For retirees planning to move after they stop working, it’s a mistake to choose a retirement destination based on where their children live or the average annual number of sunny days, said Teresa Ghilarducci in WalletHub’s latest ranking of the best and worst states for retirees.
“Children move and good weather alone does not make people feel happy or contented,” says Ghilarducci, an economics professor at the New School for Social Research who comments on labor and retirement issues.
WalletHub rated states based on 24 metrics in three key areas: affordability, quality of life and health care. Data was pulled from various sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and WalletHub’s own research.
Affordability was the primary determinant in judging a state’s friendliness to retirees, particularly cost of living. Taxes on pension and Social Security income, and WalletHub’s own Taxpayer ranking, as well as the annual cost of in-home services, were also considered.
While the attractiveness to retirees of any given state is based on many different factors, not all of them economic, Steven Applewhite, professor emeritus in the Graduate College of Social Work at University of Houston, noted that there are drawbacks to a large retiree population.
Unless they are wealthy or self-sustaining, retirees may not be a “resource nor necessarily a population to seek by a state,” he said. “Currently and for the next 18 years, older Americans will retire at a rate of 10,000 workers a day. Like a double-edged sword, many retirees who are financially secure and healthy today may enter old-old age as frail elders with chronic health problems and financial challenges, only to be assumed by state government services.”
However, Ghilarducci, director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School, noted that a large population of retirees gives states an opportunity to innovate.
In addition to bringing experience and spending power, she said, an older population’s “demand for services can lead to innovation in geriatric services, nursing home quality, and growth in health related professions.”