Worst States for Retirement 2011
Also see the current list of Worst States for Retirement
For the second year in a row, MoneyRates.com has ranked the best and worst U.S. states for retirement. We based our rankings on four factors:
- Economic factors
- Life expectancy
- Crime rate
This year, each factor was weighted according to a MoneyRates.com poll that asked readers to rate its importance in the context of retirement. Based on reader responses, economics determined 47 percent of a state's final score, climate accounted for 33 percent, life expectancy determined 12 percent and crime accounted for 8 percent.
Here are the MoneyRates.com 10 worst states for retirement:
No. 10: Wisconsin
Why it's in the bottom 10: Unfortunately, Wisconsin had decent scores in two areas that readers said should receive less emphasis, and did poorly in the more heavily weighted areas of economics and climate.
Economic factors: Wisconsin's real downfall in this category is having the second-highest tax burden in the country, after adjusting for retirement exemptions.
Climate: Wisconsin did not fare well in the climate category either, with a climate rated in the bottom 10.
Life expectancy: At 77.9 years, Wisconsin's average life expectancy is a little above the national median.
Crime: Wisconsin's crime rates were a little worse than average for both violent and property crime.
No. 9: New York
Why it's in the bottom 10: As with the preceding example of Wisconsin, New York did poorly in the two most important areas in the analysis. So decent scores in the other two areas were not enough to keep it from the bottom 10.
Economic factors: New York came out decidedly below-average on economic factors, particularly because of its sixth-highest cost of living.
Climate: New York's climate wasn't among the worst, but it was below average.
Life expectancy: At 77.7 years, the life expectancy of New Yorkers is slightly above median.
Crime: New York has one of the lowest property crime rates in the nation, and its violent crime rate is about average. This gave the state an above-average overall ranking.
No. 8: Washington
Why it's in the bottom 10: The real problem was a poor showing in economics, the most heavily weighted category in this study.
Economic factors: Washington was below the median on cost of living, unemployment and taxes, making economics the state's biggest downfall.
Climate: Washington's climate rated roughly average.
Life expectancy: Washington has one of the highest life expectancies in the nation at 78.2 years.
Crime: Washington scored poorly in this category, due primarily to having the 10th-highest property crime rate in the nation.
No. 7: Rhode Island
Why it's in the bottom 10: Being near the bottom in economics was just too big a burden for Rhode Island to overcome.
Economic factors: With scores for cost of living, unemployment and taxes all among the 10 worst in the country, Rhode Island got the second-lowest overall rating for economic factors.
Climate: Rhode Island sat in the middle of the pack for climate.
Life expectancy: Rhode Island's average life expectancy is 78.3 years--one of the best in the country.
Crime: Rhode Island ranked below most states for both violent and property crime.
No. 6: Maryland
Why it's in the bottom 10: Again, a bottom-10 showing in economics is going to drag any state down--not that Maryland scored particularly well in the other categories. The good news is that this year's ranking is a mild improvement from last year's, when Maryland ranked as the fifth-worst state for retirement.
Economic factors: Maryland placed among the bottom-10 states, largely because it has one of the highest costs of living in the nation.
Climate: This was Maryland's strongest category, with a slightly above-average rating.
Life expectancy: At 76.3 years, Maryland's life expectancy is below that of most states.
Crime: Maryland's violent crime rate is among the 10 worst in the nation.
No. 5: Alaska
Why it's in the bottom 10: Optimists can point to Alaska's improvement from last year's list, where it ranked as the third-worst state for retirement. Also, any improvement for Alaska is impressive, considering that climate ranked more prominently in this year's study.
Economic factors: Alaska rated about average on economics. Its tax burden, which ranked among the lowest, offset its cost of living, which rated among the highest.
Climate: Not surprisingly, this was Alaska's downfall. The state's climate rated as the nation's most extreme.
Life expectancy: At 77.1 years, Alaska's life expectancy is near the middle of the pack.
Crime: Alaska's murder rate is the fifth-highest in the nation.
No. 4: Connecticut
Why it's in the bottom 10: Because of its poor economic performance, no state was punished more by the reader-weighted preferences than Connecticut, which last year ranked as the eighth-best state for retirement.
Economic factors: Connecticut ranks near the bottom, thanks to a deadly combination of high taxes and high cost of living.
Climate: Connecticut's climate rated a little below average, though not as bad as other states in its region.
Life expectancy: With a life expectancy of 78.7 years, Connecticut tied with Utah for the nation's third-highest.
Crime: Connecticut's violent crime rate is slightly below the median, and its property crime rate is well below average.
No. 3: Massachusetts
Why it's in the bottom 10: With good scores on crime and life expectancy, and bad scores on economics and climate, Massachusetts has a profile similar to that of neighboring Connecticut, so the close rankings are not surprising.
Economic factors: Massachusetts has less unemployment than most states, but that wasn't enough to overcome a high cost of living and high taxes.
Climate: Though not among the worst, the climate in Massachusetts rated below average.
Life expectancy: Massachusetts ranks fifth in the nation, with a life expectancy of 78.4 years.
Crime: The property crime rate in Massachusetts is one of the 10 lowest in the nation, helping the state to an above-average overall crime rating.
No. 2: Michigan
Why it's in the bottom 10: Michigan duplicated its ranking from last year as the second-worst state for retirement. Because it was similarly below average in all four categories, the reader weightings did not make much of a difference.
Economic factors: Unemployment is high, and tax burdens are also above average.
Climate: Michigan rated well below median for its climate.
Life expectancy: At 76.3 years, this was another below-average factor.
Crime: Michigan's violent crime rate is also worse than average.
No. 1: Maine
Why it's the worst state for retirement: Maine's low ranking was a result of having bottom-five scores in the two most heavily weighted categories, economics and climate.
Economic factors: Maine got the fifth-lowest score for economics, with its high cost of living and tax burden as the primary culprits.
Climate: Maine's climate ranked third-worst in the nation.
Life expectancy: At 77.6 years, Maine's life expectancy is about average.
Crime: If personal security is a high priority, you may want to reconsider Maine. Its violent crime rate is the lowest in the nation, and its property crime rate is below average as well.
About the rankings
For more details on what data MoneyRates.com took into account and why, read our list of the 10 best states for retirement.
If you didn't see your state on either list and would like to know how it fared, read our full 50-state ranking of the Best States for Retirement 2011.
You may also want to compare this list with the 2010 rankings.