Planning the perfect retirement takes some work. Packing up and heading for the beach may sound great, but your retirement money could go out with the tide.
Some super popular retirement destinations are very expensive and would eat through your savings in a heartbeat. Meanwhile, more affordable places can suffer from high crime, poor health care, and some truly punishing weather.
We've considered living costs, health care, and climate to come up with this countdown of the worst states for retirees. Don’t go here!
If you dream of quitting and getting away from it all, Alaska just might fit the bill. Its stunning natural beauty, world-renowned stargazing, mouthwatering seafood and unique year-round festivals all make for the adventure of a lifetime.
But while it may be a fantastic place to visit, Alaska is not ideal for people looking to move for their retirement.
Although state and city taxes and real estate prices are lower than in other states, the cost of living is very high in Alaska. This is because most food, clothing and basic items have to be flown in from elsewhere.
The cost of health care also is the highest in the U.S. and rising, says CNN. Here, a standard knee replacement could cost five times more than in Seattle
9. New Mexico
In New Mexico, you will find stunning mountains, white sand dunes, and plenty of outdoor fun to keep you active at your own pace. Need a break? Well, you sit back with a glass of award-winning local wine and watch the carnivals go by.
Sounds great, right? But although the state has adequate health care and a decent number of doctors for the population, New Mexico can’t seem to strike a balance between cost and quality of housing and lifestyle.
Housing costs are 5% above the national average in Albuquerque and almost 20% higher than average in sought-after Santa Fe.
In Las Cruces, violent crime and property crimes are among the highest in the nation.
8. Rhode Island
With more than 100 beaches, mouthwatering seafood, odd local delicacies, and decent nightlife, shopping in Providence, little Rhodie is its own unique brand of fun.
Too bad no amount of clam chowder will keep you warm during the winter nor’easters that’ll bury your house until well into spring. Add in the high taxes and astronomical cost of living, and you’ll see why Rhode Island is less than ideal for most retirees.
Safe and desirable areas such as Newport are prohibitively expensive to live in, while up-and-coming capital Providence has a history of political corruption.
The tiny state also suffers from the worst transportation infrastructure in the country and some of the highest electricity prices, according to data by McKinsey. At least Rhode Island can boast that its health care is ranked seventh in the nation.
Thirsty for a nightcap? Look no further than bourbon, the only drink you’ll ever need in Kentucky. Life is all about the simple pleasures: Kids still play outdoors, football’s a religion (GO WILDCATS!!) — and maybe it’s the sheer number of wild turkeys and deer, but hunting sure is popular.
However, 11% of Kentucky seniors live in poverty, and Kiplinger found average health care costs for a retired couple total more than $384,000.
Senior health is poor, due to higher-than-average rates of smoking, a lack of physical activity, and limited access to affordable and nutritious food.
These issues pretty much even out the benefits of the generally low cost of living in the Bluegrass State.
The Natural State sure lives up to its name. Seniors living in Arkansas can look forward to an active retirement, hitting the trails and enjoying the spectacular scenery. And forget beaches — in Arkansas, you can sit back, relax and float down a creek instead.
Unfortunately, the state’s pretty hot springs haven’t kept it from being rated a terrible place for seniors.
Bankrate notes Arkansas has one of the nation’s highest crime rates, and one of the lowest scores for health care. WalletHub’s most recent ranking put the state dead last for quality of life.
Still, Arkansas wins high marks for affordability. You’ll have to decide if that outweighs the crushing summer humidity and resulting hordes of hungry mosquitoes.
5. New York
You might be surprised at what New York state has to offer retirees. Not far from the center of the universe that is Manhattan, you will find amazing trails and skiing in the stunning Catskill Mountains, peaceful little towns, and lovely wineries.
But no matter where you settle, the cost of living in New York state is 29%, which is well above the national average.
To cap it all off, Bankrate put New York 48th among the states for senior health care costs and quality of life.
New York might be an interesting place with lots of variety, but the fact is the state doesn’t offer much support for retirees living on a fixed income.
Hawaii sure seems like paradise with its gorgeous weather, beaches and jungles, laid-back lifestyle, and amazing food. But the high cost of living will eat through your retirement savings faster than you’d think.
The islands have limited space for housing, which drives up rents and home prices. This also pushes most people to live in expensive high-rises in crowded cities.
In addition, Hawaii is so far from everything, basic household items, clothing and groceries must be flown in and often cost twice as much as on the mainland. Hawaiians also pay the highest gasoline prices in the U.S.
If you can put up with the vog (volcanic smog), overcrowding, and clueless tourists, then you might enjoy retiring in Hawaii. Just make lots of local friends, because you won’t be able to afford to visit your mainland friends and family anytime soon.
3. West Virginia
If you seek a quiet retirement in absolutely stunning natural surroundings, then you might hear West Virginia calling your name. But before you pack up and head for these hills, it’s important you know all the facts.
It’s true the cost of living is 3% below the U.S. average, and the Mountain State is considered tax-friendly for retirees. Unfortunately, the good news ends there.
West Virginia is the fattest state and has the country’s fifth most unhealthy seniors, says the United Health Foundation. McKinsey reports that the state has relatively expensive health care and the fewest visits to dentists in the nation.
And sadly, because of the declining coal industry, many of the state’s small towns are crumbling — while rates of property crimes climb.
2. New Jersey
New Jersey has a lot to offer, including sandy beaches, sunny boardwalks, great golfing, delectable restaurants, and a hugely diverse population. But New Jersey earned No. 2 on our list because the high taxes and cost of living can really strain a budget.
Home values have been climbing for years and have reached a median price of $311,600, and renting isn’t cheap, either. The state also has the second-highest combined state and local tax burden in America.
Residents have to report annuities, pensions, and some IRA withdrawals during tax season, which can be costly and time-consuming for retirees.
In addition, the state sales tax is almost 7%, which raises the prices of restaurant meals, furniture, and car repairs, among other things. No wonder the cost of living in New Jersey is 22% above the national average!
Why is Louisiana our pick for the very worst state to retire in? To be fair, it’s got a lot of positives, including the super friendly people who’ll be your neighbors, a unique food and music culture, and amazing natural beauty.
But suffocating summer heat and humidity, and Category 4 or 5 hurricanes make living here less enjoyable. Further, inconveniencing residents are the 9.88% sales tax, which is the nation’s highest, and the second-highest crime rate in the U.S.
Add in low-quality health care and hungry alligators, and you’ve got a recipe for retirement disaster.
But if you’re still lured by Louisiana’s southern charm, then a study by Movoto recommends Inniswold, with a lower crime rate than the rest of the state and more temperate summers, or pretty Belle Chasse, renowned for its seafood and Cajun cooking.