Top 15 Worst States for Retirement in 2021

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High cost of living and poor quality of life make these the 15 worst states for retirement in 2021.

15. Colorado

Colorado Mountains Rocky
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There are quite a few factors that make relocating to Colorado a not-so-wise choice for retirees. According to RetirementLiving, the cost of living in Colorado is high.

For example, the cost of assisted living is $4,438/month, the cost of memory care is $5,100/month, and the cost of in-home care is $5,298/month. Those planning to stay in a nursing home would have to pay out the most at $8,192/month.

The average home price ($343,000) is moderately high and increases in urban areas. The poverty rate in this state is high as well with 14.6% of residents struggling to make ends meet.

Lastly, connecting with other retirees will be difficult as only 9.3% of the state’s population is 65 years of age and older.

14. Connecticut

Connecticut State Capitol
Source: Pixabay

Connecticut is tied with Colorado as the 15th worst state for retirement in 2021. But, for this article, we will separate the two.

According to World Population Review, Connecticut ranks 8th on the list of top 10 states with the highest retirement costs. Yearly expenses for retirees in Connecticut total up to $66,543. As expected, taxes in Connecticut are high, with households paying nearly 36% more than the national average.

Unfortunately, the weather in Colorado isn’t all that great either. “It’s either too hot or cold. We get about three months, split into six weeks, before and after summer, where the weather is usually tolerable,” Jaymez82 wrote on Reddit.

13. Kansas

Kansas Farmland
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Taxes in Kansas are high — almost 25% higher than the national average. As such, the average household pays about $7,300 each year in state and local taxes. Additionally, the health care in the Sunflower State is nothing to brag about. In fact, it isn’t easy to find a dentist there.

Kansas is also smack dab in the middle of Tornado Alley. According to Bankrate, the state is regularly hit by tornadoes and ranks third nationwide for tornadoes per 100 square miles between 1950 and the present. The state reported 127 tornadoes in just 2019 alone!

One of the worst tornadoes to ever hit the area struck the suburbs around Wichita in April 1991. The storm caused $300 million in damage — not exactly a place you want to live during your retirement years unless you have plenty of money in your emergency fund.

12. Maine

Maine Lighthouse Portland
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Unlike Colorado, Maine has a high senior population. Unfortunately, it ranks low when it comes to health care. One reason is due to the high cost of treatment.

The weather in this state can also be a drawback for many retirees. “If you have money, think about snowbirding it. Maine in the summer and then someplace warmer in the South … Winters are brutal, and as you age, you would need help clearing snow. Energy costs during winter are high,” drumpfFOREVER wrote on Reddit.

Additionally, “our nickname is the taxation state. So income, property, high car registration fee, etc.,” drumpfFOREVER added.

11. Louisiana

New Orleans Louisiana
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While Louisiana boasts good food and festivals (e.g., Mardi Gras), the state is not a good choice for retirement. Property crime is a huge problem there. In fact, Louisiana has the most property crime per capita in the country.

Health care is below average, too. Residents have cancer at an elevated rate, and the state has the fewest dentists per capita in the country.

The weather is another drawback. “You will definitely get a case of swamp butt come June through October. Granted, our winters are quite mild. And of course, hurricanes. Sometimes you just get a couple gusts of wind and some heavy rain, and other times you get Betsy or Katrina,” TheSilmarils wrote on Reddit.

10. Maryland

Baltimore Inner Harbor Md
Source: Pixabay

When it comes to states with a high retirement cost, Maryland comes in at number six on the list. Yearly expenses for retirees in Maryland come out to about $67,214. Not only that, but the state’s tax laws can make things quite difficult for persons on a fixed income.

The state taxes IRA income as well as some income from 401(k) plans and pensions. Additionally, Maryland is the only state with both an estate and inheritance tax on the wealthy.

9. New Jersey

New Jersey Atlantic City
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A list compiled by WalletHub shows that New Jersey ranks last when it comes to affordability. Annual expenses for retirees equal $64,736.

Additionally, the average home price is $380,000. Health care in New Jersey isn’t all that great either. The state ranked 33rd in the nation in this category — due largely in part to the fact that it has one of the highest cancer rates in the nation.

When it comes to quality of life, the state ranks 35th. Drawbacks include heavy traffic, bad weather and a dense population.

8. Rhode Island

Point Judith Lighthouse Ri
Source: Pixabay

A major drawback for retirees when it comes to Rhode Island is that it lacks affordability. Although its average home cost is relatively moderate, senior housing services are quite expensive. Taxes are high across the board.

And, yes, you will have to pay taxes on your retirement income. Rhode Island also has a substantial estate tax. Additionally, yearly expenses for retirees in Rhode Island come to $62,413.

Here are some additional data:

  • Cost of assisted living: $5,325/month
  • Cost of memory care: $5,270/month
  • Cost of nursing homes: $7,650/month
  • Cost of in-home care: $4,825/month

Rhode Island ranks low for health care (24th) and quality of life, too, scoring 24th and 38th in the nation, respectively. And, although it’s a small state, Rhode Island is densely populated.

7. Washington

Holden Lake Washington
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In-home care services cost more in Washington than in any other state in the nation. And, housing is very expensive as well, with a typical home costing more than $478,000. The greater Seattle area is especially expensive.

According to Quora user Marcus Hynes, property taxes are high, and living costs are higher than in other places. This is particularly true of the downtown core of Seattle. You need to be quite well off to live comfortably there, Hynes added.

6. Alaska

Alaska Denali National Park
Source: Pixabay

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that a major drawback to retiring in Alaska is the weather. There’s heavy snowfall, frigid winters, and two months of darkness in some parts of the state. And, believe it or not, Alaska also gets hit by the occasional flood and earthquake.

When it comes to finding peers, you’ll be pretty much out of luck as Alaska has the second-lowest percentage of seniors, just behind Utah. Visiting family on the mainland will be much more difficult to do as well since the state is so far away from the rest of the country.
Additionally, you’ll have to pay more for groceries and other items that need to be transported to the state.

5. California

California Hollywood Sign
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Ah, sunny California. This should be one of the best states for retirees, right? Wrong. According to RetirementLiving, both independent housing and senior care facilities are very pricey. The average home price is $505,000, and nursing home care costs $9,817 a month. Plus, your yearly expenses as a retiree would come out to $71,809.

But that’s not all. Many factors can threaten both your health and your property. For one thing, California’s air quality is poor. Additionally, California is one of the most disaster-prone states in the country. It makes sense, after all, with all of those earthquakes and wildfires.

Plus, there are also volcanoes in the northern part of the state, tsunamis in some low-lying coastal communities, landslides during rainstorms, persistent droughts, persistent heat waves and blizzards in the mountains.

4. Oregon

Portland Oregon
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Believe it or not, the cost of living in Oregon is very high. In fact, the only places in the country where the cost of living is higher are Alaska, California, and Hawaii.

In Oregon, you’ll pay the highest state tax rate on most forms of retirement income, and no matter where you live in the state, you’re likely to struggle to find housing.

That’s because landlords are hiking up the rent. Why? Because of Oregon’s lucrative tech jobs, more and more people have been flooding into the state. This, in turn, has driven up the cost of living.

3. New York

New York City
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New York is the second-worst state to retire in terms of affordability. It ranks 49th in the nation. This is largely due to its high taxes and extremely competitive housing market in many of its cities.

As for the cost of a nursing home? You’ll have to pay a whopping $10,900 a month! Plus, health care services aren’t easily accessible in the northern part of the state, consisting mostly of small towns that don’t have many medical facilities nearby.

Additionally, the state received low marks for patient outcomes since it has one of the highest cancer rates in the nation.

2. Illinois

Illinois Chicago
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Illinois is a bad choice for retirement due to its lack of affordability. It ranks 40th out of the 50 states. Not only that, but a WalletHub study showed that Illinois is the worst state to be a taxpayer.

The average household pays almost 40% more in state and local taxes than the national average. Property tax on an average home is close to $5,000. Sales tax and gas tax are high as well. Additionally, estates worth over $4 million are subject to tax.

What’s more, is that tolls on the eastern half of the state can get quite expensive. Thankfully, getting an I-PASS can make traveling on the Illinois Tollway less costly.

1. New Mexico

New Mexico
Source: Pixabay

Coming in at #1 on the list is New Mexico. There are several reasons why you shouldn’t consider moving to New Mexico during your retirement years:

  • You will have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefits, retirement account distributions and pension payouts.
  • Sales taxes are above average.
  • You’ll find it difficult to access quality health care.
  • Nursing homes and memory care services are costly.
  • There’s a lot of property crime.
  • The poverty rate tops 18%.
  • The quality of education consistently ranks low.
  • The altitude and dry air can be tough for people with breathing difficulties.