Ranked: The Best U.S. States for Retirement
What is the most important aspect of retirement planning?
If you said finances, you’re probably right. But have you ever thought about where the best place is to retire? Being strategic about location can make a big impact on your quality of life, and perhaps help your savings go just a bit further.
To help break it down, we’ve visualized data from personal finance platform, WalletHub, which ranked the best U.S. states for retirement as of 2023.
Data and Methodology
WalletHub ranked each state using 47 metrics across three dimensions.
- Affordability (7 metrics worth 40 points)
- Quality of Life (22 metrics worth 30 points)
- Health Care (18 metrics worth 30 points)
Here are some examples of what each dimension measures:
- Affordability: Cost of living and taxation
- Quality of Life: Quality of elder-abuse protections and crime rates
- Health Care: Number of health professionals per capita and life expectancy
Visit the source for the full list of metrics.
The final scores (visualized as the bars in the infographic above) represent each state’s weighted average across all metrics. See below for more comprehensive results.
|Quality of Life|
According to this methodology, Virginia is currently the best state for retirement. Although the Southeastern state does not excel in any one dimension, it scores consistently well across all three to create a very balanced retirement profile.
This gives it a slight advantage over second place Florida, which excels in quality of life and affordability, but falls further behind in terms of health care. Third-placed Colorado is a mirror of Florida, offering excellent health care but a lower quality of life in comparison.
How to Interpret These Results
It’s important to remember that this ranking is purely based on data and the methodology above, and may not be tailored to your individual preferences.
For example, if you believe that health services will be very important during retirement, you may rank Minnesota (#1 in terms of health care) much higher than eighth place.
You may notice that prioritizing one dimension will often come at a trade-off in others. Looking at Minnesota once more, we can see that the state is also one of America’s most expensive.
Looking to retire outside of the U.S.? Check out this graphic on the top 25 countries to retire in.
Mapped: What You Need to Earn to Own a Home in 50 American Cities
What does it take to own a home in the U.S. in 2023? Here’s a look at the salary needed for home ownership in the top 50 metro areas.
What You Need to Earn to Own a Home in 50 American Cities
Once a fundamental part of the American dream, the ability to own a home is drifting farther and farther away for many Americans.
Between skyrocketing prices, stagnating wages, and now rising interest rates, the deck seems to be increasingly stacked against home ownership.
Using May 2023 data tabulated by Home Sweet Home, we map out the annual salary needed to afford a 30-year mortgage (at 6.37%) to buy a home in America’s 50 most populous metropolitan areas.
The monthly minimum mortgage payment includes taxes and insurance as well, and is capped at roughly one-third of the income. This analysis also assumes that the homeowner will put down a 20% down payment.
The Least and Most Affordable American Cities to Own a Home
At the top of the list, and at the very west of the country, San Jose is the least affordable city to own a home for the average American.
One would have to earn at least $374,000 a year to afford a $1.6 million dollar home in the city.
To put those numbers into perspective, the median American annual income is $75,000, about one-fifth what’s required to buy a home in San Jose.
Here’s a look at the annual earnings needed to afford a home in all 50 largest cities in the U.S., ranked from least to most affordable.
|Rank||Metro Area||State||Median Home Price||Annual Salary|
|7||New York City||New York||$577,300||$160,233|
|15||Salt Lake City||Utah||$522,700||$122,717|
Other Californian cities, San Francisco (ranked 2nd), San Diego (3rd), and Los Angeles (4th) all require an annual income of at least $180,000 to attempt home ownership within their metropolitan boundaries.
Boston (ranked 6th) and New York (ranked 7th) represent unaffordability on the East Coast, both requiring at least $160,000 a year to buy homes there.
It’s not just the coasts that are expensive however. To buy a home in Denver (ranked 8th) and Salt Lake City (15th) means earning more than $120,000 a year.
However, cities in the Midwest and South, like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Oklahoma City, and Louisville, are far more affordable, requiring less than $63,000 a year to buy a home.
Interest Rates Rock Home Ownership Chances
Aside from the obvious price differences in housing markets, a key factor that has elevated income requirements across the board is the rapid rise in interest rates in the last year. In fact the average 30-year mortgage has pushed past 7%, the highest it’s been since the 2000s.
This means that while the median price of a house in San Jose has actually come down between 2022 and 2023, the minimum monthly payment has increased from $7,717 to $8,720 this year.
|Rank||Metro Area||State||Median Home Price||Monthly Payment|
|7||New York City||New York||$577,300||$3,739|
|15||Salt Lake City||Utah||$522,700||$2,863|
So to afford a median-priced home in the country, an American needs to earn closer to $100,000 a year, up from $75,500 in 2022. And even then, they would be priced out of owning a home in nearly half of the 50 largest cities in the country.
As a result Americans may yet further delay home ownership. Renting is now a far more attractive option, thanks to the biggest difference between rent and mortgages in over 50 years.
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