Do you plan to "retire in place" and stay in your current area, or are you interested in retiring in a different state? In either case, you may want to consult an annual study by WalletHub if retirement is imminent.
The study ranked all 50 states using 41 statistical metrics that were weighted and grouped into three major categories important to retirees: affordability, quality of life, and healthcare. You may be surprised at some of the states in both the best and worst categories. Let's start with the top five.
1. Florida – You knew it had to be high on the list, didn't you? In terms of affordability, Florida topped the list while it placed seventh in terms of quality of life, overcoming its 27th-ranked healthcare rating.
2. South Dakota – The home of Mount Rushmore is the ninth most affordable state and ranked fifth when it came to healthcare. It also managed to jump ten spots in quality of life from 32nd in the 2018 study to 22nd in 2019, breaking the top half in this category and overtaking Colorado as second state overall.
3. Colorado – Ranked fourth in healthcare while quality of life came in ninth place, Colorado is constrained by its 26th-place ranking in affordability.
4. New Hampshire – Not typically thought of as a retirement destination, New Hampshire has decent rankings across the board (ninth in healthcare, third in quality of life and 25th in affordability).
5. Virginia – Quality of life ranks well in Virginia (13th) while affordability and healthcare rankings are above average (14th and 24th, respectively).
The next five desirable retirement states are, in order, Utah, Iowa, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. Minnesota missed the top five despite having number one rankings in both quality of life and healthcare, due to a dismal affordability ranking (43rd). Let the free Retirement Planner by MoneyTips help you calculate when you can retire without jeopardizing your lifestyle.
What about the five states with the worst rankings? In descending order, they are:
46. New Jersey – The Garden State is 45th in affordability and ranks below average in both quality of life and healthcare at 33rd and 29th, respectively.
47. Vermont – The least affordable state in the union actually scores well in quality of life (sixth) and has an above average ranking in healthcare (23rd).
48. West Virginia – While the Mountain State ranks above average in affordability (22nd), its overall score is pulled down by poor quality of life (41st) and even worse healthcare (49th).
49. Rhode Island – Healthcare is above average (18th), but quality of life and affordability are poor at 43rd and 46th place, respectively.
50. Kentucky – Kentucky ranks 48th in quality of life, 47th in healthcare and only 32nd in affordability, earning the Bluegrass State WalletHub's least desirable retirement state ranking for 2019.
Was your state not mentioned? Check the full study results for further details on your state's rankings and a breakdown of all the statistical metrics and weightings.
Of course, each state has areas that don't fit the rest of the state profile. Individual cities were ranked in a 2018 WalletHub study, with the inclusion of an "Activities" ranking – and, while the results are similar, some differences emerge at the local level. For example, Louisiana fares poorly in the state rankings, but New Orleans ranks high in the city rankings (probably because, as you might expect, New Orleans ranks high for activities).
While the study is a useful baseline, it doesn't mean everyone should converge on Florida or flee Kentucky in his or her retirement years. Find an area that makes you happy and gives you a fulfilling and healthy lifestyle – just know where the strong and weak points are in your chosen retirement state.
Remember that your credit score also influences how attractive a place may be to live. Some states are more tolerable than others for consumers with bad credit. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by joining MoneyTips.