Best states to retire: a full breakdown
From affordability and quality of life to healthcare, we've taken a look at the best states and worst states to retire in to help you choose your retirement location.
Virginia tops the list of the best states for retirement with excellent scores in affordability, quality of life, and healthcare.
Florida is second on the list of best states to retire in, which is unsurprising due to its low costs, generous tax laws, and high quality of life.
Kentucky is deemed the worst state to retire in the US in 2023 due to its low quality of life and healthcare scores.
The best state to retire on a fixed income is likely Alabama.
Best states to retire in the US in 2023
Below are some states that stand out for their affordability, quality of life, and healthcare, making them top destinations for a fulfilling and budget-friendly retirement. You can see our full scoring and methodology further down the page.
1. Virginia - Virginia tops the list with excellent scores in affordability (rank 16), quality of life (rank 11), and Healthcare (rank 11). It offers a high standard of living, affordable living costs, top-notch healthcare, and a rich historical heritage.
2. Florida - Florida secures the second spot with its impressive affordability (rank 9) and quality of life (rank 4). With its beautiful weather, diverse culture, abundant recreational opportunities, and stunning beaches, Florida attracts residents and visitors alike.
3. Colorado - Colorado ranks third overall, excelling in quality of life (rank 5) and offering breathtaking landscapes, outdoor activities, a healthy lifestyle, and a thriving arts and cultural scene.
4. Wyoming - Wyoming secures the fourth position with an overall score of 55.60, driven by its high affordability (5th rank) and appealing quality of life (9th rank) for retirees. Known for its serene natural beauty, low population density, and welcoming communities, Wyoming offers an attractive retirement destination for those seeking a peaceful and picturesque lifestyle.
5. Delaware - Delaware ranks fifth with an overall score of 55.49. With its strong affordability (6th rank) and moderate quality of life (33rd rank), Delaware offers retirees a balance between accessible living costs and various amenities. Its charming coastal charm, historical significance, and friendly communities create a welcoming environment for retirees looking to enjoy a relaxing and culturally rich retirement experience.
If you plan on moving for retirement, it’s wise to seek out expert advice before you make the move. A financial advisor can review your retirement accounts and help you find the best location for your retirement. Speak to a fully qualified SEC-regulated financial advisor and help make your retirement dreams a reality. Get started here.
Worst states to retire in the US in 2023
While there are many excellent places to retire to in the U.S., some options might be less appealing than others.
1. Kentucky - Kentucky ranks last at 50th place with an overall score of 38.80. While it has decent affordability (33rd rank), its quality of life (41st rank) and healthcare (46th rank) scores may not fully meet retirees' expectations.
2. New Jersey - With an overall rank of 49 and a total score of 40.23, New Jersey might not be the most attractive choice for retirees due to its high cost of living and relatively lower quality of life (34th rank).
3. Mississippi - Mississippi ranks 48th with an overall score of 40.80, offering a lower quality of life experience for retirees. It ranks 10th in affordability, but its 50th place in quality of life and 48th in healthcare might not meet the expectations of retirees looking for a comfortable and enriching retirement.
4. Oklahoma - Oklahoma ranks 47th with an overall score of 43.61, making it a less preferable option for retirees, particularly those who prioritize healthcare quality. While it offers reasonable affordability (19th rank), its quality of life rank is 47th, indicating potential limitations for retirees seeking an enhanced retirement experience.
5. New York - New York holds an overall rank of 46 with a total score of 43.69. While it provides diverse cultural experiences and opportunities, it may not be the most budget-friendly choice for retirees. With a high cost of living and a low affordability rank (50th), retirees on fixed incomes might face challenges here.
Full results: See how we've ranked all US states
Discover the full results below, which rank states for retirement based on affordability, considering the cost of living and taxation, quality of life with a focus on elder abuse protections and crime rates, and health care, including the number of health professionals per capita and life expectancy.
|Overall Rank||State||Total Score||Affordability||Quality of Life||Health Care|
Source: Wallethub, 2023’s Best States to Retire
Best state to retire on a fixed income
The best state to retire on a fixed income is likely Alabama.
A fixed income from pension/inheritance/social security offers little to no flexibility regarding the amount you get each month, so you need a state where housing markets aren't volatile and the cost of living isn't too high (so you can still cover unexpected expenses). Alabama homes are affordable and increase in value by about 4.84 percent annually.
Social Security recipients should consider retiring in a state that can offer them deductions or exemptions depending on income and age.
The best states to retire on social security, which don't tax social security income, include:
- New Hampshire
For tax reasons, Delaware is also a good choice. There's no sales tax, no death taxes, and property taxes are also very low.
This means retirees will have more disposable income in their golden years, paying zero state or local sales tax on their in-state purchases.
The best state for veterans to retire to might be Virginia. It offers many advantages to veterans, including health care options and tax exemptions, through 25 benefit services offices.
For those focused on quality of life considerations beyond the financial, the most common questions are, "What's the weather like?" and "What lifestyle can I live there?"
For retirees seeking sunshine, Florida is hard to beat. The sun shines in the Sunshine State 76 percent of the time, and the weather stays warm throughout the year.
For retirees looking for colder winters, outdoor activity opportunities, and lower living costs, Michigan and Ohio are great choices.
How to find the best state for retirement
Over 200,000 people move for retirement each year in the US. Will you be one of them?
With lifestyle, housing, and tax varying from state to state, where you live during retirement will significantly impact how you spend this next chapter in your life.
Unbiased empowers you to make confident financial choices by helping you find a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. To speak to your financial expert, simply answer a few questions, and our dynamic search feature will pair you with your perfect finance professional. Find your perfect match here.
Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.