Many of the lists that say “2019” use data and statistics from 2018. But with this list you can be reasonably sure that the rankings truly are 2019 relevant. Most state legislatures have passed new tax laws or the 2018 laws are already taking effect. A key consideration in retirement is health and health care, so short of any outbreak of an unknown disease not much will change. The third primary concern for retirees is crime and safety, so unless hordes of criminals decide to move to your retirement state you will be safe based on the recent statistics. There are 100 other criteria to be considered other than these three major ones. Some will be noted in the critique of individual states below, while others that may be more important to you will require you to do your own homework. Consider this as a starting point to knowing which states to avoid upon retirement.
When someone offers you something for nothing, a red flag should be hoisted up the pole. Vermont has made it well-known publicly that it is offering $10,000 for anyone who will move to the state. The fact that there are still open slots available says a lot – maybe too much. It is one of the most expensive states to live in (where did you think they got the $10,000 from?) and they tax Social Security and just about every kind of income imaginable. You may think this should move it up the list past California, but there ain’t no warm beaches anywhere to be found, except maybe in a summer month.
At one time, Alaska was a state that retirees seriously considered moving to because of the all state revenue generated from the oil fields. The state actually sent people checks just for being a resident. But that’s all gone now, and all that is left is a high cost of living. Obviously it’s a cold state, so unless your love outdoor cold weather activities when you are in your 60’s, this has to be a negative. One not-so-well-known fact about Alaska is it has a high violent crime rate. It could have moved closer to number one in the rankings, but there are bigger fish to fry.
One Southern state had to be included in the rankings, though Mississippi and Alabama are also worthy of consideration. The heat and humidity will smother the un-acclimated, and there is the issue of those pesky alligators who apparently don’t mind the weather. It owns the nation’s number one ranking for murder, which its parade of hurricanes have nothing to do with. With a state tax that approaches 12% and an expected 40% increase in electric will take place over the next 10 years, there are better places to call home.
Though Kentucky is far removed from the Gulf of Mexico coastline, the humidity levels in the state rival Louisiana’s. There is a lot of good that can be found in Kentucky (other than the bourbon) but where it fails retirees is in the all-important category of healthcare. Residents saw their insurance premiums rise by 9% and the general level of health care quality is close to the bottom. If you are an allergy sufferer (or expect to be one) Kentucky can qualify as The Allergy State to make your retirement just a bit more miserable.
Other than the city of Portland, which has dedicated a certain amount of time to fall in disfavor with a segment of the national public, can you honestly say anything positive about the state? Its gem, Portland, has a median home sales price of just under $400,000. The quality of health care, which has helped states to make this list, is ranked as the 9th worst in the nation. Stack on top of that a cost of living that is nearly 20% higher than the average, and you have a recipe for retiring restlessly.
California has to be placed in the middle of the pack for many reasons. First, it is actually two separate states: Northern and Southern. The economic situations can vary greatly depending on which part of the state you choose to retire. The northern part of the state has a far less hospitable climate, and the sunny beaches are only found during the warmer months of the year. But wherever you live in California you can be assured you will be taxed to your last transaction. There is a new governor of the state, but it is unlikely he will do anything to turn around the insane way the government tries to keep its budget in order. It is only one of two states (the second one made the top three on this list) to tax contributions made to health savings accounts. You’re taxed even when you’ve gotten away from it all.
4. West Virginia
The days of Coal Miners Daughter are behind, but the closing of so many coal mines has not only affected the state’s economy but its infrastructure as well. It seems everything in the state that holds it together is falling apart. The health care is low compared to other states on this list, but the patient outcomes are almost the worst. That means while you may not pay much for healthcare, you may not live long enough to enjoy the savings.
To put it simply, Illinois is just a hot mess. There is always Chicago to complain about but the state’s budget has been in disarray for years, having gotten to the point of bankruptcy entering into the discussion. Poorly funded state budgets often result in poorly funded state roads, and Illinois is a textbook example of this. The winters can be cold and unforgiving, and the lack of road maintenance only aggravates the situation. That rear tire you left behind will drive up your insurance rates. Then there are the property tax rates, which have people leaving the state in droves. The exodus may be worse than California’s.
What can you say about a state that manages to position itself to be affected by every weather storm in view? Well, you can expect high health care costs, roads that tend to be very congested, and a cost of living rate that almost matches Oregon’s. Baltimore is considered by some to be the Chicago of the East despite its smaller population. It does have sports teams (the Ravens and the Orioles) but you’ll have to ask yourself if it safe enough to attend a game.
1. New Mexico
New Mexico is probably the least talked about state in the country – and for good reason. Unless you like the color brown and don’t mind the once-in-a-while occurrence of the plague, New Mexico can make your retirement map. But consider that virtually every dime you make – retirement or otherwise – will be taxed, the scenery begins to lose its allure. It is one of the poorest states in the nation, with 1 in every 5 people living in poverty. The health outcomes aren’t much better than that of West Virginia.