The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2024

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Stressed senior preparing to move or unpacking boxes in her home /

Choosing where to retire can be an exciting decision, a challenging one or perhaps both.

We all want to retire somewhere affordable that can support a good quality of life within our budget as well as somewhere with excellent health care. And we may have personal priorities, such as living close to family or fulfilling old dreams.

If juggling all those things seems difficult, perhaps a recent analysis from the website WalletHub can help. By ranking all 50 states based on dozens of factors, from social isolation to tax-friendliness, and sorting those into three categories (affordability, quality of life and health care), the site ranked the best — and worst — places to retire.

Following are the worst states for retirees, counting down to No. 1.

15. Vermont

Lake Memphremagog in Newport, Vermont

Total score: 49.58 out of 100 points

The Green Mountain State has an excellent quality of life, WalletHub reports — if you can afford it. It is among “The 10 Most Expensive States for Retirees in 2024.”

14. Oregon

Bridge over Willamette River, Oregon
JPL Designs /

Total score: 49.10 out of 100 points

Oregon’s place on this list seems to stem primarily from how much it costs to live there — it scores reasonably well on both quality of life and health care, but ranks 41st on affordability.

One bright note on costs is that seniors in Oregon are eligible for property tax deferral.

13. Maryland

Annapolis, Maryland
Sean Pavone /

Total score: 48.97 out of 100 points

Maryland scores relatively well in rankings for quality of life and health care, but it also is an expensive place to live.

It is also among “17 States With Inheritance or Estate Taxes (and D.C.).”

12. Tennessee

Morristown, Tennessee
Dee Browning /

Total score: 48.41 out of 100 points

The Volunteer State is one of the most affordable in the country, so if that is your primary concern, it may be a great choice. WalletHub ranks it poorly for quality of life and health care, 48th and 46th, respectively.

Some parts aren’t so bad, though, as we highlight in “8 of the Best Places to Retire in Tennessee.”

11. West Virginia

Older man biking in West Virginia woods.
Steve Heap /

Total score: 48.07 out of 100 points

It’s not all bad news for retirees in West Virginia. The state ranks near the top for affordability, according to WalletHub. It’s among the cheapest for monthly bills and buying a home. But it ranks at the bottom for health care and near the lower end for quality of life.

10. Illinois

Elgin, Illinois
Nejdet Duzen /

Total score: 47.37 out of 100 points

Illinois ranks near the bottom for affordability, but the state offers a decent quality of life, WalletHub finds.

Still, that may not be enough for some people. In recent years, Illinois has continuously lost residents, with many more considering a departure.

9. Arkansas

Tulsa Oklahoma
Sean Pavone /

Total score: 47.28 out of 100 points

Arkansas ranks No. 8 for affordability, but it may be a little harder to find activities there compared with other states.

Arkansas is near the bottom for its number of theaters and museums per capita, WalletHub found. But you might try moving to one of the cultural exceptions, tiny Eureka Springs, which we noted is one “18 of America’s Best Small Towns to Retire In” in part because of its many art galleries and festivals.

8. Washington

Bellevue, Washington
mandritoiu /

Total score: 47.19 out of 100 points

Washington state has expensive in-home services in the country and one of the highest property crime rates, according to WalletHub. However, it ranks high for quality of life, and its retirees have among the highest life expectancies.

7. New York

Buffalo, New York
Atomazul /

Total score: 46.49 out of 100 points

It probably comes as no surprise that New York is the least affordable state in the country in WalletHub’s rankings, but it scores highly on quality of life and health care. Many people have left the state in recent years, possibly because of its high taxes.

6. Louisiana

Lafayette, Louisiana
Jacob Boomsma /

Total score: 45.88 out of 100 points

Louisiana ranks in the upper third of states for affordability but fares quite poorly in WalletHub’s two other major categories. However, for those who love food — especially seafood — New Orleans may more than make up for the state’s ranking.

5. Oklahoma

Lawton Oklahoma
WillHuebie /

Total score: 45.57 out of 100 points

If you’re considering a retirement in The Sooner State, consider the city of Norman, home to the University of Oklahoma. It’s among “15 Places That Are Swarming With Retirees,” and good company may make up for the state’s poor quality of life as cited by WalletHub.

4. Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island
Jon Bilous /

Total score: 45.20 out of 100 points

Across the board, Rhode Island’s rankings are nothing to write home about — a middling score for health care, as well as lower scores for affordability and quality of life. With 400 miles of coastline and numerous historical sites and museums, however, you can probably find something relaxing do.

3. Mississippi

Gulf Coast at Biloxi, Mississippi.
Joseph Sohm /

Total score: 44.01 out of 100 points

Mississippi sits at the bottom for quality of life, and near the bottom for health care. However, those who look can always find a bright spot. Mississippi is home to the city of Hattiesburg, one of “18 Great Warm and Sunny Places To Retire in the U.S..”

2. New Jersey

Jersey City, New Jersey
f11photo /

Total score: 43.69 out of 100 points

New Jersey is near the middle of the pack in categories like health care (No. 22) and quality of life, but is among “9 States Where Quality of Life Is Improving for Seniors,” as we wrote in 2022.

Unfortunately, New York’s neighbor ranks just above that state — second to last — in the category of affordability, WalletHub found.

1. Kentucky

Alexey Stiop /

Total score: 43.30 out of 100 points

Kentucky ranks No. 32 out of 50 for affordability, but that’s its best showing among the three categories in this study. Overall, the Bluegrass State is the worst state for retirees, according to WalletHub.

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