The 50 Best and Worst States to Retire In, New Data Shows

New data factored in cost of living, lifestyle, public health, and more.

Many retirees choose to relocate somewhere warmer where they won't have to deal with frigid temperatures and shoveling snow. Others decide on a Golden Years locale to be closer to extended family. But regardless of your personal preferences, there are a lot of external factors at play that can make or break whether a state is suited for retirement. That's why researchers at Bankrate recently weighed a slew of statistics—affordability (40 percent), overall well-being (25 percent), quality and cost of healthcare (20 percent), weather (10 percent), and crime (5 percent)—to come up with the best and worst states to retire in. Keep reading for the full ranking.

RELATED: The 6 Best Small Towns to Retire In.

50
Alaska

The skyline of Anchorage, Alaska with mountains in the background
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 43

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 38

Well-being rank: 27

Weather rank: 50

Crime rank: 49

Coming in last is Alaska. "The state was dragged down by back-of-the-pack scores in affordability and weather," says the report.

It also came in second to last for crime, a point that is backed up by a separate study from SafeWise, which found that Alaska had the fifth-highest violent crime rate in the nation. And, of course, we don't have to explain why it ranks last for weather.

49
New York

Ithaca New York college town
Lewis Liu / Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 50

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 30

Well-being rank: 4

Weather rank: 37

Crime rank: 15

"The common narrative is that retirees leave colder or high-cost states such as New York, New Jersey, and California for traditional retirement destinations with warm weather, a relatively low cost of living, and other perks for seniors," says the report. And this is all true for New York, which comes in dead last for affordability.

To arrive at these affordability numbers, Bank Rate analyzed "the 2023 cost of living index from the Council for Community and Economic Research; state property and sales tax rates from the Tax Foundation's rankings for 2023 and cost of homeowner's insurance by state from ATTOM Data Solutions."

RELATED: 9 Major Signs You're Not Ready to Retire, Financial Experts Say.

48
California

la jolla, san diego, california
Dave Newman / Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 49

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 6

Well-being rank: 15

Weather rank: 12

Crime rank: 38

California may have lovely weather in much of the state, but it's just behind New York in terms of affordability. If you have money to spare, however, it ranks quite high for healthcare and well-being.

47
Washington

the Columbia River Renaissance Trail and house in Vancouver, Washington
iStock

Affordability rank: 47

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 2

Well-being rank: 30

Weather rank: 34

Crime rank: 34

If healthcare is your main concern and money isn't an issue, Washington may make a perfect retirement destination. But for most, it's too expensive and not great in the weather and crime categories.

46
Massachusetts

West Bay in Osterville, Massachusetts is a favorite mooring spot on the south side of Cape Cod due to its easy access to the open ocean.
KenWiedemann / iStock

Affordability rank: 48

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 27

Well-being rank: 11

Weather rank: 31

Crime rank: 10

Once again, it's affordability that lands Massachusetts at the end of the list. In fact, the bottom five states are all located in the Northeast or West, regions well-known for having a high cost of living.

45
North Dakota

fargo north dakota
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 26

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 40

Well-being rank: 39

Weather rank: 48

Crime rank: 18

Not surprisingly, it's the cold and snowy winters that send North Dakota to the bottom of the list. And being that it's one of the least densely populated states in the country (47th, according to Wise Voter), it's also to be expected that well-being isn't ranked highly.

44
Texas

river walk in san antonio texas
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 28

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 36

Well-being rank: 47

Weather rank: 6

Crime rank: 38

While Texas fairs quite well in the weather category, its crime and healthcare rankings are nearing the bottom, and its well-being rank is one of the worst.

43
Colorado

Breckenridge, Colorado, USA town skyline in winter at dusk.
iStock / Sean Pavone

Affordability rank: 41

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 1

Well-being rank: 28

Weather rank: 43

Crime rank: 37

You may be shocked that the state with the absolute best healthcare ranking lands so low on the list. In fact, in a 2020 analysis by NiceRx Health, Colorado had the fifth-lowest healthcare costs in the nation. But its chilly weather isn't so retiree-friendly, and it's quite unaffordable.

42
Maryland

Bethesda Maryland Home
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 46

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 12

Well-being rank: 20

Weather rank: 14

Crime rank: 29

Maryland is fairly average in most categories, but as the fifth least-affordable state, it drops considerably in the ranking.

To this point, U.S. News & World Report put Maryland in 44th place for cost of living and 43rd place for housing affordability in its annual Best State Rankings.

RELATED: 6 Mindfulness Tips to Feel Amazing Every Day in Retirement.

41
Louisiana

Shreveport, Louisiana, USA downtown skyline over the river.
iStock

Affordability rank: 16

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 44

Well-being rank: 41

Weather rank: 5

Crime rank: 48

What Louisiana offers in affordability and mild weather is negated by its poor healthcare ranking and 48th-place crime rank. In the SafeWise study, Louisiana had the third-highest violent crime rate and the fourth-highest property crime rate in the U.S.

40
Indiana

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA downtown cityscape on the White River at dusk.
iStock

Affordability rank: 7

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 48

Well-being rank: 50

Weather rank: 27

Crime rank: 22

Indiana ranks last for well-being. To arrive at these numbers, Bank Rate analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data on "number of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments per capita, adults 65 and older per capita and the racial and ethnic diversity index."

They also looked at the 2021 Sharecare Community Well-Being Index, which "measures various factors, including access to healthcare, food, physical health and economic security."

39
Ohio

Hudson, Ohio
Kenneth Sponsler / Shutterstock.com

Affordability rank: 20

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 45

Well-being rank: 35

Weather rank: 29

Crime rank: 20

Ohio is fairly middle-of-the-road in most categories, but its healthcare ranking is one of the worst. According to Yahoo Finance, a recent report from the Commonwealth Fund on the best and worst states for healthcare showed that Ohio ranked 49th in "potentially avoidable hospital use and cost."

38
New Hampshire

Historic homes in Portsmouth, New Hampshire along the water.
DenisTangneyJr / iStock

Affordability rank: 38

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 31

Well-being rank: 8

Weather rank: 36

Crime rank: 1

What New Hampshire lacks in affordability and weather, it makes up for with the lowest crime ranking in the nation. The SafeWise study backs this up, noting that the state has the second-lowest violent crime rate and the third-lowest property crime rate.

37
South Dakota

The skyline of Rapid City, South Dakota
iStock

Affordability rank: 21

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 43

Well-being rank: 24

Weather rank: 41

Crime rank: 22

Low scores in healthcare and weather push South Dakota down the list. According to other reports, the state doesn't have high healthcare costs, but the Commonwealth Fund ranked them 40th for "racial and ethnic equity" and 37th for "healthy lives."

36
Kentucky

cityscape photo of Frankfort, Kentucky at dusk
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 15

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 47

Well-being rank: 49

Weather rank: 16

Crime rank: 11

Kentucky ranks highly for affordability, weather, and crime, while simultaneously ranking extremely low for healthcare and well-being. Likewise, the Commonwealth Fund ranked the state 49th for "healthy lives" and 39th for "income disparity."

35
Minnesota

Edina Minnesota
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 31

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 7

Well-being rank: 25

Weather rank: 49

Crime rank: 17

If ice-cold weather doesn't bother you, Minnesota is not a bad place to retire.

However, after putting the state in the same spot in their weather ranking, Thrillist noted that "parts of northern Minnesota see up to 170 inches of snow in the winter, and it can get down to negative 60 degrees—a temperature at which frostbite can occur in fewer than five minutes."

RELATED: 25 Best Ways to Save for Retirement.

34
Arizona

Sedona Arizona
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 36

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 10

Well-being rank: 18

Weather rank: 2

Crime rank: 41

You can't beat the weather in Arizona, which is why, along with great healthcare, it's become such a retirement hotspot. But it would be wise to do your due diligence on your neighborhood, as the state has a poor crime ranking.

33
Idaho

Coeur D'Alene, Idaho
iStock

Affordability rank: 32

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 3

Well-being rank: 45

Weather rank: 42

Crime rank: 6

Idaho is a state of extremes. While it ranks very favorably for healthcare and crime, it comes in near the bottom for weather and well-being. But if healthcare is a top priority in your retirement years, NiceRx Health also says that Idaho has the sixth-lowest healthcare costs in the country.

32
New Jersey

landscape photo of a beach in Ocean Grove, New Jersey
DenisTangneyJr / iStock

Affordability rank: 42

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 26

Well-being rank: 13

Weather rank: 19

Crime rank: 3

The most densely populated state in the country is unsurprisingly unaffordable. It is a hub for two major metropolises—Philadelphia and New York City—after all, and it also provides proximity to miles and miles of shoreline. However, it's a very safe state and has positive scores for well-being and weather.

31
North Carolina

Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 22

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 29

Well-being rank: 34

Weather rank: 17

Crime rank: 32

The Carolinas are popular retirement destinations for people from the Northeast, so it's a bit surprising that North Carolina isn't higher on the list. However, its well-being and crime scores drag it down a bit.

30
Utah

View of the historic main street in Ogden, Utah with large mountains in the background.
DenisTangneyJr / iStock

Affordability rank: 27

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 4

Well-being rank: 43

Weather rank: 29

Crime rank: 18

Utah has some of the best healthcare in the country, according to Bank Rate's analysis. In fact, NiceRx Health shows that the state has the lowest healthcare costs in the entire nation.

29
Oklahoma

Oklahoma City
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 6

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 42

Well-being rank: 48

Weather rank: 15

Crime rank: 42

Oklahoma's affordability is saving the state from ranking much lower on the list, as it's one of the worst for well-being and 42nd for both healthcare and crime.

The Commonwealth Fund found similar patterns, putting Oklahoma in last place for healthcare "access and affordability," 48th for "avoidable use and cost," and 47th for "reproductive care and women's health."

28
Vermont

stowe vermont
marchello74 / Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 39

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 14

Well-being rank: 7

Weather rank: 39

Crime rank: 4

As one of the safest states with some of the best well-being scores, you'd think Vermont would rank higher on this list. However, it's not very affordable, and its winters can be brutal.

27
Maine

Stonington Maine
cdrin/Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 34

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 17

Well-being rank: 10

Weather rank: 44

Crime rank: 2

Maine has very similar ranking patterns to Vermont. Again, if you are not bothered by snowy winters, this could be a lovely place to retire.

26
Montana

Historic Main Street in Whitefish, Montana
Beeldtype / Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 33

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 8

Well-being rank: 12

Weather rank: 45

Crime rank: 29

If the outdoorsy lifestyle is for you (and, yet again, rough winters aren't a deterrent), Montana could be a nice state to retire in. One note about the state, however, is that it is one of the least diverse in the nation, according to an analysis from Wise Voter.

RELATED: 8 Affirmations to Feel Ridiculously Happy Every Day in Retirement.

25
Nevada

cityscape photo of downtown Henderson, Nevada at dusk
iStock

Affordability rank: 29

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 23

Well-being rank: 17

Weather rank: 26

Crime rank: 40

Nevada offers a little of everything in terms of retirement lifestyle but like its neighbor Arizona, it does have a poor crime rating.

24
Rhode Island

Bristol is a town in Bristol County, Rhode Island, as well as the historic county seat
DenisTangneyJr / iStock

Affordability rank: 40

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 20

Well-being rank: 5

Weather rank: 23

Crime rank: 7

The second-most densely populated state, Rhode Island is small but mighty. What's bringing it down is its relative lack of affordability. U.S. News similarly ranks it 37th for cost of living and 38th for housing affordability.

23
Arkansas

Eureka Springs Arkansas
Rachael Martin/Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 10

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 33

Well-being rank: 44

Weather rank: 10

Crime rank: 46

Arkansas benefits from an affordable retirement lifestyle and moderate weather. But it has high crime and poor well-being. In fact, according to SafeWise, it has the highest violent crime rate in the country.

22
New Mexico

cityscape photo of Santa Fe, New Mexico at dusk
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 24

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 19

Well-being rank: 21

Weather rank: 21

Crime rank: 50

New Mexico is another state that would be nearly perfect if not for its last-place crime rank. They follow Arkansas for violent crime.

21
Connecticut

Fair Haven is a neighborhood in the eastern part of the city of New Haven, Connecticut, between the Mill and Quinnipiac rivers.
iStock

Affordability rank: 44

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 9

Well-being rank: 5

Weather rank: 25

Crime rank: 4

If you're able to afford the healthy and safe lifestyle that Connecticut offers, it's a great place to retire. Keep in mind, though, that U.S. News backs up this affordability ranking: They put the state at 40th for cost of living and 42nd for housing affordability.

20
Tennessee

Sevierville Tennessee
Kevin Ruck/Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 14

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 41

Well-being rank: 36

Weather rank: 13

Crime rank: 45

Despite Tennessee ranking fairly high overall thanks to affordability and manageable weather, it does come in 45th for crime and 41st for healthcare—two very important retirement factors.

19
South Carolina

Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 23

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 32

Well-being rank: 19

Weather rank: 10

Crime rank: 46

South Carolina also has a high crime rank, but its weather and well-being ranks help it move toward the top of the list. This is a popular retirement destination for those who love the beach and nature.

18
Oregon

Eugene Oregon
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 37

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 5

Well-being rank: 9

Weather rank: 32

Crime rank: 28

The Pacific Northwest offers much in the way of natural beauty and, according to Bank Rate, it's also one of the best states to retire in based on healthcare and well-being.

RELATED: 8 Motivating Ways to Stay Active After You Retire.

17
Illinois

A view of Galena, Illinois in the fall.
Nejdet Duzen / Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 17

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 34

Well-being rank: 21

Weather rank: 28

Crime rank: 25

Illinois is average for almost every retirement consideration, though its healthcare quality/cost isn't the best.

16
Virginia

Main street in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia.
iStock

Affordability rank: 30

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 15

Well-being rank: 32

Weather rank: 18

Crime rank: 9

Virginia is a safe state with good healthcare and weather. It's the affordability and well-being ranks that bring it down slightly. However, for those in the Northeast who don't want to go as far south as Florida or Georgia, this is a good retirement option.

15
Georgia

pastel colored houses on st simons island georgia
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 12

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 35

Well-being rank: 42

Weather rank: 4

Crime rank: 29

It's the well-being score that drags Georgia down, but it has great weather and is affordable. As for its healthcare ranking, it's likely weighted more on quality than cost, as NiceRx Health says the state has the third-lowest healthcare costs.

14
Alabama

Montgomery, Alabama
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 4

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 46

Well-being rank: 40

Weather rank: 9

Crime rank: 44

Alabama is buoyed by its affordability and weather. Though these are big retirement considerations, healthcare, well-being, and crime are all in the bottom 10, which shouldn't be ignored.

13
Michigan

Nautical Scene with Fall Leaf Colors-Saugatuck,Michigan
iStock / William Reagan

Affordability rank: 11

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 24

Well-being rank: 29

Weather rank: 40

Crime rank: 26

You may have to deal with cold winters in Michigan, but you can have an affordable retirement home with decent healthcare.

12
Wisconsin

New Glarus Wisconsin
Erwin Widmer/Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 19

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 16

Well-being rank: 21

Weather rank: 46

Crime rank: 12

If it weren't for those frigid winters, Wisconsin would sweep a lot of the competition in this ranking.

11
Kansas

Aerial View of Lawrence, Kansas and its State University
Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 8

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 25

Well-being rank: 38

Weather rank: 24

Crime rank: 35

This Plains state is very affordable, which is why it ranks so highly despite its other scores being unremarkable.

10
Nebraska

Downtown Omaha Nebraska Drone Photo
iStock

Affordability rank: 13

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 18

Well-being rank: 37

Weather rank: 35

Crime rank: 21

Another Plains state, Nebraska is also affordable, and it has a better healthcare ranking than Kansas.

9
Hawaii

The suburban residential districts of Honolulu, Hawaii along the coastline just outside of downtown from about 1000 feet over the Pacific Ocean.
iStock

Affordability rank: 45

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 12

Well-being rank: 1

Weather rank: 1

Crime rank: 32

The Hawaiian lifestyle won't come cheap, but the state ranks first for well-being and weather, and it also ranks favorably for healthcare.

8
Florida

Bonita Springs Florida
Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 35

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 21

Well-being rank: 3

Weather rank: 3

Crime rank: 27

Like Hawaii, Florida gets top scores for well-being and weather. However, the state is a more affordable retirement option.

7
Pennsylvania

West Chester Pennsylvania
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 25

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 22

Well-being rank: 14

Weather rank: 33

Crime rank: 12

Depending on where in the state you live, the weather in Pennsylvania could get dicey in the winter, but overall, the state offers a balanced retirement lifestyle.

RELATED: 8 Quaint U.S. Sea Villages That Will Make You Want to Retire.

6
Wyoming

A view of Casper, Wyoming with snowy mountains in the background
iStock

Affordability rank: 9

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 38

Well-being rank: 16

Weather rank: 47

Crime rank: 7

Wyoming weather isn't for the faint of heart, but its affordability and crime rankings make it worth considering for retirement.

5
Mississippi

The city square of Oxford Mississippi
csfotoimages / iStock

Affordability rank: 2

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 49

Well-being rank: 46

Weather rank: 7

Crime rank: 22

Mississippi could be a good choice for retirees in good health, as it ranks second-to-last for healthcare and near the bottom for well-being.

4
Missouri

columbia missouri
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 5

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 28

Well-being rank: 32

Weather rank: 22

Crime rank: 42

"Fourth-place Missouri shines for affordability, but struggles with its quality of healthcare, crime and natural disasters" says Bank Rate.

3
West Virginia

buildings and church in the town of Harper's Ferry, West Virginia
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 1

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 50

Well-being rank: 26

Weather rank: 20

Crime rank: 16

Bank Rate notes that "West Virginia boasts the best affordability in the nation, based on a low cost of living and light tax burden."

But what you save on the cost of living, you may end up paying for in healthcare. According to the Commonwealth Fund's healthcare ranking, the state comes in 51st for "healthy lives," 50th for "avoidable use and cost," and 45th for "racial and ethnic equity."

2
Delaware

lewes delaware
Khairil Azhar Junos / Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 18

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 37

Well-being rank: 2

Weather rank: 8

Crime rank: 36

Coming in at number two is Delaware, which "combines high-quality healthcare and a light tax burden," according to Bank Rate. "Diversity, wellness and culture are other strong points. The state ranks near the top for racial and ethnic diversity, arts and entertainment establishments per capita and wellness. It also has one of the nation's highest percentages of over-65 residents."

1
Iowa

Marion, Iowa
Shutterstock

Affordability rank: 3

Quality/cost of healthcare rank: 11

Well-being rank: 31

Weather rank: 38

Crime rank: 12

"With its vast farmlands, peaceful countryside and friendly locals, Iowa offers a unique retirement experience for many Americans seeking a more relaxed and affordable lifestyle with access to the outdoors and retirement-age communities," shares Bank Rate.

The study notes that it ranks so highly for affordability because it is the sixth-cheapest place to live, has a median home price well below the national average ($239,400, as compared to $388,800), and is just better than average for property taxes and state and local taxes.

For more life advice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Dana Schulz
Dana Schulz is the Deputy Lifestyle Editor at Best Life. She was previously the managing editor of 6sqft, where she oversaw all content related to real estate, apartment living, and the best local things to do. Read more
Filed Under