I really hate lists from companies that use lists that start with “10 Best Places” and “10 Worst Places.” I feel that way for two reasons: First, because there are far too many variables with these types of decisions for anyone to come up with a genuine list that delivers what’s being promised. Second, these lists are often nothing more than thinly veiled attempts at media attention.
That being said, like a car wreck, it’s kind of hard not to look.
Following is a list of the 10 worst places to spend your golden years, at least according to TopRetirements.com. From their site:
1. Illinois. Illinois’s fiscal health could be the worst of any state. It even borrowed money to fund its pension obligations!
2. California. The Golden State is expensive and its finances are in disarray. Has paid bills with vouchers. Does have a warm climate.
3. New York. Very high taxes, including property taxes. Second-highest tax burden and fifth-highest per-capita property taxes. Dysfunctional state legislature. Very expensive to live here. Most pensions are exempt, however.
4. Rhode Island. Probably the worst-off state in the Northeast from a financial viewpoint. High taxes. Does have some great places to live.
5. New Jersey. The highest property taxes in the U.S. as well as the highest tax burden (as reported by the Tax Foundation). Has serious pension funding issues.
6. Ohio. High taxes (seventh-highest tax burden) and unemployment. Cold winters.
7. Wisconsin. A high-tax state (ninth-highest tax burden) with cold weather. High property taxes. But it does not tax military pensions.
8. Massachusetts. High taxes, including high property taxes. Very high cost of living.
9. Connecticut. Connecticut has the third-highest tax burden of any state, taxes social security, and has very high property taxes. It has some terrific places to live, but the cost of living is very high.
10. Nevada. The foreclosure capital of the world. State is having financial problems. But it does not have an income tax (yet).
The site used a variety of factors to pick their “top 10″, but said it’s most heavily weighted by the fiscal health of the state, taxation, and climate.
At least they conceded that their list could be useless to many people, since it can’t take into account what is probably the single most important factor in determining the ideal place to retire: proximity to family. In their words…
Remember that our list might be totally irrelevant to many people. Folks for whom money or taxes are not important will find our worst 10 list of little value, because they have other considerations that are far more important. For example, those who want to retire near their family members have such an important driver that the “worst” state on this list could be their “best.”
Bottom line? Keep in mind when you see lists like the one above or the Money Magazine list of 10 Best Places to Live: Decisions about where to live or retire involve way too many variables for anyone to create a definitive list. While they do offer up points worth pondering, these lists are more about getting people like me to send people like you to their publications. And look – it worked!