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Retirement Planning: Top 10 Best and Worst States to Retire

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Dreaming of retirement? Take some time to consider multiple factors that impact retirees so that you can make a sound decision about where to retire. Check out the things you need to include in your decision as well as these lists of the best and worst states to retire.

Retirement means the end of your career as you know it, but it’s certainly not the end of living your life. You may not be punching a clock or wondering how to tackle your latest work project, but your retirement plan does bring up new questions you need to answer. When do you want to retire? Where do you want to spend your days once you aren’t reporting to work everyday?

While many people retire somewhere around the age of 65, there are many factors that go into taking the plunge into retirement. Many people retire around that age because it coincides with when you can begin receiving Social Security benefits (or maybe pension checks). 

However, there are many people who can’t retire for several years after that or can’t afford to retire where they want to.

Fact: Twenty-six percent of non-retired adults have no money saved for retirement according to the Federal Reserve. This figure sheds light on the fact that many people aren’t able to retire when they want to because unfortunately, Social Security or pension benefits alone aren’t enough to cover living expenses.

Also Read: How do Social Security Benefits Work During Retirement? 

Retirement planning. Worst states for retirement.

Identifying The Best and Worst States for Retirement

In addition to deciding when you can afford to retire, you have to decide where to retire. Should you settle down right where you have been living, downsize where it’s warm and the snowbirds visit, or move closer to the kids and grandkids?

Many people spend decades in locations dictated by their employment. Retirement offers the opportunity to live in a location where you want to spend your time. 

Keep in mind that this is not a one-dimensional decision as there are many factors to consider. When choosing which state to retire in, consider these factors.

Also Read: 6 Ways to Retire in Luxury with Less Money

Proximity to Family and Friends

Social and support networks are a crucial factor when deciding where to retire. Many people find it difficult to make new friends when they retire, and friends are important for mental and emotional well being in retirement. 

If you have friends who live in a certain area, consider retiring near them.

Cost of Living

Compare the cost of living of the place where you live now compared to the place(s) where you want to move. Running the analysis will let you know whether you have the means to live somewhere more expensive. 

As you work through your planning, make sure to factor in selling your current home and buying a new one (which may be cheaper or more expensive depending on where you move).


This may sound silly. However, it’s definitely an important factor in determining where you want to retire. If you hate snow and cold weather, then retiring to the mountains or somewhere cold most of the year may not be right for you. Do you really want to be dealing with hurricanes or sweltering in 100+ degree heat?

Keep weather in mind as you choose where to live after retirement, especially if you enjoy spending your time outside.

Presence of Other Retirees 

In addition to considering where current friends live, you will likely make additional friends over time. That’s why it’s important to look at the percentage of people over 65 living in the area. 

You’re more likely to make lasting friendships with other people in your same stage of life than you are with the 35-year-olds who are raising kids and climbing the corporate ladder.

Enjoyable Hobbies and Activities 

How do you want to spend your time after you retire? Having hobbies is a great way to spend time – and connect with other people. And having hobbies makes for a much healthier and more enjoyable retirement than sitting around watching TV. 

If you enjoy hiking, make sure to move somewhere not far from established hiking trails. If you love to fish, moving to an area without rivers, lakes or oceans wouldn’t be ideal. Remember your hobbies (or hobbies you want to take up) as you think about where to retire.

Also Read: Top 25 Best Cities to Stay Active in Retirement

Healthcare. Retirement Planning: Top 10 Best and Worst States to Retire

Access to Quality Health Care 

Hopefully you’re able to experience many years of good health after you retire. However, most people find themselves dealing with health problems at some point. 

If you move to an area where the good medical care is hours away, you may find yourself spending more time traveling to appointments than enjoying retirement – or worse, unable to get the help you need when you need it most.

Also Read: Enrolling in Medicare – Avoiding Scams

Assisted Living Costs

Healthcare isn’t the only medical factor to consider. You also need to account for assisted living costs, especially if you’ll possibly move to a place where you don’t have younger relatives who would be willing to lend a hand should you need it.


It’s a fact that some areas have higher levels of crime than others. Although it may not be the top factor, it’s important to consider the likelihood of scams, robberies, and other potential crimes targeting older people in the areas where you want to retire.

Also Read: Retirement: 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Retire

Retirement Planning: Top 10 Best and Worst States to Retire

Choosing the 10 Best States to Retire for You

Finding the best states where you can retire can be difficult. You can find lists online, but the problem is that lists vary depending on the criteria used to generate them. The same thing applies to finding the worst states to retire too.

Here is an example of the best and worst states to retire in financially from Retirement Living using four different indicators to help in their rankings.

Retirement Living’s 10 Best States for Retirement

  1. Arkansas
  2. Florida
  3. Alabama
  4. South Carolina
  5. West Virginia
  6. Ohio
  7. Delaware
  8. Idaho
  9. Kentucky
  10. Arizona

Retirement Living’s 10 Worst States for Retirement

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. Alaska
  4. Rhode Island
  5. New Jersey
  6. Colorado
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Connecticut
  9. Oregon
  10. Washington

Wallethub, on the other hand, used 45 key indicators to come up with their rankings. For comparison’s sake, check out these lists:

Wallethub’s 10 Best States for Retirement

  1. Florida
  2. Colorado
  3. Delaware
  4. Virginia 
  5. North Dakota
  6. Montana
  7. Idaho
  8. Utah
  9. Minnesota
  10. New Hampshire

Wallethub’s 10 Worst States for Retirement

  1. Illinois
  2. Texas
  3. Connecticut 
  4. West Virginia
  5. Kentucky
  6. Rhode Island
  7. New Mexico
  8. Mississippi
  9. New York
  10. New Jersey

Those two lists were quite different, right? There’s one more list I want to point out. Moneywise took other major rankings and basically combined them to form the ultimate lists of the best and worst states to retire in. Here are their lists.

Moneywise’s 10 Best States for Retirement

  1. South Dakota
  2. Florida
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Utah
  5. Virginia
  6. Idaho
  7. Wyoming
  8. Iowa
  9. Colorado
  10. North Dakota

Moneywise’s 10 Worst States for Retirement

  1. California
  2. Illinois
  3. West Virginia 
  4. Connecticut
  5. New Jersey
  6. Rhode Island
  7. Louisiana
  8. New Mexico
  9. New York
  10. Maryland

The Bottom Line

As I hope you see from the differences in these lists, choosing the best states to retire in isn’t a simple one-size-fits all thing. Your “best” state may end up being one of the worst states to retire for other people.

That’s why it’s critical to look at this decision from many different angles and including multiple factors to find the best fit for you and your circumstances. For your financial and emotional well-being, it’s worth spending some time carefully considering everything as you choose where to retire.

Still a few years away from retirement? Take the time to start thinking about this now so that you can plan ahead and make sound financial choices to help you retire where you want to and still live the life you crave.

If you could retire anywhere, where would it be?

More Retirement Resources For You:

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56 responses to “Retirement Planning: Top 10 Best and Worst States to Retire”

  1. Lisa, Casey, Barrett Dog Avatar
    Lisa, Casey, Barrett Dog

    Excellent information! We have been weighing on what state to retire in and this is very helpful.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome, Lisa! I hope you find your dream retirement spot!

  2. Melissa Jones Avatar
    Melissa Jones

    Great info! My husband is a firefighter and he will have his 20 on next year so retirement is in our future.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome and congrats! I have always been a little jealous of those who chose careers with a pension. It is so exciting to be able to retire after 20 years!

  3. Cindy Avatar

    Nice to see that Arkansas made the top of a list! It’s a beautiful state that I visit often.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      We love Arkansas as well. Highly underrated!

  4. Maya Avatar

    Great and useful info. A great guide to plan retirement!

  5. Tiffany Avatar

    This sounds like something to start planning – I would LOVE to retire early. Started saving but haven’t done much since that!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      It will add up quickly! The key is, reducing your expenses so you can put more away.

  6. Marianne Avatar

    Interesting read! Being Canadian, I haven’t thought of retiring anywhere but where I currently live! Although a house in Tuscany may tempt me away from the cold Toronto winters! LOL

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      We have so many Canadians that live in Florida in the winter. I used to work for TD Bank so we were well versed in the culture. I loved my regulars who came back every year!

  7. Suz | Avatar
    Suz |

    I love being retired – though I only worked for 10 years (after being a stay at home mom for 23 years), I have a decent retirement.
    The only reason I’d move anywhere is to be near a beach I could enjoy year- round.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Being near the beach, or any of your favorite outdoor activities is a big part of retirement!

  8. Sabrina DeWalt Avatar
    Sabrina DeWalt

    That’s so interesting that one list’s worst states are another list’s best.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I wanted to give ALL perspectives!

  9. Suzan Avatar

    Wow, NH made the top 10 in many listings! I wouldn’t have thought that due to our very high property tax rate. We don’t however, have income taxe etc. Thank you for this list!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      You have to pay for it somewhere! Florida is getting pretty high too. But low sales tax and no state income tax is attractive to many!

  10. Tiffany Avatar

    So many factors to consider…glad we have a few years left to figure this out!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Absolutely! Planning is the key!

  11. Carolyn Avatar

    This was eye-opening and interesting. I have been wanting to move out-of-state and the worst places to retire lists have reiterated my desires. Thank you!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome news! Thanks Carolyn!

  12. Keirsten Avatar

    Lots of great info for American retirees. I just filled out my first RRSP form for work, adulting is hard 😹

  13. Sandra Barrett Avatar
    Sandra Barrett

    Lots of important considerations for retirement. We will be in Massachusetts unfortunately – grandbabies top weather 🙂

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I agree! I am fortunate mine are in Florida!

  14. Jason Gowin Avatar
    Jason Gowin

    This Is definitely important information. While we aren’t quite to this stage of life it was all good stuff to keep in mind

  15. Emi Sorensen Avatar
    Emi Sorensen

    I’m glad to see that Utah made a couple of the best lists!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Definitely! Utah is great for a lot of people!

  16. Dawn Troxell Avatar
    Dawn Troxell

    As an individual who just early retired in 2020, I found this article extremely interesting. Your information helped to validate our current retirement state and the considerations that one must keep in mind in making such a decision.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome! And congrats on your retirement!

  17. heather Avatar

    Interesting how the lists vary on where is the best place to retire. I am not sure where we will go or what we will do. I used to think North Carolina. Just not sure.,

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I think North Caroline is your state! But you never know when the grandkids come!

  18. Debbie Avatar

    Great tips for retiring! I especially like that info on the different ways they classified best and worst! I take that makes it more individualized with some guidelines! Thanks!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes! Everyone has their little preferences that make or break an area. The devil is in the details!

  19. Kristin Avatar

    I want to stay in CO forever! 🙂 Glad it made the best list on 2 of the 3 but on the worst list for the other. I suppose weather and snow have a lot to do with that!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I would think if you ski or love any winter activities, it is a plus.

  20. Debbi H Avatar
    Debbi H

    Very interesting information! I was sad to see that my home state (CT) made it on all three of the “worst state” lists.
    I agree that weather is an important factor. Which may explain Alaska, lol.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I think that it is relative. Taxes are a big issue for seniors on a limited income though. Weather can affect your ability to get out. Not to mention, no one wants to break a hip!

  21. Barbara Avatar

    Definitely a lot to consider!

  22. Katharine Avatar

    Hubby and I are working and planning. Hoping to be able to move out of the area when the time comes. <3

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      You will get there! I hope you make it soon!

  23. lisa manderino Avatar
    lisa manderino

    I love looking at the list! It makes me want to plan and save for the future!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      It is definitely motivating!

  24. Debbie Avatar

    Good points to consider! Texas didn’t make it in the top of any of the lists, but like you pointed out, other priorities also dictate. Having family, friends and familiarity here is very persuasive!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I am very surprised by Texas. I would think it would be in the top 10 somewhere.

  25. Charlene Avatar

    I was surprised to see Ohio in the top 10 on your first list, but I guess it’s not a horrible place to be. I’m not retired yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be leaving my state when the time comes! Great info!

  26. Sydney-Eat Simply Sweet Avatar
    Sydney-Eat Simply Sweet

    Not sure if it’s good or bad that my home state, Michigan, isn’t on any of the lists LOL. I’d rather retire somewhere warm though!!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Haha! I agree! That lake effect snow can be brutal!

  27. Misskorang Avatar

    I so appreciate your blog. It has made me start a honking seriously about some things that used to pop in and out of my head. Retirement being one of them. You’re doing a great job 👏

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thank you! We appreciate you!

  28. Christina Siwik Avatar
    Christina Siwik

    Interesting read. We have been retired for many years now. We have never left our home in northern Michigan as it is so beautiful here. Instead, we simply winter in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      That is a wonderful plan! And I agree. Northern MI is beautiful!

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