10 worst states for well-being in retirementArticle added by Marlene Y. Satter on December 29, 2016
Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter

Joined: April 29, 2015

Relocating for retirement requires evaluating many factors, including well-being. (Photo: Getty)

People preparing for retirement have a lot of things to consider—how much they’ve managed to save, whether they’ll have adequate health care, where they might want to live—and putting all the pieces together can be tricky.

The wrong choice in any of these, and more, can mean a miserable retirement, in which money is tight, health deteriorates and seniors feel isolated and alone.

But thanks to a Gallup and Healthways’2015 State Well-Being Rankings for Older Americans (in case you’re wondering, despite the fact that the report has 2015 in its title, it includes data from the first quarter of 2016 and is the most recent one issued on the topic), people considering relocating (or, for that matter, staying put) for retirement have some guidance on places where they might not do as well as they’d like.

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This particular set of rankings differs from numerous other sources’ methods of identifying “the best” or “the worst” place to live during retirement, insofar as some states that do very well on other “top 10” lists don’t fare so well based on the five elements of well-being that serve as criteria for the Gallup-Healthways study.

Conversely, some states that finish near the bottom on other lists have much better luck with this one.

But that’s due to the five elements of well-being used to arrive at the rankings in this study. The five are as follows:

1. purpose (liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals)

2. social (having supportive relationships and love in your life)

3. financial (managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security)

4. community “liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community)

5. physical health (having good health and enough energy to get things done daily)

If you’re looking for a place where you can fit in and feel as if you have a reason to be there, this list will help:

Conversely, you might want to avoid the states on the list that follows, lest you feel isolated, cut off or impoverished—or just plain don’t feel well.


Here’s a look at the 10 states that finished lowest on the well-being list.

10. New Jersey

If you were considering retiring to a nice little bungalow on the Jersey shore, you might as well fuggeddaboudit.

Although the Garden State came in sixth in the social well-being ranking, it finished poorly on almost everything else—16th in physical well-being, 33rd in financial well-being, 46th in purpose and a dismal 50th in community well-being.

9. Arkansas

While the Natural State did okay in community well-being, finishing in seventh place, and only a little worse in purpose at 13th place, it didn’t do so well in the other categories, finishing 36th in social well-being, 39th in financial well-being and 47th in physical well-being.

Not exactly high recommendations.

8. Missouri

Missouri did not make a good showing in any of the five categories.

The best it did was a 25 in financial well-being, which isn’t exactly anything to boast about. But the other categories were worse: 32nd place for purpose, 37th in community well-being and 42nd in both social and physical well-being. Probably better keep looking.

7. Georgia

Georgia actually did fairly well in the social well-being category, coming in in 12thplace.

But it was all downhill from there, with a ranking of 26th for purpose, 32nd for physical well-being, 42nd for community well-being and 49th for financial well-being—something you’d be wise to avoid.

6. Vermont

Vermont made a pretty poor showing, coming in at or below the middle of the pack in community well-being (ranking 25th) and physical well-being (27th).

But it did considerably worse than that with a 43rd-place ranking for financial well-being, 48th for social well-being and 49th for purpose.

5. Indiana

While financially Indiana isn’t a terrible choice, coming in with a 16th-place ranking for financial well-being, in all other respects you could do better.

Purpose came in at 31, while social well-being only achieved a 40, community well-being was 41 and physical well-being was a distant 45.

4. Ohio

Placing 29th for financial well-being means that retirees could have a tough time if they haven’t saved enough.

But even more detrimental are the state’s rankings for purpose (42), social and community well-being (both 43) and physical well-being, at 44.

3. Oklahoma

The best Oklahoma could do in this set of rankings was a 35th place for community well-being.

The state ranked 41st in purpose, 42nd in financial well-being, 46th in social well-being and 48th for physical—not an encouraging performance.

2. Kentucky

All Kentucky’s numbers were in the 40s, with community well-being the top scorer at 40 on the nose.

Financial well-being was just below it, at 41, followed by a 46 in social well-being, a 48 in purpose and a 49 in physical well-being.

1. West Virginia

While this state ranks high on other lists for retirees, it certainly fell down on the job in this evaluation.

Its best performance was a 46 for financial well-being, which isn’t exactly cause for rejoicing. But after that it’s another downward trend: 49 for community well-being, and 50—last place—for purpose, social well-being and physical well-being.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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