Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Bankrate List of WORST States for Retirement

In 2012, I ran across an interesting news story from Bankrate, Inc., entitled "10 Worst States to Live in During Retirement."  Their list included a large part of the southern United States.  Of course, this is in direct conflict with many of my other posts in this blog in which I published lists of wonderful places to retire that had been created by CNN Money, Kiplinger Magazine, and AARP.  All of their lists had promoted many of the southern states as affordable, sunny places to retire.

Is the South Really a Bad Region for Retirement?

The Bankrate article peaked my interest because, like most of you, I wanted to know their criteria.  Why were these states suddenly considered undesirable?  Bankrate based their information on statewide statistics for short life expectancies, high crime rates, and high poverty levels. As I thought about these statewide statistics, I realized that their criteria might not have much affect on many of the people who choose to retire in the South.  Here are my thoughts:

First, your personal life expectancy is determined by your health, your heredity and your lifestyle.  The statewide average life expectancy will not have much affect on you, especially after you have already reached the age of 60 or older. 

Second, no one wants to live in a state with a high crime rate.  However, not every town in these states has an abnormally high crime rate.  In addition, if you live in an over-55 community or an assisted living facility, your home or apartment is likely to have a very low crime rate.

Third, one reason many of these states are attractive to retirees is because they often have a low cost of living.  While a large number of retirees who live in these states may have incomes below the poverty line, the amount of Social Security you receive is not based on the state where you live.  You are likely to live on Social Security much more comfortably in an affordable state like Louisiana or Georgia than an expensive state like New York or California.  In fact, the low cost of living in these states may be the very reason why so many low income retirees have chosen to live in them, and the reason why there are so many retirees in these states with incomes below the poverty line!

Keeping these thoughts in mind, here is the Bankrate list:

Bankrate List of States With High Crime, High Poverty and Low Life Expectancy

(Life expectancies are listed after each state)

Louisiana - 75.4
Georgia - 77.1
New Mexico - 78.2
Texas - 78.3
Arkansas - 76.1
Tennessee - 76.2
South Carolina - 76.6
Mississippi - 74.8
Alabama - 75.2
Kentucky - 76.2

The crime rates in these states ranged from 2,794 (Kentucky) to 4,498 (South Carolina) per 100,000 residents.

The percent of retirees living in poverty in these states ranged from 9.7% (Tennessee) to 12% (New Mexico).

How Can Texas Be Considered a Bad State for Retirement?

In looking over the statistics for the various states, I particularly objected to Bankrate's inclusion of Texas on their list.  After all, the life expectancy in Texas was 78.3 (the highest on their list),  The state crime rate of 4,233 per 100,000 residents was high, but it is not that high everywhere in the state.  Many small Texas towns and suburbs have a low crime rate.  The poverty rate of  retirees at 10.7% might only reflect that many low income retirees find it a desirable place to live.  Texas has shown up over and over again on the lists of other organizations as a great place to retire.

These statistics show that we have to evaluate everything we read carefully.  Making decisions about retirement is confusing enough, without having to wade through conflicting opinions!

If you are interested in more ideas about where to retire in the U.S. and abroad, financial issues, medical concerns and changing family relationships, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of helpful articles.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the statistics and a closer look at why reports may differ on desirable retirement locations. Certainly give us something to think about.

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  2. Thank you for your comments. Sometimes what one person considers a disadvantage is actually an advantage. One example of this that is the low cost of living in some of these states actually makes them more desireable for low income retirees!

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  3. As a 'new' South Carolinian, my husband and I have lived in this beautiful state for 17 years now and cannot find another place in the States where there is such a variety of natural beauty, coastal resorts, mountain get-aways, low cost of living, low-low property taxes, and wonderful people! No place is perfect and we are so glad that our careers brought us here to live our dream that could not be lived out anywhere in the USA but here. Even our elderly parents have now moved here and are in awe of this state. Keep up the good work of putting out negative comments about S.C., our population has grown so much that we'd love it if people would STOP moving here!

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  4. Thank you, Roz. I agree with you. I printed this list that Bankrate come up with; however I did not agree with it. I was especially shocked that these were all Southern States and several of them were also on lists I had printed of the Best Places to retire.

    I am so glad that you responded and defended the state of South Carolina. I have visited there and it looks like a wonderful place to retire. It just proves that we should all make up our own minds and not rely on these arbitrary lists.

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