Just as night follows day, bust follows boom, and yang follows yin, the worst follows the best. A few days ago, your friends at Money Examiners proudly showed you the best states for Baby Boomers to consider for retirement. Alas, today we will show you the states that aren’t as good for the Golden Years. How did we decide the states to call “worst states?” Here is our methodology.
First, states with high living expenses got a narrow-eyed look. A fixed income needs fixing if the cost of living is high. Second, we downgraded states where a lot of red tape is in the budget. Those states might try and balance the books on the backs of retirees. Third, we wanted to avoid states where the cost of being, or getting, healthy was too high. To that end, we looked at the health of the population as a whole. At the end of the day, we found a group of states that are lacking in their appeal to Baby Boomers. Obviously, other things are in play when it comes to your retirement location. Familiarity, family (especially grandchildren) etc. make the decision one that isn’t solely dollars and cents. However, all other things being equal, if a comfortable retirement is in your future, these are the states to avoid.
Minnesota: The states on the edge of our list have solid facts in their favor. Minnesota has one of the healthiest senior population in the country. That is all to its credit. However, the state taxes Social Security at the same rate as does the Federal government. Other retirement income, including government, military, and pensions, is taxable, as well. Finally, the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes has a high sales tax.
West Virginia: Maybe almost heaven to John Denver, but not for Baby Boomers looking to retire. West Virginia’s issues are, in many ways, the opposite of Minnesota’s. The cost of living in West Virginia is below the national average. However, the state is in the midst of a budget mess that may leak over into the retirement population. In spite of what you may have heard, coal is never coming back to mainstream prominence. How West Virginia deals with the transformation to a new base product will tell the tale for the next decade. Healthcare numbers for The Mountain State aren’t promising, as well.
Maine: Put aside Maine’s brutal winters and what it means to creaky bones trying to shovel the car out of Snow Jail.
Sorry, that’s all you’re going to be able to think about for a bit. I’ll wait.
And, we’re back. Most, but not all, of the retirement income earned by Mainers is taxable. Also, the state is ranked ninth-worst in fiscal soundness. Lower than average income and higher than average debt. Not a good combination.
Kentucky: Show us a state with a lot of elderly folks under the poverty line, and we’ll show you a state to avoid. In fact, over 11% of the senior citizen population in Kentucky is living in poverty. Combine that with the state’s low rate of healthy individuals, high smoking rate, and lack of senior care facilities. Suddenly, the low-ish cost of living doesn’t look so important.
Wisconsin: The Badger State is in the unenviable position of having the second-lowest rate of family income and a cost of living index 10% above the national average. If you said, “That can’t be good,” treat yourself to a Culver’s Butterburger (Wisconsin’s finest fast food) and a “Boy Howdy.” Wisconsin doesn’t tax Social Security but most other retirement incomes are put through the tax wringer.
Illinois: You have worked for years to get, and maintain a good credit rating. Why move to a state that just saw its own credit mark reduced to a status perilously close to “junk?” Illinois needs to get its financials into better shape for the benefit of all its residents, not just the retired side.
California: Fool’s Gold, they called it. Shinier than the real stuff, pyrite broke a lot of hearts when the 49ers came to strike it rich. So it is for retirement. The weather is almost uniformly marvelous. The scenery is spectacular. But, the state taxes retirement income (that isn’t Social Security) at the highest rate in the land. As for the cost of living, well, older Californians are leaving the state in droves.
That’s our list, and it has been pretty stable for almost a decade. Look it over and pick somewhere else. The grandkids will look forward to the trip to see Papa and Nana, who live in a retirement state that helps them have a good quality of life.