The Friendliest (and Least Friendly) States for $1 Million in Retirement Savings
You’d think being a millionaire would be enough to get you through retirement. In many cases, it will be. If you have $1 million between various investments and retirement accounts, it should, in theory, be enough to get you through your golden years. But as we all know, things happen — expensive things. Changes to our health care or tax systems can bring about unexpected expenses, as can natural disasters or illnesses.
And where you live also plays a huge factor in whether your retirement savings will get you to the finish line. In fact, it might be the biggest single variable in the whole retirement equation. Some places are vastly more expensive than others — it’s as simple as that. Because of that, your retirement savings will burn up faster if you live in expensive areas rather than cheaper ones.
A report from HowMuch.net took the variables into account and popped out a ranking of which states are the best and worst for someone with $1 million in savings. Specifically, it crunches the numbers to see how long that $1 million will last in each state. In some states, retirees shouldn’t plan on getting more than a decade and a half out of those savings. Others will be able to get by twice as long. On the following pages, we’ll look at which states are the best and worst for a $1 million nest egg.
First up we have the worst (or least friendly) states for your $1 million retirement nest egg.
- Living in Alaska, you can count on $1 million to last 16 years and 10 months.
Many people assume life in Alaska is cheap. But they couldn’t be more wrong. Because it’s so rural and isolated from the rest of the country, the cost of living can be surprisingly expensive. You’ll pay more for goods and services, as well as things, such as insurance. Rent and mortgages may not be that bad, but everything else adds up. If you have $1 million in tow for after you retire, the data says it will last less than 17 years.
Next: New England’s most populous state
- $1 million in retirement savings will stretch for 16 years and 8 months in Massachusetts.
If retirement is a “tea party,” your tea party in Massachusetts will also last less than 17 years — assuming, of course, that you’re starting out with a cool $1 million in your coffers. Massachusetts is a fairly expensive state (like several of the following), with relatively high taxes and a high cost of living. For those reasons, you’ll eat through your savings faster than you’d like. The total, per our data, is 16 years and 8 months. But that’s longer than in some other areas, as we’ll see.
Next: The state home to the country’s largest city
5. New York
- Plan to live on $1 million in New York for 16 years and 7 months.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. New York — the state, not just the city — is expensive for retirees. Of course, it’s a lot more expensive in New York City than, say, Albany or Rochester. And that’s what puts New York on this part of our list. The cost of living is high, and as a result your savings won’t last as long as they would in other states. The average time it’ll take you to blast through $1 million in New York is 16 years and 7 months.
Next: We head out to the Pacific Northwest.
- You’ll plow through your savings fast in Oregon, with $1 million evaporating in 16 years and 7 months.
Oregon in the Pacific Northwest is a continent away from states, such as Massachusetts and New York. But like those states, it isn’t all that friendly to retirees. In Oregon, your savings will last just as long as they would in New York, at an average of 16 years and 7 months. Naturally, this will depend on where you live. Life’s more expensive in Portland and Cannon Beach than it is in Burns or The Dalles. But still, it’s expensive nonetheless.
Next: California, here we come.
- In the country’s most populous state, $1 million will last for 15 years.
You knew California was going to creep up at some point on this part of the list, and here it is. All told, California is No. 3 in terms of the “least friendly” states for your retirement savings and investments. On average, you’ll only get 15 years out of that amount of money living in the state. But again, there are many variables at play. Life in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego is going to bleed you dry a lot faster than in Fresno or Weed.
Next: It’s not a state, but it’ll chew through your retirement savings fast.
- Living in Washington is expensive. $1 million will only last 14 years and 2 months.
So the District of Columbia isn’t actually a state, but for our purposes (and HowMuch.net’s) we’re counting it as one. And, as you might have suspected, D.C. is a pretty pricey place to live. If you choose to retire to the nation’s capital, you can expect to run through $1 million in 14 years and 2 months. You can blame the high cost of living, including high housing costs, for that, though you might be able to retire on the cheap a short distance away.
Next: The least friendly state for your retirement accounts
- Everyone wants to retire to Hawaii, but $1 million will be gone in 13 years and 1 month.
Everybody dreams of retiring to Hawaii. And why not? It’s an island paradise that is always warm, has no shortage of activities, and has everything else you could ever need. But, because everybody wants to live there, it’s expensive. In fact, it’s the most expensive place to live for retirees. That data says $1 million will be gone in a little more than 13 years on average. Don’t give up on the dream, but be aware of what the dream costs.
Next: These next states are the friendliest for your $1 million in retirement savings.
- Your retirement savings will last a while in the South, and in Georgia $1 million will get you through 24 years and 1 month.
Now that we’re out of the weeds, we can look at which states are actually “friendly” toward retirees. We’ll countdown from No. 8, and that leads us to Georgia. If you remember that life in Hawaii would eat through $1 million in about 13 years, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that the same amount of money will keep you going for more than 24 years in Georgia. Is it the same as Hawaii? No. But it’s a lot cheaper.
Next: A Rust Belt state that’s fairly affordable post-retirement
- In Michigan, $1 million will stretch for 24 years and 4 months.
Michigan has been through a tough stretch over the past few decades. As the economy’s sagged due to outsourcing of manufacturing, the cost of living has gone down. There are good things and bad things about that, but when it comes to retiring it’s generally a plus. That’s why Michigan earns a spot on the list. A $1 million retirement nest egg will last for 24 years and 4 months in Michigan, almost twice as long as it will in a place like Hawaii.
Next: Another state in the Midwest that’ll allow you to preserve retirement funds
- Missouri’s no different: $1 million will get you through a quarter century.
South of Michigan (if you’re not crazy about those notorious winters), Missouri also offers retirees a friendly atmosphere. While the state is largely rural, you’ll still be able to visit two major cities in Kansas City and St. Louis. Life may be more expensive in either of those places, but generally the cost of living is much lower than in coastal states. If you have $1 million to go off of, it’ll last more than 25 years in Missouri. Again, compare that to California or Hawaii.
Next: One of Missouri’s many neighbors
- Okies with more than $1 million in retirement savings can get by for 24 years and 4 months.
If Missouri isn’t really doing it for you, why not test the waters in Oklahoma? While you don’t typically think of Oklahoma as a retirement destination, the cost of living might change your mind. Again, it’s largely rural and featureless, but that just means there’s more available savings and less demand. According to our data from HowMuch.net, if you have $1 million saved up to retire on, you can make it last for 24 years and 4 months in Oklahoma.
Next: We stick close to Oklahoma but inch north.
- Kansas might not be very exciting, but it’s a blessing for your retirement accounts.
The state of Kansas has its problems — there’s no getting around that. But if you dream of a quiet life, it might be the place for you. Again, Kansas is absolutely nothing like Hawaii, California, or New York. Truth be told, there’s not a lot there — it’s very rural and sparsely populated outside of its cities. But it is pretty darn cheap. Assuming you have at least $1 million saved, a retiree can make it last for 24 years and 5 months.
Next: We’re not venturing far from Kansas or the other Midwestern states we’ve looked at so far.
- $1 million in Tennessee will last 24 years and 5 months.
Fun puns aside, Tennessee might be a great place to retire if you fancy yourself some Southern living. There’s a lot to like in Tennessee — from the entertainment and culture in Nashville to pro basketball in Memphis. And the most important thing — the cost — it’s not too shabby. The cost of living is generally low in Tennessee, which means you can get away with stretching $1 million well into your golden years.
Next: What did Tennessee? (You know the answer. Search within yourself.)
- “Arkan saw” $1 million in retirement savings lasting for 25 years.
Yet another state that doesn’t really top lists of “retirement destinations” is Arkansas. It’s another state right there in that golden zone — including Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas — that provides cheap cost of living for those looking to make their money last. It landed in second place in terms of “friendliest” places for a $1 million nest egg. And if you play your cards right, it’ll last for 25 years in Arkansas.
Finally: The state where you can make $1 million in retirement savings stretch for the longest period of time
- In Mississippi, $1 million will get you through 25 years and 6 months.
Now, you might not be crazy about the idea of retiring to Mississippi. The state gets a tough rap and has a reputation for being backward in a number of ways. But if your goal is to retire on the cheap and to make your money last, Mississippi simply can’t be beaten. According to the data from HowMuch.net, $1 million in retirement savings will and should last more than a quarter century — a full 25 years and 6 months. Thus, it’s our winner.
See the complete report at HowMuch.net.
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