What Are the Worst States to Retire In?

I recently wrote a post about the best states to retire in, While researching that article, I found myself asking, what are the worst states to retire in? I figured I needed to give equal time to some of the worst retirement rated states. But don’t get me wrong. I found that the “good” retirement states were subjective, and I found that the “bad” states were equally subjective. You may find that one person’s “good” state is another person’s “bad” state. So, once again, decide what’s important to you and find a place to retire that is best for you! However, I did list the worst states to help you make that decision.

The Criteria

These states were rated on their climates, cost of living, crime rates, cost and availability of health care, housing costs, quality of life, easy access, and a few other considerations.

The Worst

What Are the Worst States to Retire In

10. Alaska: Don’t let the incredible natural beauty and the cool crisp temperatures fool you. While taxes and real estate prices are fairly low, the cost of health care can be as much as 5 times more than in the lower 48. Also, high alcoholism, depression, and suicide rates make it a difficult life, especially if you are on your own up there. Remember that winters in Alaska have around 6 hours of daylight every day, which might be the cause of depression.

What Are the Worst States to Retire In

9. New Mexico: Sunny New Mexico sounds like a wonderful place to retire, if you like mild winters and don’t mind the hot summers. There also seems to be decent health care available to seniors. However, the cost of housing is 5% to 20% above the national average, depending on what area you are seeking to live. Also, Las Cruces has the highest violent crime rate in the nation.

What Are the Worst States to Retire In

8. Rhode Island: Stunning views, amazing beaches, and all the sea food you can eat are some of Rhode Island’s claims to fame. If you can withstand the nor’ easters and don’t mind shoveling snow, it’s not a bad place to visit. However, it’s not a great place to live, since the taxes, cost of living, and utility prices are astronomically high. And although Rhode Island’s health care is ranked 7th in the nation, it’s transportation infrastructure is the worst in the country, and the cities are known for political corruption and crime.

What Are the Worst States to Retire In

7. Kentucky: Although Kentucky has a low cost of living, 11% of Kentucky seniors live in poverty. Health costs are high, and seniors there report poor health due to higher than average smoking rates, lack of physical activity, and limited access to affordable nutritious food. These all outweigh the hometown lifestyle and the great hunting and fishing,

What Are the Worst States to Retire In









6. Arkansas: The state’s natural beauty, streams and rivers, and of course, the hot springs unfortunately can’t compensate for the highest crime rates in the country, and the lowest points for healthcare nation-wide. Even though the cost of living is fairly low, it’s hard to get past the oppressing humidity and the extensive mosquito population. WalletHub’s most recent ranking put Arkansas dead last for quality of life.

What Are the Worst States to Retire In







5. New York: What can one say about New York? You have the excitement of city, but just down the road you have rural living, ski slopes and the incredible beauty of its mountains, rivers, and lakes. However, there is little help for the retiree, as New York’s cost of living is 29% above the national average. Also, health care rates a poor 48 out of 50.

What Are the Worst States to Retire In






4. Hawaii: The Hawaiian life style is envied around the world for its beaches and jungles as well as it’s amazing food, beautiful weather, and laid back living. However, limited space and distance from the rest of the world cause problems such as high housing prices, high cost of living, high gas prices, and the loneliness of being cut of from your mainland family and friends. I have also heard that people who are used to wide open spaces of the American West get claustrophobic on small islands.

What Are the Worst States to Retire In

3. West Virginia: West Virginia’s mountains and low cost of living might sound inviting, but there is little else to recommend retirement in that state. Expensive health care, coupled with high obesity rates, and the fewest dental visits in the nation, make for the country’s 5th most unhealthy seniors. And due to the declining coal industry, the small towns are crumbling as the crime rates rise.

What Are the Worst States to Retire In

2. New Jersey: There seems to be a lot of fun to be had in New Jersey. They have beaches, boardwalks, casinos and restaurants equal to none in the country. However, New Jersey one of the highest cost of living rankings and the second highest tax burden in America.

What Are the Worst States to Retire In

1. Louisiana: Known for its friendly people, amazing culture, awesome food, and incredible.music, Louisiana has a lot to offer. But the reason Louisiana is ranked THE WORST state to retire in, is the summer heat and humidity, the ridiculously high sales tax, low quality health care, the second highest crime rate in the nation, the occasional Category 4 or 5 hurricane, and a batch of hungry alligators.

Pick Your Own Criteria

Once again, think about what is important to you. Thank about what you can live with and what you can’t live without. Here is a list of general criteria to help you think of what’s important to you:

  • Closeness to family and friends
  • Weather, climate, humidity, and elevation
  • Wildlife and insects
  • City or Rural
  • Culture
  • Political or Religious environment
  • Close to shopping and attractions
  • Tourist or Non-tourist area
  • Job availability for seniors

Speaking of Jobs for Retirees…

I just wanted to mention again about “living the laptop life” and supplementing your retirement income with affiliated marketing through Wealthy Affiliate. See my review of Wealthy Affiliate here. Having the extra income that you can earn anywhere will allow you the freedom to live where you want to live when you retire, without worrying too much about the cost of living or the price of housing. And with Wealthy Affiliate, you don’t have to be tied down to one place! You have the opportunity to search out anyplace you want to live, or spend your retirement on the road, seeing and doing new things!

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In Conclusion….

Where you want to retire is subjective. So, even though I have listed the above places as “the worst”, you may find that they are indeed a good fit for you. Research, visit places, and figure out what works for you and doesn’t work for you. Then pick a place that has what you want and need for your retirement. Most of all, enjoy the process!

Thank you for reading, and please put your comments and questions below.

Reference Websites:









Rhonda Stetson


  1. WOW..I would have never guessed that half of those states would have made it to that list.  That was really interesting.  As a Canadian, a lot of us Canuks travel down south and retire to either Florida or Arizona.  I’m glad to see that those states did not make it to the list.

    I was just in Hawaii 6 months ago, and it’s shocking to hear that it made it onto the list!  Even though I am aware of the high gas and housing costs.  Not to mention the volcano and occasional hurricane or tsunami that rolls in.

    I have only visited about 15 states in the US, but I definitely want to visit a lot out in the west and south-west.  Also, this list has made me curious to go and visit some of these states on the list too 🙂

    • Hi Nicki!  Thanks for reading and commenting.  I have not been to Hawaii or Alaska, but I have been to most of the lower 48.  Florida made my Best States list, found here, and now linked in my post.  I love Colorado where I live, but there are a few issues.  It ranks between 13 and 17 on most lists, because of the high cost of living here, but most people don’t think about the elevation, which can be hard to deal with for older people.  But you should come visit here and see how you like it!  Thanks again for commenting and reading my post!  Rhonda

  2. Hi Rhonda, 

    Great post. I never knew about the healthcare costs in Alaska. Funny thing is, the other day I was just talking about visiting there the other day. I was also a bit surprised by the high gas prices in Hawaii. Although, I probably shouldn’t be because it’s a popular tourist attraction site. 

    I would also add California on to this list due to the astronomical cost of living, high gas prices, and crime rates. As a native the only thing I see as a positive is the weather, and historical sites. 


    • Hi Brian, great input on California.  Yup, none of the ranking sites put California as either top or bottom.  It his somewhere on the lower end though for the reasons you site.  I guess a takes a certain kind of person to live in California, just as it does for Alaska and Hawaii.  And it reinforces the fact that “to each his own” rules here, and everyone has to decide for themselves which state is right for them.  Thanks for reading and commenting!  Rhonda  

  3. Your article has really brought to light some pertinent indicators which had probably been neglected consistently in the past.
    With only 6 hours of daylight in Alaska, damn what a long night!!!

    It’s insanely difficult to choose the most appropriate state to retire in. All of them have at least one disadvantage.
    By the way, did you write another article about the best states to retire in? Or are you by implication saying that the remaining States are far better?

    It means one has to start preparing for a very healthy retirement, by living a healthy lifestyle in order to reduce the medical bills. Even so, old age is old age and will come with its own complications.

    Please share a link to an article talking about the best states to retire in. I really enjoyed reading your article.

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting.  Sorry I didn’t link the best states article in my post.  I have fixed that, since you asked about it.  Thanks for pointing that out.  Here’s the link:  https://affiliatemarketingforg

      Yes, I didn’t realize either until I started studying this that the availability of health care is something we need to consider when looking for a place to retire.  

      Thanks again for reading!  Rhonda

  4. Thanks for the information. Obviously some states like New York are just too expensive, something you really have to be mindful of when retiring. I prefer the mountains of Tennessee where taxes are low and climate isn’t too bad  most of the year. Curious where East TN ranks in your lists. Thanks

    • Hi Michael, thanks for visiting my site.  I looked up Tennessee on the scales that I used for writing the article.  Kiplinger has Tennessee at #5 because of its low taxes and low cost of living, plus its natural beauty.  But high crime rates and poor environmental conservation cause it to rank lower in other studies.  I visited Tennessee as a child and found it green and beautiful, even in December.  So, it’s up to you to decide if you can live with the high crime, and if the other pros make up for the cons.  Thanks again for reading and commenting!  Rhonda

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