Worst States to Retire

MoneyRates analyzed 50 states against five factors to find the worst states for retirement.
Financial Expert
Managing Editor
twitter facebook

MoneyRates has been conducting research to determine the best and worst states for retirement since 2010. Over the years, we have refined our methodology and, as a result, new states emerge as the best and worst for retirement with each assessment. This report lists the worst states for retirement in 2018.

Whether your ideal retirement location is a bustling city, a beautiful beach, or a lush forest, it’s also helpful to consider the more practical side of life as you make plans for retirement. In creating our list of the worst states for retirement, we considered the following five categories:

  • Healthy environment
  • Personal security
  • Local economy
  • Weather conditions
  • Popularity with older residents

Because of a tie at the tenth-worst slot, the following list includes eleven of the worst states for retirement in 2018. Different states have different problems, so, to some extent, you can pick your poison — or conduct more research before retiring in these states.

Worst states for retirement

1. Alaska


Alaska’s severe weather is a turnoff for many people, and it may help explain why no state has a lower proportion of residents aged 65 and older. Beyond the climate, another serious problem Alaska has is its economy. The state’s cost of living is 31.5 percent higher than the national average. Alaska also has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, so there is a lot of financial hardship in the state. There were no particular strengths to balance out those shortcomings, as Alaska was rated below the median in every category in this study. Rough weather and a challenging economy can wear on people’s tempers, as evidenced by Alaska having the highest rate of violent crime in the nation.

2. Nevada


Like Alaska, Nevada suffered from being below median in each of the five categories in this study. Here, too, violent crime is a particular problem, as Nevada’s violent crime rate is second nationally and came within a fraction of a percent of Alaska’s.

3. Louisiana


This state was actually ranked slightly better than the median for both climate and economic factors, but its crime rate proved to be a major downfall. Louisiana is one of the ten worst states for both violent and property crime rates.

4. Washington


Though it was worse than the median state for climate, security, and proportion of the older population, Washington’s biggest problem was its economic environment. The unemployment rate in Washington is higher than in most states, and this is especially burdensome given Washington’s higher-than-average cost of living.

5. Illinois


Economic factors are problematic in Illinois. In particular, the third-highest property tax burden of any state could erode retirement savings. Illinois has a fairly low proportion of elderly residents, which may indicate it is not the most welcoming environment for retirees or that severe weather is not appealing to retirees.

6. Georgia


Though its climate is a plus, it is telling that only three states have a lower proportion of residents aged 65 or older. It doesn’t help that people at age 65 have a relatively low life expectancy in Georgia, and having one of the ten worst property crime rates may be a turnoff for retirees.

7. (tie) Michigan


The climate in Michigan would be a deterrent for many retirees. The state is near the bottom for the number of clear days its residents get to enjoy, and temperatures are on the chilly side.

7. (tie) Texas


Despite offering plenty of sunshine, Texas is not especially popular with retirees. It ranks 48th out of 50 states for the proportion of the population aged 65 or older. One concern is that the rates of property and violent crime are both higher than in most states.

9. Maryland


Despite its mild climate, Maryland is not especially popular with retirees, ranking in the bottom ten for the proportion of its population aged 65 or older. One turnoff might be the cost of living, which is nearly 25 percent higher than the national average.

10. (tie) Ohio


Though Ohio isn’t far from New York State, its profile is quite different. Unlike New York, Ohio’s cost of living is actually lower than average. Unfortunately, based on the unemployment rate, it has one of the weaker economies in the nation and has a relatively high rate of property crime. It also has one of the ten highest average property tax burdens.

10. (tie) New York

new york

It’s not that New York doesn’t have some positives going for it, some of which might surprise you — for example, it has the second-lowest property crime rate of any state, so it ranks pretty well for personal security. However, the weather isn’t great, and the real problem for many retirees is the cost. The cost of living is 30.1 percent higher than the national average, and the typical property tax burden is higher than average, putting added strain on retirement savings.

All things considered

While personal preferences certainly play a role in determining where you should retire — including proximity to family and friends, the ability to pursue hobbies/passions, and entertainment opportunities — the idea behind this analysis is to point out some of the different factors you should also weigh in making this important decision. Looking at the list above may not give you an idea of where you might be happiest in your golden years — but it can certainly help you identify what types of places you might want to avoid.

Interested in the best states for retiring? Read our article on this year’s best states for retirement.

Richard Barrington, a Senior Financial Analyst at MoneyRates, brings over three decades of financial services expertise to the table. His insightful analyses and commentary have made him a sought-after voice in media, with appearances on Fox Business News, NPR, and quotes in major publications like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. His proficiency is further solidified by the prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, highlighting Richard’s depth of knowledge and commitment to financial excellence.
Our reviews are unbiased and thorough, focusing on consumer needs. For details, see our Editorial Policy & Methodology.