Study Finds That Five Of The Most Popular States To Retire In Are Bad Options

Which state do you picture yourself living in while you enjoy your golden years? The location you have in mind might have beautiful views and be centrally-located to the attractions and people you love, but is it really the best option? Bankrate collected data from all 50 states in five categories to determine which could be considered the best and worst to retire in. We’re taking a look at the U.S. states that were ranked the worst, based on affordability, crime, culture, weather, and wellness. Five of the top 10 most popular states to retire in make the list– see why!

Maryland Isn’t An Affordable Option

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VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Out of all 50 states, Maryland has been ranked the worst U.S. state to retire in. While it ranks poorly in almost every category except weather, it’s the affordability and culture categories where it really takes a hit.

Although rich with history, the state doesn’t have much to offer in terms of culture and entertainment today. Also, Maryland households are the wealthiest in the country, which drives up the cost of housing and doesn’t make it easy for those retiring on a budget.

New Yorkers Should Move Elsewhere To Retire

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Zoran Milich/Getty Images
Zoran Milich/Getty Images

The state of New York has gorgeous foliage in the fall and plenty of country filled with lakes and peaceful creeks. However, the state ranks among the worst to retire in. While it might be tempting for New Yorkers to remain in the same state, and just move north, affordability is extremely low, as well as the culture that it has to offer.

The median home value in the state is $305,300, but since it’s a hot housing market, home prices are only going to get steeper.

Alaska’s Weather Is A Road Block for Retirement

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Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Some may dream of a retirement that’s out there, far away from traffic, crowds, and over-development. The Last Frontier may sound like a viable option for these reasons, but Alaska isn’t all peaches and cream. The weather is treacherous, which is not something most people enjoy during their golden years.

Most residents split their time between Alaska and somewhere warmer and lighter in the winter, which isn’t a great option in retirement. There isn’t much to do other than hunt, fish, and explore the outdoors when the weather allows. Alaska even ranks low in affordability. Pass on this state.

Wellness Isn’t Well In Illinois

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Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Illinois is one of the most populated states in the U.S., so it would make sense that those who grew up there or had a career in Chicago might want to retire there as well. It’s a great place to raise a family with low crime, good weather and cultural activities.

However, when it comes to retirement, Illinois shouldn’t be on your list. As far as healthcare and wellness rank, Illinois ranks low. It’s also an expensive state to live in, if you’re not far out in the country. And if you’re far out, there’s not much to do!

Washington Is Great For Many Things, But Not Retirement

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Greg Vaughn /VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Greg Vaughn /VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Washington state has been getting a lot of praise lately for its high quality of life and healthy economy. It’s a great place to find jobs and enjoy all the outdoors has to offer in the Pacific Northwest. However, Washington doesn’t come out on top when it comes to a retirement option.

The state ranks low in both affordability and wellness. Choosing the right region of Washington to retire in could prove tough too, as the weather is harsher in parts of the state.

Nevada Isn’t Very Safe, And Residents Aren’t Very Healthy

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DAVID BECKER/AFP via Getty Images
DAVID BECKER/AFP via Getty Images

If safety and wellness are among your priorities in retirement, Nevada shouldn’t be on your list of options. This one is surprising, considering it’s one of the top ten most popular states for Americans to retire in.

Many are attracted to the affordable housing, as the median home value in Nevada is $291,800, but this state ranks in the top ten worst states for crime. The state also has very low marks when it comes to wellness, which may be a priority for retirees.

As It Turns Out, People In Oregon Aren’t All That Happy

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JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

When it comes to culture, Oregon ranks among the highest of all the states, at number six. So how did it end up on the list of worst states to retire in? Mainly due to wellness and weather. Residents of Oregon have higher rates of reported depression and daily physical pain.

The weather might also have to do with findings that Oregon residents are seeing a decline in being content with their daily life and satisfaction in their standard of living. While crime is relatively low and there are affordable housing options, if you want to live a happy life after retiring, Oregon might not be ideal.

We Could Have Guessed California Wasn’t An Easy Option

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Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

So long as affordability comes into play in rankings, we could guess that the state of California wouldn’t be the best option for those on a fixed income in retirement. It’s so bad that even its high rankings in culture, weather, and wellness couldn’t save it from being ranked among the worst.

While California ranks number 13 in weather, and 17 in culture, it’s the second most-expensive state to live in, in the country, and housing prices are always climbing. Keep California on your travel list, but definitely take it off your options for retirement.

New Jersey Is Great Until You Look At The Cost of Living

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New Jersey is ranked the fifth-safest state in the nation. It also ranks high in culture, and decent in weather and wellness. So how did NJ end up on this list? Mainly due to affordability, which ranks the third least affordable state in the nation.

It might be tempting to retire close to all of the cultural attractions, and nearby where you grew up or worked. But overall, financial health is important in retirement, and you don’t want to take that risk to live in New Jersey.

South Carolina’s Crime And Lack of Wellness Are Worrisome

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Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Palmetto State has so much to offer, from its subtropical beaches to its beautiful islands and unbeatable weather. For these reasons, South Carolina is one of the top four most popular states for Americans to retire. But of course, there’s a downside.

Crime in South Carolina is among the worst in the country, which is not something you want to worry about in retirement. It’s also the worst state in the entire nation for wellness. If you want to keep your health and wealth intact, this state might not be the ideal place to hang up your hat.

Minnesota Is Too Cold. Period.

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Carl D. Walsh/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Carl D. Walsh/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

It might come as no surprise that Minnesota is one of the worst-ranked states in terms of weather. During the three coldest months the average daily high temperate is below 36°F! However, the state ranks towards the top in wellness and average in culture and affordability.

It’s rough that one category can bring the ranking crashing down for this state, but if you’ve ever experienced a winter in Minnesota, you probably don’t have the state on your list of retirement options.

Virginia Ranks Poorly Across Four Out of Five Categories

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Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The state of Virginia is one of the safest on the list, but it’s the other categories that make this state a less-than-stellar option for retirement. The culture is lacking, wellness is very low compared to other states, and there’s not much going on culturally for retirees to enjoy.

All of this and it’s not too affordable to live in Virginia either. If proximity to family is important and your family is in Virginia, try taking a look at nearby states. It might be the better option in the long-run.

Arizona’s Crime Shouldn’t Be Ignored

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Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

For folks retiring on the west coast, Arizona is a popular option. While housing still isn’t cheap, it’s much more affordable than its neighbor state, California. But it’s the crime and culture categories that really bring Arizona’s score down in terms of a retirement option.

Arizona’s crime rate is among the worst in the nation, with larceny and theft huge issues. The state also has a high rate of motor vehicle theft and aggravated assault. As far as culture, there’s not much to do, other than explore the national parks. If you’re into food and the arts, this isn’t your state.

There Are A Lot Of Property Crimes In New Mexico

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Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Take everything we said about Arizona and apply it to New Mexico, because they basically rank the same in most every category. That is, except for crime; New Mexico is even worse than Arizona! In 2016, law enforcement reported 81,931 property crimes which might make you nervous about securing your home.

The last thing you want to worry about during retirement is your safety, this should be your time to relax! New Mexico’s weather and wellness are both decent, but weighing all categories, it’s not a great option.

Louisiana Has Great Weather But Some Downsides, Too

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Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

What’s going on in Louisiana? The state ranks number 17 in terms of wellness, and third in weather, which is great. It’s the crime and culture categories that bring down the rankings for this state.

Affordability is decent, so if you can find a place in a safe area with some sort of culture, you could be content. You could come to regret retiring in Louisiana if your housing options are limited though. You don’t want to get stuck in a bad neighborhood.

There’s Nothing To Do In Utah

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Brianna Soukup/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Brianna Soukup/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Utah is an interesting state when it comes to retirement. In most categories, the state ranks somewhere in the middle, making it a viable option. However, it’s the culture category that really tanks the rankings for this state. What are you going to do there?

Utah’s population and development are mainly concentrated in two areas of the state. Otherwise, there aren’t many people and there isn’t much to do. If you plan on hanging around the house, you might be able to buy one affordably and live comfortably. If you like exploring and meeting people, you might grow bored quicker than you grow old in Utah!

Pennsylvania’s Weather Brings Down Its Ranking

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Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

There are a lot of pluses to retiring in Pennsylvania. The state is rich with educated people and culture, and it ranks average in affordability and wellness. Crime is low, too. But, it doesn’t rank high in any category and the weather isn’t the greatest.

Pennsylvania is the fifth-most populous state in the country, which has its perks and downfalls. If you want a quiet retirement in warm weather, you might want to look elsewhere.

Colorado’s Rankings Are Disappointing

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Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Colorado ranks an impressive number six when it comes to wellness, which is great. The state also has plenty to offer when it comes to the great outdoors. However… it’s cold! The majority of Colorado consists of mountains, foothills, high plains, and desert lands, and the weather is much different than other mountain states.

Colorado has also become a desirable place to move, which raises the housing cost and makes Colorado one of the least affordable states in the nation. Culturally, there are things to do but the crime is above average, too. Take all of these categories into account before considering Colorado.

High Crime, Low Affordability in Delaware

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John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Delaware is one of the more obscure options on this list, as the state is the second smallest and sixth least populous state. If you were thinking about moving there to retire (and boost the population) you might want to consider a few things.

Crime is high in Delaware, and affordability is low. That makes it tough when it comes to finding a safe and affordable place to call home for the long haul. If culture and weather are top priorities, Delaware is decent, but across the board, it doesn’t look good for retirement.

Affordability And Weather Are The Main Concerns With Maine

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Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

It’s not surprising that Maine ranks low when it comes to weather. It’s the northernmost state in New England and sees a lot of snow in the winter. If you’re along the coastline, it’s a bit milder, but you’re still getting dumped on. Are you wanting to shovel snow in retirement?

Culturally, it’s ranked number one, so it’s surprising that the other categories could drag this state so low in the rankings for retirement options. Crime is also very low in Maine. It’s really affordability and the weather that make this state a non-starter.

Connecticut Is High-Price For Low Crime

An elderly couple holds hands while crossing a wet street.
Indranil Aditya/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Indranil Aditya/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In terms of expense, Connecticut was ranked just a few notches lower than California, which is surprising considering the weather. While California is among the best weather states, Connecticut is ranked on the worst half.

What may explain its higher price point is how low the crime rate is in Connecticut. It comes in 7th place for low crime and 5th place for overall wellness. It’s also worth noting that the rankings place it high in culture, as well. However, all of those perks mean little if it’s too unbearable to go outside.

Indiana Proves That You Get What You Pay For

An older couple sits on a bench.
Francis Dean/Corbis via Getty Images
Francis Dean/Corbis via Getty Images

The only good ranking Indiana received was for affordability, where it came in third place. It’s worst ranking? Wellness. It looks like money can’t buy happiness, after all. Indiana is also seriously lacking in culture, according to the study.

When it comes to weather and crime, Indiana ranked right in the middle, coming in at 25th place for weather and 27th for crime. While the state may help you save a few dollars, you’ll probably just end up spending them to move someplace else.

Rhode Island Is Full Of Culture… For A Price

A retired couple dancing outside amongst a crowd.
Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Rhode Island ranks among the worst states in terms of affordability. However, it made it to the top five states for culture, and to the top ten for its spectacularly low crime rates.

However, even the wealthier retirees who love to get out may have a problem with moving here. That’s because it ranks low in terms of the weather, which may be a deal-breaker for anyone planning on spending a large chunk of their earnings on a place to live.

Ohio Is Not Well

A elderly couple sits on a bench near a lake.
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Of all of the fifty states, Ohia ranks 47th in wellness. That’s pretty astounding considering that all of the other categories are more or less average. Its next-lowest rank after wellness is culture, which came in 29th place.

Weather and crime are similarly unimpressive, leaving only affordability as a pro to this state. Our best guess is that all of the cons add up to create disappointment from all sides, which explains why so few residences feel well.

West Virginia Is Just Okay

A retired couple dances in the street.
Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images
Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

West Virginia is one of the few states to rank nearly the same in every category, and that’s not a good thing. Its affordability and its crime are tied at 18th place, while culture and weather are both ranked in the mid-20s.

The one category that the state does spike in is wellness, coming in 39th place. Everything about this score screams mediocre. If you’re going to choose a place to retire, it doesn’t make any sense to fly to a state that scores a C in every way.

Michigan Proves Weather And Wellness Can Be Closely Tied

An older couple smiles at one another.
Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Michigan ranks number one in affordability, but as we’ve already established, sometimes the cheapest places are the most difficult to live in. In Michigan’s case, it’s not crime that explains the correlation in low prices and its low rank overall.

Rather, its weather that’s Michigan’s ultimate downfall. Both weather and wellness rank in the 40s for this state. Similarly, culture ranks in 35th place. It’s to be expected that the culture ranking may be low if it’s unbearable to go outside. But if New York can manage, any state can.

Massachusetts Is Surprisingly Expensive

An elderly couple smiles and pose close together.
Joe McNally/Getty Images
Joe McNally/Getty Images

Considering that Massachusetts is ranked among the lowest in weather, yet the highest in wellness, it’s clear that this state is a bit of a conundrum. Adding to the confusion is the fact that this state is also among the least affordable.

So what’s so great about Massachusetts to cause it to be expensive and full of happy people? Low crime and high culture. Still– and we probably sound like a broken record at this point– a high price for a place with less than ideal weather can be a dealbreaker.

Tennessee Has A Ton Of Crime

A couple overlooks a hillside.
Francis Dean/Corbis via Getty Images
Francis Dean/Corbis via Getty Images

With all of its gorgeous country landscapes and country music charm, it may come as a surprise that Tennessee ranked among the worst states in the department of crime. That would explain why it also ranked terribly in wellness.

Where Tennessee does rank well is in affordability and weather, two things that rarely go hand-in-hand here in the states. The ultimate outlier, Tennessee proves that sunny weather doesn’t always make for a happy state.

Oklahoma Is Lacking In Culture, But Not In Crime

An elderly couple enjoys a festival.
Getty Images
Getty Images

Like Tennessee, Oklahoma ranked well in both affordability and weather, landing at 11th place for both. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the ideal place to retire. In fact, it may be one of the worst places to retire.

That’s because it ranked among the worst states in both crime and culture. So the thing you want a lot of there’s almost none of, and the thing you want almost none of there’s a lot of. That explains the low wellness levels that researchers found in this state.

Wyoming Has Horrible Weather

An older couple dances the Tango at night.
Federico Tovoli/VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Federico Tovoli/VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

One of the worst states in terms of weather is Wyoming, according to researchers. Nevertheless, Wyoming has excellent wellness and very low crime. So long as you can weather the storms, this state may be rather pleasant.

The state also ranked well in culture. However, like most good things, it comes at a price. While Wyoming isn’t amongst the most expensive states, it did rank 23rd in affordability. All things considered, this isn’t the place to go if you’re used to Hawaii weather.