Every passing year, a greater number of Baby Boomers (1946-1964) retire. As the cost of living increases across the United States, certain states offer a more comfortable life for seniors. Retirees who were offered a private retirement savings account (i.e., 401(k), Roth IRA, etc.) or a public pension are in a much better position than those solely dependent on Social Security when exiting the workforce.
The Senior Citizens League has reported that the purchasing power associated with Social Secuirty benefits has been reduced by around forty percent since the early 2000s. Without another income source, achieving a dignified standard of living is becoming increasingly difficult for the country’s oldest residents.
Aside from personal reasons, which may motivate some seniors to retire closer to family or in the community where they have lived in worked for decades, the living standard available to older people should be evaluated when choosing where to settle. Wallet Hub, the financial news site, ranked states across three categories: Affordability, Quality of Life, and Health Care, and found that the overall highest-scoring states were Virginia, Florida, and Colorado. At the other end of the spectrum, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Mississippi scored the lowest.
Virginia ranked the best state for retirees
Virginia’s number one position relates mainly to the access to healthcare and the quality of life of retirees in the state. On both of these indicators Virginia ranks eleventh in the country and sixteenth on the affordability metric. In 2022, the state’s health department reported that 7.1 percent of those over sixty live in poverty, and 9.4 percent are food insecure. Both of those figures are lower in Virginia than the average nationally, which shows that just because a state is ranked “the best” does not mean that there aren’t real challenges faced by residents. For the close to one in ten people unable to purchase or obtain enough food to nourish themselves, it may feel quite absurd that Virginia receive the highest ranking.
ABC23, based out of Bakersfield, spoke with seniors to better understand how they are keeping up with inflation.
Florida ranks high on affordability and quality of life
For retirees in Florida, there are benefits in terms of affordability since income is not taxed by the state government. Social Security beneficiaries who work a little on the side may be able to keep more of that income compared to other states where income is subject to both state and federal taxation.
Nevertheless, many senior households live in poverty and see their purchasing power disappear year after year. In 2021, the Department of Elder Affairs reported that eleven percent of owner-occupied households and nearly a third of renters over sixty-five faced a high-cost burden.
The Sunshine State ranked ninth in affordability, fourth in quality of life, and twenty-eighth in terms of healthcare, which put it behind Virginia. The department also found that a quarter of the senior population was “medically underserved,” with eleven percent living in areas where residents lack access to medical care. Similarly, while ranked high compared to other states, ten percent of seniors in Florida live in poverty, and thirteen percent are food insecure.
Colorado takes the number the third spot
Coming in at number three is Colorado, which ranked fourteenth in terms of affordability and twenty-seventh on quality of life. On the healthcare metric, researchers at Wallet Hub looked at both access, quality, and outcomes (i.e., how healthy the people are). The Rocky Mountain state ranked fifth —higher than the other two— and following only Minnesota, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Hawaii.
In terms of affordability, the state came in fourteenth, and in terms of quality of life, it landed in twenty-seventh place. Around 7.2 percent of people over the age of sixty in Colorado live in poverty, and thirteen percent are food insecure. On the healthcare metric, researchers at Wallet Hub looked at both access, quality, and outcomes (i.e., how healthy the people are).