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15 worst cities for retirees

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Retirees considering a big move after they stop working have a lot to consider. How far away are the grandkids? What kind of lifestyle do they want to live? Do they want to get away from long, cold winters? Maybe they’re fleeing hot, muggy summers.

Then, of course, there are the financial considerations. If they’re moving to an entirely new state, the cost of living or health care services might be dramatically different from what they’re used to.

As they’re putting together their list of ideal retirement destinations, there are some cities retirees may want to avoid. WalletHub studied the 150 largest American cities to determine which cities retirees might have a harder time in.

The ranking is based on an extensive series of metrics — 25 total — across five categories: affordability, activities, quality of life, health care and jobs. As many retirees — although not all — will stop working, jobs was given a lower weighting. Each of the other categories were weighted equally toward the final ranking.

In considering the affordability of a city, WalletHub measured the adjusted cost of living and annual cost of in-home services, as well as the city’s ranking in WalletHub’s “States with the Best & Worst Taxpayer ROI” report.

The activities ranking was based on the per capita number of recreation and senior centers, fishing facilities, hiking facilities, public golf courses, adult volunteer activities and WalletHub’s ranking of best and worst cities for recreation.

As for quality of life, WalletHub assumed retirees would prefer milder weather—so much so that it gave the weather ranking double weight. The percent of the population over 65, and the violent and property crime rates were weighted equally, while the air and water quality rankings were given half weight.

Naturally, the quality and availability of health care is important for older people. In addition to measuring the number of physicians, nurses and dentists per capita, WalletHub also analyzed public hospital rankings and emotional health. Other factors included the number of health care and home care facilities per capita, and the death rate for people over 65.  

Finally, the jobs ranking was based on the percentage of people 65 and older who were working and the ratio of part-time employees to full-time employees for the same age group.

WalletHub based its analysis on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Council for Community and Economic Research, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Genworth Financial, the American Lung Association – State of the Air, the Environmental Working Group, the Trust For Public Land,, Charity Navigator, Gallup Healthways,, and its own proprietary research.

Rankings in each category are out of the 150 total cities. Keep reading for the 15 worst cities for retirees, No. 1 being the worst.


15. Boston

  • Affordability Rank: 122
  • Jobs Rank: 115
  • Activities Rank: 63
  • Quality of Life Rank: 126
  • Health Care Rank: 72


14. Fayetteville, North Carolina

  • Affordability Rank: 87
  • Jobs Rank: 89
  • Activities Rank: 145
  • Quality of Life Rank: 94
  • Health Care Rank: 115


13. Buffalo, New York

  • Affordability Rank: 101
  • Jobs Rank: 78
  • Activities Rank: 55
  • Quality of Life Rank: 141
  • Health Care Rank: 135


12. Modesto, California

  • Affordability Rank: 102
  • Jobs Rank: 138
  • Activities Rank: 134
  • Quality of Life Rank: 51
  • Health Care Rank: 123


11. Fontana, California

  • Affordability Rank: 125
  • Jobs Rank: 137
  • Activities Rank: 150
  • Quality of Life Rank: 44
  • Health Care Rank: 45


10. Jersey City, New Jersey

  • Affordability Rank: 124
  • Jobs Rank: 132
  • Activities Rank: 133
  • Quality of Life Rank: 88
  • Health Care Rank: 50


9. Baltimore, Maryland

  • Affordability Rank: 103
  • Jobs Rank: 106
  • Activities Rank: 71
  • Quality of Life Rank: 131
  • Health Care Rank: 142


8. Fresno, California

  • Affordability Rank: 109
  • Jobs Rank: 78
  • Activities Rank: 139
  • Quality of Life Rank: 77
  • Health Care Rank: 134


7. Worcester, Massachusetts

  • Affordability Rank: 99
  • Jobs Rank: 83
  • Activities Rank: 136
  • Quality of Life Rank: 113
  • Health Care Rank: 127


6. Stockton, California

  • Affordability Rank: 111
  • Jobs Rank: 97
  • Activities Rank: 141
  • Quality of Life Rank: 83
  • Health Care Rank: 126


5. Chicago

  • Affordability Rank: 119
  • Jobs Rank: 131
  • Activities Rank: 90
  • Quality of Life Rank: 146
  • Health Care Rank: 96


4. New York

  • Affordability Rank: 134
  • Jobs Rank: 141
  • Activities Rank: 130
  • Quality of Life Rank: 36
  • Health Care Rank: 143


3. Philadelphia

  • Affordability Rank: 123
  • Jobs Rank: 136
  • Activities Rank: 97
  • Quality of Life Rank: 84
  • Health Care Rank: 148


2. Newark, New Jersey

  • Affordability Rank: 112
  • Jobs Rank: 146
  • Activities Rank: 122
  • Quality of Life Rank: 142
  • Health Care Rank: 89


1. Providence, Rhode Island

  • Affordability Rank: 117
  • Jobs Rank: 139
  • Activities Rank: 116
  • Quality of Life Rank: 138
  • Health Care Rank: 117

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