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The 10 Worst U.S. States to Retire In


The desire to retire and do all of the things you enjoy is something that almost everyone has. Who wouldn't want the opportunity to retire to a place where they can truly enjoy life without the need to worry about getting up and schlepping off to work everyday. The truth of the matter is that it can be so easy to get caught up in dreaming about retiring that it's easy to forget about the stark reality sometimes associated with it. These days, it's harder than ever to make ends meet and it doesn't get any easier when you retire. Choosing the right location to retire to is one of the most important decisions you could ever make. In fact, it makes a dramatic difference in the amount of money you're likely to be spending during those years.

Below are 10 of the worst states you can possibly retire to. There are plenty of reasons why these aren't exactly safe havens for retirees. If you're curious, scan through the list below and figure out if the place you plan to retire has ended up on the list. If it has, it might be time to rethink things.

New Jersey

10. New Jersey

There are actually plenty of reasons why New Jersey is probably not the state you want to retire to. For starters, they have an exceptionally high crime rate in much of the state, much higher than you would expect. In addition, they practically hold the record for being one of the most expensive states to live in, whether you are retired or not. As a matter of fact, you will not only pay federal taxes there, but also state and even local taxes. That's right, on top of paying state taxes, you have to pay taxes for the individual municipality that you live in. Depending on which municipality you choose, they can range from a nuisance to something that's prohibitively expensive.

If that's not enough to deter you, think about these things. You have loads of traffic that practically comes to a standstill several times a day. That makes it almost impossible to get where you need to go in a reasonable amount of time, no matter what time of day you decide to travel. They also have higher purchase prices on food, gas, textiles and practically everything else. Last but certainly not least, you'll pay more for homeowners insurance there because of the weather that is frequently seen in the state. That's especially true if you plan to retire near the beach. In fact, depending on where the home you want to retire to is located, you might have problems getting anyone to insure it at all.


9. Alaska

A lot of people ask themselves what the potential problems with Alaska could be. As it turns out, there are a number of issues. First and foremost, the climate there is anything less than ideal. If you are planning on retiring there, it's important to face facts. There is always a possibility that the cold will bother you more due to arthritis or other health conditions once you're ready to retire than it does right now. If you are affected by cold weather, Alaska is just about the last place you want to end up retiring to.

Of course, there are other issues as well. Again, it costs more to purchase just about everything in Alaska than it does in most other states. You also have to consider the fact that unless you live in one of the very few major cities, getting something as simple as basic groceries or cleaning supplies can become a Herculean effort. People that live on the outskirts of cities or in smaller towns are often forced to have their goods flown in once a month. It costs a small fortune to get this accomplished.

Furthermore, once you have those supplies flown in, that's all you have until the next available flight. Imagine trying to stock enough milk, meat or other perishables for 30 days at a time. Many people just aren't cut out to constantly battle the elements every time they turn around by retiring in Alaska. It's one of those places where it’s a lot more fun to imagine some picturesque scene where you can go out and photograph wildlife than it is to think about the reality of actually living there on a full-time basis.


8. Connecticut

If it weren't for a few major black eyes, Connecticut would probably be one of the best places to retire to. However, it has more than its fair share of issues and they're not the types of things that you can just sweep under the rug. For instance, they have some of the highest taxes in the country and you're not going to be exempt from those taxes just because you're a retiree. If anything, it will become more prohibitively expensive because you'll be forced to spend your already-fixed income on taxes that will probably be more than you've ever paid in your life, unless you've lived in an area that's comparable.

Connecticut also has way too much traffic. It's one of those states where the amount of people living there has far exceeded the amount of space available. No one really knows what to do about the problem, so more people just keep piling in. It's gotten to a point where it takes three or four times as long as it should to get practically anywhere. Unless you plan to retire in a major city, on a piece of property that sits right next to a hospital, grocery store and anything you plan to do for fun, this could make you rethink things in a hurry.


7. Vermont

When people think of Vermont, they usually think about taking long, winding drives through places where the leaves are changing at the peak of autumn. That's great, but again, it's all about having this idealized view of a location based on inaccurate information. You can certainly do that. Without a doubt, you will be taken aback by the sheer beauty of things. However, taking long drives and looking at leaves filled with orange and red hues are not the only thing involved in retiring there.

When you retire to Vermont, you also have to worry about things like taxes, traffic and limited access to virtually everything unless you live in a major metropolitan area. Let's say you want to live in one of those areas where you would normally take that long, winding drive. There isn't a thing for miles. That makes it difficult to do something as simple as buy groceries. If you're retiring there, you have to think about things like access to healthcare. If you can't even find a grocery store, what are you going to do when you need a good hospital or access to a solid team of doctors and you have to travel a hundred miles or more in order to get what you need?


6. Maine

Maine is certainly a beautiful place, but it's not without its faults. It has some of the best health care in the state and its property value remains relatively high, but these things come at a cost. They have a lot of taxes and if you retire there, you'll be spending a lot of money on them as well. It's also worth noting that in order to gain access to all of that high-quality health care, you'll have to have some solid insurance as well. If you don't, you could find yourself stuck in limbo, just like you would in many other states throughout the country.

One other problem that very few people ever discuss about retiring to Maine involves not being able to get a doctor's appointment for months on end because the doctors there are in such high demand. As previously mentioned, they have some of the best health care in the country. That means that people who don't live anywhere near Maine often end up traveling in order to get care for some serious illnesses. It also means that as a resident of the state, you have to compete with all of these individuals who are trying to get appointments. The end result is that it can take anywhere from four to six months to get an appointment. When you're an elderly person living on a fixed income, waiting six months to get an appointment with a good doctor is simply unacceptable. Truth be told, it's unacceptable in any circumstance.


5. Hawaii

Hawaii is certainly a beautiful place. No one would ever argue that fact. There are all kinds of things to do, the weather is usually outstanding and the people are as friendly as they come. If all this is true, then what's the problem with retiring there? Again, it comes down to the cost involved. Unfortunately, this is the case with a lot of states and this one is certainly no exception.

Virtually everything is more expensive in Hawaii. That means you're going to pay more for groceries and everything else. You'll be paying a lot more for property. Unless you already have a significant amount of money saved up specifically for these types of expenses, you could find yourself in financial trouble very quickly. That doesn't mean that you can't retire there, but it certainly does mean that you should know exactly what you're getting yourself into and be prepared for it.


4. Wyoming

For some reason, a lot of people will tell you that Wyoming is an ideal place to retire to. For some, it probably is. However, you have to deal with a lot if you decide to retire in Wyoming. They have terrible storms and their winters can last practically all year, keeping things chilly more than halfway through the summer months. In addition, they have a high cost of living and they don't really have any major metropolitan areas to speak of, not in the sense that you're probably accustomed to. If you like being around people or going to big events, this is definitely a problem.

New Mexico

3. New Mexico

New Mexico has a lot of things up against it right now. It's not always the best place to retire because it has a lot of hot, dry days and it's desert-like climate simply doesn't work all that well for every retiree. If you love that type of weather, good for you. If it's something you've always dreaded, you're not going to enjoy it there because it's like that for most of the year.

In addition, New Mexico doesn't manage their state budget particularly well. In fact, they're usually in the red. That means that there are less services for you to take advantage of, should you need them. A lot of people point out that New Mexico has a lower cost of living than a lot of states, but it won't do you any good if you're stuck somewhere trying to get health care and you can't access it because the state can't afford to provide it in the first place.


2. Montana

Retiring to Montana is much the same as retiring to Wyoming. Unless you are the outdoor type of person who enjoys spending more time with horses than people, there's not always a lot to do. There is a reason, after all, they call it Big Sky Country. There's no question about it, some people consider this the ideal type of retirement but it is not something that works well for everyone. If you prefer to spend your time going to events, eating at fine restaurants or enjoying various shopping trips, this is probably not a place where you will be as happy as you could otherwise be.


1. Oklahoma

It isn't just retirees who regret moving to this state. They charge a state income tax and they have toll roads galore, yet their roads are so rough that many people actually end up pulling over and checking their cars because they think something is mechanically wrong. In addition, the state almost always has budget problems across the board, meaning that every area from health care to education is adversely affected.

Speaking of health care, it's practically non-existent in the state. There is not much quality health care to be had and what does exist can only be accessed by the people with the most money, like practically every other state in the country. By the same token, the schools are routinely ranked among the very worst in the country. That may not be a major concern for you as a retiree, but it speaks volumes about the way the state is managed as a whole. Proponents of the state say that it's a great place to retire to because it has a low cost of living. Keep in mind, it has that low cost of living because it offers virtually nothing in return for living there.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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