When it is time for seniors to sit back, relax, and enjoy this exciting time in their lives, where they decide to call home during retirement can make a big difference in their quality of life. Using our proprietary algorithm called SeniorScore™, we have developed a list of the best and the worst states for retired seniors. Analyzing hundreds of variables across four categories, including recreation and leisure opportunities, retirement finances, health and safety, and overall quality of life, we have ranked all 50 states based on senior-friendliness. Whether seniors already live in one of these states, or are looking for a new place to live during their retirement years, knowing what to expect can only help seniors make the right decision about their future living plans.
The Best States in America for Seniors
Here are the top ten states for seniors in the U.S., starting with the best.
Virginia is our top-ranking state when it comes to overall senior friendliness and it gets high marks in almost every category we reviewed. Virginia is one of the top states in the country when it comes to providing quality healthcare to seniors, with many nationally-ranked hospitals and excellent access to Medicare-registered doctors. It also ranks near the top for access to senior living and home healthcare options. The Old Dominion State also boasts a strong economy and low taxes, so it's a great place to stretch a retirement budget. And while the winters can be chilly, the weather is gorgeous for most of the year so it's a fantastic place for seniors to get outside and stay active.
For full details, read more on Virginia senior living.
Spending your senior years in Hawaii is about more than just fun in the sun. This tropical state has plenty of features that make it senior-friendly. In addition to having plenty of recreation and leisure activities to enjoy in the near-perfect climate, retirees living on a budget can enjoy low property and sales taxes. While income taxes are amongst the highest in the country, Hawaii offers exemptions for social security income, which can really help offset the burden paid by seniors. Hawaii also offers excellent healthcare and senior living resources, which is part of the reason The Aloha State boasts the longest life expectancy in America.
Read more about senior care in Hawaii.
The Cornhusker State ranks well on our list in large part due to the outstanding financial advantages for retirees who settle down here. The economy is stable overall and the cost of living is very low compared to other states on the list. In fact, costs for assisted living, nursing home care, and adult daycare all ranked significantly lower than national averages. And with seniors making up almost a third of the state's population, there is never a shortage of recreation and leisure activities to enjoy in your Golden Years.
Learn more about senior living in Nebraska.
Oklahoma also scores highly in large part due to its economic advantages for seniors. Tax rates are relatively low here and the cost of living is near the bottom of the 50 states. Additionally, healthcare and senior housing rank as some of the most affordable in the country, with low overall costs of nursing care, assisted and independent living, adult daycare, and in-home care. Oklahoma also scored well due to the high access for quality healthcare, including some top-notch hospitals and abundant access to doctors who accept Medicare.
Get all the details on Oklahoma senior care.
Another Midwestern gem for seniors, Kansas scored highest for its general quality of life, access to hospitals and Medicare physicians, and its affordable cost of living. In addition to low cost housing, food, and healthcare, prices for in-home care, nursing homes, and assisted living all ranked much lower than the national average for those living in the Sunflower State. But the advantages of living in Kansas are not all practical. With roughly a third of residents being over the age of 55, there are ample opportunities to enjoy a good social life for seniors, no matter what your interests.
Read more about Kansas senior living.
Maryland is home to some of the finest healthcare facilities in the nation, including Johns Hopkins, Mercy Medical Center, and Sanai Hospital. For this reason, it's no surprise that Maryland ranks highly for access and quality of senior healthcare. The state also scores well due to its abundance of outdoor recreation activities, including city and state parks and almost 200 golf courses. And while the cost of living is relatively high in this East Coast state, there are multiple tax advantages specifically for people over the age of 65.
For full details, visit our page on Maryland senior living.
Retirees have been flocking to Florida's warm and inviting climate for decades, so it should come as no surprise that The Sunshine State ranks highly on our list. Florida is one of the most fun and social places in America for retirees. The state is home to a huge population of seniors, over 1,000 golf courses, parks, beaches, and just about any other amenity one could ever hope for. But Florida has more to offer than just sunshine and fun. It also boasts top-notch access to healthcare, low costs for senior living, and a number of tax advantages specifically for people who are 65 years and older.
Read all about Florida senior housing.
The Lone Star State has some of the highest quality healthcare for seniors of any state in the country. With nationally-ranked hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the massive state, it also offers a high level of access to Medicare physicians for those in retirement. The cost of living is also very low compared to national averages, there is no income tax, and there are tax exemptions for seniors to help offset the higher property taxes in the state. Texas also offers a comfortable climate for most of the year, with warm summers and relatively mild winters throughout, so there is plenty of sunshine to enjoy the incredible parks and nearly 800 golf courses throughout the state.
Get more information on the Texas SeniorScore™.
Arizona is another state that has become synonymous with retirement over the past few decades. Warm weather and plenty of parks and golf courses make Arizona a fun place to settle down. This is probably why around 30% of the Arizona population is made up of people 55 and older. Senior care options aren't only widely accessible in Arizona but affordable as well, with costs of assisted living, nursing homes, and home healthcare all costing less than the country's national average. Financially speaking, Arizona also earns high marks with low property and state income taxes and no estate or inheritance tax.
Read the full report on Arizona senior living.
10. West Virginia
West Virginia rounds out the top 10 best states to live in for seniors thanks to their numerous hospitals, low property taxes, and affordable cost of living. With home healthcare and assisted living costs being more affordable than the national average, along with low cost housing, it is easy to see why this is such as senior-friendly state. And while the Mountain State is nearby the amenities the larger East Coast states have to offer, its sparse population provides plenty of room to enjoy the beautiful parks and landscapes throughout the state.
Learn more about senior living in West Virginia.
The Worst States in America for Seniors
Not all states can make the top of our list. While these states can still be a great place to call home, they ended up on the bottom of our list of senior-friendly states.
While California offers some of the best weather of any state in the country and an abundance of outdoor beauty, the Golden State is not so golden when it comes to retirement finances. California ranks poorly due to a variety of economic factors, including exorbitant income tax rates and a cost of living that ranks near the highest in the country. For seniors who require a higher level of care, the state also ranks poorly, with costs for nursing home care, assisted living, adult daycare, and home healthcare all ranking amongst the most expensive in the nation.
For full details on the score, check out senior living in California.
Illinois comes in near the bottom of the list despite the world class healthcare available in the state. This is primarily due to financial factors such as tax disadvantages and a high cost of living. It is a rare state that has high property, sales, and income taxes combined. Real estate and other essential living costs are also higher in Illinois than in other states in the region. Illinois also has some of the most frigid weather in the country for much of the year, which can be a real drawback for those looking to enjoy outdoor leisure time. These reasons also help explain why Illinois has a low senior population across the state.
Read all about Illinois senior housing.
43. New Mexico
New Mexico may be the Land of Enchantment but it has some work to do to better accommodate its senior population. Though retirees here can enjoy plenty of warm sunshine in the desert climate, access to healthcare is low on average throughout the state and that significantly lowered the state's ranking. Other issues that drove down the ranking were higher-than-average crime rates, a large number of seniors living below the poverty line, and a lower-than-average life expectancy.
Get all the details on New Mexico senior care.
44. New York
The Empire State is no doubt one of the cultural and financial hubs of the world, but it isn't a great place to settle down if you're living on a retirement budget. The state levies a huge tax burden both on property and income, and the overall cost of living is among the highest in the 50 states. Those looking to invest in a home to retire in can expect to pay a pretty penny for real estate, not to mention the high costs of food, healthcare, and other essentials. Those who need a higher level of care can also expect to break the bank with nursing home, assisted living, in-home care, and adult daycare costs all ranking well above the national averages.
Read more about New York senior living.
Like many other states near the bottom of the list, Oregon loses points for being less accommodating to those living on a fixed income. Not only can residents expect to pay the second highest income tax rate in the country, but seniors who require assisted living, long term care, or in-home assistance will usually pay much more than in other states. Oregon also loses points due to the low number of days of sunshine and lower average temperatures, which can make it difficult to get outside and enjoy the fresh air during retirement.
Read the full report on Oregon senior living.
Arkansas comes in at number 46 for a few reasons. Access to healthcare and senior living services are lower than in most states, particularly for people who live outside one of the state's major urban areas. This may be one of the reasons that The Land of Opportunity also has one of the lowest life expectancies of the 50 states. Unfortunately, Arkansas has also seen rather high crime rates in recent years which further tarnishes its ranking. Finally, while the cost of living is low overall, the state also has one of the higher income tax rates in the nation, which can be a big disadvantage for those living on investment income during retirement.
Learn more about senior living in Arkansas.
Maine is no doubt a gorgeous state but it falls short in several categories when considering the elder population. Because it is mostly rural and towns can be quite spread out, many retirees living outside of a few larger towns are not within close range of the healthcare services they need. Maine is also not ideal for those living on a tight budget. Not only does it have very high general living costs, it has much higher-than-average costs for nursing home care, assisted living, and senior in-home care. Finally, the frigid weather makes it difficult to enjoy the state's natural beauty for much of the year.
Read the full report on Maine senior living here.
Mississippi ranks poorly due to low scores in the health and safety and also recreation and leisure categories. It may be called The Hospitality State, but it's not particularly hospitable when it comes to healthcare and senior care services for older residents. The state also loses points due to very high crime rates and a life expectancy that ranks near the bottom of any U.S. state. This may partially explain why Mississippi also has a small overall senior population, which limits opportunities for social interaction among retirees.
Get full details on Mississippi senior care.
49. North Dakota
North Dakota comes in near the bottom at 49, primarily because it's one of the most rural states in the country. Seniors who need healthcare or other services like assisted living or in-home care typically cannot get it close to where they live. It also makes socializing difficult because there just isn't much to do there for retirees. Finally, for those who do want to get outside and enjoy their Golden Years, they'd better bundle up because the arctic conditions can make it difficult to leave the house for much of the year.
Learn more about senior living in North Dakota.
Someone had to be last on the list and unfortunately it is Idaho. It's a gorgeous state with many things going for it, but it's just not very senior-friendly. Idaho loses points for being quite rural, which makes access to healthcare and senior living resources limited for many of The Gem State's older residents. The tax structure for the state is also not advantageous for those living on a fixed retirement budget, with sales taxes and state income tax both amongst the highest in United States. Finally, Idaho has one of the coldest climates of any state so retirees looking to soak up some rays should think twice before settling down here.
Get more information on the Idaho SeniorScore™.