Best and worst states to retire

Florida is a retirement mecca for good reasons. It is the nation's most affordable state when it comes to tax-friendliness on pensions and Social Security, inheritance, and overall cost of living. It has a vibrant older-adult community and a labor market open to older workers. And it scores highly enough on another a range of other factors that it stands out as the best state in the nation to retire, according to a new analysis.

Personal finance website WalletHub ranked U.S. states based on 41 criteria, from water and air quality to the number of museums, theaters and scenic byways. Access to health care, life expectancy and the percentage of the adult population that is physically active also factored into the ratings that aimed to establish the best — and worst — places around the country to retire. While Florida has long been considered a retirement haven, other states that make the list were less intuitive.

For instance, Mississippi and Louisiana, which are both among the most affordable states in the nation in terms of cost of living, ranked among the worst retirement states — 47th and 44th, respectively. That's mainly because they fared poorly on health care and well-being standards that included the quality of public hospitals, health care facilities per capita, overall health of those 65 and older, as well as the number of museums, theaters and volunteer activities per capita.

Other states to consider

Ranked by WalletHub as the second-best state for retirees after Florida, Colorado combines better-than-average affordability with lots of sunshine — even during the winter snows — a vibrant outdoor culture and great access to health care to makes it one of the healthiest states for retirees. 

No. 3 South Dakota ranked as the second-most affordable state (following Florida) and also ranked high on heath care measures, which included whether the state supports sufficient geriatric care doctors and dentists to meet demand, and life expectancy. South Dakota was also one of the top-rated states for job opportunities for those age 65 and over.

No. 4 Iowa is a little less affordable than the average state, but ranks high on both health care and quality of life standards, which include access to public transportation, scenic byways, air quality and the crime rate.

No. 5 Virginia got better than average rankings in all categories, but scored particularly well on quality of life categories, including the mildness of the weather and miles of shoreline. 

Worst states

No. 50 Kentucky was less affordable than the average, and ranked near the bottom for both quality of life and health care.

No. 49 New Jersey was the least affordable state. On a more positive note, it has one of the lowest property crime-rates in the country. 

No. 48 Rhode Island also ranked among the least-affordable states, thanks to ranking dead last in taxpayer friendliness.

No. 47 Mississippi is certainly affordable. Indeed, it scored at the top of WalletHub's ranking of lowest adjusted cost of living. But the state scored dead last when it comes to access to quality health care, life expectancy and the number of museums and theaters per capita.

No. 46 Arkansas also ranks well for affordability — second overall — but closely follows Mississippi in having the fewest number of museums per capital and has a relatively high property crime rage. 

Want to see how you state scores? Check out WalletHub's full ranking here