10 Worst States To Retire in 2024

Seniors should think about steering clear of these destinations.

senior  couple reviewing bills
Updated June 6, 2024
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Everyone wants the best for their retirement, but not all destinations are created equal. Seniors living on fixed incomes need to consider several different factors about an area when choosing where to retire. 

WalletHub recently ranked all 50 states in terms of their viability for retirement, and below is the list of the 10 states that retirees might want to rethink, even if you find ways to supplement your income when you retire.

States were ranked based on their affordability, quality of life rank, and quality of healthcare rank. Total scores were given out of 100, with more weight given to things like cost of living and housing.

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SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe louisville kentucky skyline at night

Taking the #1 spot among the least favorable for retirement, Kentucky emerges with challenges for those seeking an ideal post-work haven. 

Factors contributing to this ranking include a blend of relatively higher living costs, tax burdens, and a less favorable healthcare landscape. 

Kentucky's affordability score, landing at 32, reflects the strain it imposes on retirees' budgets. While individual preferences vary, Kentucky's overall score underscores the need for careful consideration when contemplating retirement in the Bluegrass State.

New Jersey

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe waterfront skyline of newark new jersey

Known for its vibrant culture and bustling cities, New Jersey paints a different picture when it comes to retirement.

A closer look reveals challenges in affordability, with a ranking of 49 in this category. High living costs, coupled with tax burdens, contribute to the financial strain experienced by retirees in the Garden State.


EJRodriquez/Adobe view of the Mississippi River

Mississippi, with a total score of 44.01, ranks 48th, signaling potential challenges for retirees. 

Affordability concerns (12) and health care considerations (50) should factor into retirement decisions. The state tends to score low in emergency room wait time, life expectancy, and quality of health care.

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Rhode Island

jovannig/Adobe Newport Rhode Island

Rhode Island is beautiful, but one of the more expensive on the list, pushing healthcare and housing costs higher than many other states keeping its ranking low for optimal retirement. 

Rhode Island is also prone to natural disasters like flooding and hurricanes, which makes it difficult for retirees who might not be mobile or need medical assistance.


SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe beautiful view of lake with a row of trees and majestic buildings in the background at Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Although Oklahoma is one of the more affordable states to live in, the state ranks so low (46th) largely in part to its low quality of life, probably driven by its lackluster health care system. 

Oklahoma has the second highest rate of people without health insurance in the country and has lower health care options than other states.


stevengaertner/Aadobe spanish moss on the roadside in louisiana.

Despite its cultural allure, Louisiana's overall score of 45.88 positions it at 45, raising concerns about affordability (16) and quality of life (46). Retirees may face challenges in maintaining a comfortable lifestyle.

The cost of homeowners insurance is higher here than the national average, and the state also has high sales taxes. This, in addition to limited healthcare options in some areas of the state, makes it a difficult destination to retire.

New York

Matthew/Adobe NY harbor

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Empire State is not the most welcoming to retirees. 

Despite stellar healthcare systems, New York is one of the most expensive places to live - on the planet - making it difficult to reconcile with many retirees despite its global allure.


SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Tacoma Washington USA with Mt. Rainier

Washington, often admired for its scenic beauty and economic opportunities, encounters scrutiny in the context of retirement. 

While Washington offers diverse attractions, its affordability ranking (45) indicates potential financial challenges for retirees.


SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe usa town skyline hot springs arkansas

Arkansas, with a total score of 47.28, finds itself among the states less favorable for retirement.  Affordability remains a concern, with a ranking of 13, highlighting potential strains on retirees' budgets. 

The state ranks low for quality of life and health care and also has limited economic opportunities for retirees who are looking to work part-time in retirement.

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SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Lincoln Park Chicago Illinois Skyline

Positioned at number 41, the state grapples with challenges in various domains. A notable concern is the state's tax structure with high property and sales taxes, contributing to its lower affordability ranking (47). 

High living costs and a combination of financial factors make Illinois less conducive to retirees seeking a haven for their post-work years. 

Illinois, like New York, houses one of the most expensive places to live in the country - Chicago - which can easily deter retirees.

Bottom Line

Syda Productions/Adobe happy senior couple outside retirement home

Choosing the right state for retirement is crucial for securing financial well-being and overall quality of life. While some states offer a favorable mix of affordability, quality of life, and health care, others present challenges that may impact retirees' satisfaction and financial stability.

It is essential for retirees to carefully consider their priorities and preferences, weighing factors such as cost of living, health care accessibility, and overall lifestyle when making decisions about where to spend their retirement years. 

Making the right retirement planning moves now can ensure a more comfortable and fulfilling retirement experience.

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Georgina Tzanetos

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.