For a stage of life often associated with relaxation, retirement can be challenging. Rising costs and taxes eat into limited incomes. Getting older can leave people more vulnerable to crime, as well as to health and environmental threats.
These problems are worse in some places than in others, and to help people weigh the benefits of different locations against the hazards, MoneyRates.com looked at a total of 11 factors across five categories in conducting its annual survey of the Best and Worst States to Retire.
Those five categories are:
Based on an evaluation of these categories, here are MoneyRates.com's 10 worst states for retirees in 2014.
You probably won't be surprised to learn that Alaska was the worst-rated state for weather, but you might not have realized that its economy also ranked among the 10 worst. Alaska has a high cost of living and a weak job market -- a bad combination. But those are just some of the problems, as Alaska ranked below average in every category in this study. The proof is in the population: Alaska has the lowest proportion of 65-or-older people of any state.
Louisiana is another state where a variety of conditions have helped keep the senior population down to one of the smallest in the country. Crime is a big problem in Louisiana, and the life expectancy at age 65 is relatively low. Of course, Louisiana's climate is not as harsh as Alaska's, and it also graded out better on economic factors, which helped keep it out of the bottom spot.
Two big problems stand out for Tennessee. One is crime, because the state has the highest incidence per capita of violent crime in the country, and it is among the worst 10 for property crime as well. The other problem is a bottom-10 ranking for senior life expectancy. Low rankings in those categories were enough to drag Tennessee into the bottom 10 overall in this survey.
The combination of a weak job market and high property taxes put Illinois in the bottom 10 for economic factors. If you are wondering how the job market affects people who are retired, keep in mind that more and more older Americans are taking part-time jobs these days, plus living in an economically disadvantaged area is unpleasant whether you are looking for work or not. Ultimately, people tend to vote with their feet by moving away from places that don't suit their needs, and the proportion of older people in the Illinois population is well below average.
Violent crime per capita in Nevada is the second-worst of any state, which was enough to make crime Nevada's biggest problem in this study. Also, the state's economy has been struggling for several years, and on top of that life expectancy for older residents is well below the national median.
Next up, there is a three-way tie among three very different states, which helps show the variety of considerations covered by the categories in this study. Georgia scored very well for its climate, but was clearly below average in every other category, which was enough to put it in the bottom 10 overall.
The worst category for Maryland was economic factors, where a high cost of living should be a red flag for retirees with modest incomes. Maryland also rated below average on crime and the size of its senior population.
For those of you assuming that crime is a major problem in New York, you might be surprised to learn that the state's rate of property crime per capita is the lowest in the nation. The bad news is that the climate can be a little rough, and economic factors are also harsh, with a high cost of living and high property taxes.
While population trends tend to confirm most of this study's findings, Michigan is an exception -- both the size and the growth rate of its senior population are above average. However, below-average ratings in every other category -- especially economic factors -- landed it in the bottom 10 overall.
The study found two major problems with Alabama. One is that life expectancy at age 65 is among the worst in the nation. Another problem is crime: Its violent and property crime rates made it one of the 10 worst in the nation in that category.
Obviously, plenty of retirees live in the above states, and no doubt many of them enjoy life there. However, if you are considering relocating, the above may just give you a timely warning about what to look out for before you settle on one of these states.