The 10 Worst States for Retirees in 2012

Market Watch – The Wall Street Journal –

If you live in Illinois, we have some good news for you. You no longer live in the absolute worst state in which to retire. The bad news? You live in the second-worst state, according to research released Wednesday by Connecticut now has the dubious honor of being the worst state to spend your golden years, according to John Brady, the president of who by odd coincidence also lives in Connecticut. “The Nutmeg State does have considerable charm and some terrific places to live, if you can afford to live here,” said Brady.

No. 2: Illinois. Now truth be told, Brady said Illinois actually tied Connecticut as being the worst state in his research. But ultimately Connecticut earned the inglorious honor of being the worst place for retirees; its property taxes, personal income taxes, and cost of living are higher than that of Illinois.But Illinois has plenty of woe: “Its pension funding, deficit spending, unemployment, and foreclosure rates are among the worst of any states,” Brady said.

No. 3: Rhode Island. This year, Brady expanded the number of factors he evaluates to five; the state’s fiscal health, property taxes, state income tax, cost of living and climate. Now, he readily admits that you have to establish your own criteria for identifying the best or worst state for your retirement, but these factors represent what is likely to be important to most people. For Rhode Island, its high taxes outweighed the great places to live along its extensive coastline and numerous bays and harbors.

No. 4: Vermont. According to Brady, some states are spending more money than they take in and are in serious trouble. To evaluate a state’s fiscal health, Brady examined the state’s deficit, unfunded pension liabilities, unemployment rates and foreclosures. Those four factors combined added up to a maximum of one point in the rankings. In Vermont, high income and property taxes pose the biggest problem.

No. 5: Massachusetts. Among the taxes you might face in retirement, property taxes are usually the most oppressive for retirees, Brady said. According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, for instance, the average American 65 and older pays $1,919 in property taxes, which represents 4.6% of the average income ($41,286) for that cohort. By contrast, the average American age 55 to 64 has income of $68,906 and pays $2,216 in property taxes. That represents just 3.2% of their income. For his research, the 10 states with the highest property taxes were awarded one point on a sliding scale. Property taxes are the big curse for Massachusetts residents.

No. 6: New Jersey. New Jersey, which has the highest median property taxes in the country earned, 1.1 points on the tax scale. “The median property tax in the Garden State is the highest in the U.S. at $6,579. It also has the highest tax burden (as reported by the Tax Foundation), a large budget deficit issue, and very high cost of living,” Brady said. “On the plus side, it excludes most pension and Social Security income for couples making less than $100,000.”

No. 7: Minnesota. When you look at the various sources of income for the average American age 65 and older, you’ll note at least one interesting fact: Earned income represents nearly 28% of total income for the average American age 65 and older. By contrast, Social Security represents nearly 37% of total income. In other words, two thirds of total income comes from two sources — work and Social Security. That means, where you live while you work after age 65 could make a big difference in your take-home pay. For his study, Brady created a hypothetical couple that had $70,000 in income from Social Security, earnings, pensions and retirement savings. The 10 states with the highest taxes on earned income earned up to one negative point. Minnesota hits residents with the fourth-highest income tax in the country.

No. 8: New York. Make no mistake about it, the higher the cost of living, the lower your potential standard of living. For his research, Brady awarded states with the highest cost of living one negative point. “Surprisingly, New York did not earn any negative points for income taxes, since it offers generous exemptions for Social Security, pensions, along with a high standard deduction,” Brady said. It is, however, an expensive place to live; it ranks as the fourth costliest state in the country just behind Hawaii, Washington, D.C., and Alaska.

No. 9: Maine. If you’re like most retirees, you probably want to live where it’s warm in the winters. That means states north of the Mason-Dixon line get a negative one point. And Maine is about as far north as you can get.

No. 10: Wisconsin. So where does that leave us? Essentially, with a list dominated by states in the Northeast and Midwest. What’s important to note is that this year’s list is slightly different from last year’s list. New to the list are Vermont, Minnesota and Maine. States lucky enough to leave the list are Ohio, Nevada and California, which Brady says is more a reflection of changes to the rating system.

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I’m in single, 62, living in LA and looking around at this mess. The idea of moving to Nevada has come to mind – warm weather, no state tax and close enough to drive back and visit the grandkids. Any comments on this idea or where exactly to look around Las Vegas? Any idea on life as a mature single there?

Paul C

My wife and I are looking for a good place too. We have just about given up because It looks like there will be more troubles comming than we already have. So we will probably stay here in Delaware for now, it has some great bennies for us over 65 people.For now anyway. I agree that one more term with Obama will send us so far away from what this country was set up to be, that it looks like there will be no way out and back. I do not like “doomsaywers”, I have always had a positive outlook. So,,,I am positive we are in deep “stuff”. I hate feeling like I can’t trust or believe any of them. So,,,,,,,,,,,what,,vote for the ones that seem to lie the least? We take care of my 98 and 96 year old parents, they are very sad. All those in favor of… Read more »


CT should be on the list. We have the highest gasoline prices in the nation. Our property tax is extremely high. We have a high sales tax and a high income tax. They only allow about a $300 deduction on your income tax, yet my house property tax (separate from my auto property tax) is about $4600 a year for a 1380 sq ft cape without much property. So, we pay income tax on the remaining $4300 property tax! Tax on tax! Also, they tax all charitable contributions, no exceptions. We are also the notorious state where the SCOTUS Kelo decision was made. The town can take your house by emminent domain and transfer it to a private company that they think might give them more tax revenue. You rent your house from the town (see property tax above) and you “own” your property at the discretion of the local… Read more »


Texas is the place to be. However all Libs need to stay out. We don’t need to be like all the other Lib states.


Marcia is right…………………Don’t move to Maryland!
It may not have hit the top 10 (yet) but the special session is not finished determing how much higher they can raise taxes and fees on everone.
Our current govenor and the ruling Democratic party can do nothing but spend this state into further debt.
Gangs are now running wild in the streets of Baltimore City and business in this state is stagnant after a sharp decline.

My husband wants to stay because of his medical conditions but if Obama Care is not overturned ………….
I suspect we will be looking to Delaware for retirement.


I would also like to see a list of the best states for seniors to live in.


I retired and moved to Venice, Florida in 2000. I could not be happier. If you buy an older home here your property taxes will be low. Mine run around $1200 for 1500 sq ft home on a large lot with a big swimming pool 5 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Property taxes are higher on a new home. The trade-off is that windstorm insurance is lower, (optional if you don’t have a mortgage). Our sales tax is 6%. There is no state income tax. Florida was hard by the recession but it’s coming back up. Home prices in my neighborhood are still dirt cheap. I love it that the crime rate here in Venice is so low and I feel secure in my home and neighborhood. I am origanally from CA and have lived in OR, which I loved, and OH…….much too cold. It is so peaceful and… Read more »

steve harmon

I’m likeing living in the coast range 50 miles outside Portland, OR. 5 1/2 acres of pure heaven in the woods. No state sales tax. I step out my side door and sling some lead any time I please. Oregon needs more Conservatives to outvote the treehuggers, as I used to say when I lived in Houston, “Y’all come”.
Hiding in the woods, Steve.

Frank Dias



Born in Alabama and worked there for over 30 years, transfered to Ohio with the intention to maybe stay after I retire, but after I ran the numbers and found that I can’t afford to live here, we had to make a discission on where to move. In Ohio there is no incendtive to pay high property taxes, high state income taxes and the high cost of living. As for so many friends they to began looking for another state to move to after retirement. Many of which moved to Florida, Tenn, Texas, Miss. My wife and I decided to build a new home back in Alabama with property taxes just under $600. and state income taxes 2% lower than Ohio. And, after I reach the 65 mark, even more benfits come into play from state taxes. But, for the most part moving back to the Gulf Coast I have… Read more »


#1 is the State of Being Wealthy.


Did you notice? They are all predominantly “Liberal” states. The problem is that the affluent baby boomers are beginning to “RETIRE” and move to the more weather,tax and social friendly states. A problem because they are bringing their progressive socialistic ideals and ideology with them. Another problem is their desire to turn the freedom loving conservative areas to which they flee into the taxed to death, over regulated and entitlement driven states from which they fled.

Thomas Wilson

The song “Walking in a Winter-Wonderland” is very spot on to describe the conundrum that seniors have to consider, for my part I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. (I’ll get to the punchline in a moment) the thing is that with personal liberty having taken a black eye for the longest time since 9-11, it’s a debatable point as to “where’s the best place for a senior to retire;” for my part the short answer where the U.S. is concerned is “NOWHERE!!!” because I’m positioning myself for becoming an expat and I’m the wrong one to ask about this touchy-feely subject.
But anyway now to the punchline, the reason you call the Northern Parts of the U.S. especially those enumerated upon this 10 worst “list of shame” is because your left wondering WHY?- WHY DIDN’T you move to Florida 10 years sooner? (LOL!!!)

Jay Cogley

My Wife and I[60] just bought a new home in P
A mountains. Better there than surrounding states.

Phil Cooper

Even though California failed to “make the cut” for this list of shame, I wouldn’t recommend anyone come here to retire, particularly near the high-cost San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan centers. The government is dominated by liberal, environmental whack-jobs; conservatism exists only underground, as if in exile. The liberal tax-and-spend mindset has depleted the state treasury, and the current government’s only idea for fixing the problem is to raise taxes yet higher, even as the wealthiest citizens are packing up and leaving, putting more and more of the burden of supporting a bloated government on people living on fixed or low incomes. It’s a toss-up to see whether New York or California will be the first U.S. state ever to become insolvent and have to be run by a federal conservator. I’m not saying it can’t be fixed, but it looks like it WON’T be fixed and… Read more »


As reminder to why the State(s) you believe should be listed are not.

“… he ([Brady] readily admits that you have to establish your own criteria for identifying the best or worst state for your retirement, but these factors [property taxes, personal income taxes, and cost of living] represent what is likely to be important to most people.”

Save the USA

I suspect you need to rethink your criteria.

No CA, No Wash, D.C.?

Crime, taxes, cost of living, government debt, cost of energy, homeless as a percentage of rthe population –

Every factor i can think of contributes to this requiring a rework of your list.

What I would really like to see is a list of countries to move to. One more term with Obama and there will be nbo retirement in America for those who wish to be free. It may be time to pack up the retirement account and whatever might move quickly and easily and head to Panama or Belize or Ecuador.

Watching Obama’s State of the Union and the lies pretty much convinced my wife and I that one more term of lies and deciet and there won’t be much left.

alan stone

please send us membership cards…we do not have a printer…having a card to show people seems like something basic thanks alan


I find it difficult to believe that the People’s Democratic Republic of California is not in the top 10 given the financial condition of the state, ridiculously high taxes, poor services especially in urban areas, spread of gang-related activity out of the urban areas, reduced necessities such as water thanks to the enviro-nazis, a governor who admittedly has no plan other than to raise taxes, and closed hospitals. Nice weather only goes so far.


Maryland should be in the top ten. The property taxes along with all the other outrageous taxes and high cost of living definately makes it worthy of a listing.