10 Worst States in America for Retirement Living

man and woman enjoying retirement at a beach

Retirement | Source: iStock

How do you plan on enjoying retirement? If you’re like most Americans, just reaching the financial milestone is a lifelong endeavor. Obstacles such as stagnant wages, rising living expenses, and inadequate savings force many people to make difficult decisions about their so-called golden years.

Location can play a key role in your retirement planning, as some states are simply better suited to offer desirable benefits to retirees. In order to analyze which states might be most and least appealing, MoneyRates looked at 11 different data series across five major categories to rank each state. The five major categories are listed below.

  • Senior population: By looking at both the current proportion of seniors and the growth rate of that population segment, the report accounts not just for how many of their peers seniors can expect to find in different states, but also how well each state is attracting older residents.
  • Economics: Takes into account taxes, cost of living, and unemployment, to measure whether a state is affordable and has a thriving economy.
  • Crime: This category takes into account both violent and property crime.
  • Weather: A combination of temperature, precipitation, and hours of sunshine to measure how each state’s climate will appeal to retirees.
  • Senior life expectancy: How long a state’s residents typically live after age 65. This reflects on both the healthiness of the state’s environment and the level of medical care available.

Personal preference is critical when determining your retirement spot, but let’s take a look at the 10 worst states in America for retirees, according to MoneyRates.

 10. Alabama

scene of downtown Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama | Source: iStock

Alabama ranks poorly in two categories: life expectancy and crime. The state is among the worst in the nation in terms of life expectancy at age 65. Meanwhile, its violent and property crime rates are in the top 10.

9. Michigan

Source: Geoff George

Saginaw, Michigan | Source: Geoff George

Michigan appears to be an ideal state considering that the size and growth rate of its senior population are above the national averages. However, the state ranks below average in every other category, especially with economic factors.

8. New York (tie)

Aerial photo of New York City at night

New York City | Mario Tama/Getty Images

New York along with two other states tied for eighth place. While some might assume New York suffers from high crime rates, the state actually has the lowest rate of property crime per capita in the nation. Nonetheless, the climate ranks poorly, and economic factors such as high cost of living and high property taxes make it less than ideal for retirement.

8. Maryland (tie)

Maryland state capitol

Maryland state capitol | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Maryland ranks poorly in economic factors due to a high cost of living that can deplete modest incomes and retirement accounts. The state also has more crime than the national average, while its senior population is smaller than average.

8. Georgia (tie)

Atlanta, Georgia

Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia | Source: iStock

Georgia is the third state in the three-way tie. Georgia ranks very well for its climate, but is well below average in every other category, which is enough to put it in the bottom 10 overall.

5. Nevada

The interchange at U.S. Route 95 and Rainbow Boulevard known as the Rainbow Curve is seen in an aerial view on February 20, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Las Vegas, Nevada | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Nevada is the fifth worst state in America for retirement. Violent crime per capita in Nevada is the second worst of any state, which is enough to make crime the state’s biggest problem in the study. Also, Nevada’s economy has been struggling for several years, and life expectancy for older residents is well below the national median.

4. Illinois


Downtown Chicago, Illinois | Source: iStock

A combination of a weak labor market and high property taxes place Illinois as the fourth worst state in the nation for retirement. It may seem unusual to include labor conditions in a retirement ranking, but MoneyRates notes that more retirees are working part-time jobs these days. Illinois’ proportion of older people in its population is well below the national average.

3. Tennessee

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Competitor Group, Inc. (CGI), organizers of the Country Music Marathon, announced a new title partnership as the official benefiting charity of the Country Music Marathon. The 2012 event will be rebranded as the St. Jude Country Music Marathon & � Marathon presented by Nissan and will take place Saturday, April 28. Today's event was held at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on October 7, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Nashville, Tennessee | Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Tennessee ranks poorly due to high crime and low life expectancy. The state has the highest incidence per capita of violent crime in the country, and finds itself among the worst 10 for property crime as well. Furthermore, Tennessee has a bottom-10 ranking for senior life expectancy.

2. Louisiana

Dusk falls over Bourbon Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, 11 July 2006, almost one year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. For tourists strolling through the French Quarter it's easy to forget that Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans a year ago. The beignets are fresh, trinkets and designer clothes are artfully arranged in shop windows, and hurricanes are spinning in the bars on Bourbon Street. But while the music, food and good times have come back, the crowds have not and the city is struggling to make ends meet while its main industry remains crippled. With more than 10 million visitors a year, tourism was once a 5.5 billion dollar industry in New Orleans, accounting for 40 percent of the city's tax revenues and employing 85,000 people. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

New Orleans, Louisiana | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Louisiana has one of the smallest senior populations in the country due to a variety of issues. Crime is a big problem in Louisiana, and the life expectancy at age 65 is relatively low. The state’s climate helps save it from being the worst spot in the country for retirement.

1. Alaska

Alaskan malamute

Alaskan malamute | Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, Alaska ranks as the worst state in America for retirement. It has the worst-rated weather in the nation, along with a bottom-10 ranking for its economic factors. Alaska has a high cost of living and a weak labor market. In fact, Alaska ranks below average in every category in the study, and has the lowest proportion of people ages 65-and-older of any state. In short, it takes a very unique retiree to find Alaska as the best option.

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