Are you weighing whether to move states during retirement? From both a financial and soul-filling standpoint, it could be a smart move or your worst regret. The Motley Fool analyzed seven categories to determine the worst and best states for retirement in 2024.
Analyzing Retirement States
The Motley Fool gathered data from two primary sources, including a national The Motley Fool survey and external data sources, including but not limited to the Zillow Home Value Index, United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings, and The Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index.
Weighing It Out
Using data from its sources, The Motley Fool broke down the information into seven categories and weighted them as follows:
- Quality of Life (15.2%)
- Housing cost (14.9%)
- Healthcare (14.8%)
- Crime (14.8%)
- Taxes (13.7%)
- Non-housing cost of living (13.6%)
- Weather (13.1%)
To determine the worst and best states to retire, The Motley Fool used a final weighted score between 0 and 100, with zero being the worst and 100 the best. The results are as follows, starting with the worst states for retirement.
Louisiana is the worst state for retirement in the US in 2024, with an overall weighted score of zero. The Pelican State ranks zero for public health, with quality of life and crime also being low. The good news for retirees wanting to call Louisiana home? Louisiana has a weighted score of 94 for cost of housing and 92 for non-housing cost of living.
Kansas isn’t in much better shape than Louisiana, with an overall retirement score of four. The Sunflower State ranks particularly poorly for public health, with a weighted score of three. As with Louisiana, it’s one of the best performers in the state for the cost of housing and non-housing cost of living categories.
3: West Virginia
You might want to consider moving across state borders if you’re a retiree-to-be in West Virginia. The Mountain State has an overall retirement score of nine out of 100, with it ranking particularly poorly for public health. On the bright side, West Virginia scores 100 for its cost of housing.
Although some retirees flock to the Ozarks to spend their Golden Years, as a whole, Arkansas is one of the worst states for retirement. The Natural State has an overall score of 11. Of all the categories, it ranks worst for quality of life.
Mississippi is a state of extremes for retirement, but its overall score of 12 ranks it firmly in the bottom five. The Magnolia State comes in zero for both quality of life and public health. Meanwhile, it received an excellent ranking of 97 for cost of housing and a respectable 77 and 75 for non-housing cost of living and crime.
6: New Mexico
New Mexico is barely better than Mississippi in terms of retirement, with an overall score of 13. The Land of Enchantment ranks among the worst for crime (8) and quality of life (12).
Oklahoma jumps up to an overall retirement score of 21, which is far from ideal for retirees. Of the seven categories, the Sooner State ranks worst for public health (16) and best for non-housing cost of living (98) and cost of housing (94).
The Motley Fool gave Nevada an overall retirement score of 26. The Silver State didn’t rank extremely high or low for any of the categories, with the exception of non-housing cost of living (86).
Tennessee has an overall score of 26, which it shares with Alaska. The Volunteer State ranks poorly in the crime (23) and quality of life (28) categories. A silver lining is its excellent 97 score for non-housing cost of living.
As with Tennessee, Alaska has a 26 overall score, rounding out the top ten worst states for retirement. The Last Frontier is the epitome of extremes, scoring zero for both the crime and non-housing cost of living categories but 100 for taxes.
California is the eleventh-worst state for retirement in 2024, with an overall score of 28. The Golden State makes one’s Golden Years tough for living, with a low cost of housing score (14) and tax score (21). On the plus side, Californians enjoy a quality of life score of 84.
Missouri’s overall retirement score of 37 reflects its mostly mediocre scores. The Show Me State ranks lowest for public health (38) and highest for non-housing cost of living.
Montana has an overall score of 44 for retirees. It stands out for its poor weather ranking (28), with most of its other category scores ranging in the 40s and 50s.
14: New York
New York State isn’t ideal for retirement, according to The Motley Fool’s data, which gives it an overall score of 46. The Empire State scored the worst in the nation for taxes for retirees (0). Its saving grace is its quality of life (92).
Sweet Home Alabama isn’t such a sweet home for retirees, with an overall retirement score of 49. The Cotton State scores 24 for quality of life. However, it ranks high for cost of housing (90) and non-housing cost of living (92).
16: South Carolina
Don’t let South Carolina’s overall retirement score of 50 out of 100 fool you; it’s well below the top 25 best states to retire. The Palmetto State’s worst ranking is quality of life (36), and its best is non-housing cost of living (82).
Texas’ retirement score of 51 sits just above South Carolina’s. The Lone Star State offers a less-than-ideal quality of life for retirees (40) and an above-average non-housing cost of living (90).
Kentucky ties with the next two states to come with an overall retirement score of 52. It has a notably low 16 score for quality of life. However, it ranks moderate to high in the remainder of the categories, with its cost of housing being the highest at 94.
Arizona also has a 52 overall retirement score. The Grand Canyon State has moderate retirement rankings across the board, with the exception of non-housing cost of living, for which it ranks 76.
Georgia is the last of three states with a retirement score of 52. As with Arizona, the Peach State ranks moderately in most categories. It outshines Arizona on the non-housing cost of living front, though, with a weighted score of 95.
Ohio’s retirement score is 55, with its lowest category being quality of life (40). In good news, retirees in Ohio can enjoy a low non-housing cost of living (84) and cost of housing (91).
Illinois has an overall retirement score of 56. It ranks 57 for both public health and crime, with its worst-ranking category being taxes (27).
23: North Carolina
North Carolina’s 59 overall retirement score reflects its relatively moderate rankings across most categories. The Tar Heel State ranks worst for quality of life (40) and best for non-housing cost of living.
24: New Jersey
New Jersey is the last state with an overall retirement score in the 50s (59). It has a large score range across categories. Taxes are its worst category for retirees (24), and quality of life is its best (96).
Indiana has a retirement score of 61. The Hoosier State has a poor 32 ranking for quality of life. The good news? Retirees get to take advantage of its excellent non-housing cost of living (88) and cost of housing (89).
Michigan is the first state to reach the top 25 best states for retirement, with an overall score of 62. That doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and roses for Michiganian retirees, though. The Wolverine State ranks 36 for both quality of life and the weather. On the flip side, it ranks a respectable 88 for cost of housing and non-housing cost of living.
Pennsylvania also shares Michigan’s 62 retirement score. The Keystone State’s worst ranking is the weather (46), and its best is cost of housing (85).
28: South Dakota
South Dakota is the final of three states with an overall retirement score of 62. The Mount Rushmore State ranks poorly for weather (35), but aside from that, its scores are decent, with the non-housing cost of living being the best (94).
Idaho has an overall retirement score of 65. Although it has two categories scoring in the 30s (weather and quality of life), its 82 and 84 scores for crime and non-housing cost of living, respectively, help to keep it out of the bottom 25 states for retirement.
Delaware has a retirement score of 68, with the taxes category dragging it down (31). Aside from that, Delaware’s retirement categories are moderate, with most categories scoring in the 60s.
Wyoming is the first of two states with an overall retirement score of 69. The Equality State underperforms for non-housing cost of living (27). But if retirees have enough money, they’ll enjoy above-average low crime rates (83) and decent retiree tax laws (74).
32: Rhode Island
Rhode Island also has a 69 retirement score. The Ocean State’s worst category for retirees is taxes (40), and its best is crime (83).
Want the best quality of life during retirement? Massachusetts is calling your name, given its 100 score for the category. Its overall retirement score of 70 also isn’t too shabby, though it ranks poorly for non-housing cost of living (26).
Like Massachusetts, Oregon also has a 70 retirement score. The Beaver State’s worst-ranking category is weather (41), and its best is a good but not stellar 77 score for public health.
Floridian transplant retirees, close your eyes. Florida is only the 16th-best state for retirement in the US. The Sunshine State has an overall retirement score of 71. Staying true to its name, it scores an excellent 94 for weather. The downside is its lowest-scoring category is quality of life (52).
Iowa starts yet another set of three states sharing the same overall retirement score, this time with a score of 72. The Hawkeye State ranks in the 40s for quality of life, taxes, and weather. Luckily for retirees living there, Iowa scores for non-housing cost of living (89) and cost of housing (92) are great.
Don’t let its overall score of 72 fool you; Hawaii is arguably the biggest state of extremes for retirees. The Aloha State ranks zero for its cost of housing and non-housing cost of living. On the flip side, it ranks 100 for quality of life and weather.
Maine is the last of three states with an overall retirement score of 72, according to The Motley Fool. The Pine Tree State has a terrible 29 score for weather and an outstanding score of 100 for crime.
Washington jumps up to a 77 score for overall retirement. The Evergreen State has relatively more moderate numbers than the past two states, ranking 39 for housing and non-housing cost of living and 88 for public health.
Virginia’s overall retirement score of 78 is the result of all categories scoring 60 or higher, with the exception of taxes, where its weighted score is 30.
Wisconsin is the first state to break into the top ten best states for retirement, boasting an overall retirement score of 79. It ranks worst for weather (32) and best for non-housing cost of living (81).
42: North Dakota
North Dakota ties with Wisconsin for the ninth and tenth-best states for retirement, with a 79 overall score. Although it scores significantly below average for its weather (25), the Flickertail State offers retirees an excellent non-housing cost of living (80) and cost of housing (86).
Nebraska’s overall retirement score is 81, making it the eighth-best state in the U.S. to retire. The Cornhusker State’s worst category for retirees is taxes (39). Its best categories are cost of housing (86) and non-housing cost of living (92).
Maryland comes in just a hair above Nebraska, boasting an 82 score for overall retirement feasibility. Retirees must be ready to shell out money for taxes since it scores 41 for that category. However, the Free State’s quality of life is nearly unparalleled, with a score of 96.
Vermont has a respectable retirement score of 85. However, that comes with extremes. The Green Mountain State ranks poorly for taxes (20) and weather (32). In contrast, its residents enjoy low crime rates (score of 91) and excellent public health (93).
Colorado is the first state to break into the top five best states to retire, with an overall retirement score of 86. The Centennial State’s weather leaves a lot to be desired for retirees, given its 36 score. But its 96 score for public health makes up for it.
Connecticut has a retirement score of 87, making it the fourth-best state for retirees. The Nutmeg State excels in public health (92) and crime (90). However, it’s one of the worst states in the country for taxes, with a measly score of four.
Minnesota is the third-best state for retirement, with an overall score of 92. It scores among the best for public health in the nation (95), and its non-housing cost of living (78) means that retirees can stretch their dollars further. That said, Minnesotan retirees will need to be ready to face less-than-ideal weather (26) and taxes (34).
Utah’s overall retirement score of 95 makes it the second-best state in the US to retire. Utahn retirees can feel good knowing that Utah scores the highest possible for public health (100) and it also has an above-average non-housing cost of living (80). The biggest downside for retirees living in Utah is taxes, with a score of 34.
50: New Hampshire
It’s official: According to The Motley Fool, New Hampshire is the best state for retirement in 2024. The Granite State has an overall retirement score of 100. It ranks 95 for crime and 99.9 for public health. No place is perfect, though; New Hampshire has mediocre weather and a non-housing cost of living, both with a score of 34.
Most Affordable Homes
West Virginia has the most affordable homes for retirees, with an average home value index of $158,668, according to Zillow’s August 2023 data.
Based on data from Zillow, The Motley Fool determined that the following states offer the second to fifth-most affordable homes for retirees:
- Mississippi: $177,536 average home price
- Kentucky: $197,657 average home price
- Oklahoma: $198,629 average home price
- Arkansas: $198,746 average home price
Best Taxes for Retirees
Let’s face it: The best tax is zero tax. But since that’s not a possibility for most, the best effective tax rate for retirees in the U.S. is Alaska, with a rate of 4.6%.
Manageable Tax States
If Alaska isn’t among the states you’re considering moving to during your Golden Years, these are the second to fifth-best states with the lowest effective tax rates for seniors:
- Wyoming: 7.5%
- Tennessee: 7.6%
- South Dakota: 8.4%
- Michigan: 8.6%
50 Best Cities for Retirement
Now you know the best states for retirement. But what about the best cities within those states? The U.S. News & World Report reveals the best cities for retirees from a financial, health, and quality of life perspective.
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