Retiree Living Standards, Ranked State by State

Jan 17, 2020 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

How well you will live in retirement will depend on two things: your income and the local cost of living. A new study that ranks each state based on how many of its retirees can meet a basic standard of living comes up with an interesting combination of places that are financially friendly—or not—to people over 65. For example, who would expect Mississippi to be in the same company with California?

The cost of living in Mississippi is much lower than in California—and most states. But 31 percent of Mississippi’s retired single people and 24 percent of its retired couples fall into what the study calls the “gap” between being poor and having barely enough income to cover their basic expenses, according to a 50-state analysis by the University of Massachusetts’ Gerontology Institute in Boston. A general way to think about the people inhabiting this gap is that, while they are above the poverty line, they are still financially insecure.

Many people in California and Mississippi are having a difficult time—but for very different reasons. California is a tough place to be retired because the cost of living is notoriously high. Mississippi’s issue is that workers’—and retirees’—incomes are low, which makes it difficult to make ends meet, despite the state’s low cost of living.

The heart of the analysis is an “elder index” specific to each state, which estimates the income necessary to cover essential living costs—rent, food, transportation, health care, a phone, and household items. Vacations, restaurant meals, and entertainment are not included in the estimates. Some of the states requiring the most income to live include, predictably, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, and California—couples there need a minimum of $40,000. Couples can get by on much less in places like Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama—$32,000 to $33,000.

You can find the full article at Squared Away Blog.


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