Best States to Retire

Retirement Index Score
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Retirement Environment Across the U.S.

Deciding where to retire is a critical decision that can significantly impact an individual's or couple's financial security, lifestyle, and overall wellbeing during their golden years. There are many factors to consider, including state’s safety, cost of living, healthcare services, state taxes, access to leisure activities, among others.

The 2024 Retirement Index Score offers a comprehensive and analytical overview of the best states to retire, based on these and several other considerations. The rankings are designed to provide retirees and near-retirees with actionable insights that can guide their retirement location decisions.

Key findings from the 2024 Retirement Index Score data include:

  • Massachusetts emerged as the top state to retire, with a Retirement Index Score of 70.4, showcasing its favorable climate, outstanding healthcare, and overall high quality of life.
  • Maine secured the second spot, with a score of 69.3, making it an attractive option for retirees seeking a balance of natural beauty and affordability.
  • Connecticut and Vermont share the third position, each with a score of 66.2, offering retirees a combination of favorable factors, including healthcare and cost of living.
  • On the other hand, states like Mississippi, Kentucky, and New Mexico find themselves towards the bottom of the list, affected by factors such as a higher cost of living, less desirable climate, or lower-quality healthcare.

Generally, states with a balance of reasonable cost of living, low crime rates, high-quality healthcare, favorable tax structures, and a variety of recreational activities rank higher on the Retirement Index Score.

Best States to Retire

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Methodology

To determine the best states to retire, 50 states were compared across four key categories:

  1. Affordability
  2. Quality of Life
  3. Health Care
  4. Safety

Each of these was defined via individual metrics that were representative of the category. There were a total of 32 metrics which are listed below. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 being the max. Each metric had state scores distributed from 0 to 100.

Finally, each state’s weighted average was determined across all metrics to calculate category scores. These were then summed to generate the final rank order of the states.

Affordability (20%)

  • Cost of Living Index - Double Weight (3.3) 
  • Health Costs Index - Double Weight (3.3) 
  • Monthly Cost of Home Health Care - Double Weight (3.3)
  • Annual Property Tax Rate - Single Weight (1.7)
  • Homeowners Insurance Rate - Single Weight (1.7)
  • Home Ownership Rates - Single Weight (1.7)
  • Annual Retirement Income - Double Weight (3.3)
  • State-Local Tax Burden - Single Weight (1.7)

Quality of Life  (25%)

  • Population Aged 65 and Older - Double Weight (5.0)
  • Employed People Aged 64 and Older - Single Weight (2.5) 
  • Air Quality Index - Single Weight (2.5) 
  • Drinking Water Violations Rate - Single Weight (2.5) 
  • Museums per Capita - Single Weight (2.5) 
  • Theaters per Capita - Single Weight (2.5) 
  • Casinos (except Casino Hotels) Per Capita - Single Weight (2.5) 
  • Restaurants and Other Eating Places Per Capita - Single Weight (2.5) 
  • Zoos and Botanical Gardens Per Capita - Single Weight (2.5) 

Health Care (30%)

  • Rate of Dental Care Providers - Half Weight (1.6) 
  • Rate of Mental Health Providers - Half Weight (1.6) 
  • Hospital Beds per 1,000 Population - Half Weight (1.6) 
  • Dedicated Health Care Provider Rate - Double Weight (6.3)
  • Geriatric Providers (per 100K) - Double Weight (6.3)
  • Mortality Rate per 100K (Ages 65+) - Single Weight (3.2)
  • Depression Rate - Ages 65+ - Single Weight (3.2)
  • Physical Inactivity Rate (Ages 65+) - Single Weight (3.2)
  • Obesity Rate (Ages 65+) - Single Weight (3.2)

Safety (25%)

  • Transportation Safety - Double Weight (6.3)
  • Violent Crime Rate (per 100k) - Single Weight (3.1)
  • Reported Crime Rate (per 100k)  - Double Weight (6.3)
  • Non-Violent Crime Rate (per 100k) - Single Weight (3.1)
  • Firearm Deaths per 100K (Ages 65+) - Single Weight (3.1)
  • Motor Vehicle Deaths (Ages 65+)  - Single Weight (3.1)
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