The 5 Most Expensive U.S. States for Retirees

Photo by Irina Kozorog /

Expect to retire on a modest income? You may want to avoid spending your golden years in the Eastern U.S.

The region is home to four of the five most expensive states in which to retire, according to WalletHub’s latest annual ranking of the best states for retirees.

The analysis found that the five least-affordable states for retirees in 2020 are:

  1. New York
  2. Vermont
  3. New Jersey
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Minnesota

WalletHub’s affordability rankings are based on multiple measures, which include cost of living, tax friendliness and the cost of in-home services and adult day health care. The affordability rankings even reflect the share of the population age 65 and older who can’t afford a doctor visit.

At the other end of the spectrum, the most affordable states for retirement are all in the South, with Alabama, Florida and Texas taking the top three slots. South Carolina and Mississippi round out the top five for affordability.

Finding your perfect place to retire

Although state, city and country rankings can offer important insights about the cost of retiring in specific areas, remember that choosing where to retire is a highly individual decision. A cookie-cutter approach will not serve you well.

For example, Courtney Edwards, clinical associate professor of accounting at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tells WalletHub that simply focusing on something like tax rates can be a mistake:

“There are many compelling non-tax considerations that should be weighted as well, such as access to quality health care, proximity to a support network of friends and family, climate, etc. If the most tax-friendly state for a retiree turns out to be Alaska, but the individual hates the cold, this would clearly be a terrible option.”

In fact, in many cases, the best place to retire is the place where you live right now, as we detail in “7 Reasons You Should Not Move for Retirement.”

For more help deciding where to spend your golden years, check out “Don’t Retire Till You Answer These 4 Questions.”

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