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The 10 Worst States for Retirement

Retirement Planning Bankrate.com

There are many factors to consider when you're deciding where to spend your golden years. A lot of it comes down to your idea of a good retirement: City or country? Sun or snow? Exploration or relaxation? But no matter the location, all retirees will have to consider practicalities such as how to live on a fixed income and make sure they are paying close attention to their health.

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With that in mind, Bankrate conducted its annual retirement survey, which ranks all 50 states using data about health care quality, tax rates, weather, cost of living and crime rate. We also included a wellness score from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which measures Americans' perceptions of their overall quality of life by asking about things such as their sense of purpose and social relationships.

States ended up on this list for a variety of reasons: a cost of living far above the national average, or very high tax rates. Others scored poorly for health care quality, which is essential for all Americans, especially seniors.

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That’s not to say these 10 states should be avoided, but retirees certainly may need to save a little (or a lot) more to ensure their financial security if they want to live there. With that in mind, here is our list of the top 10 worst states to retire.

No. 10: Oregon
Weaknesses: High cost of living, high tax rate

Oregon is one of the happier states in the country, and it's easy to see why. Residents of this Pacific Northwest state have the ocean, forest and craft beer at their fingertips. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which tracks community well-being around the country, gave Oregon an above-average rating for people who were retirement age.

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Unfortunately, Oregon can be tough on a lot of people who live on a fixed income. The state has the seventh-highest cost of living in the nation, according to retail statistics from the Council for Community and Economic Research. In Portland, for example, apartments charge more than double the national average rent at $2,196 per month, according to Council for Community and Economic Research's 2014 report. A trip to the doctor was 27.7 percent higher than average, and gasoline was 11.7 percent above the national average.

Oregon also has high taxes. The Tax Foundation estimates its state and local tax burden at 10.1 percent, which is above the national average of 9.8 percent. And, the state received poor scores for its weather. Sunny days are rare in Portland, for example.

No. 9: Connecticut
Weaknesses: Taxes, cost of living

The Constitution State offers retirees a lifestyle that is hard to beat: hundreds of miles of hiking trails, plenty of ski resorts, and a slew of breweries where residents can unwind afterward with a pint. With so much to do indoors and outdoors, it's not surprising that Connecticut ranked in the top 20 on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index.

Unfortunately, the state’s income tax rate and property tax rate are both 2nd highest in the country, according to the Tax Foundation.

Connecticut is also an expensive place to live. In Stamford, for instance, the average home costs $626,189, double the national average of $312,874. If you want to start your day with coffee, be prepared to pay 23% more than the U.S. average. Car trips will also cost more: A gallon of gas runs $2.47 – around 4% higher than average.

No. 8: Kentucky
Weaknesses: Personal well-being, poor health care quality

The Bluegrass State is often associated with a trifecta of unhealthy behaviors: bourbon, tobacco and gambling on horse racing. So it's not surprising that Kentucky would receive low marks for emotional and physical health.

Kentucky received the second-lowest score for well-being among seniors, with poor scores for lifestyle habits and disease. Kentucky's health care system also received poor marks from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The agency, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, noted that the state has a problem with potentially avoidable hospitalizations for acute and chronic conditions.

And if it's temperate weather you want, then look elsewhere. Tornado outbreaks are common here, and summers are hot and humid.

There is one benefit to living in Kentucky: It has one of the lowest costs of living in the country. So from a purely financial perspective, your retirement dollars will go much further.

No. 7: Hawaii
Weaknesses: Extremely high cost of living

 

Lying on the beach in paradise may seem like a great way to spend your retirement, and what better place to do that than Hawaii? The Aloha State is simply gorgeous, and Gallup-Healthways gave it the highest score in the country for personal well-being.

 

The problem with Hawaii is the same with any other major tourist haven: It's expensive.

Honolulu residents pay top dollar for just about everything. In Honolulu, ibuprofen costs around $14.63 -- a whopping 55 percent above the national average -- while the cost of the average apartment rental is $2,975 a month. Overall, Hawaii has the highest cost of living in the nation, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research.

Hawaii's individual income tax also ranks the second highest among all states.

No. 6: New Jersey
Weaknesses: High tax rate, high cost of living

Thanks to Tony Soprano, New Jersey is often associated with crime and the mafia, but the state actually received excellent marks for safety. The problem with the Garden State is its high cost of living and high taxes, which pushed New Jersey into our bottom 10.

Last year, home prices in Newark were 63 percent higher than the national average. Renters didn't have much luck, either. Apartments in the city averaged $1,527 a month -- 67 percent higher than the national average.

New Jersey also received low scores for happiness in terms of emotional health and work environment, as well as for taxes. New Jersey's property tax collections are the highest in the nation, and state and local income taxes rank ninth among the states.

No. 5: Louisiana
Weaknesses: Personal well-being, high crime rate

Louisiana may have Mardi Gras, jazz and an affordable cost of living, but high crime and poor health care make the Pelican State our fifth-worst place to retire.

In 2012, Louisiana recorded the highest murder rate in the country, according to the FBI. It also has the fifth-highest rate of property crimes.

Health care isn't any better. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality gave Louisiana the fifth-lowest score in the nation for health care quality. The agency says Louisiana had a "worse than average" record for a variety of issues, including potentially avoidable hospitalizations for chronic conditions.

Residents there also receive low marks for happiness, and the weather is off-putting. In the past 15 years, Louisiana has experienced dozens of tropical storms and hurricanes that have caused widespread damage and numerous deaths.

No. 4: Arkansas
Weaknesses: Crime, health care

Arkansas, last year’s worst place to retire, has improved 3 spots since then, boosted partly by a low cost of living that makes life easier for retirees who are on a fixed income.

Unfortunately, Arkansas still received below-average marks for crime, health care and overall well-being. Arkansas has the 9th highest violent crime rate in the nation and the 6th lowest score for health care quality from the federal government. The state struggles with hospital admissions for hypertension and diabetes, among other issues.

Arkansas also received the 7 th lowest happiness score in the nation among seniors, with especially low overall scores for physical and social health.

No. 3: Oregon
Weaknesses: Cost of living, tax rates

Oregon has something for city dwellers and nature lovers alike. Coffee shops and craft breweries abound, especially in quirky cities like Portland. And those who want to be outside can explore Mount Hood and the state's rugged coastline.

The trouble with Oregon is its high cost of living. In Portland, for example, apartment rent, at $2,211 per month, is more than double the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. A trip to the veterinarian is 13% above the average, and if you want to try an Oregon pinot noir, watch out: Wine prices in Portland are 45% higher than the rest of the country.

Oregon also has high taxes. The Tax Foundation says Oregon's top personal income tax rate of 9.9% is the 3rd highest in the country.

If it's sunshine you're after, keep in mind that the state -- known for cool, less-than-sunny days, especially in Portland -- received poor scores for its weather.

No. 2: West Virginia
Weaknesses: Personal well-being, health care

Known as "Wild and Wonderful," West Virginia offers retirees a low cost of living and plenty of outdoor activities in the Appalachian Mountains. But the state's poor scores for well-being and health care dragged it down 2 spots from last year.

For the 6th straight year, West Virginia received the worst scores in the country for personal well-being by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. It was ranked last in 4 out of 5 categories: sense of purpose, social relationships, community and physical health.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality gave West Virginia its 7th lowest rating in the country. The agency noted high rates of hospitalizations for conditions such as hypertension, asthma and diabetes, as well as potentially avoidable hospitalizations for acute conditions.

No. 1: New York
Weaknesses: Taxes, cost of living, personal well-being

The Empire State has it all. When the weather is good, retirees can spend their days exploring the Adirondack Mountains or the beaches of Fire Island. On rainy days, they can soak in plenty of culture, theater and museums in Manhattan, which has Broadway and hundreds of cultural institutions and historic sites.

The trouble with New York is that everything costs more. Way more. Manhattan, for example, has the highest cost of living than any other U.S. city, and neighboring Brooklyn has the 4th highest. The average apartment in Manhattan costs $3,984 -- 4 times the national average. Even in Brooklyn, it's two-and-a-half times above average. A round of bowling in the city costs $12.55 (nearly 3 times the national average), and even a standard haircut ($22.08) is twice as expensive.

Adding to retirees' financial burden are high tax rates. New York has the highest state and local tax burden of any in the nation, at 12.7%, far higher than the national average of 9.5%.

Retirees also gave New York some of the lowest well-being scores in the nation, especially on feeling a sense of satisfaction with their lives and where they live, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index showed.

This article originally appeared on Bankrate.com

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