The Top 10 Worst Cities in the Southwest for Retirees

From sunsets to setbacks, the Southwest's retirement hotspots turned cold.

Senior couple taking boxes from car
Updated June 6, 2024
Fact checked

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

If you're planning to move for retirement, you'll have plenty of places to choose from.

Some cities in the Southwest might appear on your list for their excellent weather or lower cost of living. Others might be good if you like outdoor activities or living in an urban area.

But there are some cities you might want to avoid. If you're planning for retirement, the following places in the Southwest might not be great choices for your golden years.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources

Over 50 and love traveling? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member, you could be missing out on huge travel perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises, car rentals, and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

An AARP membership not only unlocks discounts that could save you hundreds on your next trip, but you’ll also have access to deals on vacation packages, guided tours, and exclusive content to help plan your next getaway.

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

Taos, New Mexico

eunikas/Adobe beautiful aesthetic buildings in taos

Taos is a great vacation spot that offers skiing in the winter and outdoor activities such as hiking and biking in the summer.

But the city may be a hard sell if you're a retiree needing to supplement your Social Security. Housing here can be much more expensive than in other parts of New Mexico.

Snowflake, Arizona

Jacob/Adobe arizona town of snowflake

Snowflake may sound like an inviting name for a town in a desert but don’t assume it’s a great place to retire.

The town has just over 6,000 residents, which might be an issue if you’re hoping for an area with a little more hustle and bustle.

Snowflake is also a bit isolated in the desert: Cities such as Phoenix are several hours away.

Henderson, Nevada

rsgphoto/Adobe henderson nevada vista 06

Henderson appears to be a good option if you’re looking for somewhere close to Las Vegas. But housing can be more expensive here than in other parts of Nevada.

Some reports also say that Henderson has an “exclusive” feel and that it is difficult for newcomers to feel at home here.

Earn a $250 travel bonus with this incredible card

There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has no annual fee and you can earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

You can earn additional points just by using this card for your everyday purchases — unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. The 25,000 bonus points can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel or dining purchases.

If you want to travel and dine out more, the Travel Rewards card can help you get where you want to go.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply now.

Los Angeles

dell/Adobe palm trees in los angeles

Los Angeles has beautiful weather year-round, so you won’t have to worry about cold and snow.

However, the city is notorious for its bad traffic, which makes it challenging to get around. That could be a factor if you’re worried about the cost of wear and tear on your vehicle.

Housing also is expensive in Los Angeles, and California has high income taxes, particularly if you're wealthy.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Andriy Blokhin/Adobe suburban houses near petroglyph national monument

Albuquerque may appeal to those who want a major city with plenty of restaurants, cultural institutions, or events to enjoy.

However, the city has a crime rate considerably higher than the national average.

Roswell, New Mexico

Aerial Stock Footage/Adobe buildings in sante fe new mexico

UFO buffs may think Roswell would be a cool place to retire, but the tourist destination may not have much else to offer retirees.

Surprisingly, crime can be an issue, with Roswell's crime rate ranking higher than the national average.

Scottsdale, Arizona

Matt Gush/Adobe buildings in scottsdale arizona

Scottsdale may be a good option for a retiree, especially if you’re a golfer. There are more than 200 golf courses in the area, making it one of the best places to golf in the country.

But home prices here tend to be much higher than in many parts of Arizona.

San Bernardino, California

Matt Gush/Adobe downtown skyline in san bernardino california

San Bernardino is east of Los Angeles. On the surface, it’s an attractive retirement option, with warm, sunny California weather and plenty of things to do.

However, air quality can be an issue, especially if you have certain health problems. The American Lung Association says San Bernardino County is the worst in the U.S. regarding ozone and particle pollution.

Las Vegas

marchello74/Adobe las vegas strip and city skyline

In Las Vegas, it’s easy for retirees to gamble away their savings. The city might appear to be a good choice if you want somewhere warm, but summer temperatures get well above 100 degrees during the day. 

You might want to visit in the summer first and test it out before you decide to move to Vegas.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!1

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

Flagstaff, Arizona

Matt Gush/Adobe historic downtown district of flagstaff arizona

Flagstaff is a tourist destination, making it difficult to get around during the year. Traffic is sometimes surprisingly heavy in the city. Housing also can be rather expensive in Flagstaff.

Bottom line

Syda Productions/Adobe happy senior couple outside retirement home

Retiring in the Southwest can be a good option if you want warm weather, dry conditions, or other cultural amenities.

But not every city in the Southwest is a great place for retirees. So, before you retire, consider whether the cities on this list are a great place to spend your golden years.

Lucrative, Flat-Rate Cash Rewards


Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Current Offer

$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee


Rewards Rate

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and