The worst states for retirees, according to WalletHub’s annual ranking, were among the most expensive in the country, a factor that couldn’t be overcome by strong rankings for health care or quality of life.
For example, even though Hawaii ranked No. 1 for life expectancy, it also had the highest adjusted cost of living (and you could do worse than Hawaii, although according to WalletHub, not much worse).
(Click here to compare this year’s list to the worst states last year.)
Jim Mitchell, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Diversity and Inequality Research at East Carolina University, urged caution to retirees who are unhappy in their current home and considering a move. The most common mistake retirees make, he said in the report, is “failure to carefully weigh the pros and cons of staying in their present homes. For many, home equity is a significant asset, and the risks and benefit of relinquishing that asset should be considered carefully in light of replacement costs.”
He also warned against choosing a new home with a “vacation mentality,” and recommended that retirees pay attention to the “availability and accessibility of affordable assistance and transitional housing options.” With longer life expectancies, many retirees may well be planning for retirements that will last a couple of decades. They should anticipate what they’ll do when their “retirement home” no longer meets their needs.
For example, Mitchell said in the report, “Years ago, we interviewed retirees living in houses elevated to survive hurricane-driven storm surges. When asked how they would be able to access their homes in the event of injury or disability, they tended to dismiss that possibility, and only few carefully considered options.”
WalletHub compared the affordability, health care and quality of life in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C. A state’s affordability, which accounted for 40% of its overall ranking, was based on cost of living and general tax friendliness, as well as taxes on pensions and Social Security income in particular and the annual cost of home care services and adult day care.