Best and Worst States to Retire 2012: The complete list

See the current Best States to Retire and Worst States to Retire lists

Didn't see your state on the lists of Best States to Retire or Worst States to Retire? Learn where your state fell in the results on the full 50-state list below.

These rankings reflect each state's combined performance in MoneyRates.com's analysis of the following factors:

  • Cost of living
  • Property taxes
  • Unemployment rate
  • Violent crime rates
  • Property tax rates
  • Climate
  • Life expectancy for seniors
  • Recent population growth in the senior demographic

Please note that there are multiple ties among states in these rankings:

7New Mexico
9South Dakota
13North Carolina
14North Dakota
16New Hampshire
28West Virginia
33South Carolina
40New Jersey
41Rhode Island
44New York
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Mauri 15 September 2015 at 12:28 pm

"Bloom where you are planted". I'm just saying....

JA Stroeve 1 September 2013 at 3:37 pm

I'm trying to figure out why high property taxes was decoupled from the cost of housing. No matter where you go, best state or worst, housing is going to take the biggest chunk of money out of your budget. If you don't have a mortgage when you retire, you don't have to worry about property taxes or the cost of food. The question then is "what is my quality of life like -- what do my property taxes get me?" It takes millions of dollars to live in Hawaii -- there are few retirees in Hawaii worrying about property taxes. When I think of Texas, I think "air and ground pollution and a dead zone called Houston." That's not a tradeoff I want to make for a relatively cheap retirement.

pat 17 May 2013 at 6:25 am

I live in New York. I love it here,there is subarban living living here as well as city living. The medical care here is much better than most states and for seniors who are still living an active lfestyle the variety of activities are many. There are many programs to help seniors finacially with expenses and crime is lower than it has been in recent years. Every state has its pros and cons but im a Newyorker and i will always defend my homestate.

Karen 2 March 2013 at 8:09 am

It would be great to see a ranking of states based on rural versus city living.

chrystine 30 December 2012 at 2:07 pm

I think NH should have been higher on the list. Low crime, no state sales or income tax (property tax is on high side). Decent medical care & world class medical care just down the road a bit in Boston. Yes, the winters are long but we have mountains, lakes, a little bit of ocean: it is beautiful and clean.

Bob Grasso 27 December 2012 at 6:22 am

These people who wrote this article have the heads somewhere else. Hawaii a top place to retire? What are they smoking. An ultra liberal state that doesn't like white (non-asian) people and heavy in taxes and housing. Hell, gasoline is the highest there than any other state. My be a great place for a vacation, but it should be 50 in retirement states. My choice would be Texas. Not only to retire but to live if you're still working. Business friendly, no state taxes, housing reasonable and reasonable weather. Arizona is another good retirement state, but Hawaii and Calif. No way.

RS 19 November 2012 at 2:39 am

The rankings are really biased. The state I live in is ranked in the lower half. Perfect climate, my city and county taxes were about $230, live in a 2000+ sq ft house.

Steven 10 November 2012 at 10:14 am

I am getting the hell out of california asap and anyone is welcome to my place here. Gov. Moonbeam and Pres. Barry have made it an unliveable hell and kept the borders wide open so we can pay for more illegals to give birth here.

JS 9 November 2012 at 3:21 pm

I think the beauty of the forested lands and the beautiful Oregon Coast my state would have ranked higher too! Excepr for the Portland area, population size is small throughout the state. In the rural areas we still have people who want to be independant of the government and grow their own crops, run their own cattle and engage in outdoor activities. It is really like two states, North - Liberal, Souty-Conservative....take your pick!

george 9 November 2012 at 12:13 pm

I dont know how NC is 13th. We also have high crime and low wages. If a state has low wages that means more people are on welfare and food stamps. Plenty of vacant houses (nice houses) going to waste because of high unemployment and low wages. No one can afford them so move down here but remember if you dont like it you cannot sell your house no one can afford to buy it. So move here and welcome to the prison.

paul crabbo 9 November 2012 at 10:12 am

the guy that wrote this article sure isn't worried about money if he put hawaii first,,,most retirees cannot afford to retire to california much less hawaii....i think that should i retire to a pacific island i would go a little farther to the us solomon islands,,,way cheaper than hawaii.....

paul crabbo 9 November 2012 at 10:07 am

i live in florida also,, and i9 can tell you that about every ten or so years florida has a big exodus,, because retiree's cannot afford ton stay here,,,that other guy is right!! florida is the large intestin of the u s a .....

Mary 9 November 2012 at 8:46 am

To N.H. from Michigan,You are not alone, it is happening all over. Now that Obama is re-elected it is going to get worse. There is no middle class, taxes and the high cost of living is the great equalizer, so we are all poor or will soon be.

Robb 9 November 2012 at 7:57 am

Whoa! Hold up on Hawaii. It may be a great place to visit, but I'm guessing his article has some bias to it. Would love to see the write up on HOW Hawaii allows those to live 2 years longer. For the most part, life in Hawaii is NOT "welcoming" to those who are not "native" to the islands on an extended time table. And this is not a race issue....so please, let's not go there. Government/State...whatever/whomever...has seemed to have set it up so it makes it more difficult on a day to day basis. I keep hearing, "but you are in Hawaii"...of which I retort, but you are in the United States, which brings me some funny looks. Many things are different and more difficult and cumbersome than what you and I have been brought up in on the mainland (much more so than need be). They just are. And I embrace change for the better...believe me. I could give numerous examples, but one would suffice for this forum...b/c, well...it just does. Licensing your car, brought over from the mainland, can turn into an all day affair, and in some cases, more. It is more than just going to the DMV/BMV and getting new plates. You have to get a sticker. It is a good thing to protect the roads/environment. I agree. Depending on who you go to, they seem to have different rules when inspecting your vehicle. I know this b/c I took my Jeep to 3 different places, and each came up with different ideas on what passes. I looked and looked for something ahead of time, online, and calling the Hawaii DMV for an inspection breakdown. Never received one, nor was I pointed in the right direction...not once. Still haven’t to date. This happens in many other Hawaiian arena's as well. I could go on and on. What I am saying is...things take longer here, not b/c we are on an island, or b/c it is the culture. Many, many, many things take longer b/c they have been set up that way. I guess if you are retiring you have the time to spend the time...but I'll tell you...it can be very cumbersome to live here. And therefore stressful in ways you wouldn't think of unless you do live here. I do, for the time being. Wouldn't retire here though. Too Stressful.

Don Carpenter 9 November 2012 at 7:36 am

How New Mexico made your best list is beyond me. After a near death experience there a few years ago, I can assure you that the medical care lacks. I had to be flown out of state at great expense just to survive.

Robert 9 November 2012 at 4:50 am

I must have taken a left hand turn at Alburquerque when I moved to Memphis.. I have a place in the Ozark mountains.. They left that out. Quiet and almost 0 crime.

William Burns 1 November 2012 at 8:11 am

You should retitle your list to " 50 Best States to Retire to if you plan to ditch your family"

N. H. 29 October 2012 at 2:24 pm

Living here in Michigan # 50th worst state to retire , I can attest to the fact that we have one of the highest tax rates in the country. Our gas tax is high,property taxes & utilities are high. Michigan also has a large welfare population --and lots of immigrants too. Our churches, bless their kindly hearts, especially in Lansing and Grand Rapids, do a lot to "sponsor" immigrants to come here& then they receive state & federal help. The birth rate here is 41% unmarried, among child bearing aged women. This state receives a lot of help from the federal government such as Medicaid,SNAP(food benefits) home heating credit(for age 65 up under certain income limit), "Earned" Income credit and such. We have worked since we were teenagers and my husband hopes to retire within 18 months. Our one pension here will now be taxed. We don't live high, don't drink or smoke,try to save,and have no children(by choice). We see neighbors who work only 6 months of the year(seasonal construction) buy large RV', ATV's,boats and more. What is up with that?We've discovered some of the the reasons being, they have school lunch program help, utility help,"Obama" phones,commodity(free food), and use the federal tax credit for lots of kids. Actually they don't support their own kids-we do! And if they rent, we subsidize them and they pay no property tax.We are sick and tired of Michigan deadbeats and high taxes, and hope to relocate.

Sanjay 29 October 2012 at 11:21 am

I find this list disingenuous at best. The list should be "Most desirable places to retire to," as the list doesn't include important issues to seniors such as access to excellent healthcare (Rochester, MN check; Cleveland, OH check; and U-M/Henry Ford in Michigan, check) or the most important issue: Cost of Living Adjustment.

Rick 29 October 2012 at 7:31 am

How can you say that Arizona is the 4th best state to retire in with the high crime rate, drug trafficking, and illegal immigration problems they have? Arizona needs to be much lower on your list.

Joe 29 October 2012 at 6:54 am

You misspelled Virginia.

M Halverson 28 October 2012 at 6:28 pm

I have no clue how Florida made the list? After being stuck here for 14 years I decided I am leaving no matter what. Most retired people get sick sooner or later. The medical system is the worst in the US. You better look hard to see if you doctor has lost their lic. in another state, or their diploma not made on a printer etc. It goes down hill from there using cheap assistant educated people to do the jobs of those that go to school for years, yet they charge the same rate as a pro. Seniors are on every preditors list. My identity was the first thing stollen. Because I was stupid to stay in the same place so many years, I get collection letters for huge bills because my name is common. I just found a doctors office put another womans medical record in my file because of the same name. I feel sorry if the other person had colon cancer they womt know. Then the money gouge by cities charging for everything up to red light fines. The newer homes are the worst, after about 2 years they all apart or are full of China drywall. They get away locking people out of their home and selling or renting it out if you are late with assoc. fees. Florida is the large intestine of the country. Insurance of every kind is super high. Good luck on getting homeowners if you can, the deductables are huge for the little it does cover.

Albuquerque Al 28 October 2012 at 1:29 pm

You ever hear the expression, "I knew I should've taken a left turn at Albuquerque"? It makes one born here wonder why New Mexico tied with #7.

Ted Nault 28 October 2012 at 12:17 pm

Why haven't you included Puerto Rico? I know it is not a state but it is the next best thing....great place to retire (I have).

Sian 28 October 2012 at 5:50 am

I fail to see how Michigan could possibly be bottom of the barrel! Yes, the economy is bad, but the cost of living is decent and the crime rate state-wide (not counting Detroit or Flint) isn't bad. The climate is harsh enough in winter, but you don't retire to a northern-tier state unless you expect it to be cold and harsh! Michigan is absolutely gorgeous, the people are warm, the medical care is outstanding, and the state has rules that make sense - they don't gouge you on taxes, either. I think Michigan should get a re-look.