With 50 states in the nation, it's hard to choose where to settle down. One thing is for certain, though: there are some states Americans no longer want to live in. Whether it’s the high cost of living in sunny California or the unemployment rate in Mississippi, people are flocking out of their native states to find greener pastures elsewhere in the country.
Survey data, polls, and resident testimony made it clear which states are less favorable among Americans. Keep reading to learn which states people no longer want to live in; some might surprise you.
Georgia Has Become Too Expensive
While it might come as a surprise to see Georgia on this list, there is a reason. People tend to visit Georgia, typically Atlanta, but they don't move there. On the contrary, it seems people are trying to leave the state. What it comes down to are expenses.
Governing magazine acknowledged that rent costs were up 28% in the city since 2000, compared to the nine percent raise in other states around the country. In 2018, A HotPads report found that the renting prices were rising three times faster than that of other cities. It's no wonder people want to find other places to settle down!
Iowa Is "Just A Boring State To Live In"
The sunsets over Iowa's cornfields are something to behold, and its job market and cities are continuing to grow, but none of that is keeping residents within the state's borders. People 44 and younger are leaving Iowa in search of better job opportunities and a lifestyle change, while older people are leaving for retirement.
According to United Van Lines, "68.22 percent are moving out of the state to find employment, while 12.4 percent are leaving for retirement." Then there's one Reddit user that complained about "the states weather extremes, poorly funded public schools, and crumbling infrastructure, and that Iowa's is a boring state to live in."
Maine Residents Want To Retire Somewhere Warmer
Maine is a beautiful coastal state with lovely ports, mountains, and wilderness as far as the eye can see. But people aren't exactly looking to make the state their home. Most residents, especially the elderly that account for 59 percent of the population, move out of Maine's borders in search of finding somewhere else a bit warmer to call home.
Long-time Maine resident Elsa K. wrote on Quora, "It gets cold during the winter. And windy and snowy. I'm from northern Iceland, and the winters in Maine aren't as long or dark as in Iceland, they are colder and snowier."
Minnesota Has Horrible Weather
Minnesota is one of those states where you have to love the cold and snow to live there happily since it is one of the chilliest states in the country. The Land of 10,000 Lakes had a nice three-year stretch of people flocking to its frozen landscape, but that came to a halt in 2019. And it's not just because of the weather.
According to 98.1 Minnesota's New Country, "62.43 percent of people moved out of the state for different jobs. And17.99 percent of people left because of retirement. Everyone knows someone who snowbirds down to a warmer state for the winter!"
Oklahoma Has Fewer And Fewer Jobs
Unfortunately for Oklahoma, Americans are no longer interested in flocking to the state to see its wide-open prairies and forests. The past few years have debunked a ten-year trend of people coming into the state. Now, more people seem to be leaving Oklahoma after college.
Vice president at the Oklahoma City Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Chad Wilkerson, says, "that a driving force in recent out-migration from the state has been relatively fewer job opportunities than in some other parts of the country following the oil price drop of 2014-2015."
North Dakota Residents Don't Enjoy The Lifestyle
It probably doesn't come as much a surprise that North Dakota is one of the least populated states in the country. The sparse population isn't even due to a lack of employment opportunities. On the contrary, it's said that if a person moves there, they will most certainly find a job.
It's more so the lifestyle that has people adverse to moving to The Peace Garden State. United Van Lines says, "The most common reason to leave North Dakota - cited by nearly 61 percent of those who move out - is the lifestyle." Someone on Quora wrote, "every state has something interesting about it. What's interesting about North Dakota?"
Mississippi Has One Of The Highest Unemployment Rates
There is a lot to be admired about Mississippi -- the southern culture and the people for instance. But the Magnolia State suffers from one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Tack on the humid weather, bugs, and overall stickiness, and people are not exactly jumping at the opportunity to move to Mississippi.
During a healthcare and economic summit in 2018, a Tradition report stated that "When we analyze population estimates by age, we see Mississippi is losing people at the age when they would be entering their prime earning years, while other states are gaining them." According to Census data, Mississippi is losing millennials at a rapid rate.
Arkansas Struggles With Poverty
Ironically, Arkansas is known as "The Land of Opportunity," but struggles with poverty and unemployment. While the state boasts beautiful parks, wilderness areas, and a great university, nearly 71 percent of the state's residents flee in search of work.
The Washington Post reported, "[in 2018] the state became the first to require Medicaid recipients to hold jobs, and thousands lost their health insurance in the months that followed. Critics of the Medicaid move say Arkansas doesn't have enough work to go around."
West Virginia Has A Dwindling Economy
West Virginia attracts visitors with its soaring mountains and flowing rivers, but the dwindling economy has young people flocking to other states. With the state's opioid crisis, the unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country. The ever-decreasing population can't support businesses that would otherwise expand to West Virginia and make job opportunities.
Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at WVU, John Deskins, says, "population growth is part of making the state attractive to potential businesses. A business has to be confident it's going to find workers it needs before it locates in an area." This is a vicious cycle.
Pennsylvania Retirees Would Prefer Less Snow
As young people move into Pennsylvania, older people are flocking to warmer states. In 2019, the state saw 240,832 of its residents leave, per The Center Square. And while Pennsylvania has a lot to be admired, such as the affordable living and the sports teams, a vast majority of retirees would rather move somewhere with less snow and wind chill.
Pew Charitable Trusts released a study saying, "What is clear is that there is not one overarching reason for relocating. Most of those who left Philadelphia characterized themselves as not fleeing, but, rather, as seeking new opportunities elsewhere."
Missouri Doesn't Have Enough Work
While Missouri is called the "Gateway to the West" due to the huge archway that dominates the skyline, residents seem to move through other gateways and on to other states. The reasons for people leaving the state are simple. With factories closing, there aren't enough jobs.
According to moneywise, "Jobs are the reason behind 63 percent of the moves." And the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that "factories have been closing around Kansas City, causing that metro area to lose 1.9 percent of its manufacturing jobs over the past year."
Utah Doesn't Have Job Opportunities
Utah is actually a popular retirement location, with its national parks and snowcapped mountains. That being said, the state has a difficult time keeping its younger residents. Both job opportunities have been cited as reasons for 65 percent of outbound moves, while another reason is the rising house prices.
According to a 2019 quarterly report conducted by the National Association of Realtors, "the median price for an existing single-family home in Salt Lake City has climbed eight percent over the last year to a stiff $358,000."
Michigan Jobs Don't Have Good Pay
While Michigan has 3,300 miles of coastline and beautiful parks, residents aren't fooled. Michigan has harsh weather conditions, making elderly people search out other states for their retirements. And as far as young people are concerned, they're flocking to other states in search of better-paying jobs and opportunities.
According to Bridge Magazine, "While the state offers job opportunities in computers, math, and management, it's got even more lover-paying work - such as in food preparation, paying under $20,000 per year." The lack of meaningful work leads highly-educated young people to develop "brain drain," says the Joint Economic Committee, which causes them to search for better opportunities elsewhere.
Kentucky's Minimum Wage Is $7.25
Kentucky's sweeping bluegrass landscape is not enough to keep residents from moving out of the state. With one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, residents are leaving in search of jobs that pay more than the minimum wage of $7.25. Yes, that's what the minimum wage has been for the past ten years in the state!
According to a United Van Lines report, "More than half the people who move out of Kentucky are leaving to take a better job somewhere else." Thankfully, Kentucky officials have stated that more job opportunities will open up in the coming years.
Hawaii Is Too Expensive
Hawaii is arguably one of the nation's most beautiful states. With its white-sand beaches, jungle-like landscape, and beautiful mountains, it's obvious why tourists love visiting. But those tourists never want to stay for more than a few weeks, and wouldn't consider living there for an extended period. This is mainly due to the ridiculously high price that is tacked onto island living.
Ex-Hawaii resident Michael Hernandez, says, "The only way that I would return to Hawaii is if I hit the lottery [in Florida] and could make enough to move my family and retire. However, that seems almost impossible with just how much more everything costs on the island."
Maryland Is An Expensive State To Settle Down
Maryland is known for its rich history, good quality of life, and numerous outdoor activities, but those factors aren't keeping residents from leaving the state. People are venturing to other parts of the nation because of the high cost of living in Maryland, job opportunities, and retirement.
According to a United Van Lines report in 2018, 49.76 percent of people are leaving because of employment opportunities elsewhere, while 21.74 percent of residents are searching for a place to retire. The population of Baltimore is said to be at a 100-year low!
Ohio's Young People Are Flocking To More Vibrant Cities
For many people living in coastal states, Ohio offers a nice change of pace with a lower cost of living and welcoming residents. And while plenty of people are moving to Ohio, more are trying to leave the state. A majority of the moves are job-based, due to Ohio's low employment rate and slow industry growth.
According to United Van Lines, "the biggest reason [people are leaving] by far is jobs, at 60.75 percent." Michael Stoll, chair of the Department of Public Policy at UCLA, says, "[We're seeing] young professionals migrating to more vibrant, metropolitan economies like Washington D.C. and Seattle."
Virginia Is Being Left For Retirement
Even with its beautiful beaches, mountains, and low taxes, people are moving out of Virginia. Ironically, the state is considered to be one of the best for retirees because of the previously mentioned aspects. And yet, seniors are the majority age bracket that is leaving Virginia.
But retirement isn't the only reason people are moving out; job opportunities are another factor. According to the Nation Movers Study by United Van Lines, 23.54 percent of people are moving for retirement, while 48.25 percent are moving for new employment opportunities.
Washington Is Great For Many Things, But Not Retirement
Washington state has been getting a lot of praise lately for its high quality of life and healthy economy. It's a great place to find jobs and enjoy all the outdoors has to offer in the Pacific Northwest. However, Washington doesn’t come out on top when it comes to a retirement option.
The state ranks low in both affordability and wellness. Choosing the right region of Washington to retire in could prove tough too, as the weather is harsher in parts of the state.
New Jersey's Property Tax Is Very High
The Garden State has a coastline of beaches, some of the best pizza in the nation, family suburbs, and tasty local produce. But none of that is stopping people from leaving New Jersey. Although residents from the tiny state are proud to be New Jerseyans, they are moving in droves because of the property taxes and weather.
According to United Van Lines, "people are moving out [of New Jersey] faster than from any other state. More than a third flee the state because of job opportunities elsewhere, and an equal share leaves to find greener pastures for retirement."
Wisconsin Has Harsh Winters
Even though Wisconsin's low cost of living and steady employment growth is attractive to people, it's not stopping residents from packing up their Green Bay Packers cheesehead hats and moving on out. It's not surprising that people are moving away since the state has one of the harshest winters in the country.
According to the National Weather Service, "In the entire state's recorded weather history, every winter but five, [when it] hit temperatures of at least 30 below zero." In 2018, it was reported that more than half of those who moved out were ages 55 and older, probably wanting to retire somewhere warmer!
Nebraska Has Too Many "No Experience Necessary" Jobs
While Nebraska is home to Warren Buffet, the state isn't exactly one that has people flocking to it for its lovely weather and surrounding natural attractions. It's quite the opposite, actually. People are leaving the state in search of better job opportunities and weather that doesn't change every five minutes, as residents joke.
A United Van Lines report stated, "A hefty 70 percent of those who move out of Nebraska are leaving in search of work." Something called "brain drain" is prevalent among residents due to the lack of high-paying jobs and the abundance of minimum-wage, no-experience necessary positions.
Montana Residents Move To Be Closer To Family
With its beautiful open landscape, mountains, and fresh air, it's hard to believe people willingly leave Montana. And while A-list celebrities are beginning to buy vacation homes in the state, locals are packing up their bags and leaving. Unlike other states on this list, the reason for leaving isn't because of jobs or weather, but to be closer to family.
According to the radio station 107.5, "55 percent of all moves are to leave the state. The biggest reason for people leaving Montana is family." With people living on secluded plots of land, it makes sense that they might want to move closer to family, even out of state.
California Isn't All Golden
California is the land of beautiful people and one of the best climates in the nation. With palm tree-lined roads and beaches stretching up and down the coast, it's hard for people to not enjoy the Golden State.
That being said, more people are leaving the state than ever before because of the cost of living and the annoyance that is traffic congestion on all California freeways. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's annual American Community Survey, "In 2018, approximately 691,000 people moved from California to another U.S. state."
Connecticut Isn't A Good State For Retirement
Connecticut's gorgeous beaches, lovely seasons, and charming towns attract many visitors each year, but the residents are hustling to leave. As taxes and the price of living rise and the pothole-littered streets get worse, people close to retirement can't help but move on out of the state.
Considering the harsh winters and expensive lifestyle Connecticut has to offer, it's no surprise that older people are looking for a warmer and cheaper living arrangement. According to United Van Lines, "People nearing retirement (ages 55 to 64) are most likely to move out of Connecticut. More than half of those who depart have incomes of $150,000 and up."
Massachusetts Is An Expensive State
The coastal state of Massachusetts is the perfect place to sit back and watch sailboats, enjoy a fresh lobster roll, and it also has a great school system. Unfortunately, the state is also known to be extremely expensive to live in, especially near the center hub of Boston.
According to the radio station 90.9 wbur, "The high cost of housing in the Boston area, both to buy and to rent, is another factor, forcing quality-of-life trade-offs that many prospective residents my not be willing to make." Tack on the harsh east coast winters and the horrible traffic congestion in the state, and it's no surprise people are leaving.
New York City Is Not The Place To Start A Family
While New York probably offers one of the most unique styles of living in the country, it comes at a high price. All of the food, culture, and busy lifestyle aren't worth the lack of job security in some of the rural towns, or the four-figure studio apartment rent in the city.
And while New York is a great place for young people, others who are trying to start a family flock to more affordable living situations. According to Bloomberg, "close to 300 people move out of New York every day." Now, that stat should tell you something!
Louisiana Has A Low Employment Rate
Louisiana is an appealing state for many reasons; its coastal location, delicious food, and unique culture are just a few. Even though those attractions are good for visitors, residents are trying their hardest to leave the low employment rate the state has to offer its locals.
According to the recent 2019 numbers given by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "After hitting a high in 2014, the number of people employed in Louisiana has decreased significantly. In fact, 4,801 fewer people are employed."
Kansas Doesn't Have Favorable Weather
While The Wizard of Oz's Dorothy once famously said, "there's no place like home," many people are following the yellow brick road directly out of Kansas. This isn't due to high unemployment rates or affordability, both of which are very attractive when it comes to the Sunflower State.
Rather, people are leaving for other job opportunities away from the "windy with a chance of a tornado or two" weather. According to United Van Lines, 63.8 percent of people cited work as their reason for leaving Kansas.
Illinois Residents Are Leaving For The Sun Belt
Illinois has great farm produce, deep-dish pizza, awesome colleges and sports teams, and one of the coolest cities in America, Chicago. Even so, residents of the state are flocking to other parts of the nation. There are a few reasons why people are leaving, one being the state's high property taxes.
According to Governing magazine, "A 2016 poll by Southern Illinois University found that nearly half of Illinois residents wanted to move to another state, citing taxes, weather, ineffective and corrupt local government and a lack of middle-class jobs." Keep reading to learn the U.S. states that were ranked the worst to retire in based on affordability, crime, culture, weather, and wellness.
Maryland Isn't An Affordable Option
Out of all 50 states, Maryland has been ranked the worst U.S. state to retire in. While it ranks poorly in almost every category except weather, it's the affordability and culture categories where it really takes a hit.
Although rich with history, the state doesn’t have much to offer in terms of culture and entertainment today. Also, Maryland households are the wealthiest in the country, which drives up the cost of housing and doesn’t make it easy for those retiring on a budget.
New Yorkers Should Move Elsewhere To Retire
The state of New York has gorgeous foliage in the fall and plenty of country filled with lakes and peaceful creeks. However, the state ranks among the worst to retire in. While it might be tempting for New Yorkers to remain in the same state, and just move north, affordability is extremely low, as well as the culture that it has to offer.
The median home value in the state is $305,300, but since it's a hot housing market, home prices are only going to get steeper.
Alaska's Weather Is A Road Block for Retirement
Some may dream of a retirement that's out there, far away from traffic, crowds, and over-development. The Last Frontier may sound like a viable option for these reasons, but Alaska isn’t all peaches and cream. The weather is treacherous, which is not something most people enjoy during their golden years.
Most residents split their time between Alaska and somewhere warmer and lighter in the winter, which isn’t a great option in retirement. There isn’t much to do other than hunt, fish, and explore the outdoors when the weather allows. Alaska even ranks low in affordability. Pass on this state.
Wellness Isn't Well In Illinois
Illinois is one of the most populated states in the U.S., so it would make sense that those who grew up there or had a career in Chicago might want to retire there as well. It's a great place to raise a family with low crime, good weather and cultural activities.
However, when it comes to retirement, Illinois shouldn’t be on your list. As far as healthcare and wellness rank, Illinois ranks low. It’s also an expensive state to live in, if you’re not far out in the country. And if you’re far out, there’s not much to do!
Nevada Isn't Very Safe, And Residents Aren’t Very Healthy
If safety and wellness are among your priorities in retirement, Nevada shouldn't be on your list of options. This one is surprising, considering it’s one of the top ten most popular states for Americans to retire in.
Many are attracted to the affordable housing, as the median home value in Nevada is $291,800, but this state ranks in the top ten worst states for crime. The state also has very low marks when it comes to wellness, which may be a priority for retirees.
As It Turns Out, People In Oregon Aren't All That Happy
When it comes to culture, Oregon ranks among the highest of all the states, at number six. So how did it end up on the list of worst states to retire in? Mainly due to wellness and weather. Residents of Oregon have higher rates of reported depression and daily physical pain.
The weather might also have to do with findings that Oregon residents are seeing a decline in being content with their daily life and satisfaction in their standard of living. While crime is relatively low and there are affordable housing options, if you want to live a happy life after retiring, Oregon might not be ideal.
We Could Have Guessed California Wasn't An Easy Option
So long as affordability comes into play in rankings, we could guess that the state of California wouldn't be the best option for those on a fixed income in retirement. It’s so bad that even its high rankings in culture, weather, and wellness couldn’t save it from being ranked among the worst.
While California ranks number 13 in weather, and 17 in culture, it’s the second most-expensive state to live in, in the country, and housing prices are always climbing. Keep California on your travel list, but definitely take it off your options for retirement.
New Jersey Is Great Until You Look At The Cost of Living
New Jersey is ranked the fifth-safest state in the nation. It also ranks high in culture, and decent in weather and wellness. So how did NJ end up on this list? Mainly due to affordability, which ranks the third least affordable state in the nation.
It might be tempting to retire close to all of the cultural attractions, and nearby where you grew up or worked. But overall, financial health is important in retirement, and you don't want to take that risk to live in New Jersey.
South Carolina's Crime And Lack of Wellness Are Worrisome
The Palmetto State has so much to offer, from its subtropical beaches to its beautiful islands and unbeatable weather. For these reasons, South Carolina is one of the top four most popular states for Americans to retire. But of course, there's a downside.
Crime in South Carolina is among the worst in the country, which is not something you want to worry about in retirement. It’s also the worst state in the entire nation for wellness. If you want to keep your health and wealth intact, this state might not be the ideal place to hang up your hat.
Minnesota Is Too Cold. Period.
It might come as no surprise that Minnesota is one of the worst-ranked states in terms of weather. During the three coldest months the average daily high temperate is below 36°F! However, the state ranks towards the top in wellness and average in culture and affordability.
It's rough that one category can bring the ranking crashing down for this state, but if you’ve ever experienced a winter in Minnesota, you probably don’t have the state on your list of retirement options.
Virginia Ranks Poorly Across Four Out of Five Categories
The state of Virginia is one of the safest on the list, but it's the other categories that make this state a less-than-stellar option for retirement. The culture is lacking, wellness is very low compared to other states, and there’s not much going on culturally for retirees to enjoy.
All of this and it’s not too affordable to live in Virginia either. If proximity to family is important and your family is in Virginia, try taking a look at nearby states. It might be a better option in the long-run.
Arizona's Crime Shouldn’t Be Ignored
For folks retiring on the west coast, Arizona is a popular option. While housing still isn't cheap, it’s much more affordable than its neighbor state, California. But it’s the crime and culture categories that really bring Arizona’s score down in terms of a retirement option.
Arizona’s crime rate is among the worst in the nation, with larceny and theft huge issues. The state also has a high rate of motor vehicle theft and aggravated assault. As far as culture, there’s not much to do, other than explore the national parks. If you’re into food and the arts, this isn’t your state.
There Are A Lot Of Property Crimes In New Mexico
Take everything we said about Arizona and apply it to New Mexico, because they basically rank the same in most every category. That is, except for crime; New Mexico is even worse than Arizona! In 2016, law enforcement reported 81,931 property crimes which might make you nervous about securing your home.
The last thing you want to worry about during retirement is your safety, this should be your time to relax! New Mexico's weather and wellness are both decent, but weighing all categories, it’s not a great option.
Louisiana Has Great Weather But Some Downsides, Too
What's going on in Louisiana? The state ranks number 17 in terms of wellness, and third in weather, which is great. It’s the crime and culture categories that bring down the rankings for this state.
Affordability is decent, so if you can find a place in a safe area with some sort of culture, you could be content. You could come to regret retiring in Louisiana if your housing options are limited though. You don’t want to get stuck in a bad neighborhood.
There's Nothing To Do In Utah
Utah is an interesting state when it comes to retirement. In most categories, the state ranks somewhere in the middle, making it a viable option. However, it's the culture category that really tanks the rankings for this state. What are you going to do there?
Utah’s population and development are mainly concentrated in two areas of the state. Otherwise, there aren’t many people and there isn’t much to do. If you plan on hanging around the house, you might be able to buy one affordably and live comfortably. If you like exploring and meeting people, you might grow bored quicker than you grow old in Utah!
Pennsylvania's Weather Brings Down Its Ranking
There are a lot of pluses to retiring in Pennsylvania. The state is rich with educated people and culture, and it ranks average in affordability and wellness. Crime is low, too. But, it doesn't rank high in any category and the weather isn’t the greatest.
Pennsylvania is the fifth-most populous state in the country, which has its perks and downfalls. If you want a quiet retirement in warm weather, you might want to look elsewhere.
Colorado's Rankings Are Disappointing
Colorado ranks an impressive number six when it comes to wellness, which is great. The state also has plenty to offer when it comes to the great outdoors. However… it's cold! The majority of Colorado consists of mountains, foothills, high plains, and desert lands, and the weather is much different than other mountain states.
Colorado has also become a desirable place to move, which raises the housing cost and makes Colorado one of the least affordable states in the nation. Culturally, there are things to do but the crime is above average, too. Take all of these categories into account before considering Colorado.
High Crime, Low Affordability in Delaware
Delaware is one of the more obscure options on this list, as the state is the second smallest and sixth least populous state. If you were thinking about moving there to retire (and boost the population) you might want to consider a few things.
Crime is high in Delaware, and affordability is low. That makes it tough when it comes to finding a safe and affordable place to call home for the long haul. If culture and weather are top priorities, Delaware is decent, but across the board, it doesn't look good for retirement.
Affordability And Weather Are The Main Concerns With Maine
It's not surprising that Maine ranks low when it comes to weather. It’s the northernmost state in New England and sees a lot of snow in the winter. If you’re along the coastline, it’s a bit milder, but you’re still getting dumped on. Are you wanting to shovel snow in retirement?
Culturally, it’s ranked number one, so it’s surprising that the other categories could drag this state so low in the rankings for retirement options. Crime is also very low in Maine. It’s really affordability and the weather that make this state a non-starter.