You’ll Never Guess Which State Is No. 1 on the List of Best States for Retirees

Retirement - Next Exit Road
Choosing where to live in retirement is a big decision. | Kateywhat/Getty Images

If you want a happy retirement, where you live is a big part of it. There are some states retirees can’t leave fast enough, just as there are some cities that are ideal for retirees. Now we know the best and worst states for retirees.

MoneyRates ranked the best states for retirees in the U.S., and Arizona and Florida didn’t come out on top. Here’s the state that did.

The 5 worst states to retire in

Before we let you know the 10 best states for retirees, we’re going to shine a light on the five states you should drop from your retirement list. MoneyRates looked at the environment, security, economy, and the weather to pick the worst states. Here are the five you should avoid in retirement.

Next: Property taxes will ruin your retirement cash flow.

5. Illinois

The state capitol building in Springfield, Illinois.
Illinois just isn’t affordable. | fotoguy22/iStock/Getty Images
  • Illinois is not very affordable.
  • Quality healthcare is lacking.

The Land of Lincoln is one of the states retirees can’t wait to move away from, and it’s easy to see why. Some of the worst property taxes in the country make Illinois one of the least affordable states. WalletHub ranks it No. 40 on the retiree affordability list. U.S. News & World Report rates the healthcare No. 37 nationally.

Next: If you need to get a retirement job, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one.

4. Washington

Main Terminal of Washington Dulles International Airport at dusk in Virginia, USA.
Health care is good in Washington State, but the cost of living is high. | joeravi/iStock/Getty Images
  • Retirees will spend more money than in most other places.
  • On the other hand, the health care is amazing

MoneyRates lists Washington as slightly below average for climate and security, but the economy is what hurts the state. If you ruin your fixed income, which isn’t hard in a state ranked No. 34 for affordability by WalletHub, then finding a job is hard. On the flip side, U.S. News & World Report rates Washington No. 3 for quality healthcare.

Next: Bad health care is just the tip of the iceberg.

3. Louisiana

New Orleans, LA, USA
Crime and poor health care don’t make Louisiana very welcoming to retirees. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images
  • Louisiana is one of the worst states for quality health care.
  • The crime rate doesn’t help the cause.

If the lack of quality healthcare doesn’t make you pause, then the crime will. Louisiana ranks No. 48 for quality healthcare, but the crime rate is really a cause for concern. It’s one of the most dangerous states, with MoneyRates noting very high violent and property crime rates.

Next: Your dollar stretches, but the crime is too much to take.

2. Nevada

Las Vegas Strip and Flamingo Hotel Casino at night
Nevada is budget-friendly, but high crime is a problem. | diegograndi/getty Images
  • Nevada is good for retiring on a budget.
  • It’s one of the worst states for the worst kinds of crime.

The lack of a state income tax makes Nevada one of the affordable states, and that’s good news for retirees. However, the high crime rates offset the affordability factor. 24/7 Wall St. reports both the murder rate and violent crime rate in Nevada are among the 10 worst nationally.

Next: A laundry list of lowlights make this the worst state to retire in.

1. Alaska

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The weather is just the tip of the iceberg. | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Getty Images
  • Dreadful weather is just part of the problem.
  • Alaska isn’t very affordable for retirees.

The long and cold winters and rugged landscape are just part of the problem for retirees in Alaska. It’s one of the least affordable states, as MoneyRates reports the cost of living is 31% higher than the national average. It also has the highest violent crime rate in the country. Put all those factors together, and you get the worst state for retirees.

Next: We’ve seen the worst, now let’s look at the best.

The 10 best states for retirees

Now that we’ve shown you the worst states to retire in, it’s time to tour the best states. As with the worst states, MoneyRates accounted for weather, environment, economy, and security to come up with its list of best retirement states. Here they are.

10. Virginia

Richmond, Virginia, USA
Retirees enjoy good weather and low crime rates in Virginia. |
  • Low crime goes in the pro column for Virginia.
  • The weather helps makes up for tax code.

If you’re a retiree concerned about crime, then Virginia is your Valhalla. According to U.S. News & World Report, the state has some of the lowest rates of violent and property crimes in the U.S. Virginians have to pay a high state income tax, but the moderate climate helps make up for it.

Next: It’s affordable, and natural disasters are rare.

9. Kansas

skyline of Kansas City
You can really stretch your retirement dollar in Kansas. |
  • Pleasant weather in Kansas is a plus.
  • Your retirement dollar stretches pretty far.

A disastrous tax experiment apparently doesn’t hinder Kansas’ status as one of the best states for retirees. The state enjoys a lot of mild weather and doesn’t have to deal with too many natural disasters. At. No. 27 overall, it’s near the middle of the pack for affordability, so your retirement dollar stretches pretty far.

Next: We’re about to spend some time in one corner of the country.

8. New Hampshire

Winter at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
You don’t have to pay sales tax in New Hampshire. | coleong/Getty Images
  • You hardly have to think about crime.
  • There isn’t any sales tax in New Hampshire.

A couple of factors put New Hampshire on the list of best states for retirees. First, the state has the lowest property crime rate and third-lowest violent crime rate in the U.S. Second, there isn’t any sales tax. And for retirees looking to remain active, the summer hiking and winter skiing are top-notch.

Next: The laws here appeal to a certain set of retirees.

7. Vermont

Woodstock, Vermont
Vermont is a dream retirement destination for some retirees. | Comstock/iStock/Getty Images
  • Violent crime is virtually nonexistent in Vermont.
  • A certain type of retiree will love it here.

Vermont is No. 2 in violent crime rate nationally, so it’s one of the safest states for everybody, including retirees. The state ranks No. 18 for quality healthcare, so finding a good doctor isn’t very hard. Vermont also has some of the loosest marijuana laws, which should appeal to a certain type of retiree.

Next: Three major pluses offset the weather.

6. Idaho

Idaho Falls, Idaho
Idaho is very affordable. | Danamallard51/iStock/Getty Images
  • Retirees receive great health care here.
  • Idaho is one of the most affordable places to live.

As MoneyRates notes, Idaho’s overall chilly weather turns off some retirees, but it more than makes up for it elsewhere. The state has some of the lowest violent and property crime rates in the country. Not only that, but it’s No. 6 for quality healthcare and it’s also one of the most affordable places to live.

Next: Let’s head back east again.

5. Maine

Maine scenery
There are lots of other retrees in Maine to keep you company. | Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
  • One of the highest proportions of retirement-aged people in the U.S.
  • Maine residents enjoy exceptional health care.

Believe it or not, MoneyRates reports Maine’s proportion of people 65 and older is No. 2. Clearly, the state has something going for it. Maine is ranked No. 10 in quality healthcare, according to U.S. News, and the mild summers and downright pleasant.

Next: Try to avoid doing a spit take.

4. Florida

St. Petersburg, Florida,
There’s a reason so many people retire in Florida. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images
  • It’s the most affordable place to live.
  • Retirees are sure to love the taxes in Florida.

There are several reasons why Florida is the most hated state in America. Yet it’s also one of the best states for retirees. Aside from brutal summers, the weather is ideal. It’s the most affordable state, and retirees enjoy a great quality of life. Plus, Florida doesn’t have any state income tax, and residents get some of the biggest tax refunds in the U.S.

Next: Clear weather makes this state a retirement winner.

3. Arizona

Mesa, Arizona
Snowbirds flock to Arizona. | RobertSilberblatt/iStock/Getty Images
  • A great state for retirees seeking clear weather.
  • Arizona’s health care is a plus.

Despite having some of the highest sales taxes in the U.S., Arizona is still one of the best retirement states. The weather is clear more often than not, and the state offers some of the best quality healthcare in the country. The big downside is the crime, as Arizona is one of the worst states for property and violent crime rates.

Next: The weather and the healthcare are top notch.

2. Hawaii

Dusk at sea from the island of Kauai, Hawaii.
The cost of living is high, but you are living in paradise. | Miguel Pereira/Cover/Getty Images
  • Welcome to literal paradise
  • Easy access to quality health care

Your retirement finances need to be solid because Hawaii has the highest cost of living in the U.S., but there are payoffs. For one, Hawaii’s weather is terrific. The average high in the summer is 85 degrees, and in the winter it’s 78. Plus, Hawaiians have easy access to outstanding healthcare, which is one of the reasons the state is among the best states for retirees.

Next: Get ready for a shocker.

1. Iowa

Des Moines Skyline, Iowa Women of Achievement bridge and the river all in one great night shot
Iowa is the best retirement state in America. | KudicM/Getty Images
  • Your safety is almost guaranteed.
  • The health care in Iowa is exceptional.

Iowa? Yes, Iowa. The state comes in as the best state for retirement on the MoneyRates list for a few reasons. It has some of the lowest murder and unemployment rates of any state in the U.S., according to 24/7 Wall St. The access to and quality of healthcare are top-notch, and the state has a stable economy. Put it all together, and Iowa tops the list of best states for retirees.

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