These Are the Best and Worst States for Retirees

Lexington, KY Downtown Aerial View With Clouds And Blue Sky


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Lexington, KY Downtown Aerial View With Clouds And Blue Sky

Retire Fire

Forty-hour workweeks, the hours spent in meetings, and never having quite enough vacation time are all supposed to be worth it once retirement arrives. But that may depend on where retirees spend their days. WalletHub conducted a study to compare states by affordability, quality of life, and health care — 47 metrics in all, graded on a 100-point scale — that Cheapism has excerpted to show the 10 best and 10 worst and a sense of why each falls where it does.

Related: This Is the Unhappiest State in America

Manchester, New Hampshire, USA Skyline on the Merrimack River
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

10th Best: New Hampshire

Don’t overlook the granite state: It has the second-lowest property crime rates in the nation and the second-highest ranking for quality of life. To top things off, it ranks in the top 10 for health care.

Related: Unexpectedly Awesome Places to Retire Across America

Phoenix skyline and cactus

9th Best: Arizona

Retirees looking for somewhere that is consistently warm have their paradise. Arizona is also one of the most affordable — perhaps why it also has the second-lowest percentage of people 65 and older in the workplace.

Related: The Coldest and Warmest Cities in Every State

Suburban Housing Development

8th Best: Utah

Utah has some of the most impressive natural environments to enjoy and ranks high for quality of life and affordability. So why does it have the fewest people 65 and older among its population? (Surely not because it has the fewest museums per capita?)

Related: The States Where Most Americans Move After Packing a U-Haul

Adventurous Man Kayaking in Lake McDonald

7th Best: Montana

Retirees who enjoy the outdoors, particularly mountains and national parks, will be fulfilled in Montana, which also ranks high for affordability, tax-friendliness, and quality of life. The state ties for fifth place (with Delaware) for highest percentage of people 65 and older.

Related: Things Every Retiree Should Get Rid Of

Grazing Bison, Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Garrett Rymer/istockphoto

6th Best: North Dakota

Ranking high for health care and quality of life, North Dakota has vast, idyllic landscapes that can set the perfect scene for relaxation. (It’s a tradeoff: North Dakota may have fewer indoor opportunities for recreation, landing, for example, in the bottom five for theaters per capita.)

Related: Adventures for Thrill-Seeking Senior Travelers

Minneapolis Skyline Aerial With Park And Lake

5th Best: Minnesota

This is the top-ranked state for health care, though it has among the nation’s highest costs for in-home services, and comes in third for quality of life. It has some of the highest numbers of theaters per capita, though.

Beachfront Houses

4th Best: Delaware

With one of the highest percentages of people ages 65 and older, and ranked highly for health care and affordable living, Delaware ties for fifth place with Montana for the highest percentage of people 65 and older.

Related: Underrated Places to Retire in the U.S.

Moose at Maroon Lake - A young moose, with only one antler, walking and feeding in Maroon Lake at base of Maroon Bells on a sunny Summer evening. Aspen, Colorado, USA.

3rd Best: Colorado

There is no shortage of beautiful scenery and landscapes in Colorado, making it a perfect place to retire and relax for some. It is also one of the best states for health care and affordability for retirees. But beware: WalletHub identifies it as having the third-highest property crime rate.

The Williamsburg Farmers Market in Merchants Square

2nd Best: Virginia

Retirees thrive in Virginia, which ranks high for health care and quality of life and is also one of the most affordable places to live, with a tax environment friendly to retirees.

Related: Most and Least Tax-Friendly States for Retirees

Gated community houses with palms, South Florida

Best for Retirees: Florida

It’s no surprise Florida — which has the highest percentage of people 65 and older — is named the best state for retirees. While the general assumption is that people flock to the Sunshine State for the weather, Florida also is one of the most affordable states. It ranks high overall for quality of life.

Related: This Is Why So Many People Feel Like They’ll Never Get to Retire

Shreveport, Louisiana, USA Skyline
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

10th Worst: Louisiana

The state ranks near the bottom for quality of life and health care and has the highest property crime rate in the nation.

Related:The Safest Big Cities in the U.S.

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

9th Worst: West Virginia

With the lowest life expectancy in the nation and the lowest percentage of workers age 65 and up, West Virginia is one of the worst states for retirees. The state also ranks near the bottom for health care and quality of life.

Related: Luxurious Places to Retire Across America

Little Rock skyline with Broadway Bridge and the Arkansas River
Pawtuxet Village in Rhode Island

7th Worst: Rhode Island

Rhode Island has some charming towns and quiet beaches, but retirees will find a general lack of affordability — including some of the highest annual costs for in-home services — and a low quality of life.

Related: America's Healthiest States for Seniors, Ranked

Aerial View of the Chicago Suburb of Crystal Lake, Illinois
Jacob Boomsma/istockphoto

6th Worst: Illinois

The Midwest isn’t always the best, especially when it comes to retirement. Illinois is one of the least affordable states and has the lowest WalletHub ranking for tax-friendliness.

Related: Where People Retire the Youngest Around the World

Oklahoma Route 66 Sign along the historic Route 66 in the State of Oklahoma, USA.

5th Worst: Oklahoma

Oklahoma has low rankings for quality of life and health care, including low life expectancy. It does, however, have the fifth-lowest adjusted cost of living — so the dollar stretches here.

Related: This Is the Average Lifespan in Your State

Paducah Riverfront
JT Crawford/istockphoto

4th Worst: Kentucky

Kentucky is another state low on quality of life and health care, including life expectancy, with heavy traffic and a high risk of natural disasters playing a part.

Related: Life Expectancy the Year You Were Born

Row of Beautiful Old Neighborhood Homes along a Sidewalk in Cold Spring New York
James Andrews/istockphoto

3rd Worst: New York

Retirees on a fixed income should steer clear. New York is the least affordable state in the nation and has one of the highest adjusted costs of living. Having the most museums per capita probably doesn’t make up for that.

Vicksburg, Mississippi.

2nd Worst: Mississippi

Mississippi has the lowest quality of life across all 50 states, including the second-worst health care, the second-lowest life expectancy, and the fewest number of theaters per capita — so if you picture enjoying plenty of shows during retirement, you might want to cross this one off the list.

Barnegat Bay with view of Atlantic Ocean and resort towns, looking north

Worst for Retirees: New Jersey

While it’s moderately tax-friendly for retirees, the property tax rate here bears a wallop. And while there’s plenty of access to the arts, experts also identify a risk of social isolation. Overall, New Jersey got to “worst” by being the second-least affordable state and having a low overall quality of life.  Maybe it’s not too late to think about Florida.

Related: Retirement Communities With Homes Under $100,000