The 10 Best (and 10 Worst) States for Retirees

What will your retirement look like? These are the top ten best and worst states for retirees to help you plan the next stage of your life.

The golden years

The expectations of what retirement means have changed over the decades. Over a fifth (22.9 percent) of Americans are now over the age of 60, and as life expectancy continues to rise alongside improvements in healthcare and medicine, more and more of us are living the good life (post our working lives) for longer. If you’re approaching the age of retirement (or you’re lucky enough to have a bank account that’s bringing that age down), chances are you’ve thought about moving, maybe to the best city for your generation. Whether you’re looking to be closer to family, closer to the sun, or simply want to spend all your time on that one particular favorite hobby (fishing, ice sculpting, pickleball?) there might be a state or city that caters to your needs better than your current location.

A new report from Blacktower Financial Management has analyzed weighted metrics to determine the best and worst U.S. states for a happy retirement. The results are based on factors including the cost of living, life expectancy, crime rates, population age, and property prices. Where does your current state rank? And what about that state where you’ve always dreamed of moving? Find out the ten best and ten worst states for retirement below.

The best U.S. state for retirement is…

West Virginia! That’s right, the Mountain State is the absolute best state to retire to in 2021. Home to the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, numerous lakes and rivers, and the lowest average property prices across all 50 states, West Virginia is an excellent option for retirees seeking natural beauty and affordable housing. With both life expectancy and the percentage of the population over 60 matching U.S. averages (79.6 years and 22 percent respectively), it’s a great all-around choice. If you’re active and outdoorsy, or if you’d like to be, the recreational options are tremendous, from skiing to fishing and hiking. And with a plethora of smaller communities to choose from, West Virginia offers some of the best small towns in America to retire to.

The ten best U.S. states for retirement

Coming in second on the top ten best U.S. states for retirement is Maine, which stands out for several reasons. Not only does the easternmost state have the lowest crime rate in the country, but it’s also blessed with gorgeous nature and utterly charming seaside towns. Reading by the fire and listening to the sound of the ocean? Throw in a lobster roll, and we’re there!

Surprisingly, only one of the Southern states, Georgia, made the cut of the best states for retirees, placing eighth. As well as being the warmest state in the top ten, Georgia stands out as having the highest life expectancy, at 81.5 years. If you want to spend years and years (and years) eating fresh peach pie and watching or playing golf, Georgia is the perfect place to retire. And although it didn’t make it into the top ten, Mississippi (ranked 14th) is notable for having the lowest cost of living in the country: The average house price is just $136,596! Southern charm at that affordable price wouldn’t give anyone the blues. Four Northeastern and three Midwestern states round out the rest of the list. You can find the states that made it into the top ten best for retirees in 2021 below and check out the rest of the rankings here.

The top ten

1.West Virginia

2. Maine

3. Michigan

4. Vermont

5. New Hampshire

6. Pennsylvania

7. Iowa

8. Georgia

9. Connecticut

10. Indiana

With options including Southern warmth, fall foliage, ocean views, or lakefront properties on this list, retirement can’t come soon enough! It might be time to start sending your friends and co-workers some funny retirement quotes to get the ball rolling.

The worst U.S. state for retirement is…

Wyoming! Yes, although this state is high in natural beauty and low in crime and property prices, the long, cold winters and remoteness of the least-populated state bring it in last on the rankings. With a population under 600,000 and temperatures below 0°F with up to 50 inches of snowfall in the winter (which appears to last from November to March), the Cowboy State would suit a hardy retiree who prefers to socialize only during the summer months. However, if you’re a National Parks fan, there are plenty of opportunities to bear witness to the majesty of nature in Grand Teton and Yellowstone. If avoiding the crowds at the big, touristy parks is more your thing, however, then this guide to the best state park in every state can help you get outdoors without the stress.

The ten worst U.S. states for retirement

Even chillier and more remote than Wyoming is Alaska, which places 49th in the rankings. Despite the annual individual dividend paid to residents, it seems that retirees just can’t face spending the rest of their days shoveling snow. Somewhat more surprising is the state ranked 48th, Hawaii. Tropical beach paradise? Sign us up! But with both the highest average property price and the highest cost of living of all 50 states, Hawaii’s low ranking starts to make sense. In fact, many of the states in the bottom ten share high property prices and costs of living. While retirement may be a more pleasant journey with an investment portfolio or two to bolster the golden years, there are certainly a lot of states where retirees can get a lot more bang for their buck. Below, you’ll find the ten worst U.S. states for retirement, and check out the rest of the rankings here.

The bottom ten

41. Maryland

42. Utah

43. Minnesota

44. New York

45. Massachusetts

46. California

47. Washington

48. Hawaii

49. Alaska

50. Wyoming

Many of the destinations on the bottom half of the list are beautiful and filled with amenities, but round out the bottom ten because of their high cost of living. If you’ve got a few years yet up your sleeve before you enter the leisure decades, this timeline shows you exactly how to save for retirement, so you can afford to live wherever you like.

Crunching the numbers

So there you have it! The ten best and ten worst states for retirees. Of course, these things can’t just be broken down into a pure game of numbers. To find out what state will make you happiest to live in, you have to experience it a little first. Maybe it’s time for a little pre-retirement road trip! You could even go for the full flag and visit all 50 states. After all, it’s important to gather as much data as possible before making a big decision like where you’re going to retire. Get started with the ultimate American road trip guide.

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