30 US Towns People Should Never Retire In

By Shannon
30 US Towns People Should Never Retire In

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. In order to get some more insight into each of these towns, we did some digging with Neighborhood Scout to get some more information why these are considered some of the worst towns to retire. Check out the 30 worst US towns to retire in below.

The capital building of Little Rock, AR. Credit: Shutterstock

30. Little Rock, AR

Little Rock is the largest city in the state of 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 good for retirees who are trying to live frugally. It’s still cheap compared to some of the other wealthier areas of the country, but most of the newcomers to the city are young professionals.

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 opportunities for nightlife and networking, this isn’t a great 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.

The train station and bus depot in Santa Ana, CA. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

29. Santa Ana, CA

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 both 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.

Traffic is notoriously bad, so most residents choose to take the bus for work even if they own a car because the commute is so 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.

A bird’s eye view of Salem, Oregon. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

28. Salem, OR

Salem is the third-largest city in the state of Oregon with a population of 173,442 people. The population of Salem 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. 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’s a small downtown area and a few shopping centers to buy your basic 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 really 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. 

Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

27. Pearl City, HI 

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. But 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.

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 own car to get around. Even though you would be living in a Hawaiian paradise, Pearl City is actually more dangerous than 81% of the country.

Indianapolis, IN. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

26. Indianapolis, IN 

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 has become 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 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.

Fort Wayne, IN. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

25. Fort Wayne, IN

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 both white and blue-collar workers, with the average income being $25,066 per person.

Fort Wayne has a lot of things to do, like a zoo, science center, museums, a concert hall, and a baseball stadium. So while there is a lot of 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.

The Oxnard, CA welcome sign. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

24. Oxnard, CA

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 to be blue-collar, and there is a lower number of college-educated people compared to the rest of the country.

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.

Ontario, California. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

23. Ontario, CA 

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.

Even so, the average income is only $21,129 per year. Ontario is ethnically diverse, and 70% of people are Hispanic and Latino origin. This makes Spanish the main language of the city instead of English. It also has a higher crime rate than 84% of the country.

Oceanside, CA. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

22. Oceanside, CA

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. And the average income is $30,442 per person, which is relatively high compared to others.

Oceanside is very ethnically diverse, with people from all over the world. While English is the main 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.

The skyline of Detroit, MI. Credit: Visit Detroit

21. Detroit, MI

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; one that is more dangerous than 98% of US cities. Even so, the population is huge, with 672,662 people, making it the biggest community in the state of 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. 

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. For elderly people who are looking for a safe place to retire, Detroit is not the best choice.

The view of Mount Rainier from Tacoma Port. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

20. Tacoma, WA 

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.

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? The only problem with Tacoma is that it has a higher crime rate than 98% of the country.

Union Station in Worcester, Mass. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

19. Worcester, MA

Worcester is a city located in Massachusetts with a population of 185,877 people. Most of the houses in Worcester 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, there are thousands of young students in their teens and 20s living there looking to have a good time.

Many of the 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.

Vancouver, Washington. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

18. Vancouver, WA 

Vancouver, Washington is a city of 183,012 people. There are a lot of parks and historic landmarks, but beyond that, there are no huge 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 average income is $29,473 per person. Unfortunately, it’s more dangerous than 90% of cities in the United States.

Mary Vagle Nature Cente. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

17. Fontana, CA

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.

The most commonly spoken language is Spanish, and 68% of the population are Hispanic or Latino origin. It’s relatively safe compared to a lot of these cities that we have mentioned so far, but it’s still more dangerous than 68% of the nation. As far as entertainment goes, they have some beautiful parks, but not much entertainment to mention.

Jersey City, NJ. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

16. Jersey City, NJ

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 extremely 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.

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.

The City Hall of Chula Vista, CA. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

15. Chula Vista, CA 

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. But you don’t see a lot of older retirees moving there. The average income is $27,591 per person, and there is a lot ethnic and cultural diversity.

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 a good place to raise a family, but not necessarily good for retirement.

The statue and bridge in Wichita, KS. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

14. Wichita, KS

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 really popular 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.

There is a lot of ethnic diversity, as well as diversity with the type of work people are doing. Aside from the fact that it’s a city geared towards young people, it is incredibly dangerous, with it currently having more crime than 99% of the country.

The Yale University campus in New Haven, CT. Credit: Shutterstock

13. New Haven, CT

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 actually very good, and a lot of people use it. Surprisingly, though, the average income is just $24,688, per year, which is lower than the rest of the United States.

So there is a huge gap between the rich and the poor who live there. 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.

The welcome sign to Modesto, California. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

12. Modesto, CA

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.

With such a big gap of rich and poor, the average works itself out to $25,095 per year. Immigrants make up 18.02% of Modesto, California’s population. It is more dangerous than 94% of the United States.

The mission in Riverside, CA. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

11. Riverside, CA

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 known as being a college town with a lot of music, night clubs, and more.

This makes it a great place for people in their 20s, but not so much for retirees. There’s a lot of ethnic diversity and a high percentage of people who have immigrated there either for college or to start a new life. It is more dangerous than 91% of the country.

College Hill in Providence. RI. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

10. Providence, RI

Providence, Rhode Island, is the largest city in the state with a population of 179,335 people. Most of its architecture was built before World War II, making is a generally historic city. 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 is high, compared to most places in the United States.

Almost 30% of the city’s population are people who 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.

The Reservoir Hill neighborhood in Baltimore, MD. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

9. Baltimore, MD

Baltimore is a huge 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 not safe 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 Washington DC, where many people work.

Most people commute out of the city for at least 30 minutes. However, the public school system is notoriously bad in Baltimore. So, while you would assume that young people moving in my gentrify the city, a lot of people choose to leave once it’s time to raise a family.

The Central Park of Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

8. Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Rancho Cucamonga, California, has a population of 177,751 people. Just like every other place in California, it’s more expensive to live there than 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 incredibly beautiful 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.

An impressive 33.85% of adults are college-educated, which is higher than the national average. And 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.

Fresno, California. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

7. Fresno, CA

The city of Fresno, California has a population of 530,093 people. There is a good mix of blue and white-collar workers, and a lot of 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 a lot of highways to accommodate driving.

Nearly 50% of the population that live there year-round are Latino or Hispanic origin, and 20% of the population were born in other countries. Unfortunately, it has more crime than 92% of the country.

The Newark Museum of Art. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

6. Newark, NJ

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 they 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.

Even though there are so many colleges nearby, educated young people leave very quickly after graduation, leaving Newark with one of the lowes-educated populations in the state. The average income is just $18,357 per person, and rent is incredibly high. Crime rates are higher than 84% of the country.

Bakersfield, CA. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

5. Bakersfield, CA

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, which is why some people have decided to start a family there. Nearly 84% of people own and drive cars. Public transportation is not as common.

The per capita income is $25,044 per person, but there is still a mix of both rich and poor people living there. There is nearly a 50% population of people who are Latino or Hispanic, and nearly 19% were born outside of the US. Unfortunately, it has more crime than 95% of the United States.

San Bernadino, CA. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

4. San Bernardino, CA

San Bernardino is a large city with 215,941 people. They have a mixed workforce of both 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.

A total of 64.27% of the residents are people of Hispanic or Latino origin, and 23.57% of them 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 of moving to San Bernardino, California.

Warwick City Hall. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

3. Warwick, RI

Warwick, Rhode Island has a population of 80,847 people. As a coastal city, a lot of people enjoy the waterfront, and people from both blue and white-collar jobs can afford to live there. The average per-capita being $37,461, and they actually 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.

So, why does Warwick rank so high on the place that you should never retire? In 2019, the city had a huge pension crisis, with unfunded pension funds falling short of $860 million. Basically, if you live in Warwick, good luck getting a social security check, because the city can’t afford to give it to you.

The Bridgeport City Hall. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

2. Bridgeport, CT

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.

It has more crime than 81% of the United States. The city has also struggled to fund pension, retirement, and senior healthcare programs. This has been the main reason why many retirees decide to move out of Bridgeport when they begin to get older.

Stockton, CA. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

1. Stockton, CA

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 so famous, the average adult living in Stockton only makes $21,747 per year, and they have a 26% immigrant population.

Back in 2014, the city declared bankruptcy and struggled to help pay for retirement pensions. There is also a huge amount of people living below the poverty line. The cherry on top of all of the other bad news is that the crime rate is higher than 97% of the United States.

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