a lot of things — except affordability, which it ranks as the nation’s worst state. Surpassing even places like Hawaii and New York. Homes are not cheap here. According to Zillow, the average home price is $329,00, and that price is only increasing year over year. 

New Jersey — Worst

On top of that, the cost of living is not very approachable. SmartAsset found grocery prices are some of the highest in the country, and the high taxes will bleed you of anything else you have left. Even their healthcare does not seem to cater too much to the elderly.

Wyoming — Best

Why in the world would anyone retire in Wyoming? Well, if you’re the type of retiree that’s just looking to get away, this is the place for you. It’s the place to go if you want to know your neighbors — but never have to see them or hear them mowing their lawn at the break of dawn.

Wyoming — Best

Its ranching culture has made it a great place for lovers of good ‘ole fashion red meat. You’ll find cows, elk, bison, and lamb on the menus here. The state just has that small-town feel you love with the big-name state parks, like Grand Teton and Yellowstone, that you love. It’s the place to go if you dream of seeing the stars. 

Mississippi — Worst

There’s really not much going on in Mississippi. There are some nice trees and beautiful parks, but that’s about it. Luckily, that’s dropped the overall cost of the state. Cheap things usually aren’t great, though, and that’s evidenced by the third-worst quality of life in the nation.

Mississippi — Worst

U.S. News ranked Mississippi 48 out of 50, which is better than last year when it was ranked 49. Still, that doesn't say much, especially since healthcare is ranked dead-last. The only reason you should consider retiring to Mississippi is if you have family that you need to be super close to.

Idaho — Best

Idaho is another quiet state to retire. The Boise area is a bustling metropolis, but the rest of the state can feel very remote, something a lot of people are looking for in an era of things moving very, very quickly. There’s a lot of places to explore, from national parks like Sawtooth and Grand Teton to more unique spots like the Craters of the Moon National Monument. We can't forget the quirky Potato Museum.

Idaho — Best

Outdoorsy people will love the availability of things to do, but there's more to offer we haven't mentioned. Idaho is ranked pretty high on the U.S. News rankings. The quality of healthcare is pretty good, and the economy is booming since the state moved away from mining. Crime is also pretty low. The state is even ranked number five in public safety. 

Rhode Island — Worst

Rhode Island’s affordability is almost as bad as New Jerseys. WalletHub gave it a 43 out of 50. The taxes here are the worst part about being able to afford anything, but even if money is no object, it gets worse.

Rhode Island — Worst

Rhode Island has some huge cons retirees should take into account. Healthcare is excellent, but it's so expensive that most people can't afford it. On top of that, Rhode Island is ranked last in transportation. It has some of the worst roads in the entire country, which takes a serious toll on vehicles. 

New Hampshire — Best

The New England area is rich with history, so it’s fitting that at least one state would have garnered a reputation for welcoming retirees. In addition to satisfying the history buffs, and lovers of politics will feel right at home. Still, that isn't all New Hampshire has to offer. 

New Hampshire — Best

U.S. News ranks New Hampshire as one of the best states in the country, number two to be exact. The natural environment has a lot to do with it, from sprawling parks to stunning wildlife. The state also has a ton of education opportunities, and access to healthcare is unparalleled. 

West Virginia — Worst

West Virginia has made the list for worst places to retire every year — surprising considering the fact that there’s a high number of seniors in the state. Their quality of life is not so great, though, and neither is their health. Let's talk about the nitty-gritty facts, shall we?

West Virginia — Worst

West Virginia is ranked 47 out of 50 by U.S. News. Why? Well, it's ranked second-to-last in healthcare, meaning people can't access it or afford it, and when they can, it's pretty bad. It's also got a fair amount of crime. Finally, it isn't like other states where the natural environment makes it worth it. West Virginia has a fair amount of pollution, which isn't great for the lungs. 

Virginia — Best

Virginia is a super popular state for tourists and people looking to move, but especially for retirees. History buffs won’t run out of sites to see. Lovers of craft drinks will be blown away by the local craft breweries and wineries. Plus, you’ve got towering mountains and beautiful beaches in the same state. How many places can add that to their résumé?

Virginia — Best

Virginia is also ranked pretty high in quality of life. U.S. News ranked Virginia pretty high in opportunities, fiscal stabilities, and crime, meaning there's very little crime in the state. Healthcare is ranked at 18, which isn't wonderful, but it's not terrible either. Residents seem satisfied with it, at least. 

Kentucky — Worst

There’s a whole slew of reasons why you shouldn’t retire in Kentucky, but healthcare is the biggest. They are known to be particularly bad with the care of elderly patients. The average lifespan is one of the worst in the nation. That list goes on, but it just seems to get worse and worse.

Kentucky — Worst

In addition to its exceptionally poor healthcare, the cost of living is considerably higher than you’d expect in such a rural state. WalletHub places Kentucky at one of the worst places to retire because it's so expensive and the quality of life doesn't match up with what you pay. We're not sure how this happened but just stay away. 

Utah — Best

Utah is another state that people seem to glance over. It’s fairly affordable, but the state really shines with its healthcare. It has several highly-regarded hospitals, and the general lifespan is longer than most. It’s a safe, low-crime state that has experienced steady economic growth.

Utah — Best

U.S. News ranked Utah at four out of 50, which is pretty dang good considering it's also extremely affordable. Plus, it manages to draw in some culture-building aspects with things like the Sundance Film Festival, a well-known place for aspiring filmmakers to shine. It’ll definitely give you something to do.

New Mexico — Worst

New Mexico is not often considered for retirement, and for good reason. It has the worst property-related crime of any state. The healthcare, while not the worst, is definitely sub-par. The state averages slightly less than one doctor’s office for every 2,000 people. It’s hard to expect quality care with so few doctors.

New Mexico — Worst

The only real benefit is that health insurance is not too expensive there, but you’re paying for something that won't deliver. With New Mexico being so close to other top-notch retirement states, it's just best to go elsewhere for a higher-quality of life. 

Arizona — Best

Arizona is generally regarded as one of the best states to retire. It's dry and warm, providing a great place for you to enjoy the weather. Many retirees with breathing issues flock to the state because it's much easier to breathe without a ton of humidity floating around.

Arizona — Best

There's also plenty to do in that great weather, like visiting the Grand Canyon to activities like canoeing, golfing, or fishing. Food festivals are common too if you are looking to experiment with your menu. Best of all, there’s no social security, inheritance, gift, or estate taxes. That’s quite the win.

Alabama — Worst

Alabama is pretty bad at pretty much everything related to retirement. Actually, Alabama is pretty bad at everything that ranks a state as "good" on many lists. U.S. News ranks Alabama at 49 out of 50 for everything from healthcare to transportation. There isn't a single thing Alabama scored well on!  

Alabama — Worst

They’ve got a decent number of retirees, but property crime is high, healthcare is low quality and expensive, and life expectancy is even lower. Alabama has the shortest life expectancy in the nation, and the number is actually dropping further! That's a terrifying thought. Not exactly the type of place you’re looking for.