All 50 States Ranked from Worst to Best for Retirement

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Happy couple in retirement on the beach
Monkey Business Images /

Everyone wants to know how their state stacks up when it comes to retirement. After all, you have to decide whether you’re going to stay or seek out greener pastures once you’ve quit the daily grind.

To determine which states are best for retirement, Bankrate scoured government and expert sources to find out how well states ranked on seven metrics:

  • Cost of living
  • Crime
  • Culture
  • Health care quality
  • Taxes
  • Weather
  • Well-being

Then, using 2017 Bankrate survey results, they weighted those factors based on what Americans told them was most important. Once all the numbers were crunched, the states lined up in the following order, from worst to best states for retirement.

50. New York

Unhappy senior woman
Asier Romero /

Things aren’t all bad in New York. The state comes in 13th place for culture and low crime. However, that’s not enough to overcome a last place ranking for cost of living and a 49th place finish for taxes. Those factors help push New York to the bottom of the list as the worst place for retirees to live and spend their retirement funds.

49. New Mexico

Senior man in hot air balloon
Dave Primov /

New Mexico ties with Maryland for the 48th spot on the list. New Mexico comes in 49th for health care quality and didn’t break the top 20 for any of the metrics used by Bankrate.

48. Maryland

Baltimore street.
Sean Pavone /

Tying with New Mexico for the 48th spot on the list, Maryland is handicapped as a place for retirees to live by a high cost of living and taxes.

47. Louisiana

Stressed man in retirement
Anatoliy Karlyuk /

Aside from the occasional hurricane, the weather in Louisiana gets high marks — coming in third overall. However, that can’t make up for a 49th place finish for well-being and a 48th ranking for crime.

46. Arkansas

Man fishing in Arkansas lake
Bonita R. Cheshier /

Arkansas isn’t a state you retire to for a culturally rich life. The state comes in dead last on that metric. It’s ranking is not much better for well-being, for which it earns 48th. Still, it lands in ninth place for weather and second for cost of living, but that isn’t enough to pull it past No. 46 overall when it comes to the best states for retirement.

45. California

Andrew Zarivny /

A double whammy of a high cost of living and high taxes keep California near the bottom of this list. The Golden State ranks 49th and 48th, respectively, on those two metrics.

44. Illinois

Businessman with Chicago skyline
Page Light Studios /

Illinois scored largely middle-of-the-road rankings for all of the factors considered and landed in the 44th spot overall.

43. Washington

Unhappy retired couple debt
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Washington state’s rather lackluster performance on the factors considered by Bankrate keep it stuck among the worst states for retirees.

42. Nevada

Lake Mead, Nevada
CrackerClips Stock Media /

When it comes to the tax situation for retirees, Nevada ranks among the five best states in the country. That’s good news but not enough to offset a 43rd place finish for well-being.

41. South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina
Bf11photo /

Rounding out the 10 worst states for retirees is South Carolina, which had rankings on most of the factors from the 20s to 40s. The brightest spot for retirees in the Palmetto State is its weather, on which it ranked eighth in the nation.

40. Oklahoma

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Oklahoma lands in the 40s on most factors considered by Bankrate although it nabbed the No. 7 spot on cost of living and No. 10 for weather.

39. Oregon

Senior health care
imtmphoto /

Oregon found itself ranked in the 30s and 40s on most of the metrics used in this analysis. However, it did come in tenth for best health care quality.

38. Ohio

Couple Elderly w Papers
Dmytro Zinkevych /

Although in the middle to bottom of the pack on most of the seven metrics, Ohio did take the fifth place ranking when it comes to cost of living for retirees.

37. Georgia

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Retirees in Georgia get a mix of good and bad, according to the Bankrate analysis. The state ranks sixth for its weather and 15th for cost of living. However, it comes in at 49th for culture — landing the Peach State in the 37th spot overall.

36. Alaska

Senior man fishing off a boat in Alaskan waters.
Dan Thornberg /

You might be shocked to learn that Alaska came in dead last for its weather. It didn’t fare much better for crime, ranking 49th on that metric. However, it isn’t all bad news for the northernmost U.S. retirees, Alaska comes in fifth for taxes and third for culture.

35. Connecticut

Connecticut marina.

This New England state is a great place for those who want to live in a safe, culturally vibrant environment. Connecticut landed in the No. 4 spot on both of those factors. However, it’s not so great if you’re trying to live on a fixed income. The state ranked 44th for both its cost of living and taxes.

34. Rhode Island

Senior man at writing desk.
VGstockstudio /

The bright spots in Rhode Island are its low crime rate (ranked eighth) and culture (ranked sixth). However, the smallest U.S. state still only comes in 34th overall among the best states for retirement.

33. West Virginia

Andriy Blokhin /

West Virginia had plenty of average rankings alongside its last-place finish on the well-being metric. That makes it only the 33rd best state for retirees to live.

32. New Jersey

broke senior
Lena Evans /

There’s good news and bad news for retirees in New Jersey. The good news is that they should be relatively safe as the state ranks fourth on crime, indicating a low impact for that factor on retirees, and 11th on culture. The bad news is that they pay big for state services, with New Jersey ranking dead last on taxes.

31. Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at dusk
f11photo /

Middle of the road rankings on all factors helped put Pennsylvania near the middle of the pack as a home for retirees.

30. Kentucky

Retired woman gardening
gpointstudio /

Kentucky doesn’t come in last on any of the metrics considered by Bankrate, but it doesn’t come in first either. However, it did rank ninth for cost of living and tenth for low crime.

29. Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

With the Southwest state of Arizona being such a popular retirement destination, you would think it would be found higher on a ranking of the best states for retirees. However, it doesn’t even make the top half of the list. The best thing is has going for it, apparently, is its weather; Arizona ranked 11th on that front.

28. Minnesota

Man kayaking on Lake of the Isles, Minnesota
John Yuccas /

Minnesota is another state with good news and bad news for retirees. On the negative side, it ranked 48th for weather and 46th for taxes. However, it was No. 4 for well-being and the best in the nation on quality of health care for retirees.

26. Wisconsin

Andrew Jalbert /

Retirees in Wisconsin could do worse, and they could do better. The only standout ranking for the Badger State was health care quality, for which Wisconsin took sixth place.

26. Vermont

Senior woman homeowner
Rocketclips, Inc. /

Vermont tied with Wisconsin for the 26th spot overall. However, you might get whiplash from looking at the state’s rankings on each metric. It was 47th for cost of living but third-best for crime. It’s 47th for taxes but first for culture. Then, it took second for well-being but 44th for weather.

25. Kansas

A senior Asian couple rides bicycles in a park
Tom Wang /

Just as Kansas landed smack dab in the middle of the list of best states for retirees — and is located at the geographic center of the United States — so do most of the individual metrics for Kansas fall in the middle of rankings.

24. Alabama

City scene from Mobile, Alabama
Fotoluminate LLC /

If you want to retire in Alabama, don’t do it for the culture, on which the state ranked 47th. However, if you’re looking for someplace that’s easy on the budget and good for your tan, you might want to consider this Southern state. It came in sixth for cost of living and seventh for weather.

22. Indiana

Indianapolis, Indiana
f11photo /

Indiana tied for the 22nd spot on this list. The bright spots for retired Hoosiers are the cost of living and taxes. The state had top 10 finishes on both of those metrics.

22. Maine

Portland Maine lighthouse
E.J.Johnson Photography /

As another safe New England haven, Maine ranked second-best on crime, fourth for health care quality and eighth for culture. However, it landed in the 47th spot for weather in the northeast corner of the U.S.

21. Tennessee

A senior man and German Shepherd dog sit on a cliff on Roan Mountain, located along the Tennessee-North Carolina state line in the Appalachian Mountains
Cvandyke /

Tennessee was No. 7 for its cost of living for retirees, but that ranking was offset by low rankings for crime and health care quality, 45th and 46th respectively.

20. North Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota
David Harmantas /

If health care quality and well-being are your priorities, head to North Dakota for retirement. The state is in the top 10 on both factors. However, be aware that this Northern state was 49th for weather.

19. Delaware

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Delaware received largely middle-of-the-road rankings on the seven factors analyzed by Bankrate. Its highest ranking was a sixth-place finish for health care quality.

17. Texas

Happy Senior Man At Home
Monkey Business Images /

Tied for 17th place overall, Texas got high marks for weather (ranked fourth) but didn’t fare as well on culture (ranked 40th).

17. Colorado

Grand Lake, Colorado
By marekuliasz /

Colorado shared the 17th spot with Texas on the rankings. This state along the Rocky Mountains received its best score for well-being of its residents, for which it got sixth nationwide.

16. Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa
Nagel Photography /

When it comes to rankings for individual metrics, Iowa ranged from 11th on cost of living to 40th for taxes.

15. Missouri

eating out
Ruslan Guzov /

Missouri came in 15th overall but scored third for its low cost of living.

14. Michigan

Senior couple at home
Monkey Business Images /

Michigan winters have a reputation for being long, cold and gray. That may explain why the state ranked 40th on weather. However, it also came in fourth for its cost of living and 12th for taxes, making it not that bad a state for retirees overall.

13. Virginia

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Virginia is another state for retirees who want to feel safe from crime. It tied for No. 4 on that factor. Rankings for other metrics ranged from the teens to 30s.

12. Massachusetts

Sailboats in Boston harbor.
James Kirkikis /

Life isn’t cheap in Massachusetts, with the state ranking 46th for cost-of-living. However, seniors may still want to live here thanks to its culture and health care quality; the state was among the top three nationwide on these factors.

11. Hawaii

Seniors Hawaii
Goodluz /

Hawaii just missed making the top 10 best states for retirees. Its cost of living, which ranked 48th nationwide, may be what left the Aloha State in the No. 11 spot. However, if you can afford the island state, you could live in a place ranked first for weather and third for both culture and well-being.

10. Mississippi

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Your money will go further in Mississippi, which had the lowest cost of living on the Bankrate analysis. It also has great weather, ranking fifth on that metric. On the downside, Mississippi comes in 48th for culture and 47th for well-being.

9. Nebraska

Lake McConaughy
By Bonita R. Cheshier /

Nebraska didn’t hit the top 10 on any individual metric, but its overall score was good enough to land it in the No. 9 spot overall. Its scores ranged from No. 12 for health care quality to No. 29 for weather.

8. Wyoming

People kayaking on a lake with a mountain in the background.
B Brown /

If you’re not too keen on sharing your cash with the government, head to Wyoming in retirement. The Bankrate analysis ranked it first for taxes. Meanwhile, it came in 46th for weather and had rankings in the teens and 20s for everything else.

6. North Carolina

Robert Kneschke /

North Carolina tied for sixth place overall with a mix of rankings on individual metrics that ranged from 11th on taxes to 40th on culture.

6. Montana

Horseback riding in Montana
tongcom photographer /

Montana tied with North Carolina for the sixth-place spot overall, but finished higher in several rankings. It was No. 6 for taxes and No. 7 for culture. However, the rugged weather in Big Sky Country came in at 45th.

5. Florida

golden years
goodluz /

There are reasons the Sunshine State is so popular as a place for retirees to live: Florida ranked fourth for taxes and second for weather.

4. New Hampshire

Lake Winnipesaukee
By Jon Bilous /

The weather isn’t ideal in New Hampshire (43rd), and neither is the cost of living (also 43rd). But a first-place ranking for low crime and a top 10 finish for the other metrics help propel this New England state to the No. 4 spot overall.

3. Idaho

pet sitting
wavebreakmedia /

The reality is that challenging weather is something you’ll have to contend with in most of the best states for retirees. While seniors may love to live where the sun shines, it’s more important for them to have access to quality health care and an environment that is safe and supports overall well-being. Idaho ranks high on all those despite its 41st place for weather.

2. Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah
f11photo /

Utah ranked as the second-best state for retirees thanks to a strong showing in all seven metrics included in the analysis.

1. South Dakota

Syda Productions /

Surprised? South Dakota is the best state for retirees to live, according to Bankrate. Located in the Midwest, this state takes the top spot for well-being and is second for low taxes, both of which seniors say are important factors for them in retirement. Just don’t move to South Dakota for the weather (38th).

How does your state stack up as a place to retire? Does this list tempt you to make a move? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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