Worst States for Retirement 2010

MoneyRates.com Senior Financial Analyst, CFA
September 19, 2010

Also see the current list of Worst States for Retirement

What makes a place the ideal spot for retirement -- and what makes other places a potential disaster for retirees?

There are several personal choices that make some places more attractive than others -- where your children and grandchildren live is probably at the top. But there are some more objective and measurable factors that determine whether a state is a good or a bad place for retirees. The following are the factors MoneyRates.com used to determine the 10 best and worst states for retirement:

  • Economic factors. Using a combination of cost of living in major metropolitan areas, unemployment and tax burden, MoneyRates.com rated the 50 states from best to worst according to economic conditions.
  • Climate. Americans tend to set the thermostat at around 68 degrees. So, MoneyRates.com used this as the standard, and rated states according to how far their monthly temperatures varied from 68 degrees.
  • Crime rate. Security is a particular concern for senior citizens, so violent and property crime rates were used to rank the safety of the state.
  • Life expectancy. States conducive to long lives are naturally well-suited for retirees.

For frequently updated data, such as unemployment, the most recently available monthly figures were used, whereas for other criteria that reflect longer-term trends, such as climate, more historical information was used.

Based on these criteria, the following are the 10 worst states for retirement, with No. 1 being the worst. Since just about every state has at least something going for it, we highlight both the good and the bad, so you can decide which factors would matter most to you and join the conversation on our blog.

On Wednesday, we'll name our 10 best states for retirement.

Data sources: ACCRA Cost of Living Index, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Tax Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, MSNBC, the U.S. Census Bureau, Bloomberg Businessweek

Arkansas, one of 10 worst states for retirementNo. 10: Arkansas

Economic factors: Cost of living is 90 percent of the national average, unemployment is at 7.4 percent, and the average state and local tax burden is 10 percent.

Climate: Average monthly temperatures range from 38.4 degrees in January to 80.57 degrees in July.

Crime rate: 12th in the nation in violent crime, and 11th in property crime.

Life expectancy: 75.2 years.

Reason for low rank: Unemployment isn't bad, the climate is good and the cost of living is excellent. However, Arkansas is done in by relatively high crime rates and tax burdens, and life expectancy is the eighth-worst in the nation.

Missouri, one of 10 worst states for retirementNo. 9: Missouri

Economic factors: Cost of living is 91 percent of the national average, unemployment is at 9.2 percent, and the average state and local tax burden is 9.2 percent.

Climate: Average monthly temperatures range from 28.83 degrees in January to 77.54 degrees in July.

Crime rate: 15th in the nation in violent crime, and 14th in property crime.

Life expectancy: 75.9 years.

Reason for low rank: Except for a low cost of living, Missouri doesn't stand out in any category, but a relatively high crime rate and a relatively low life expectancy make it a somewhat unwelcoming environment for retirees.

North Carolina, one of 10 worst states for retirementNo. 8: North Carolina

Economic factors: Cost of living is 97 percent of the national average, unemployment is at 9.8 percent, and the average state and local tax burden is 9.8 percent.

Climate: Average monthly temperatures range from 39.97 degrees in January to 77.49 degrees in July.

Crime rate: 19th in the nation in violent crime, and 7th in property crime.

Life expectancy: 75.8 years.

Reason for low rank: The climate is very temperate, but North Carolina rates poorly on the basis of crime rate, unemployment and life expectancy.

Ohio, one of 10 worst states for retirementNo. 7: Ohio

Economic factors: Cost of living is 93 percent of the national average, unemployment is at 10.3 percent, and the average state and local tax burden is 10.4 percent.

Climate: Average monthly temperatures range from 26.5 degrees in January to 72.78 degrees in July.

Crime rate: 26th in the nation in violent crime, and 20th in property crime.

Life expectancy: 76.2 years.

Reason for low rank: Ohio is fairly average on most criteria, but both the unemployment rate and the tax burden are in the double-digits.

Tennessee, one of 10 worst states for retirementNo. 6: Tennessee

Economic factors: Cost of living is 89 percent of the national average, unemployment is at 9.8 percent, and the average state and local tax burden is 8.3 percent.

Climate: Average monthly temperatures range from 36.32 degrees in January to 77.29 degrees in July.

Crime rate: 2nd in the nation in violent crime, and 6th in property crime.

Life expectancy: 75.1 years.

Reason for low rank: Tennessee is a cheap place to live, with a low cost of living and average tax burden, but this doesn't make up for being one of the worst states for crime and life expectancy.

Maryland, one of 10 worst states for retirementNo. 5: Maryland

Economic factors: Cost of living is 126 percent of the national average, unemployment is at 7.1 percent, and the average state and local tax burden is 10.8 percent.

Climate: Average monthly temperatures range from 32.24 degrees in January to 75.44 degrees in July.

Crime rate: 9th in the nation in violent crime, and 21st in property crime.

Life expectancy: 76.3 years.

Reason for low rank: Between the cost of living and the tax burden, Maryland is expensive, and the high rate of violent crime is also troubling.

South Carolina, one of 10 worst states for retirementNo. 4: South Carolina

Economic factors: Cost of living is 97 percent of the national average, unemployment is at 10.8 percent, and the average state and local tax burden is 8.8 percent.

Climate: Average monthly temperatures range from 44.12 degrees in January to 80.08 degrees in July.

Crime rate: 1st in the nation in violent crime, and 2nd in property crime.

Life expectancy: 74.8 years.

Reason for low rank: You can find things to like in South Carolina -- the pleasant climate, for example -- but the high crime rates would be enough to scare off many retirees, and the life expectancy (one of the lowest in the nation) is a downside.

Alaska, one of 10 worst states for retirementNo. 3: Alaska

Economic factors: Cost of living is 128 percent of the national average, unemployment is at 7.7 percent, and the average state and local tax burden is 6.4 percent.

Climate: Average monthly temperatures range from 16.5 degrees in January to 59.0 degrees in July.

Crime rate: 8th in the nation in violent crime, and 23rd in property crime.

Life expectancy: 77.1 years.

Reason for low rank: The nation's lowest tax burden is more than offset by the high cost of living, and the harsh climate and high rate of violent crime are not friendly to retirees.

Michigan, one of 10 worst states for retirementNo. 2: Michigan

Economic factors: Cost of living is 97 percent of the national average, unemployment is at 13.1 percent, and the average state and local tax burden is 9.4 percent.

Climate: Average monthly temperatures range from 18.87 degrees in January to 68.32 degrees in July.

Crime rate: 10th in the nation in violent crime, and 27th in property crime.

Life expectancy: 76.3 years.

Reason for low rank: The high unemployment rate is indicative of a severely damaged economy, the climate is a little rough, and the violent crime rate is a concern.

Nevada, one of 10 worst states for retirementNo. 1: Nevada

Economic factors: Cost of living is 105 percent of the national average, unemployment is at 14.3 percent, and the average state and local tax burden is 6.6 percent.

Climate: Average monthly temperatures range from 30.43 degrees in January to 71.94 degrees in July.

Crime rate: 3rd in the nation in violent crime, and 13th in property crime.

Life expectancy: 75.8 years.

Reason for low rank: Nevada has the second lowest tax rate in the country, but scored poorly on just about every other criterion. Gambling enthusiasts may disagree, but high crime rates and a dismal economy make Nevada a bad bet for retirees.

 

While these states might not give you the best environment to retire in, you can change your luck by making sure your money is working for you by putting it in the best money market accounts, savings accounts, and other deposit vehicles.

For the full list of states, check our blog post Best and worst states for retirement: The complete list.

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Your responses to ‘Worst States for Retirement 2010’

Showing 17 comments | Add your comment
RL Detje MD

26 January 2012 at 1:19 pm

Las Vegas NV home prices are not only sinking, but to generate fines and fees, the NV Highway Patrol, untrained and unsupervised arrests elderly, disabled, and Asian citizens with absolutely unsullied prior records for JAIL time WITHOUT cause. Arresting innocents to balance the books should discourage visitors,retirees, elderly, ADA disabled,Veterans of US service, Asians, foreigners, and out-of-Stators from whichever part of the countries. RL Detje MD

robert detje M.D.

24 January 2012 at 6:24 pm

Avoid Nevada, especially Las Vegas where to balance the books they arrest, fine, jail,and confiscate property from home-owning, tax paying, law abiding US VETS, ADA disabled, care Givers,Asians, the elde,rly and defenseless. Clark County is lawless and the Highway Patrol is POORLY or NOT trained to deal with the disabled. After being jailed on a set-up by a code III ambulance stopped on a 4-lane state road, my wife of 75 years and myself were jailed after an incompetent interview. Avoid this good-old-boy, lawless city. RL Detje M.D. rlsodetje@cox.net

robert L. Detje M.D.

24 January 2012 at 6:00 pm

Las Vegas, Clark county and Nevada are broke and arrest Veterans, the ada Disbled, elderly, care-givers and home owners to generate fees for broken govenment. Stay away! Visitors, Asians, and Home-owning Veterans are at risk! Despite the weather and burning golf courses, they will arrest and fine you out of house and home. RL Detje M.D. retired, ADA, Viet era Vet. living in Winchester where we have lost 50% of home value...rlsodetje@cox.net

Richard Barrington

8 November 2011 at 2:56 pm

Petunia's Mom: I couldn't agree with you more that unemployment and other economic factors matter greatly even if you are retired -- all the more now, with so many people continuing to work after normal retirement age. I had not thought about the low unemployment angle you raise -- that's a very interesting point.

Richard Barrington

8 November 2011 at 2:54 pm

Charles: We used the same data you cite in your link. However, I'm not sure you are looking at the right figures. For crime rate (as opposed to the total number of crimes), you have to look at the "Rate per 100,000 inhabitants" listing. If you focus on that, you'll find that Nevada does indeed have the highest violent crime rate of any state. Only the District of Columbia is higher in the FBI figures, and after some discussion we decided not to try to rank DC side-by-side with the 50 states because the demographic characteristics of a city are so different from those of an entire state.

Ace

6 November 2011 at 7:28 pm

How could you not mention California? Highest costs and taxes almost anywhere for income, food, gas, vehicle licensing. There is a fee for almost everything. The prisons are about to release 35,000 inmates from the "overcrowded" prisons in a state that has about 1/2 of 1% of it's adult population locked up. I know many people who can't wait to retire and flee to other States.

Petunia's mom

20 October 2011 at 1:10 pm

One reader stated that retirees do not care about employment figures...well, they should. States with high rates of unemployment are more likely to have higher crime rates, whereas states with very low rates of unemployment mean that it will be hard to get people to perform service jobs for retirees. Retirees may think the outside world and it's issues don't matter to them, but, in fact, these issues really do.

Charles

9 September 2011 at 1:28 pm

and 33 with more property crime

Charles

9 September 2011 at 1:24 pm

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2009 There are 16 States that have a hire Violent Crime rate the Nevada. I would ask the author where did his data come from.

vernon sendelbach

9 September 2011 at 11:31 am

But article/rating doesn't specify whether pensions/SS are taxed (in Missouri case, no,as of this year)

Tom Kelly

8 September 2011 at 2:33 pm

Have lived in Cleveland all my life. Its just fine here. But to the degree we get bashed and others do not choose to come or live here, that's OK with those of us who don't want too much congestion, traffic and overly built communities. Our commutes are short, our water and parks abundant, our housing is affordable. Our sports teams at all levels are great entertainment, if frustrating at times, and the opportunities for jazz, art museums hardly matched for cities twice our size. Could use some new jobs and industry but they will come in time. Oh and yes its cold in the winter but put on a sweater and sit closer to the fire, most enjoyable.

carl berrymen

2 September 2011 at 6:59 am

I am a skeptic about the best and worst of any internet ratings. The validity depends on who sponsors the ratings and how do they benefit by the outcomes they publish. There is always an "angle". Retirees for the most part could care less about employment, but do care about cost of living and crime and somewhat climate. They care about hospital and health care ratings in an area and activities that are relatively inexpensive and "doable" for the elderly. The reason there are low life expectancy in these states mentioned is because of the overall poor health practices of the endogenous people, such as poor eating habits and poverty. This may not have any effect whatsoever on those retirees moving to such an area or projected longevity for them.

robert detje M.D.

7 August 2011 at 11:25 pm

We live a block off the strip of la vegas in clark county; my wife and I are retired at 67 and75 years of age and I have been disabled since 1998 on soc. sec. disability with dementia due to brain injury which prevented me from continued medical practice. We were arrested 3 blocks from our home after a symptom of my frontal lobe injury, non-directed, guiltless profanity as a passenger in the car driven by my caregiver irritated the female Nevada Highway Patrolwoman. Not only is Clark county NV crime out of control,, but the Police are ill-trained, unaware of implications of the Americans with Disabilities Title ii, prone to poor judgement, and do not recognize elderly and retired innocents. Rob Detje M.D.8/7/2011 Sawako Ohashi Detje 8/7/2011

Pamela

29 July 2011 at 7:46 pm

I've seen the place listed as "the Mississippi of the the West" and "the eastern arm of the Bay Area" and yes, at the same time. I'm going because UN Reno has a Biotechnology program and on-campus housing. I fully intend to live off of financial aid because that's the only reason I'm going to grad school in the first place. I don't think in this current economy additional degrees will make me any more employable, since once people see that I'm a Native American I tend to get doors slammed in my face (figuratively, at least most of the time). That being "the eastern arm of the Bay Area" quality is a plus for me since I'm from San Francisco anyway. I can't imagine retirement, since I can't imagine having anything to retire FROM twenty years from now the way things are going.

Frank Buhrman

27 July 2011 at 10:42 am

Can't buy the underlying factors, because statewide statistics mean little or nothing in the areas where the retirees congregate. In North Carolina, for instance, stats for the Chapel Hill and Asheville areas - two retireee hotspots - probably have little in common with the statewide averages.

M.B. Hutchinson

6 July 2011 at 11:32 am

Do you publish a list of all 50 states complete with rankings and rationale?

blissmanna

4 June 2011 at 11:29 am

Hi Richard, There is one very, VERY important factor that is almost always overlooked when "life expectancy" is considered. That factor is that life expectancy is only an AVERAGE of age at time of death. Thus, in a city, state, or country where there is a high infant mortality rate it appears that people do not live as long. The actuality can easily be that in that location people live even longer than in places that show a higher life expectancy - provided they make it past the first 5 years of life... get it? A perfect example is right here in our own USA where the average life expectancy 150 years ago was so much lower than it is today because the average age of death is weighted to be lower due to the fact that we had a high level of childhood mortality due to diseases that have now been eradicated and/or brought under control.

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