Showcase Listing

Handsmill on Lake Wylie is a new, lakefront community located in the historic and quaint town of York, South Carolina, and offers lakesid...

Showcase Listing

Brookfield Residential at Two Rivers is a brand new community designed for those 55+, and offers an abundance of opportunities for a vibr...

Showcase Listing

Bon Ayre is a 55+ active adult, manufactured home land lease community located in Smyrna, Delaware, a town which was recently ranked 31st...

Showcase Listing

Life at Heritage Shores is full of amenities, activities and social opportunities. When you live here, each day can be as active or laid ...

Showcase Listing

Cresswind Charleston is Charleston-area's BEST active adult lifestyle community. Cresswind inspires active adults to live life to the ful...


Worst States for Retirement for 2018: New Tax Law Takes Its Toll

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

March 17, 2018 — The most frequent question we get asked at Topretirements is, “what is the best place (state or city) to retire”. Interestingly, the negative of that query, what is the the worst place for retirement, sparks even more (morbid) curiosity. Seems like our Members want to know where to avoid almost as much as they would like to know the best places to retire.

This article presents our 4th list of the worst states for retirement, which we have been publishing since 2008. But before we get to that list we have one important thing to stress – everyone’s retirement situation is different. A one-size-fits-all approach will not provide the right answer for you. Your geographic and climate preferences, the kind of activities you enjoy, where your friends and family live – all of those considerations and more are far more important than any list you might come across, including this one. All of the states on this list have many beautiful towns where you could have a splendid retirement. For a counterpoint see: “10 Best States for Retirement – 2018“.

Factors we considered – and the new tax law
As far as this list is concerned, what makes a state unattractive for retirement primarily has to do with taxes and cost of living. Our list does not consider more subjective factors that might be far more important to each retiree.

The Republican led tax changes that go into effect in 2018 made a lot of blue states even more unappealing to retirees. Massachusetts and California, which joined the list this year, are good examples. Under the new federal tax bill only $10,000 of state taxes (property, sales, and income combined) can be deducted from your federal taxes beginning in 2018. Previously, those deductions took some sting out of the high taxes paid in many states. Now, for people with expensive homes and/or high incomes, almost every bit of those taxes hurts even more. The new deduction limits are also affecting property values in states with high taxes. For example, Moody’s Analytics estimates that average home values in CT might decline 5.6 percent in 2018.

High Property Taxes. If you own property, you can’t avoid these taxes. No matter how high or how low your income, you will pay taxes based on the value of your home. Since retirees generally don’t have a lot of income, this is our number 1 negative consideration.

Taxation of Social Security & Pension/Retirement Income
After West Virginia stops taxing it in 2023, twelve states will be left that tax Social Security. Four of those are on our top 10 list.

Your pension and other retirement income might be a bigger factor to consider. The type of retirement income, and where it comes from, has a big effect on state taxation. For example, is it from in or out of state, federal, a military or other government pension, or a distribution for an IRA or 401(k)? State taxation of pensions and distributions from 401ks, IRAs, etc. is all over the map, difficult to research, and changes frequently. Even more people are likely to be affected by the taxation of retirement benefits such as the Required Mandatory Distributions (RMDs) that you must start taking the year you reach age 70.5. On these matters you should use a tax professional to help make sure you get the most accurate information.

Cost of living
It looks like about half of retired baby boomers won’t have the resources to sustain the lifestyle they had in their working days. If you are going to have trouble making it in retirement, it makes a lot of sense to look for a place to retire where your scarce dollars will go further.

Low Estate and Inheritance Taxes
Millions of boomers have accumulated substantial estates, thanks to hard work and/or good fortune. Assuming you want to pass much of that on to our heirs, the presence and severity of any estate and inheritance factors should be considered. Fortunately for most people in that situation, the 2017 tax changes increased the federal taxable thresholds to $11.2 million per couple – now only the wealthiest people have to worry about paying federal estate taxes. However, a handful of states continue to have estate or inheritance taxes that kick in at much lower thresholds, and that can be an important consideration for the fortunate few.

Our rankings explained
This list is ranked with the amount of property taxes paid as the #1 consideration, with state income taxes for retirees the #2 reason (we used and other sources listed at end). To get a more complete picture, look at the pluses and minuses we have provided for each state – and rank them based on your own situation. For example if you are going to receive a large pension and are very concerned about how it will be taxed, stay away from states that will tax it. The same goes if your other income will be high, because you are now limited in what you can deduct from your federal taxes. See the end of article for links to the sources we used in this study.

1. New Jersey
Negatives: Highest property taxes in nation – the median tax paid is $6579. Taxes pensions. The State has an inheritance tax (the estate tax is repealed as of 2018). At 8.97% on incomes over $500,000 it has one of the highest marginal tax rates. Also has one of the highest cost of living (41 out of 51). It has the lowest pension funding in the country.
Pluses: The Garden State has perhaps the highest exclusion for all types of pension income, up to $100,000. Unfortunately if you income goes over that by $1, the exclusion goes away totally. Social security benefits are not taxed. Not to mention some of the world’s great beaches. NJ has a senior tax freeze program but it is hard to determine if that results in meaningful savings.

World famous beaches in New Jersey (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

2. Connecticut
Negatives: Has the second highest property taxes paid in the nation, $4738 per year. Homes are generally expensive here, that means people pay a lot of tax. Estate taxes are high, although the exemptions are scheduled to match federal ones by 2020. Top marginal income tax rate is 6.99%, the lowest is 3%. Social security and retirement income is taxable for higher income residents. Cost of living is high (43rd of 51). Its credit rating is lower than most as its pension funding levels are ranked one of the worst in the country. The State has had great difficulty agreeing on a balanced budget.
Positives: CT has the highest personal exemptions in the country ($24,000 for a couple, although it starts to be phased out on incomes over $48,000).

Connecticut harbor

3. New York
Negatives: Because of the high cost of housing Empire State residents pay an average $3755 in property tax each year, and in fancy suburbs the average is much higher. NY has one of the highest marginal tax rates of any state at 8.82%. New York has improved its estate tax situation: for people who die after Dec 31, 2018 the Basic Exclusion Amount is $5.250 million. Very high cost of living (48 out of 51).
Pluses: All government pension income, including social security income, is exempt.

4. Rhode Island
Negatives: Ocean State residents pay the 4th highest property taxes in the nation with a $3618 average. Social security and all retirement benefits are taxed. The estate tax starts on estates of more than $1,500,000. Marginal income tax rate of 5.99% on incomes over $139,400. High cost of living (#42). The state’s finances are under duress from deficits and pension funding – it has the 6th lowest pension fund rating in the country.
Positives: Its many bays, harbors, and oceanfront property make living near the water very easy.

5. Massachusetts comes back on our Top 10 Worst Retirement States list this year because of its high property taxes – residents pay an average $3511 per year.
Other negatives: Although Mass. has only one income tax bracket, it happens to be the highest base rate of any state on our list (5.1%). There is an estate tax on estates over $1 million. All private pension income is taxed. High cost of living (ranked 45th).
Positives: Does not tax Social Security, military, or government pensions. Ranked as the best run state in New England (12th overall U.S.)

6. Illinois
Negatives: The State has high property taxes (average is $3507).The State has a high flat income tax rate of 4.95%. There is a tax on estates over $4 million. The State has the lowest credit rating in the nation. Its sales tax is very high at 8.64%.
Pluses: Almost all retirement income including social security is exempt from taxation. Cost of living is about average. Has some property tax breaks for seniors.

7. California
Negatives: Hard hit by the new tax bill, this state made the list this year for several reasons. The average property tax bill in the State is high at $2839 per year. California has the dubious distinction of having the highest marginal tax rate in the nation (13.3%). Couples with income over $59,978 will pay 6%. Pension income is taxable. Expensive: ranked 49th of 51 states and DC for cost of living. Los Angeles housing market is ranked the most unaffordable Metro in the country.
Positives: No tax on Social Security income nor estate tax. If you can afford to live here the State has a wonderful climate. It is ranked the 14th best run state. Proposition 13 sets appraised value of your home at what you paid for it, plus 2% max. annual increases. Thanks to Propositions 60 and 90, taxpayers over 55 can transfer some of that benefit to a new home.

8. Nebraska
Negatives: Very high property tax as a % of home value (4th). Social security and pension income are taxed. The marginal tax rate is 6.84%, which starts at a very low $59,660 for couples. There is an inheritance tax. There are no exclusions for pension or other retirement income.
Pluses: The 13th lowest cost of living in the country. Ranked by as the 6th best run state in the country.

9. Vermont
Negatives: High property taxes (9th highest as % of home value). Social security and pension income is taxed.There is a high marginal tax rate of 8.95% (on incomes over $416,700, but 6.8% on couple’s income over $63,350). Estate tax on estates more than $2.75 million. High cost of living (#41).
Pluses: It is a beautiful state with nice people! Its mountains and forests provide outstanding recreation. Ranked 19th best run state on the basis of unemployment rate, pension funding, credit rating, and poverty level.

10. Wisconsin
Negatives: The 5th highest property taxes in the US as a % of home value (average of $3007). Retirement income is taxable. Relatively high marginal income tax rate of 6.27% on couples with income over $29,960 (and the highest rate is 7.65%).
Pluses: No tax on social security or military pensions. No estate or inheritance tax. Rated 20th best run state in the nation.

Bottom line
Most of the reasons why states made our 10 worst list have to do with money and taxes. There are more important considerations to think about, however. Use this list as a guide, but pick a place to retire based on the whole picture. Note that state tax laws change frequently and without much notice – be sure to check with state tax sites to get the most up to date information.

When deciding where to retire we urge you not to just focus on the negative. There might be many positive factors that will be more important to you, such as:
– Warm winter climate
– Good medical care
– Where your children, family, and friends live
– Where you have always wanted to live
– Recreational and cultural opportunities
– Natural beauty
– Transportation
– Crime
– Low risk of natural disasters

Comments? Do you agree with this list, and if not, what states do you think are the worst for retirement? Do you have any other information about these or other states that would be interesting for this discussion? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the Comments section below.

Sources used to prepare this article:
How Does Your State Compare – 2017

State Income Taxes in Retirement

State by State Property Tax Rate Comparisons

Tax information by Retirement Living

State Tax Agencies

State taxation of retirement income. This has a tool that lets you compare several states – very useful!

Best and Worst Run States in America

Inheritance/Estate Taxes by State – 2015

Cost of living by state

For further reading:
100 Most Popular Places to Retire – 2017
Many Southern States See New Tax Bill as a Boon to Their Economies
Insights From Fiscal 50’s Key Measures of State Fiscal Health
Worst States for Retirement – 2014 Edition 180 Comments!

Posted by Admin on February 17th, 2018


  1. Just a note of clarification. It does not matter if you own property or rent property you are paying property taxes. When you rent property, the taxes are included as part of your monthly rent. The lessor must account for all property costs when establishing a monthly rent price that will also include profit. The lessee is simply not writing a check once a year to the property tax collector. The question of rent v. own is mostly a lifestyle question regarding mobility, maintenance, and other factors.

    by Doug — February 18, 2018

  2. How is it that Minnesota is no longer on this list? When I fled, my property taxes were going up 30%/year. Minnesota taxes all income, including Social Security. There are some things I miss, but the weather and high taxes are certainly not things I miss. I couldn’t afford to spend my retirement there.

    by Linda — February 18, 2018

  3. Comment from Editor: Good question Linda. Actually Minnesota would have been number 11 on our list, and we went back and forth over including it vs. Wisconsin. Very subjective of course, but we tipped to WI for the main reason that median property taxes paid are higher in WI – $3009 vs $2098. The tax paid as a % of value higher in WI too. WI has the 21st lowest cost of living of any state, MN is #29.

    An argument for including MN as #10 instead of WI would be that MN taxes Social Security and all private pensions. MN also has a higher marginal tax rate – 9,85% vs. 7.65% in WI.

    Bottom line: very close call. Neither one a good place to retire if taxes and costs are your only considerations.

    by Admin — February 18, 2018

  4. Is Iowa a good place to retire? Thinking about the West Des Moines area or maybe a small burg around there.

    by Brenda — February 19, 2018

  5. MN, where we still own some properties, does NOT tax food, clothing or shoes. So that helps a little. We are now settled 40 minutes NW of Chattanooga for our retirement on the water, and I have to pinch myself to believe that this is my life now. We love it here! We had to build….and I got my enclosed swim/spa. “LIVEN THE DREAM!”

    by Caps — February 19, 2018

  6. The only thing I miss about Minnesota is the ability to fly nonstop to just about anywhere in the world. I do not miss the snow and ice, the high sales tax, the personal income tax, and the outrageous property taxes. $2098??? Way lower than what mine were and I lived in an ordinary townhome.

    by Linda — February 19, 2018

  7. Seems Minnesota was close to the top 10. We live in Minnesota, but will be leaving end of March for our new home in Arizona. Funny how the present governor continues to tell the press that older adults are not leaving. I guess that may be because of the number of younger adults moving into the state for the good jobs created by the large corporations which call Minnesota home.
    Taxes and weather are large on our list. It was a shock when I was transferred from Knoxville, Tn. where we had not state income tax, to Minnesota which not only have state income tax but are hefty.

    by Bruce — February 20, 2018

  8. It’s outrageous that Minnesota, with all its other high taxes, continues to tax Social Security income. If they think older adults aren’t leaving, they’re deluded. We have a whole group of former Minnesotans down here in the Cape. Like me, they voted with their feet.

    by Linda — February 20, 2018

  9. Many of us Minnesotans remember our current governor telling us ‘if you don’t like the way I’m running the state, then you can just move’. Just one of the arrogant comments he has made over the past 7 years while catering to 2 or 3 counties in the state, and ignoring the remaining 90%— continuing to make the state less like the home we grew up with and raised our families in. After 62 years as a proud Minnesotan, I will be joining thousands of others as I “follow his orders”.

    by Paul D — February 21, 2018

  10. Totally agree about the Minnesota tax situation. The winter weather did us in, ultimately. This year has been especially brutal.
    Ironically, we moved to “Dayton” TN. Cold here too this winter, but quite bearable nonetheless.

    by Caps — February 21, 2018

  11. I am from California and we PAY taxes on SSI:(

    Editor’s note: We have checked this from many sources and Social Security income is NOT taxed in California. Maybe you are referring to something else.


    by Mila — February 21, 2018

  12. Consider also income taxes AND sales taxes. Oregon, Delaware and Montana have no sales taxes – Alaska also at the state level but they allow cities to levy one. Why do you think all these motor homes and exotic cars worth $100’s of thousands carry Montana license plates? Hint: they are registred to LLCs or corporations set up solely to own those assets. And income taxes!! …. why do you think tens of thousands of multi-millionaires and billionaires establish their primary domicile in Florida and Washington?

    And regarding property taxes … state averages mean very little ….carefully check rates in a particular county and municipality. My house in Key West in Monroe County has a homesteaded bill of just over $3,000 year … the equivalent house, but worth LESS, homesteaded in Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale area) would be $8-10,000.

    Taxes …. income, sales and property …. absolutely drive and control where I live AND where I shop! Especially now with the new Republican tax regime.

    by JJ — February 21, 2018

  13. While it’s very true that California is a, relatively, expensive place to retire, do keep in mind that many, many seniors do so with a middle class income. Not everyone is wealthy as the media would have you believe! People from all walks of life remain (or migrate to) California because the climate, outdoor recreation, emphasis on a healthy lifestyle, availability of fresh, local food and friendly vibe. We moved to Northern California 2 years ago for retirement and couldn’t be happier. We traveled to 6 states and 11 cities before making the final decision. I will say that being able to purchase a home makes a huge difference. If you are moving from another high cost state with a good amount of equity in your pocket it’s very doable. Beyond home costs, some things are less expensive others more, depending on your overall needs.

    by Layla M — February 21, 2018

  14. What about Las Vegas? Nevada has no income tax & low property taxes. Sounds like a dream to me!

    by PAUL OLIVER — February 21, 2018

  15. My retirement state of choice (for now) is Arkansas, mainly due to family reasons. Yes, there are issues about the state, as for every state, yet four towns are situated together in NW AR that are in Money Magazine’s 2017 top 100 best towns to live in, including the one where I will live. The cost of living is the 2nd lowest (2017) in the country, no Social Security tax, and no tax for personal retirement payouts for the first $6000. With the new federal personal income tax deduction of $12K, I won’t be taxed for my earnings until I reach $12K + $1 – I will continue to work PT. Property taxes for my 3-bedroom house are about $860 annually (tax deductible). At the same time, I know that often taxes pay for many services and amenities that AR will not have due to the low tax base. Luckily the Walton family has brought some of their Walmart wealth back to invest in NW AR so that where there could be no art museum, opera house, concert venue, and other amenities, there is. The state is bright red and I am deep blue, but so was AZ when I first moved there over 25 years ago. Now it is purple. I hope to help turn AR purple too. Next, NW AR needs a fabulous medical center, Time to send a letter to the Waltons about that. Any place one lives, involvement in the local community (not just the 55+ community) will benefit the retiree and maybe even the locals.

    by Elaine in Tucson — February 21, 2018

  16. Las Vegas is fine if you can stand the traffic, constant construction, heat , and murders!

    by Chuck — February 21, 2018

  17. As mentioned there are many factors driving choices of retirement spots. But as far as cost of living in retirement is concerned if you relocate somewhere with low property taxes, no tax on pension income or Social Security and reasonable sales tax, the savings goes a long way toward everyday cost of living. You could do much better or at least come out even and be somewhere you prefer to live.

    I moved from Connecticut to a state generally considered to have a high cost of living but these larger dollar savings in retirement have proved to more than offset other costs. And I’d rather live in Hawaii.?

    by Mejask — February 21, 2018

  18. Mila, I beg to differ. California doesn’t tax SS benefits.

    by JCarol — February 21, 2018

  19. Chuck, Las Vegas can’t have any more murders than Chicago where I live now. Also, our 5 months of winter is no bargain!

    by PAUL OLIVER — February 21, 2018

  20. I too would like to know where my current state (Iowa) stacks up on retirement and my parents state, Missouri. It’s not in the top 10 nor bottom ten but neighboring states are near the bottom.

    by Robert Crowe — February 21, 2018

  21. I’m sorry You are right, CA don’t tax SSI, my mistake. It was federal tax on a portion of my SSI.

    by Mila — February 21, 2018

  22. How about Reno NV or a nearby town to Reno?

    by Jennifer — February 22, 2018

  23. All these lists are great, but they leave out the most important factor for me, and that is family. I would never want to move too far away from my loved ones. There is so much more to life than money.

    by Maimi — February 22, 2018

  24. Thank you for your newsletter Topretirements.
    Your revision for 2018 does not accurately reflect the taxation of NJ retiree income.
    I would hope you go back and read the language of the NJ Division of Taxation carefully.
    The exclusion is not that generous.
    Once the gross income goes over $100,000 —- there is NO exclusion. You lose it, and get no deduction. None.
    If you make ONE DOLLAR over that amount, you are INELIGIBLE
    — Robin

    Editor Comment: Thanks Robin for that valuable piece of information. We looked it up and it as you see. It is a GREAT break for retirees – unless they make more than $100k, and then it is worth nothing.

    by Admin — February 22, 2018

  25. How does North Carolina rank for retirement? Looking to retire oil the piedmont area. What are the pros and cons?

    by Susan&Ken — February 22, 2018

  26. How does Idaho rank for retirement? We are looking to retire Boise area. Anyone retired there? Do you like it? What is the tax situation on Property Tax, Social Security and taxing Pensions?


    by Beebs V — February 22, 2018

  27. I live in California and your property tax information is way off. I do not qualify for Prop 13 as I was unable to purchase a home while I was in Jr. High. I live in a 1949, 1581 sq, ft., 3 bed 2 bath home and my property taxes were $7,100 last year. They go up 5% each year. The neighbors across the street have a 2,000 sq.ft. house and pay 1/2 of what I do as they are under Prop 13. I bought the house to keep up with inflation with the knowledge that I would have to sell it and leave when I retire. Although I was born in California I have to leave if I want to retire. I am going to Boise.

    by Robin — February 23, 2018

  28. Robin, Prop 13 isn’t something that people qualify for, it is the methodology by which California property taxes are computed. In order for your neighbors to have half your tax bill, they must have paid for their house roughly half of what you paid for yours.

    Prop 13 ties property taxes to the price of the house when it is purchased rather than by continually updating assessment values. Prop 13 made CA property taxes stable and predictable.

    By statute our base taxes cannot go up more than 2% per year. If your taxes went up 5% that had to have been done by popular vote to raise additional funds for schools or other projects.

    by JCarol — February 23, 2018

  29. CT considering using lottery money to help pay for state pensions.
    State wants to give free 2 year college to some costing $30 million.
    State wants to put tolls on highways again and increase gas tax.
    State is $3.5 billion in the red.
    On the bright the Uconn women’s basketball team is fantastic.
    It is pretty here in the summer.
    I can send news paper articles to confirm.

    by Bob Dee — March 8, 2018

  30. Bob Dee in response to your comments on potential taxes, we moved from Ct in 1990 due to taxes on top of more taxes. I’m happy to say we have no regrets. Your state is on the verge of bankruptcy. You mentioned nice summers, basketball team as positives? To each their own I guess. Retirement in Florida couldn’t be better and we even have money to visit Ct in the summer and other beautiful areas of the New England.

    by Skip — March 9, 2018

  31. J Carol but you get hit with a tax for breathing in CA don’t you?

    by LMB — March 10, 2018

  32. Lmb….the air is great in San Diego and northern CA thankyou….

    by Mary11 — March 10, 2018

  33. Louise, I feel you on that one. Having grown up in the greater NY area, I dealt with plenty of snow, black ice, and the like.

    I’ve lived in Los Angeles most of my adult life. When friends from the east coast ask whether I miss the four seasons, I reply that I don’t miss leaf raking, snow shoveling or mosquito swatting seasons a single bit. (LA actually does have four distinct seasons, they’re just more nuanced.)

    LMB, CA taxes are probably a bit higher overall than elsewhere in the country, but that may be the price of admission to live in CA. It’s worth a premium ti be here, at least to me. CA is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea though, and those folks should be where the weather, politics, cost of living, and community work best for them. It’s a big country and a bigger world. Surely someplace will suit each of us.

    As for me, like Randy Newman, I love LA (and California)!

    by JCarol — March 10, 2018

  34. FYI, for a $250,000 condo that was purchased in 1996…our property taxes are $850 yearly. So that’s pretty good for Cali…

    by Mary11 — March 10, 2018

  35. We moved the last few comments that strayed away from retirement states and taxes to a different Blog that discusses Florida and weather

    by Jane at Topretirements — March 11, 2018

  36. Great Comment from S.

    OK maybe I am sensitive but I am SO sick of being told I am living in a ‘worst retirement state’ that I am about to unsubscribe after many years. Day after day after day I
    am told I have made a terrible choice and it is really tiresome. Maybe … even on a modest retirement income … I actually LIKE it here. Maybe my friends are here and my
    activities are here, and there is great medical care and there are great educational opportunities. Maybe it’s convenient to live here. Maybe I love my house that is paid for. Maybe i
    love being in a ‘blue’ state.

    How about changing your tune from ‘Worst’ retirement states to ‘High Tax’ states and let your readers draw their own conclusions?

    by Admin — March 17, 2018

  37. S. – Thanks for your thoughtful comments. You make some excellent and very fair points.
    We periodically come out with this worst states for retirement mostly because of popular demand – people love the negative side. Even though we try to stress throughout the article that retirement is a personal decision and the economic and tax factors we consider are only one side of things, a lot of people don’t pay attention to them. In fact, where you want to live, your friends
    and family, the activities you love, plus all the valid reasons you list, are a whole lot more important than taxes and costs. It is why we live in CT half the year – it is expensive but beautiful and the people are just right.

    Regarding your last point, that is a good one too and we will consider making that switch to “High Tax” states.

    Thanks very much.

    by Admin — March 17, 2018

  38. When I was teaching, I used to tell the students that instead of a long 500 word essay we would have a short 500 word essay, and they were all happy. So, just say that this is the “Best Retirement State” if you want to be broke, mugged, suffocated by humidity, blown away by hurricanes, or eaten by crocodiles. Since it is labeled positively, the readers will be filled with innocent joy……

    by Bob — March 18, 2018

  39. I don’t see the big deal on calling it the worst or best state to retire to. The article says it like it is. If it is the worst due to high taxes and if you don’t make the income to live in a high income state then it will be very bad and you will live in poverty. If the cost of living is low and you have lots of money then maybe that state will be the best state. It has nothing to do with the beauty of the state, ownership of your home or your friends. I live in one of the WORST states and yet it is a nice place to live. It is the worst financially and the state is in debt, high taxes, corporations are leaving, people are leaving and the Governor is near the bottom of the list for being one of the worst governor’s in the 50 states.

    Read the reasons for ‘worst’.
    Read the reasons for ‘best’.

    by Louise — March 18, 2018

  40. The bottom line is that the best state is one where you are at peace with yourself and happy to be there. And, of course, the inverse is true. Money is important, but it is not the sole reason for our existence. Think hard on what is important to you and whoever is with you, and then visit the location. Each day that passes is one less day in your life. It took me many years to identify what I truly needed rather than what I thought I wanted. I wish that all find what they are looking for with their hearts and minds.

    by Bob — March 19, 2018

  41. This list was picked up by – thank you!

    by Admin — March 19, 2018

  42. Thanks, Bob. While money, politics, family, local beauty and other concerns are important to consider, your comment is of first importance. “It took me many years to identify what I truly needed rather than what I thought I wanted. I wish that all find what they are looking for with their hearts and minds.”

    I too have spent years and especially recently have agonized over the next step. A few days ago I happened to stop to say hello to my dog and looked out the window. It struck me at that moment that “I’m happy here.” That may override all else.

    by RichPB — March 19, 2018

  43. Priceless: Peace of Mind.

    by Bubbajog — March 19, 2018

  44. Lived in California for nearly 25 years. In spite of many agreeable factors, such as the wild beaches in Central & Northern California, the redwoods and Sierras, it’s a deal breaker. Housing costs and taxes are astronomical! And the ultra-left fringe elements of the Democrat party are literally running the state into the ground. I’m talking about illegal immigrants taking over, crazy zoning laws, forced vaccination laws, etc. The state government behaves like a rabid dog in it’s death throes!

    by David Mandelstamm — April 11, 2018

  45. David, you got that right. I have several friends who moved out to the Left Coast and they tell me stories that should be in comic strips. Most have moved back to Normal America……

    A buddy of mine who moved out in a rural area of California was working on his car and wanted to buy some WD-40 oil, so when he gets to the hardware store he is told that it is outlawed in California. Yup. It cannot be sold in California. The manager told him that if he wanted to oil that part to go to Nevada and then come back.

    The cities have their own problems. A colleague of mine who retired from the government moved to LA and one night he was sitting on his veranda and he heard several gunshots so he then sees a police helicopter hover over him and through a loudspeaker all were told to quickly go in their homes. When the gang-related shootings ended they could stick their heads out the windows again. He just moved back to MD and kissed the ground when he exited the plane.

    The taxes that folks pay there are unbelievably high, and the traffic along the LA freeways are the worst in the nation. While California has beautiful parks and forests, the socialist politics and exorbitant cost of living will be very hard to deal with if you are a mainstream sane person.

    So, for me, I found out that one should never go by advice from web postings that merely put a link there. One has to actually go there and check it out, or talk with those who have lived there. Which is why I learn a lot from postings here that describe actual conditions.

    While I worked in law enforcement and have a concealed permit where I live, it would be voided in California due to state laws there. Many folks from my field do not understand that. I am now in a 55+ community along the Rappahannock River in eastern Virginia, and I would like to one day move to New Mexico. We will see. I wish all true happiness, good health, a safe haven, and inner peace.

    by Bob — April 12, 2018

  46. Well gentlemen, we have lived in San Diego for the past 21 years and our property taxes are still only $850. We live in a beach town and have not experienced what you are commenting about. I would never move to a big city anyway. Yes, housing is expensive but after 21years the value of my condo has increased 500%, thats why we are downsizing and will be living off of the profits. Socialist politics you say, well at least this state takes care of people in need. We may stay in Cali and may not….but you wont find better weather anywhere else….and I’ve lived in all 4 corners of the US!!

    by Mary11 — April 12, 2018

  47. I so agree with you, Mary11.

    People who want to live in right leaning states can find plenty to choose from. If you don’t like CA, I’d suggest you don’t move here. You won’t hurt our feelings.

    As for someone’s out-of-state concealed gun permit being voided in CA, it may be true that you’d have to qualify all over again here. CA has fairly strict gun control laws in accordance with what our state’s citizens want and vote for.

    As a matter of clarification, WD-40 is sold at virtually every hardware store in the state. Check Lowe’s online if you don’t believe me. The product has a reformulated version that complies with the stricter environmental guidelines that most Californians wholeheartedly support.

    When my kids were little and argued about what was best among a field of choices, my husband used to say, “That’s why Baskin-Robbins has 31 flavors.” End of argument.

    For people who enjoy bagging on California, may I humbly say that the US has 50 states all slightly different. Surely each of us can find a place to our liking. It’s not necessary to rudely criticize the other 49 in the process.

    by StarSong — April 12, 2018

  48. Thank you StarSong….and I agree with your follow-up comments 100%

    by Mary11 — April 13, 2018

  49. In the end, one has to figure out what one wants for oneself. For example, my mother was scared of crime and her family was distant so she opted for a condo in NY. She was going to go all the way to the Left Coast at one time, but the building she was looking at crumbled due to an earthquake there, so she stayed in NY. The NY facility was a quad set of buildings setup using highrises. She wanted to help others so she gave most of her resources away, some were scams while others were beneficial. Like many seniors, she waited daily for the Reader’s Digest $10 million check to come to her doorstep, and she said that her state was the best…… She loved her “senior ghetto” as she called it. There was no privacy there, it was expensive, but that made her comfortable having all the people around her. Me, I prefer rivers, mountains and lakes, but there is a lot of work involved in maintaining a yard and home. And, being a New Yorker from the Lower East Side, I can sincerely say that New Yorkers will also go nuts if you put down their state. They are proud and crazy there as well…… For example, if you tell a Manhattan resident that it is crowded there they will go medieval on you and tell you to move out. So, again, in the end one needs to find the best place for oneself, which may be a truly Sisyphean task.

    by Bob — April 13, 2018

  50. StarSong, I love California. Used to go there at least once a year when I lived in Minnesota. Just couldn’t afford to live there. Housing costs are unbelievable and unaffordable for ordinary mortals just moving in. I’ve found my own little piece of paradise on the gulf coast of Florida. I live right on the water and have met many wonderful new friends. Everyone here is from someplace else and eager to make new friends. I could never have afforded to live on the water in Minnesota and Minnesotans have made all the friends they feel they need by the time they are in kindergarten, so I never really fit in there either.

    Good luck to all on finding a place that works for you. And I agree, it’s not necessary to bash other places in order to feel good about your place. Every place has good things and bad things. You just have to find the right balance for you.

    by Linda — April 13, 2018

  51. Linda, there are ways that you can afford to live in CA. For example in the northern part of San Diego you can purchase a Mtg home with land included for $120,000. HOA is $120 per month as well. Unless you want an extravagant retirement with a lot of travelling and going out all the time, it can be done. My husband and I will retire with less than $1600 per month and with some savings to help us get by for the next 20 years. California provides many services and benefits to people with a restricted income so I’m not too concerned about how we will get by in our 80s. We can always sell the home or do a reverse mortgage….you do have options. You just need to become knowledgeable and do your research….

    by Mary11 — April 13, 2018

  52. Hi Linda,

    I agree with you that retirement in CA is affordable depending on location. You made reference to northern San Diego. I would really appreciate knowing the name of community where you can purchase a manufactured home with land for such a reasonable cost. It sounds great and I’d love to check it out:)

    Thank you,


    by Diane — April 13, 2018

  53. Linda, where are you on the West Coast of FL?

    by Virginia — April 14, 2018

  54. Diane, this is in Oceanside and also in Vista CA. These towns also offer rent controlled parks as well. You need to know these homes are mostly built from the 70’s, but a lot of them have been renovated from top to bottom. If you go on Movoto or Trulia and search under these towns you will find a few with the land option. Or if you are fine paying the higher lot rent from $375-? you will find many to choose from too. Most of these communities are situated across the street from shopping centers and on a bus line as well. For example in Oceanside there is Amtrak and other train systems that will take you to downtown SanDiego in 45 minutes.

    by Mary11 — April 14, 2018

  55. Mary – Thank you so much for the Oceanside and Vista information. The communities sound especially desirable with the bus and train systems close by.

    Thank you!!

    by Diane — April 14, 2018

  56. Mary 11, I LOVE to travel and do it all the time. Not sure I’d be comfortable in an old manufactured home community where nobody travels or ever goes out for dinner. Frankly, I found the San Diego area pretty boring (my son used to live there, so I visited a lot). Yes, the weather is gorgeous. Other than that, it just didn’t appeal to me.

    Virginia, I live in Cape Coral, FL. It is north of Naples and across the river from Fort Myers. We have more canals than Venice–over 400 miles of canals.

    by Linda — April 14, 2018

  57. To Bob “re your buddy & no WD 40 for sale in California”, sorry it’s more likely that the store in the boonies just didn’t carry it. I ‘ve lived here over 50 years and it has always been availible in my garage for many home projects.. It was discovered in 1953, in San Diego, CA by 3 men who were trying to develop a rust preventative solvent and degreaser in the aerospace industry. On their 40th formula attempt, to dispel water they got it right! WD 40 or {Water Displacement 40] was successful. As the company discovered, workers were taking it home in their lunch pails and reporting their successes. It came to the shelves for the public in 1958 [not just for the aerospace industry] and has been on the shelves since. No I don’t own any of their stock but do like the product. Kate.

    by Kate — April 14, 2018

  58. Linda, I don’t quite understand how you found SanDiego boring. Theres so much to do here from outside activities to going to a concert or theatre or even the casino’s. BTW, people who live in these parks don’t just sit around their backyard they do go out and do quite a few things but some people like to stay at home and relax too. Where I live most of the retirees go out everyday even if its to only get some exercise by walking on the beach. And yes I lived in Clearwater Beach FL for 10 years and it was enjoyable but we finally got fed up with the daily thunderstorms, bugs, humidity and hurricane warnings. To each is own, I guess…..

    by Mary11 — April 14, 2018

  59. Thanks Linda sorry to be a pest, but can you be more specific in Cape Coral? I’ve been there and I don’t think I’ve looked in the right places? I’m in Naples and cannot deal with the congestion.

    by Virginia — April 15, 2018

  60. Virginia, not sure what you would consider a “right” place. The Cape has gated communities, if that’s your thing. If you like those, I would look in Sandoval, which is reasonably close in. I looked there when I was originally looking, but I didn’t like any of their townhome plans. I didn’t want a single family home since I’m single and the upkeep was more than I cared to deal with. The rest of them are too far out (in my view) from all the restaurants and entertainment areas.

    It also has just plain old random communities. Zoning is rather haphazard. For me, it was important to be on a wide gulf access canal. I don’t own a boat, but I have friends who do. My condo is right at the junction where you go out to the river and then the gulf. Easy for them to stop and pick me up. If I go boating with friends in SW, I have to go to their home, as their canal system does not feed into ours. Some people like being on the fresh water canals and lakes. Those are the reservoirs for our irrigation systems and can get dangerously low during the dry season.

    I settled in SE. If I were to buy something today, I would look at something in SE or SW. Much of the NE and NW areas are not yet connected to sewer and water and they’re farther away from the downtown area. Some people like that. And the utilities are currently being expanded to some of these areas.

    I agree that traffic in Naples is crazed, especially during season. I simply don’t go there during season. Don’t go to Sanibel or Fort Myers Beach either during season. Traffic in the Cape is heavier during season, but nothing like the major metropolitan area I came from.

    I enjoy the small town vibe of SE. I know my mailman and he knows me. Our condo association is small (16 units), so we all know one another, and many are snowbirds. The New Resident Club has provided me with an abundant supply of wonderful new friends, activities, and volunteer opportunities.

    So, the Cape works for me. May not be your thing. I did visit a lot and then rent for 6 months before purchasing.

    by Linda — April 15, 2018

  61. Linda thank you so much

    by Virginia — April 16, 2018

  62. This is a comment from Bill that was made about our 2014 Worst States article. It still applies:

    In reviewing your 2014 edition of the 10 Worst States for Retirement I noticed an omission related to New York income taxes. New York residents are eligible for up to a $20,000 deduction per person for private pensions. My wife and I, now retired, take the maximum allowable = $40K per year. At our marginal NYS income tax rate that is a $2580 (6.45% x $40,000) reduction in our annual NYS income taxes that would not be if that deduction was not in place. See

    Also, I know we are in the minority but in searching for a place to live in retirement one of our requirements is cold and snowy winter weather … because we LOVE cold and snow. The optimal retirement planning process would allow users to set the weather criteria to “10 for cold and snowy” and “1 for warm and dry”

    by Admin — April 18, 2018

  63. Found this interesting but the property tax info was less than satisfactory. In the case of WI, NEb, Vermont they at least refered to taxes as a % of home value. All the rest of the states were listed as a value. The price of homes in many of those states is very high so the tax amount will be high. The better method to present the data would be on a $ per $1000 valuation. I wonder which states would be on the top 10 list

    by DONALD WAIT — June 6, 2018

  64. Dian sent in this question:

    Hi – we are really trying to wind this decision up. I was reading the best and worst again and saw a comment from Caps on February 19 about a great place on the water 40 min NW of Chattanooga. Any way to find out where that would be? Thanks so much – Dian

    by Jane at Topretirements — July 15, 2018

  65. Hi Dian,
    Near Cleveland, TN.

    by ella — July 16, 2018

  66. Thanks Jane and Ella – Ella is you would care to write me with more info and so we could have a dialog about the area, my email is I just looked at Lakeside Coves and Wind River. Thanks so much! Dian

    by Dian — July 17, 2018

  67. I just discovered that all cities in Arizona except Tucson and Flagstaff change a rent tax. I’ve been reconsidering Prescott which I visited about 10 years ago. I’ve been a renter for many, many years and would like to rent again if I move. I’ve been intrigued with manufactured homes for many years too, but, again, would like to rent one before even thinking of buying. There’s one for rent in a Prescott manufactured home community I like but my goodness the 2.75% monthly rent tax plus all the other fees and charges makes this unit very expensive. For those like me, who like renting, or those who are concerned about taxes, check for a rent tax. Laney

    by Laney Humphrey — July 17, 2018

  68. The rent tax in AZ applies to units three or more. So if the party you are renting from has one single rental..there is no tax. Also, some areas are exempt.

    by Loralee — July 18, 2018

  69. Thanks Loralee! I was looking at a manufactured home in a community. The rental is managed by a property management company. I’ll check back with them & see what they say.

    by Laney Humphrey — July 19, 2018

  70. Your numbers for California are off on the low side, and it is a terribly run state and getting worse. In fact, it’s considered one the the best states in the country if you’re poor or an illegal immigrant. Tax payers not only pay for the customary state and local services, they pay for the medical care and education K through college for illegal immigrants. We have high utility and water rates yet are told to conserver and penalized if we don’t. Property taxes are based on the value of homes. Those values are very high. We’re actually about in the middle of the 50 states when it comes to income tax. This state is for the wealthy and the needy, not for the vast majority of people who support the system.

    Yes, we live in a stunningly beautiful state and have the greatest weather. You can even get four seasons here depending on where you live, but it’s Very EXPENSIVE beauty and good weather.

    by Shelley Pitchford — March 6, 2019

  71. Linda, I live in North County San Diego and travel all over this huge, beautiful county for fun, dining, hiking, art, parks, concerts, doctors, hair stylist, shopping, etc. Nothing boring about his place. Whether your thing is mountains, ocean, pickle ball, golf, sailing, hiking, gardening, clubs with specific interests, it’s all here and more. Plus the weather simply cannot be beat an any time of year.

    On the other hand, if you like fall colors (and who doesn’t), we don’t get too many colors in southern California, but northern California gets a few more. The only reason I’m leaving here is because this state is out of control in governance and costs.

    by Shelley Pitchford — March 6, 2019

  72. Just thought you might consider Texas as this is an absolutely hideous state to reside in, PERIOD! Taxes are outrageous on property mostly because the property values are so inflated and they are increased annually regardless of lack of improvements (or, in most cases, even basic maintenance). The summers are astoundingly hot, like living in hell, and the evenings provide no relief. The allergens in the air are horrific and if you have asthma you are tormented daily.

    by Kamella K Traynham — March 31, 2019

  73. I just looked over your list of 10 worst states and notice that 6/10 are in the Northeast. I have been all over this country and I would not want to be anywere else for a multitude of resaons. There is a reason some of those states on the list are more expensive than others. People want to live there for the culture, the climate, the jobs, the educational institutions, proximity to the ocean and mountains, the rail system ,and for me, the world class hospitals.Sure, it would be cheaper to retire to lots of places in this country, but who wants to live in some of those places that you put on your “best places” list. The Northeast is the best place to retire, in my book.

    by Maimi — April 1, 2019

  74. I’m with you Miami and found that eastern Pa (Bucks) is a great option- Pa doesn’t tax retirement income and the tax rate on earned income is only 3.5%. We’d rather pay high property taxes and all the things they pay for that make a town special and have lower income taxes than save on the property taxes and live in an area that isn’t as nice. But the biggest reason we moved north is the abundance of top rate health care. ( Heck even Mick Jagger is going to have his valve replacement in NYC (so much for the UK’s social medicine)). After visiting several physicians (Internist, Dermo, and husband Cardio and Uro) we just didn’t feel that any of them were as up-to-date as the Drs we had up here and while there was a medical center, any major problems required a trip wo the University Med Center 2 hours away. Finding the place a person will feel “at home” takes some exploration and self awareness – it’s why its such a good idea to rent for a ear or two before buying. Visiting for vacation, even if you visit every year for 20 years isn’t at all like actually living in a place.

    by jean — April 1, 2019

  75. I would disagree with the IL taxes. I live in an average home for the Chicagoland area and my real estate taxes are more than double their number. I also live in a town that charges an additional 1% sales tax. Cost of living for gasoline and utilities are higher than what I have investigated in other states.

    by don — May 29, 2019

  76. We retired in KY after over 40 years of service to this great nation. Laugh if you will and even scorn, just stay out. Too many people move to a new state for retirement and try to change it to what they left. We love it for what it is and is not.

    by Steve — May 30, 2019

  77. Thanks for the input Miami… CT is a great place to live… IF you have the money. How much is enough? Nobody can give you a straight answer. Taxes are up, real-estate is up, hospital expenses are up, entertainment is up, (unless you’re into WWE), and our honorable governor is proposing increasing the 6 3/4% sales tax and WILL add tolls even though the population unanimously screamed NO. I LOVE it here. But when I retire in a few years my pension will be taxed by the state as will SS (which is reduced). How I will live here on less than what I make now is quite a mind bender, and while I don’t expect to get off cheap I am hoping to live into the retirement transition and not die in poverty.

    by Frank J. — May 31, 2019

  78. The Poconos??
    Southeastern PA is a good place to retire if you can afford it. Homes in Bucks County, in places you would want to live, have risen dramatically in price over the past few years. Our plan was to downsize and bank some money, but I don’t think k it’s happening around here!!
    PA is great for retirees with no tax on SS or pensions.
    If anyone has made the move to the mountains, let me know how it worked out.

    by Florence — February 17, 2020

  79. Florence you are right PA is a great place for retirees, but property taxes vary greatly within the state. The Poconos is located in a beautiful area and in the highest tax region of southwest PA, but if you go diagonally across the whole state there are counties in the northeast with property taxes that are much much less. Of course there are trade offs like harsh winters and not many cities around. Seniors in PA also get about $650 back each summer as a property tax rebate, thanks to the proceeds from the PA Lottery, if their annual household income is less than $30,000.
    I once heard the Poconos was popular as a commuter area for those who work in NY and NJ and are willing to do a 3-hour commute, but not sure about that.

    by Drew — February 18, 2020

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment