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Study Reveals the #1 Worst State for Retiree Life

When it comes to retiring, where to spend your retirement years is as important a decision as when to leave the office.

A WalletHub study shows that, unfortunately, retirees in one state have it harder than senior citizens in other states. So, before moving state borders during your golden years, you may want to scratch this state off your list of considerations.

The Data 

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According to a study published by WalletHub, Kentucky ranked as the worst state to retire based on three main metrics: affordability, quality of life, and health care. Although there’s plenty to love about Kentucky’s beautiful horse farms and southern cuisine, a low average retirement-worthy score across all three rankings kept the Bluegrass State below the rest of the US.

Bottom of the Barrel

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Kentucky scored 38.8 out of a possible 100 in WalletHub’s study of the best states to retire. More than 47 key indicators were used to determine this score with varied weights based on how likely each factor is to impact a retiree’s daily life. 

The Price Is Right

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Based on WalletHub’s data, Kentucky has one of the lowest costs of living in the nation. However, other factors like retired tax-payer friendliness, the annual cost of in-home services, and the share of the population aged 65 or older who could not afford a doctor’s visit negatively impacted the state’s overall score for retirement friendliness. 

Nickel and Dime

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According to RentCafe’s cost of living calculator, Kentucky’s average annual cost of living is just over $40,000, 8% less than the national average. Housing is significantly cheaper than the rest of the US, though utilities and transportation cost a bit more. 

Unhealthy Habits

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Kentucky ranked among the worst in the nation for healthcare, according to WalletHub’s metrics. Factors like the number of healthcare providers per capita, the quality of public hospitals, and the share of the population aged 65 or older with poor mental health landed Kentucky at the bottom of the rankings. 

Kentucky’s Healthcare Crisis 

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Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky’s healthcare workforce has struggled to meet the state’s demand. The situation became so dire that in December 2021, the governor issued a state of emergency, citing a 12 to 20% deficit in statewide nursing staff. 

Hospital Help 

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As of 2022, the Kentucky Hospital Association estimated that 38% of the state’s hospitals were in danger of closure due to poor financial performance. High operating costs coupled with a statewide staffing shortage are putting the healthcare needs of Kentucky residents, especially those of retirement age, in jeopardy. 

Quality of Life

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How you spend your time in retirement can be as important as where you retire. But Kentucky’s lack of elder-friendly extracurricular activities and poor crime rates ranked the state among the worst for quality of life for retirees. 

Safer Haven 

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While the Bluegrass State has seen historically high crime rates, “serious” crime rates dropped nearly 10% in 2022. Reports of homicides, robberies, and drug offenses all seem to be on the decline, according to information from the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go

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When it comes time to pick a place to retire, most experts agree that spending a substantial amount of time in your preferred location before moving is important. Vacation in your dream retirement destination during different times of the year to ensure you enjoy winter as much as summer.

Expert Advice 

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While the cost of living and weather are major considerations, most experts agree that they shouldn’t be the only focus in your retirement search. Other aspects of a location that will influence your quality of life include outdoor activities, cultural attractions, and the availability of social events. 

Money Talks

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Saving for retirement is tricky. According to WallHub, 25% of non-retired Americans have no money saved for retirement, while only 40% think their current retirement savings are on track to meet their goals. 

Under Pressure 

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The cost of living is a critical factor in retirement for most Americans. While social security benefits help alleviate strain in one’s golden years, they only replace an average of 37% of total working income. 

Best States To Retire

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According to WalletHub’s data, Virginia, Florida, and Colorado are the top three states in which to retire. All three received similar overall scores, while Florida ranked highest in affordability and quality of life, and Colorado received top marks for healthcare. 

Planning Ahead

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Other resources like AARP can be extremely helpful for retirement planning. Tools like AARP’s Livability Index help you search communities across the country for their rank based on factors important to you, while a growing Network of Age-Friendly Communities denotes places in the US where governments are dedicated to improving infrastructure for an aging population. 

The Sunshine State or Land of Regret?

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Deciding to move to a different city is a big deal, and Florida cities are on many people’s radars. Florida’s warm weather and state income tax-free policies may draw you to call it your new home. But The Sunshine State doesn’t come without its drawbacks.

12 Regrets Florida Transplants Have

50 Best Cities for Retirement

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Are you looking for a new city to move to during retirement? These are the top cities to retire in America, according to U.S. News.

50 Best American Cities for Retirement

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