Is Washington One of the Worst States for Retirement?

January 31, 2024 at 9:03 a.m.

With more than 3 in 10 Americans feeling anxious about retirement, the personal-finance website WalletHub recently released its report on 2024’s Best & Worst States to Retire, as well as its 2024 Retirement Savings Survey.

Washington came in at #43 overall on WalletHub's list.

Retiring in Washington (1=Best; 25=Avg.):
  • Overall Rank for Washington: 43rd
  • 45th – Adjusted Cost of Living
  • 49th – Annual Cost of In-Home Services
  • 37th – WalletHub ‘Taxpayer’ Ranking
  • 21st – Elderly-Friendly Labor Market
  • 39th – % of Population Aged 65 & Older
  • 50th – Property-Crime Rate
  • 26th – Health-Care Facilities per Capita

"Many people fear that retirement will mark the end of their financial security, and others worry they might never actually get to retire," reports the WalletHub study. "That’s understandable when 28% of non-retired adults haven’t saved any money for retirement and Social Security benefits replace only about 37% of the average worker’s earnings. Living in the right place after you retire can make your money go a lot further."

To help retirees find a safe, enjoyable and wallet-friendly place to call home, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 46 key metrics. The organization's analysis examines affordability, health-related factors and overall quality of life.

While Washington didn't rank high on WalletHub's list of great states for seniors to consider retiring to, which state made it to the top of their list? 

The top best states for retirees, according to WalletHub, are Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Delaware, and Wyoming, in that order. Washington came in at #43 on their list.

Florida ranked as the best state for retirees in part due to its lack of estate or inheritance taxes and its low cost for adult day health care and homemaker services. Its vast miles of shoreline miles, golf courses, country clubs and theater companies also boosted Florida's ranking.

Despite Washington's low ranking on this list, most retirees want to live close to friends and family and would like to remain in their own communities. With that in mind, most Washington seniors will likely remain Washington seniors, rather than relocating to another state.

Here are some retirement tips from experts compiled by WalletHub:

Tips for living on a fixed income in retirement?

“Living on a fixed income can be challenging, but with careful budgeting and financial planning, you can better ensure long-term financial well-being. It may be helpful to consult a trusted financial advisor to map out what lifestyle is feasible with your budget, and how to cut costs and prioritize spending. Remember to pay for necessities before discretionary spending and give yourself some cushion for unexpected bills. Many active older adults enjoy engaging in part-time work or ‘encore careers’ post-retirement which, in addition to providing a welcome increase in income, may also bring structure, social opportunities, and a sense of purpose. Be creative in finding free ways to have fun and engage in self-care, like utilizing your local library, walking in the park, or volunteering.” --Karen Magruder, LCSW-S – Assistant Professor of Practice, University of Texas at Arlington
“There is no shame in cutting corners! Clipping coupons and signing up for the many “senior discounts” offered by AARP (and other organizations or businesses) is a good start. Also, there are lots of hidden discounts for older adults. For instance, many cellphone service providers have perks for those ages 55+ like free access to TV streaming services. Prioritize necessities. Food, housing, and medication should come first – and only then should extra money be spent on luxuries like meals out…Develop a budget and stick to it. If you are not tech-savvy, reach out to a friend who can help set you up with budget software. Consider working part-time or signing up for a federal volunteer program like AmeriCorps which provides small stipends to age 55+ volunteers.” --Deborah Carr – Director of the Center of Innovation in Social Science; Professor, Boston University

What are the top factors retirees should consider when choosing a state for retirement?

“Proximity to family and friends, local living costs and features (e.g., low crime rate, high-quality hospitals, and proximity to airports), tax structure (nine states have no state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming), and weather (some people want to get away from cold winter weather, ice, and snow).” --Barbara O'Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, CRPC, AFC®, CFEd, CPFFE – Distinguished Professor Emerita, Rutgers University
“The first big decision is whether to relocate at all. For many, staying in their long-time neighborhood where they have friends, community, and routine can be best. Buying and selling a home also involves costly legal fees. For those looking to relocate, however, important financial factors include housing costs, health care costs, and access, cost of living…, taxes (including income, property, and sales taxes); climate - some parts of the U.S. are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events from heat waves to floods to blizzards. These climate change-driven crises can be especially harmful to older adults’ health. But there are also financial costs. Home insurance rates can go up steeply in a place at risk of extreme weather damage.” --Deborah Carr – Director of the Center of Innovation in Social Science; Professor, Boston University

The financial impact of inflation has many Americans reevaluating their retirement plans. What are some new points of concern for future retirees in considering where to retire?

“Inflation basically erodes the purchasing power of money over time, potentially diminishing the value of existing retirement savings. Retirees need to anticipate a potentially higher cost of living due to inflation, which includes everyday expenses such as housing, healthcare, groceries, and transportation. Healthcare tends to be especially sensitive to inflation, so retirees may need to budget for the possibility of rising medical expenses, insurance premiums, and prescription drug costs. While Social Security benefits include cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), these may not always keep pace with the actual inflation rate, so you should also factor in the potential for Social Security income to lose some purchasing power over time. Overall, building financial flexibility into your retirement plans and having some extra cushion becomes essential.” --Karen Magruder, LCSW-S – Assistant Professor of Practice, University of Texas at Arlington
“Number one for many people in choosing a retirement location is having a social network (family and friends) nearby to provide possible caregiving services in the future as well as emotional, and sometimes financial, support. Inflation makes this priority even more important when retirees’ incomes cannot stretch as far as they used to. A new point of concern is that living expenses have increased significantly in some areas of the U.S. as a result of inflation (e.g., building materials and labor costs) and other factors (e.g., natural disasters).” --Barbara O'Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, CRPC, AFC®, CFEd, CPFFE – Distinguished Professor Emerita, Rutgers University

Key Takeaways from WalletHub's Retirement Savings Survey

--Americans worry about retirement. More than 3 in 10 people feel anxious when thinking about retirement.
--Too many people lack a plan. More than 1 in 3 Americans don’t have a retirement plan.
--Nearly half the nation lacks confidence. 46% of Americans are not confident they will have enough money to retire.
--Many people may never retire. 39% of people say they expect to work until they die.
--Debt takes precedence. More than 3 in 5 Americans think paying off debt is more important than making retirement contributions.
--Many people are obsessed with retirement. 31% of people think about retirement all the time.

-- For the full report, visit: 
-- For the full survey, visit:
Share this story!