This Is Where to Retire If You're a Woman

Most of us have an idea of when we want to retire. But, few of us consider where.

One in two Americans would sell their homes to move somewhere affordable with low taxes, great weather and abundant recreational opportunities, a new study has found. And, with most Americans living into their eighties, the percentage of us that will consider moving for our (now decades-long) retirement will certainly grow.

But, if you can’t clearly picture your life in retirement yet, don’t worry. We have compared the 50 states to determine the places that provide an outstanding quality of life without breaking the bank.

Read on to find out the best and worst places for women to retire.

Main Findings

Expert Market’s research reveals that fun-in-the-sun places often associated with retirement have their drawbacks if your goal is to enjoy a comfortable and sustainable retirement. While our top pick, Hawaii, is renowned for its sunny climes, retiree meccas Florida and Arizona don’t come close to making our top 10.

There are lots of studies out there saying where you should live in retirement. Only Expert Market’s study celebrates the states where women are faring best - and where women can find the best opportunities relative to where they live. Our analysts compared the 50 states on several metrics, including the average salary for women, female unemployment rate, share of women-owned businesses, women’s life expectancy and the prevalence of gendered crime.

Top 10 States

Overall RankState
2New Hampshire
8North Dakota

Hawaii is officially 2018’s best state for women to retire. Living on this small, tropical island isn't cheap, but Hawaii makes up for its pricey cost of living in other areas. Its health care services are second to none, and Hawaii is internationally renowned for its great weather. Opportunities for women are amongst the best in the country too, which secures Hawaii our top spot.

Vermont and Minnesota topped the table for our women’s opportunities and wellbeing metric, but Minnesota’s harsh winters and small retirement community push it back to 22nd place. Vermont, on the other hand, fared slightly better. Its impressive women’s opportunities and wellbeing score, ample retirement community and solid health care propel it into seventh place.

Bottom 10 States

New York is 2018's worst place for women to live in retirement, according to our study.

Overall RankState
1New York
5New Jersey

Fans of the Big Apple, beware. New York is the officially the worst place to be if you’re a woman in retirement.

To our surprise, New York scored poorly across the board. What makes New York deserving of the bottom spot? Its high taxes combined with its eye-wateringly high cost of living. Despite the state’s liberal leanings, New York also scored well below average on our women’s opportunities and wellbeing metric, which rendered it 2018’s worst place for women to retire.


To identify the most retirement-friendly states for women, Expert Market compared the 50 states across three key areas:

  • Quality of Life
  • Affordability
  • Health Care

We evaluated those three areas using seven unique data points, which are listed below. Each state was given a score from 1-50 for each metric. We then calculated each state’s weighted average across all metrics to work out its overall score.

Ranking factors include:

  1. Weather
  2. Cost of Living
  3. Size of Elderly Population
  4. Health Care Quality and Affordability
  5. State of the Economy
  6. State Tax Friendliness
  7. Women’s Economic Opportunities and Wellbeing Score

Sources: Data used to create this ranking was collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Wallethub, U.S. News, McKinsey & Co., Bankrate and World Atlas.

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