5 of the Worst States to Retire In

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Many people choose to move after retirement — either to be somewhere warmer, somewhere more affordable or otherwise desirable, or somewhere closer to family. There are many things you should consider when choosing your retirement home, and location is one of the most important. Unfortunately, there are some places that are not ideal for retirement. While it’s true that the five states mentioned in this article might be right for some people, overall, they are not ideal retirement locations for several reasons.

Bankrate recently came out with the list 2014s Best Places to Retire: How Your State Ranks, and our list of the worst states to retire to is based on the cost of living, crime rate, healthcare quality, state and local tax burden, personal well-being, and weather data that it collected. The states were ranked from 1-50 (one being the best), but we are highlighting the bottom five. Take a look — many of them might surprise you. We also highlighted the best state for retirees in case you are curious.

1. New York

New York came in on Bankrate’s list as number 50, the worst state for retirees. New York got a 65.5 score for well-being (scores were based on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and indicated that residents were happy with their surroundings), which isn’t a bad score. However, the cost of living score of 129.1 is high, and much of New York is very expensive to live in. The tax burden was 12.6 (percent of state income), making it the highest out of all fifty states. Although in the past people often thought of New York as a pretty violent place to live, the violent crime score of 406.8 violent crimes per 100,000 people isn’t as high as many other states — but it isn’t low either. The property crime score of 1,922 crimes per 100,000 people is actually low compared to other states. For possible sunshine, the state received a 50.8, which was one of the lowest scores on the list. In addition, New York gets very cold and often gets a lot of snow, which many people don’t like.

West Virginia

2. West Virginia

West Virginia came in at number 49 on the list of the best states for retirement, just behind New York at the very end. West Virginia’s well-being score of 61.4 was the lowest on the list, meaning that residents were slightly less satisfied then residents living in other states. The state’s healthcare quality score of 32.8 was also really low, which would be a particular concern for retirees. The state’s violent crime and property crime were comparable to many other states, as was the tax burden, but the possible sunshine score was one of the lowest of all the states, and sunshine is important for many people choosing somewhere to retire.

With little sunshine, a low well-being score, and a poor healthcare quality score, West Virginia might not be an ideal place to retire.

Alaska

3. Alaska

Coming in at number 48 on the list of the best states, Alaska took our spot for the third worst state in the nation for retirement. People usually think of Alaska as a dark state, and with a 37.7 percent score for possible sunshine, it did have the lowest score on the list for that category. On the other hand, the well-being score of 67.7 was relatively high. Overall, Alaska is very expensive, and received a score of 135.5 for cost of living, which was one of the highest on the list. In addition, the healthcare quality ranking of 38.1 was very low. Many people would also prefer not to retire to a state with a high crime rate, and Alaska received a 603.2 rating for violent crime, which was one of the highest in the nation.

For many retirees, Alaska is too dark, too expensive, and possibly has too much crime to be the right choice for retirement.

Arkansas

4. Arkansas

Arkansas had a few very negative ratings. The well-being score of 64.3 is slightly lower than most of the other states, although with a cost of living score of 91.5, Arkansas is actually fairly affordable overall. The healthcare quality score of 36.5 is lower than most of the other states, though. Arkansas also has a 10.3 percent tax burden, which is pretty high. The violent crime score is also fairly high, including 469.1 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The property crime rate is even worse, with 3,660.1 crimes per 100,000 people.

Between the lower well-being score, low healthcare quality score, high crime rates, and high tax burden, Arkansas seems like a poor choice for retirement despite being affordable.

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5. Hawaii

Living in Hawaii is a dream for many people, and probably seems like an ideal place to retire — in theory. It is beautiful and warm, and there are so many outside activities to enjoy. Unfortunately, in addition to being beautiful, it is also extremely expensive; Hawaii earned a 158.1 for cost of living (which was the highest score of all the states.) The 9.6 percent tax burden doesn’t help costs, either. Property crime is fairly high in Hawaii too (3075.2 crimes per 100,000 people.)

Hawaii is one of the most surprising states at the bottom of the list of the best places to retire. However, the high cost of living really makes it impossible for many people seeking an affordable place to retire. It might be a better choice for a vacation than a permanent home.

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Although many people think of Florida as the retiree capital of the nation, it actually came in at number 39 on the list of the best places. South Dakota came in at number one best place to retire when all factors were considered. South Dakota came in second only to North Dakota for it’s well-being score of 70. South Dakota received a 99.2 score for cost of living, which is comparable to many other states, and a 54.2 score for healthcare quality, which is also comparable to many other states. However, the state received a 7.1 for tax burden, meaning the percentage of state income, which is lower than most of the other states. The state’s violent crime score was near the middle of other states’, with 321.8 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The property crime rate was lower than most states though, with 2,060.1 crimes per 100,000 people. The possible sunshine average percentage was 63, and 71.5 percent was the average humidity. South Dakota has some advantages and disadvantages, but the high well-being score and low tax burden make the state a good choice for retirees.

No matter where you decide to retire, you have to determine which state, and which city or town, is best for you. Although these states came in as the worst states for retirement, some of the factors might be more important than others to you. This means that one of these states might be perfect for you (for example, if you are set on money, Hawaii might be just fine.) No list can tell you exactly which state is right for you personally, but hopefully we gave you something to think about.

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