When you’re planning to retire, you might be wondering if you should move to a new location or stay where you are. In 2019,WalletHub did an in-depth study about the best and worst places to retire in the United States. These towns were ranked by affordability, activities, quality of life, and health care.
To get some more insight into each of these towns, we did some digging withNeighborhood Scout to get some more information why these are considered some of the worst towns to retire. Check out the 40 worst US towns to retire in below.
40. Atlanta, GA
Georgia has many beautiful spots for retirement, with some of its small coastal cities frequently ranked as top choices for your golden years. However, Atlanta is decidedly not one of those retirement friendly areas. Unless you are the world’s biggest Atlanta Braves fan, the city has a handful of drawbacks that will likely prove too significant to want to put down retirement roots there. The most drastic is the cost of living, with extremely high apartment prices that rival much larger and trendier cities and home values that may simply be out of reach for retirees on modest fixed incomes.
The city also has notoriously terrible traffic, sometimes rivaling Chicago or Los Angeles. In the form of buses and trains, the city’s public transportation simply hasn’t kept up with the city’s rapid growth as more and more young professionals flock to the thriving Delta hub. On the plus side, Atlanta’s weather is quite pleasant, and the city has ample parks for retirees to enjoy outdoor activities. However, Atlanta also does have a relatively high crime rate, which may keep some seniors discouraged from venturing out too much. If you want to retire to the peachy state of Georgia, there are far better and safer options than Atlanta.
When a city like Milwaukee thinks you’re not any good, you have a major problem. While Milwaukee struggles with poor public infrastructure and high crime rates, the residents tend to think Madison is the worst city in Wisconsin. The city has one of the deepest town and gown divides in the nations, with many conservative residents hating absolutely everything to do with the university. Ultimately, if you move there, you will be expected to pick a side in the city’s culture clash, which is a stressor no one wants to deal with in what is supposed to be their quiet retirement years.
The large public university does mean that Madison has excellent medical facilities. However, the flip side is that the large university faculty presence drives up housing costs thanks to their relatively high salaries. Rentals in Madison will be plagued with notoriously heavy-partying students, so retirees who can’t afford a home may be looking at many headaches. Wisconsin also suffers all of the upper Midwest’s climatic foibles with brutally cold, snowy winters and humid summers prone to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. While Wisconsin does have some beautiful scenery, the culture clash and relatively high cost of living in Madison make it a poor choice for your golden years.
Anyone who remembers The Drew Carey Show will remember its intro’s refrain of “Cleveland Rocks,” a 1970s rock song that pays tribute to the town serving as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame location. Unfortunately, Cleveland doesn’t rock for retirees apart from a meager cost of living and housing. Retirees can no doubt find rental properties and even lovely homes for quite affordable prices, but the benefits of the Rock and Roll City end there. Despite its size, Cleveland doesn’t have the highest-quality health care facilities, which is a major drawback for many retirees.
Cleveland also hasn’t updated its public transportation infrastructure in decades, so retirees who can’t or don’t want to drive will struggle to navigate the large city. While its skyline is picturesque, the city doesn’t offer many outdoor activities for seniors who wish to stay active. Ohio’s weather is also definitely far from ideal, with cold and often snowy winters thanks to the nearby Great Lakes and summers that can be hot and humid without the waterfront benefits that offset the humidity like along the Gulf Coast. Cleveland is a far better fit for young families and young professionals than the average retiree.
Memphis is often viewed as a Mecca for music lovers, with country, bluegrass, and blues all being legendary exports of the vibrant city. Retirees may picture calm, quiet days on a sunny front porch filled with evenings listening to music in classy clubs. However, the reality of living in Memphis is far less picturesque as the city is riddled with many municipal problems. Residents experience an extremely high level of crime, out of proportion to the size of the city. Many also report that the city’s health care services are incredibly inadequate, which should be a major flag to any retiree with healthcare issues.
On the plus side, Memphis does at least have a relatively low cost of living. However, low price comes with low public services availability including a significant lack of quality public transportation. Memphis largely relies on charities, with faith-based nonprofits being the primary source of assistance for low-income people in the city. Memphis does have a fairly high tornado risk, and spring and summer can be very muggy and stormy, so the weather isn’t exactly ideal for most retirees seeking tranquil days and nights. If music is your heart’s desire, Memphis may still be worth it but make sure you educate yourself on the major drawbacks.
Retirees longing for a bit of the charm of southern life without the Gulf Coast’s high risk of hurricanes may look to states like Kentucky and Tennessee for warm retirement options. Louisville, Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby, has a relatively low cost of living that may well appeal to many retirees. However, the amenities that come with that low cost of living are similarly low. Many elderly residents report that the health care is subpar or even inadequate in the city. As a deeply conservatively managed state, few programs or forms of assistance are available for lower-income retirees.
Kentucky’s climate isn’t ideal, with summers that can still get rather cold and see snow every year and summers that can be unbearably hot and stormy. Kentucky gets very humid, just like the Gulf, but without the benefit of cool ocean breezes or beaches to cool off. Louisville has a moderate crime rate, on par with similar-sized US cities. While Louisville’s low cost of living may initially look appealing, especially in terms of housing, the low-quality health care and lack of public infrastructure and assistance for the elderly and retirees make it a reasonably inhospitable place to retire.
While the glitz and glamor of New York City may be attractive to some retirees, the financial realities of trying to live in New York are far from glamorous. New York is widely considered the most expensive place to live in the United States, right alongside San Francisco but without the benefit of pleasant weather. Homeownership is out of the question for the vast majority of retirees. Even finding a decent apartment will likely eat up the majority of a retiree’s pension and social security. Unless you are an independently wealthy retiree, New York is merely going to burn through all of your money quickly, leaving you with a low quality of living.
One benefit of New York City is the wide availability of cabs for public transport, but they are also a reasonably high-cost means of travel. Cabs to routine doctor’s appointments and the pharmacy can add up quickly, including traveling for entertainment. Food and daily use items are comparably quite expensive in New York and make simply surviving there far more costly than other more hospital retirement cities. New York City’s weather isn’t pleasant, with cold, snowy winters and summers that can become scorching hot with the vast amount of black pavement around.
Like many college towns on this list, Ames, IA, has a large town and gown split. One of the oldest land grant universities in the United States, Iowa State University, is a major employer and doubles the size of the town’s population. This population increase means the city is full of student renters, which dramatically drives up rent costs. The median price of homeownership in Ames is also surprisingly high for its size and Midwestern location, thanks to university staff’s relatively high wages. There is also very little senior housing available due to a relatively small elderly population.
Ames does not have extensive medical facilities, nor does it have many retirement communities. The town is simply far more focused on young families and university students. While it has a high-quality library, public transportation is limited to infrequently-running buses packed with students. Retirees who can only rent will almost inevitably find themselves with student neighbors, and Iowa State has a reputation as a party school with many students being quite loud to the point of nuisance. While Iowa may be warmer than Minnesota or North Dakota, Ames still sees quite harsh winters, and summers can be unbearably hot and humid.
Most retirees probably wouldn’t even consider North Dakota for retirement if it weren’t for the fact that North Dakota has a rapidly aging population. In particular, Fargo has many quality hospitals and countless nursing homes due to the large population of elderly in the city. Those looking for easy access to high-quality medical care would find some benefit in the town. However, a large gap between the rich and poor and housing costs continues to climb rapidly. More and more large businesses move into the city, hiring expensive college-educated white-collar workers, often in STEM fields.
It should go without saying, but the climate in North Dakota is absolutely brutal. While Fargo has some friendly parks and the Red River provides beautiful scenery, the city is incredibly prone to flooding in the spring and has seen winters with as much as 100” of snow. The flat plains allow for incredible windiness, and winter wind chills can get to -50 or even lower, making it quite literally deadly to go outside. Retirees in North Dakota are often housebound for months during the winter, and slip and fall injuries are prevalent. The climate simply is not meant for retirees.
Chicago has long been a synonym for a corrupt and poorly-run city, which isn’t without reason. It has had a long history of corrupt politicians, and the city isn’t well run, which could leave retirees who need social services and assistance in quite the lurch. The city also has massive disparities in income equality, with the poorest living in near-homeless conditions while the Magnificent Mile thrives with exclusive wealthy boutiques like Louis Vuitton. Retirees on modest incomes will have great difficulty finding housing in Chicago, even for rent, thanks to sky-high prices not only in the city itself but surrounding suburbs.
Chicago is notorious for terrible traffic, almost on par with Los Angeles, and a lack of public transportation infrastructure and incredibly high housing costs are both to blame. Many Chicago workers have to endure long commutes out to more affordable suburbs. While Chicago has some top-flight health care, it is most accessible to the wealthy residents in the city’s center. Chicago also endures frigid winters and can receive incredibly heavy lake effect snow from the nearby Great Lakes. The combination of inequality, lack of critical infrastructure like public transportation, and the often icy climate weather make Chicago far from ideal for most retirees.
Many people are drawn to Duluth by the quaint small size of the city and the allure of the great Lake Superior. While the area is gorgeous in summer, it retains that beauty and warmth for only a few short months of the year. Winters in northern Minnesota are absolutely brutal, with some of the coldest temperatures recorded on earth outside Antarctica and wind chills that are downright deadly. Retirees will likely find themselves housebound for several months out of the year, and summers can be surprisingly hot, humid, and buggy, making the entire year full of its own climatic challenges.
The cost of living in Duluth is relatively low, with houses and rentals before affordable for most retirees, but that low cost comes with similarly low amenities. Duluth does not have much public transit to speak of, so retirees who can’t or don’t wish to drive will struggle to get around. Duluth also has average quality health care, with patients often transported a few hours away to Minneapolis when more complicated care is required. Between the lack of high-quality health care and the challenging weather, the beauty of Lake Superior isn’t worth putting down retirement roots in northern Minnesota.
Little Rock is the largest city in Arkansas, with a population of 197,881 people living in 51 separate neighborhoods. It has some of the most expensive real estate in the entire state, which isn’t suitable for retirees trying to live frugally. It’s still cheap compared to some of the other wealthier areas of the country, but most newcomers to the city are young professionals thanks to the relatively high cost of living. While Little Rock has a pleasant climate, there are other retirement-friendly cities with even warmer temperatures with lower costs of living and more senior-oriented communities.
The vast majority of people who work in the city are white-collar office workers who specialize in computers and mathematics. Considering that the city is mostly catering to young professionals with nightlife and networking opportunities, this isn’t an excellent place for an older couple to relax. Unfortunately, it also has one of the highest crime rates in the country. It is more dangerous than 99% of cities in the country. Little Rock simply doesn’t have a lot to offer retirees with a largely youth-oriented urban culture and a high crime rate that could leave many retirees reluctant to venture out of their homes.
California is the most densely populated state. Santa Ana has a population of 332,725 people. Real estate in California is notoriously expensive no matter where you go, so it won’t be surprising that prices are also high in Santa Ana, even though it’s more affordable than sky-high towns like Los Angeles. The workforce is an even mix of blue and white-collar occupations, and the per capita income is just $18,121 per person. Education levels are also lower than most of the country. While the weather is nice, the sunshine tax is in full effect, with California being far more expensive than other warm areas like Mississippi.
Traffic is notoriously bad, so most residents choose to take the bus for work even if they own a car because the commute is stressful. The population of Santa Ana is 77% Hispanic or Latino, and 45% of residents were not born in the United States. Not surprisingly, the majority of people speak Spanish in the town. Unfortunately, crime rates are also very high. For retirees who speak Spanish, the language barrier won’t be a deterrent, but those who only speak English may have trouble communicating with residents. Due to the relatively low income of the area, few social supports are in place for seniors.
Salem is the third-largest city in the state of Oregon, with a population of 173,442 people. Salem’s population has an even mix of blue and white-collar workers, and there’s also a lot of ethnic diversity. Compared to the rest of the US, the number of college-educated adults is high, at 27%. The per capita income per person was $24,755, which is low but enough to keep someone above the poverty line. Oregon has a pleasant climate for those who don’t mind the rain, with mild temperatures year-round. So what makes Salem, Oregon, such a terrible place to retire?
On Quora, residents describe it as a sleepy town without much to do. There is a small downtown area with a few shopping centers to buy your essentials. Besides that, you’ll have to drive an hour away to Portland if you want any form of entertainment. On top of that, it has more crime than 94% of the United States. We’re not sure why this small city in Oregon has such a terrible crime rate, but it’s probably a good idea to stay away if you’re a retiree. Oregon also has a terrible history of white supremacy, with Oregon being the last state to bar Black residents.
Pearl City, Hawaii, is famous for being the home of Pearl Harbor. The military is one of the biggest sources of income in the community. Nevertheless, Pearl City is still considered to be one of the worst places to retire. Pearl City is the second-largest city in the state of Hawaii, with a total population of 49,325. The cost of buying a home in Hawaii is incredibly high no matter where you go. There simply isn’t enough housing available on the small islands, which drives prices through the roof, making it unattainable for many retirees, especially those outside the military.
For most people who live in Pearl City, commuting to work takes at least 30 minutes. While there is public transportation, most people will need their car to get around. Even though you would be living in a Hawaiian paradise, Pearl City is more dangerous than 81% of the country. While the weather is nice, there are comparably warm climates in Florida in southern Louisiana that don’t suffer from nearly the sunshine tax of Hawaii and California. While Hawaii is beautiful, the financial setbacks don’t make the island paradise worth retiring for the average senior retirees.
Famous for the Indy 500, Indianapolis is the biggest city in the state of Indiana. They have a population of 867,125 people with 205 neighborhoods. There is a healthy mix of both blue and white-collar workers. In 2019, it became a new place for young, single professionals in their 20s and 30s with college degrees. It’s not exactly a good place for older people to settle down for retirement and make friends. The city’s center is mostly entertainment-based for younger professionals with many bars, night clubs, and upscale restaurants that may not be of much interest for a retiree.
The city is also extremely car-oriented. A total of 85% of citizens own a car, and most people drive everywhere on major highways. Since they are famous for car racing, people love to go fast, which is terrible for grandmas who like to drive like, well…grandmas. The cherry on top is that it is more dangerous than 97% of the country. Indiana can also have brutal winters with lake effect snows, which is precisely the sort of climate most retirees are looking to escape from. While Indiana is warmer than some Midwest parts, it can still get extraordinarily snowy and cold.
The second-largest city in Indiana behind Indianapolis is Fort Wayne. They have a population of 267,633 people, with 81 neighborhoods. There is a mix of white and blue-collar workers, with the average income being $25,066 per person. Housing is relatively affordable in Fort Wayne, and, as a large city, there are ample rental properties available for retirees who don’t want homeownership responsibilities. However, as an average Midwestern city, it isn’t exactly geared towards retirees like many southern communities along the Gulf Coast. Retirees will largely be on their own with a conservative state government with minimal social programs available for assistance.
Fort Wayne has many things to do, like a zoo, science center, museums, a concert hall, and a baseball stadium. So while there are many entertainment options, it may not be as quiet and laid-back as some retirees may want. It is also more dangerous than 85% of the country. As with other cities in Indiana, the weather is also a major concern for many retirees as it will be far from the snowless warm paradise that many retirees seek. Indiana can get quite cold in the winter and subject to heavy lake effect snows that could keep a retiree shoveling for weeks.
Oxnard is a coastal city in California with a population of 209,877 people. This town has some of the most expensive real estate in California. The majority of people who live there are considered blue-collar. There is a lower number of college-educated people than the rest of the country. More and more of California’s real estate is becoming utterly out of reach for ordinary people, with even rentals taking up an ever-increasing percentage of a budget. Retirees relying on social security and a modest 401(k) could struggle with a good quality of life retiring in California.
The per capita income is $22,269 per person, and the main language spoken in the city is Spanish. It is more dangerous than 83% of the country. Spanish-speaking retirees may enjoy the heavy Spanish use in the area, but retirees who only speak English may be intimidated and have trouble communicating in some circumstances. The weather is nice, but California’s sunshine tax makes real estate and even rentals far more expensive than in comparable warm, sunny areas in Florida or along the Gulf Coast. California’s increasing wildfire problem could also be a breathing hazard for retirees with lung problems.
Ontario is the 29th largest city in California, with a population of 181,107 people. Housing prices are very high, but this is par for the course in the state of California. They have a mix of white and blue-collar workers, but most people have to commute over 30 minutes to get to work. Like most of California, urban sprawl and traffic are significant problems. Retirees interested in walking or biking around won’t be well served by California. Medical care can also be a long way away, both in terms of miles and time with traffic, so retirees who may need emergency care could also be underserved.
Even so, the average income is only $21,129 per year. Ontario is ethnically diverse, and 70% of people are of Hispanic and Latino origin. That makes Spanish the primary language of the city instead of English. It also has a higher crime rate than 84% of the country. As with other parts of California, wildfires are increasingly common. The residual smoke can be a serious concern for retirees with any lung issues like asthma or COPD. Earthquakes can also be a concern in many parts of California. The weather is generally enjoyable, but comparable climates can be found elsewhere at lower prices.
As the name suggests, Oceanside is a coastal city in California with a population of 176,080 people. Like all places in California, real estate prices are high. There is a mix of blue and white-collar workers, but 30% of the population have at least a bachelor’s degree. Moreover, the average income is $30,442 per person, which is relatively high compared to others. The higher relative income of the area leads to even higher home prices, so many retirees on social security and with only modest retirement savings will likely be priced out of the area soon if they aren’t already. The cost of living is also comparably high.
Oceanside is very ethnically diverse, with people from all over the world. While English is the primary language, there are also a lot of Spanish-speaking people. The town has become more popular for young professionals and is more dangerous than 80% of America. While coastal California is beautiful, the ocean views and moderate temperatures alone simply aren’t enough to offset the outrageously high living cost. That is especially true for housing, given how many warm areas are more directly oriented to retiree living and have much lower prices. There’s a reason many retirees flock to the Gulf Coast and Florida instead of California, and it boils down to cost.
Nearly everyone knows that Detroit used to be the home of American car manufacturing. What was once a booming city is now a hotbed of crime, more dangerous than 98% of US cities. Even so, the population is enormous, with 672,662 people, making it the biggest community in Michigan. Young professionals have been trying to move in to gentrify the city, so there is a good blend of blue and white-collar workers. Detroit’s gentrified parts are rapidly becoming too expensive for Detroit natives and many retirees, with house prices increasing steadily.
The average income is close to the poverty line, with it being just $16,433 per person. Almost 40% of people live below the poverty line. Detroit is not the best choice for older adults looking for a safe place to retire. Detroit is also a quite honestly terrible choice in terms of climate. With hot, muggy summers and frigid winters often subject to massive lake effect snowfalls, Detroit is far from the warm, gentle paradise most retirees are looking for. Retirees who enjoy snowmobiling and ice fishing may be content in Michigan, but snowbirds beware: Michigan winters can be downright freezing.
Tacoma is the biggest coastal city in Washington State, with a population of 216,279 people. There is a blend of white and blue-collar workers who are young and upwardly mobile. Young people in their 20s and 30s like to move there to date and spend time making new friends. Much of Tacoma’s entertainment is geared towards young professionals and young families, with many hotspots focused on dating and nightlife. While there are elderly residents in Tacoma, they are a relatively small minority, and the city isn’t especially oriented towards a large retirement population’s unique needs.
There are plenty of museums, parks, and a zoo for young families to entertain kids. With the waterfront, there is also a lot to do along the coast. So far, so good, right? Tacoma’s only problem is that it has a higher crime rate than 98% of the country. Any retirees with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or depression may also want to skip Tacoma thanks to the numerous days per year without any sunlight. Washington has an extremely rainy climate, so seniors with mood disorders may find them amplified by the gloomy environment.
Worcester is a city located in Massachusetts with a population of 185,877 people. Most of the Worcester houses were built before World War II, so it’s an older and more historic city. There is a blend of white and blue-collar workers. Since Worcester is a college town, thousands of young students in their teens and 20s live there, looking to have a good time. Retirees who need to rent may find themselves in a neighborhood surrounded by loud, partying college students far from the calm and quiet golden years most retirees are looking for.
Many recent graduates also decide to stay in the area for their first jobs, making it a popular place for people to live in their 20s. Unfortunately, there is 85% more crime compared to the rest of the country. The city’s youth-oriented nature leaves much to be desired for retirees with little entertainment and few social services oriented towards an aging population. Massachusetts can also have freezing, snowy winters with Nor’easter storms as a possibility. Combining all of these factors makes Worcester far from an ideal place for a quiet, happy retirement.
Vancouver, Washington, is a city of 183,012 people. There are many parks and historic landmarks, but beyond that, there are no substantial tourist attractions or options of places to go with your grandkids who come to visit. There is a blend of blue and white-collar workers, and most people are relatively educated compared to the rest of the country. The parks and landmarks are great, but for elderly retirees with mobility or chronic health issues, there aren’t many accessible entertainment options making the city friendlier for younger retirees than older. The city is oriented towards a younger population.
The average income is $29,473 per person. Unfortunately, it’s more dangerous than 90% of cities in the United States. As with the rest of Washington state, retirees with the seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or depression may also want to avoid retiring in Vancouver thanks to the numerous days per year without any sunlight. Washington has an extremely rainy climate, so seniors with mood disorders may find them worsened by the oppressively grey environment. The amount of rain can also create many slick surfaces so that outdoor activities can be more dangerous for retirees with mobility issues.
The city of Fontana, California, has a population of 213,739 people. Real estate is expensive, but this is to be expected in the state of California. There is a healthy mix of blue and white-collar work, but most people commute over 30 minutes to their job. The average income is $21,462, which is low compared to the rest of California. However, even with the relatively low average income, most retirees will likely only afford rental properties. Even those may eat up a disproportionate amount of your retirement income, leaving little for entertainment, health care, and other amenities.
The most commonly spoken language is Spanish, and 68% of the population are Hispanic or Latino. It’s relatively safe compared to many of these cities mentioned so far, but it’s still more dangerous than 68% of the nation. As far as recreation goes, they have some beautiful parks, but not much entertainment to mention. Adventurous, outdoorsy retirees may appreciate Fontana, but those with mobility issues or who just plain don’t enjoy the outdoors will find a real dearth of elderly-oriented entertainment. Wildfires are also a serious concern for retirees with any sort of lung ailment.
Located just outside of New York City, Jersey City has a population of 265,549 people. Most people live in apartments or townhomes, and most houses are older and historic. The cost of housing is too high, and so are property taxes. There is a blend of blue and white-collar workers, but most people commute into New York City, and it is an average of 37 minutes to get to work. The traffic, pollution, and commotion will likely be an unpleasant mix for retirees from quieter rural areas, as Jersey City is incredibly densely populated, as is neighboring New York City.
Most people who choose to move to Jersey City are young professionals who are willing to deal with public transportation and the awful traffic. It’s more dangerous than 76% of America. While the draw of the Big Apple is a strong appeal, New Jersey has relatively unpleasant winters with the possibility of heavy snows from Nor’easters. Rural and Midwestern retirees may be in for quite a culture shock if retiring to the populated areas of the Northeast where they will be far less doted on than they may be used to. There aren’t any early morning tractor chats in New Jersey!
Chula Vista has a population of 271,651 people, making it the 14th largest city in California. Housing prices are very high, but so is the rest of California. It has become a popular city for young professionals to move to since most newcomers are in their 20s and 30s. However, you don’t see a lot of older retirees moving there. The average income is $27,591 per person, and there is a lot of ethnic and cultural diversity. While it’s a friendly city, the youth-oriented focus of the city’s development doesn’t leave many accommodations for a retirement community.
It’s more dangerous than 63% of the United States. There is a water park, beaches, and a discovery center. Basically, this seems like it’s an excellent place to raise a family but not necessarily suitable for retirement. While grandkids would likely have a blast visiting Chula Vista thanks to the copious outdoor amenities, the retirees themselves wouldn’t have many entertainment options, especially for those with mobility issues or chronic health problems. As with the rest of California, the incredibly high cost of the sunshine tax there is the increasing wildfire risk. That could endanger seniors with breathing issues.
Wichita has a population of 389,255 people, making it the largest city in Kansas. There are a few museums, botanical gardens, and a zoo. It has become trendy for young people who are just beginning their careers. A whopping 87% of the city’s population drives everywhere, and the public transportation system is not very reliable. Kansas’ weather leaves a lot to be desired for retirees as well. While the winters tend to be relatively mild, Kansas resides in the very heart of tornado alley and has long, hot and humid summers with frequent severe thunderstorms and often tornadoes.
There is a lot of ethnic diversity and diversity with the type of work people are doing. Aside from the fact that it’s a city geared towards young people, it is hazardous, with it currently having more crime than 99% of the country. Kansas has a relatively low cost of living, even among Midwestern standards. However, the crime rate, youth-oriented nature of the city’s development, and the unpleasant and sometimes dangerous summer weather combine to make this far from an ideal retirement location for most seniors. While Dorothy eventually wanted to get home, remember how much she wanted to leave Kansas too.
Famous as the home of the Ivy League Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, is a large city with plenty of young people living there. Even though it’s a city steeped in history and higher education, there is still a big mix of blue and white-collar work. Lucky for them, the bus network around New Haven is outstanding, and many people use it. Surprisingly, though, the average income is just $24,688 per year, lower than the rest of the United States. However, home and rental prices are incredibly high, and renters may find themselves next door to partying college students, which is still a problem even in the Ivy Leagues.
There is a considerable gap between the rich and the poor living in New Haven, with Yale faculty enjoying massive incomes while service workers make next to nothing. There is also a large population of immigrants from around the world. Fans of Gilmore Girls might imagine New Haven, Connecticut, as being a beautiful, quaint place. But it has a surprisingly high level of crime, being more dangerous than 96% of America. Connecticut also has fairly unpleasant weather, by most retirees’ standards, with long, cold, and dark winters that can see heavy snowfall from Nor’easters. The summers are milder, but those who enjoy warm outdoor activities will find it lacking.
The city of Modesto, California, has a population of 215,030 people. The city is extremely diverse in ethnicity, professions, and education levels. There are parks, museums, play places for kids, and plenty of shopping. It’s a great city for young families, especially, but retirees aren’t especially considered in the city’s planning and services, which could leave some retirees out in the cold. If entertaining grandchildren is high on your list, Modesto could be a good fit. However, you’ll have to struggle with the incredibly high housing cost that plagues all of California, Southern coastal California in particular.
Modest has a huge gap between its rich and poor residents, with the average worker only making about $25,095 per year. Immigrants make up 18.02% of Modesto, California’s population. It is more dangerous than 94% of the United States. If you’re noticing a trend of California being repeatedly on this list, it’s for a good reason. The high cost of living alone makes California unfriendly to retirees. If you add in the concerns of crime, you need to know a second language is Spanish. Also, with the risk of wildfires and related breathing problems, California simply isn’t the sunshine paradise it seems.
Riverside, California, has a population of 330,063 people. The cost of housing is very high compared to the rest of the United States, and yet the income per person is only an average of $23,865 per year. The vast majority of people are college students. Riverside is a college town with a lot of music, night clubs, upscale restaurants, bars, and more. While the nightlife is ideal for party-going young people, the hustle and bustle of the young city will likely be a major drawback for retirees seeking a quiet place to relax.
The energetic young population makes it an excellent place for people in their 20s, but not so much for retirees. There’s a lot of ethnic diversity. A high percentage of people have immigrated there for college or to start a new life. It is more dangerous than 91% of the country. Retirees living on modest incomes would have to rent instead of buying in Riverside, bequeathing them living next to loud, partying college students far from the retirement anyone wants. The college focus of the town also leaves few amenities targeted towards elderly residents.
Providence, Rhode Island, is the largest city in Rhode Island, with 179,335 people. Most of its architecture was built before World War II, making it a generally historic city like New England. The workforce is a good mix of blue and white-collar jobs, but it is a college town. So there are plenty of people with degrees and professionals looking to find their first jobs. Public transportation is available, and many people who use the bus to commute to work or school are high compared to most United States.
Almost 30% of the city’s population have immigrated there from outside of the US. Aside from English, many people speak French and Spanish. Unfortunately, it also has more crime than 90% of the country. Rhode Island’s climate likely isn’t going to be a real benefit for many retirees as it has relatively cool, mild summers and long, wet winters. While the ocean keeps it from getting as cold as, say, Minnesota, it has a damp chill that lasts the entire winter, and snow can pile up from the occasional Nor’easter. Retirees dreaming of hot summers will miss out.
Baltimore is a vast coastal city with 602,495 people. Most of the buildings are historic architecture because it was once a bustling metropolis popular among the wealthy. Today, there is a tremendous amount of crime with a rate higher than 98% of the country. Baltimore has a high population of homeless people, and it’s unsafe to go out at night. In recent years, young professionals in their 20’s are moving into Baltimore because it is cheaper to live there than in Washington DC, where many people work. The city is becoming gentrified by these workers, which presents its own ethical issues.
Most people commute out of the city for at least 30 minutes every day. However, the public school system is notoriously bad in Baltimore. So, while you would assume that young people moving in may gentrify the city, many people choose to leave once it’s time to raise a family. The high rate of homelessness and drug addiction in Baltimore means much of the city’s public resources are spent tackling those problems, leaving few social services specifically for the elderly and retirees. Baltimore’s climate also leaves much to be desired for retirees with average summers and long, cold winters that can see heavy snowfall.
Rancho Cucamonga, California, has a population of 177,751 people. Like every other place in California, it’s more expensive to live there than in most states. The workforce is a blend of white and blue-collar workers, and they have a large population of young people in their 20’s and 30’s. This area is lovely with lots of nature reserves and parks. Unfortunately, there are not many job opportunities in Rancho Cucamonga, so most residents commute over 30 minutes away to work. Unless you are a healthy retiree looking to spend a lot of time outdoors, Rancho Cucamonga may not be for you.
An impressive 33.85% of adults are college-educated, which is higher than the national average. Furthermore, the average income is $33,039, which makes them in the upper-middle range of income for most cities. It is also more dangerous than 77% of the United States. Unfortunately, the high level of wealth and education makes Rancho Cucamonga even more expensive than many other towns in the notoriously expensive state, which will price most retirees out of owning and possibly even out of renting. As in the other cities oriented towards a young, growing workforce, Rancho Cucamonga has few amenities or social services programs targeted to a retiree or elderly population, making it less friendly for retirees.
The city of Fresno, California, has a population of 530,093 people. There is a good mix of blue and white-collar workers, and many young people move to the city because it’s the home of several colleges and universities. Over 80% of people own a car, and they have many highways to accommodate driving. However, the flip side of that high rate of car ownership is that many people have incredibly long commutes to work or school, and the traffic in the area can be downright nightmarish. The city is also mostly oriented and developed towards young people and young families, leaving retirees adrift.
Nearly 50% of the population that live there year-round are of Latino or Hispanic origin, and 20% of the population were born in other countries. Unfortunately, it has more crime than 92% of the country. Fresno is a beautiful and diverse city and worth a visit. However, retirees may feel left out in a strongly oriented city towards youth, especially towards college students. The entertainment and programming in the city primarily cater to younger people, and there are few social services or assistance programs available for elderly residents. Housing prices are also a major issue.
The largest city in New Jersey is Newark, with a population of 282,090 people. It’s best known for being the location of the airport, as well as a sports stadium. The majority of people who live in Newark either commute to New York City for work or go to one of the many colleges nearby like Rutgers, NJIT, or Seton Hall. Public transportation is widely available, but loads of people still tend to drive. Traffic can be a nightmare, and the quality of the roads are abysmal. The city is far more oriented towards a young workforce than retirees.
Even though many colleges are nearby, educated young people leave very quickly after graduation, leaving Newark with one of the state’s lowest-educated populations. The average income is just $18,357 per person, and rent is incredibly high. Crime rates are higher than 84% of the country. While it isn’t as bad as it was in the 1990s, Newark has long been shorthand for a city with a high crime rate and an unsafe place to live. Even if that doesn’t deter retirees, New Jersey’s climate is nothing special, with relatively cold, wet winters and mild summers.
Bakersfield, California, is a large city of 383,579 people. They have a mix of blue and white-collar workers, and it has become a popular place for college-educated young professionals to go. There are several museums and parks, so some people have decided to start a family there. Nearly 84% of people own and drive cars. Public transportation is not as common. As with most California, traffic is a massive problem, as is the associated pollution from exhaust. Retirees who cannot drive or don’t enjoy driving would not be served well by much of anywhere in southern California.
The per capita income is $25,044 per person, but there is still a mix of rich and poor people living there. There is nearly a 50% population of Latino or Hispanic people, and almost 19% were born outside of the US. Unfortunately, it has more crime than 95% of the United States. The weather in Bakersfield is delightful, which is expected in California. However, it carries the typical California issues of extremely high costs of living and housing and the ever-growing threat of extreme wildfires, which are especially dangerous for those with lung problems, including the elderly.
San Bernardino is a large city with 215,941 people. They have a mixed workforce of blue-collar and white-collar jobs, but fewer than 12% of adults have a college education. The average income is $15,669, which puts most people near or on the poverty line. While the low education and income levels mean the city has lower housing costs than most, it is still California, and most retirees of modest means will find themselves being forced to rent as homes are simply out of reach. The more modest nature of the city also means that you will have to travel further for top-notch medical care.
A total of 64.27% of the residents are of Hispanic or Latino origin. Furthermore, 23.57% were born outside of the United States. Crime is higher than 98% of the United States, which means most retirees will probably want to steer clear moving to San Bernardino, California. Spanish-speaking retirees won’t have any problem fitting in, but those who only speak English may have trouble communicating and making friends. As with the rest of southern California, retirees who can’t or don’t wish to drive will have few options as public transportation is poor and urban sprawl is immense.
Warwick, Rhode Island, has a population of 80,847 people. As a coastal city, many people enjoy the waterfront, and people from both blue and white-collar jobs can afford to live there. The average per-capita income is $37,461, and they have a higher level of college-educated adults, at 32% of the total population. There’s an aquarium, parks, entertainment centers for kids, and plenty of places that are great for raising a family. Its crime rate is higher than 67% of the country, which is high but not terrible. However, the focus on young growing families tends to leave seniors without much entertainment or assistance.
So, why does Warwick rank so high on the place that you should never retire? In 2019, the city had a massive pension crisis, with unfunded pension funds falling short of $860 million. If you live in Warwick, good luck getting a social security check because the city can’t afford to give it to you. Given the city’s relatively small size, public transportation isn’t very strong for those retirees who can’t or don’t wish to drive. Rhode Island’s climate also leaves a lot to be desired, with winters that can see heavy snowfall and damp cold and summers that aren’t anything to write home about.
Bridgeport, Connecticut, has a population of 144,900 people living in their famously historic architecture. The city is on the water, and there are plenty of people who use public transportation. There is a mix of blue and white-collar work, and the average income is just $22,806 per person. The city is very ethnically diverse, and nearly 30% of its residents were not born in the United States. However, as a waterfront city, housing costs are relatively high, and some retirees may find themselves forced to rent instead of buying themselves a lovely home or luxe condo.
It has more crime than 81% of the United States. The city has also struggled to fund pension, retirement, and senior healthcare programs. That has been the main reason many retirees decide to move out of Bridgeport when they begin to get older. If you are a chronically ill or disabled retiree, Bridgeport may not be able to fund the type of assistance you need to live your richest, healthiest retirement life. Connecticut’s climate is also far from ideal for most retirees, with long and relatively cold, damp winters and summers that rarely get that pleasantly hot.
The absolute worst place to retire in the United States is Stockton, California. It’s a large city with 311,178 people. You may already associate the city with the name of its college, Stockton University. As you can imagine, a lot of young people move there to earn their degree. Even though the university is famous, the average adult living in Stockton only makes $21,747 per year, and they have a 26% immigrant population. The city itself largely focuses its aid and programming towards the young people who live there to attend college, leaving little room for entertainment and assistance targeted towards retirees.
Back in 2014, the city declared bankruptcy and struggled to help pay for retirement pensions. There is also a vast number of people living below the poverty line. The cherry on top of the other bad news is that the crime rate is higher than 97% of the United States. While Stockton is a great, sunshine-filled coastal city for intrepid college students, it merely doesn’t have the stability or amenities many retirees require. As with most Southern California, it also lacks good public transit, and the urban sprawl means commutes tend to be incredibly long.