This Is the 1 State You Probably Don’t Want to Retire In

Let’s take a wild guess. Either you’re staring retirement in the face right now, or you’re passing the time at work daydreaming about where you’ll be retiring 10 years from now. Regardless of your timeline, one thing’s for sure: You’ll be miles and miles away from the stress of email inboxes and conference calls.

During retirement, we want it all. Years of working well over 40 hours a week have earned you that right to retire in style. This means you’ll want to choose somewhere that offers a nightlife, engaging daytime activities, a good health care system, nice weather, low crime rates, and a low cost of living to afford it all. If moving somewhere new meant meeting all those requirements, would you relocate? About 47% of Americans would.

So when you finally say sayonara to your co-workers and cash that first Social Security check, where will you go? There’s no shortage of good choices out there, and most states would suit your retirement vision just fine. But we can at least point you in the right direction by telling you states you should avoid.

Of course, there are many various retirement rankings out there, but we combined the most prominent ratings from Bankrate and WalletHub to give you the ultimate cheat sheet on retirement. Let’s take a quick look at the 15 worst states to retire in, with the absolute worst state being a good fit for only a few, certain people.

15. Connecticut

man in hammock
You might have a hard time having a relaxing retirement in Connecticut. |

Blink, and you might miss Connecticut. But you won’t be able to ignore the cost of living or tax rates in this tiny state, no matter how hard you try. Both WalletHub and Bankrate look down on its financial burden for retirees. But sufficient scores for culture, health, and quality of life shine through. So retirees must weigh the pros and cons of choosing this state as their retirement home.

Next: An overall lackluster state for retirees.

14. Indiana

Indianapolis skyline
Indianapolis |

There’s no specific category that makes Indiana stand out as the absolute worst. But overall lackluster scores across the retirement board are enough to land the state on our ultimate retirement cheat sheet. Many people would list health care as an important factor when choosing where to retire. And unfortunately, Indiana has some work to do in that respect.

Next: High taxes and inflation are public enemy No. 1.

13. New Jersey

Waves at sunset, Cape May, New Jersey.
Are Cape May, New Jersey, sunsets worth the price? |

Reality TV once made the Jersey Shore a popular tourist destination for beachgoers. But even before cameras and fist-pumping squirmed its way into this state’s legacy, the shore was packed with retirees passing the time on one of the many family-friendly beaches New Jersey offers. But both WalletHub and Bankrate would urge retirees to consider other locations to serve their latter years. Taxes are high, and the cost of living can do some serious damage to your savings.

Next: If friends are what you’re looking for, don’t retire to this next state.

12. Maryland

Bethesda, Maryland
There won’t be many opportunities to make friends in Maryland. |

With a dismal “senior” metric, retirees in Maryland might have a tough time finding other retired friends to play tennis or golf with. Like many of the nearby states, the cost of living will be higher than most. Taxes are also quite high, according to a separate WalletHub survey based on the median U.S income. Residents pay $6,470 in annual state and local taxes. But if they have any money to spare, retirees can enjoy the waterways and coastlines of the Chesapeake Bay during the summer months.

11. New York

Taxi and a Limousine driving along the Brooklyn bridge
New York is one of the worst states to retire. |

Of course, New Yorkers will never run out of things to do, and retiring here could be beneficial if you commonly crave Chinese food at 3 a.m. But for those living upstate or attempting to skate by on a tight budget, a typical New York lifestyle will be hard to maintain. High cost of living and even higher tax rates bring down the retirement group average, regardless of its top score for the culture metric. 

10. California

Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco
Despite its pleasant weather, living in California will be expensive for retirees. |

The abundant California sunshine will come at a steep price, something many retirees fear on a fixed income. It has high taxes, bad health care, and a high cost of living. That might surprise some, as life expectancy is higher in this state than all others. So if you’re one of the few who feel financially prepared to support your retirement lifestyle, then California’s access to culture might outshine its pricey pads.

Don’t let your love of good bourbon cloud your judgment of this next state.

9. Kentucky

Kentucky Derby
Kentucky has bourbon, horses, and bad health care. | Rob Carr/Getty Images

Bluegrass, bourbon, and horse racing. Will there ever be a better combination? Those of you wanting more should consider retiring elsewhere. Despite its low cost of living, resident retirees might have trouble finding entertaining ways to enjoy themselves. What’s worse is Kentucky ranks quite low in health care quality and well-being, a big red flag for retirees.

8. Oklahoma

oklahoma city
Oklahoma City is affordable but lacks a social scene. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Bankrate scores Oklahoma well for affordability, from cost of living to taxes. But it’s falling short in all other imperative retirement categories. If your vision of an agreeable retirement includes a low life expectancy, high crime rates, and even worse scores for overall senior well-being, then pack a bag and head for the Sooner State.

7. Arkansas

Walmart store
The state that gave us Wal-Mart has to be affordable, right? |

Arkansas is the state that gave us Wal-Mart, so we already know it scores big points for affordability. But the positives outweigh the negatives, as it has high crime rates, a low culture rating, and has been named one of the unhealthiest states in America. Retirees looking for a life of good health, entertaining nights, and a safe neighborhood to grow old in should look elsewhere.

6. West Virginia

scenery in West Virginia
There are beautiful scenery and unhealthy people in West Virginia. |

In West Virginia, residents enjoy the ability to live life on a fixed income. However, it’s unclear how much “living” you’ll get to do in this state with limited access to cultural amenities. Bankrate plants it dead last for well-being, too. And it has one of the lowest life expectancies in the country.

5. Mississippi

Welcome to Mississippi
Mississippi is another bad place to retire. |

Those placing precedent on money should consider moving to Mississippi. A low cost of living, ranked No. 1 by Bankrate and WalletHub, might be most important to budget-conscious retirees. But your quality of life might suffer as a result. So retirees who wish to have their cake and eat it, too, might want to relocate out of Mississippi. The state also scores dismally for categories, including health care and culture.

4. Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island
Those looking for affordability and entertainment should avoid Rhode Island in retirement. | Pavone

For people on a fixed income, any cost that could raise monthly expenses is cause for worry. WalletHub reports Rhode Island has some of the biggest budget-crushing tax rates in the U.S. The average resident shells out $7,367 annually in state and local taxes. Throw a poor culture rating into the mix, as well as a chilly weather score, and retirees here will be longing for warm sunshine and white sand by November.

3. Hawaii

jet ski in the pacific ocean
A life of luxury in Hawaii will come at a steep price. | CBS

Despite gorgeous weather year-round, utility bills in Hawaii are high, averaging over $187 a month for just electricity. Both WalletHub and Bankrate score this culture-rich state with the highest cost of living nationally. Still, this tropical oasis scores No. 1 for resident well-being.

2. New Mexico

Albuquerque new Mexico
New Mexico is a trade-off in retirement. | grichenko

Yes, New Mexico might be on the podium for states with the best weather conditions. But its average temperatures get overlooked by seriously lacking health care and disheartening tax rates. Even worse, it’s ranked as the absolute worst state for crime, according to Bankrate, with WalletHub citing its property crime rates as dangerous. Cities, including Gallup and Espanola, are considered the most dangerous.

1. Alaska

man fishing
There might be very few days you can fish in a T-shirt in Alaska. |

It takes a certain person to enjoy Alaska. The state outshines its competitors by drawing consistently terrible scores in affordability, health care, culture, percentage of other retirees in the area, and crime. But worst of all, the dreary weather patterns will get you. Northern lights will only keep you sane for a few months before the snow and clouds push you over the edge. Maybe the Alaska weather is why retirees tend to fly south for the winter.

Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.

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