Special Report

The Best (and Worst) States to Grow Old

1. Hawaii
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up:
16.1% (8th highest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 8.2% (20th lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor attainment: 27.8% (14th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.6 years (the highest)

Hawaii leads the nation as the best place in which to grow old. Its geographical location in the center of the Pacific Ocean makes moving there cost-prohibitive for most Americans. Living in Hawaii is more expensive than living in any other state, which means state residents, including the elderly, tend to have high incomes. The typical home with an elderly head of household earns $58,150 annually, the second highest in the country. The elderly population in Hawaii is relatively large — 16.1% of residents are 65 or older, the eighth highest share nationwide. Many of the state’s elderly residents are likely in relatively good health, as Hawaii residents also tend to live longer than most Americans. The state’s life expectancy of nearly 81 years is the highest in the nation.

2. Wyoming
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up:
13.8% (10th lowest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 6.2% (3rd lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor attainment: 26.0% (20th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.0 years (19th lowest)

Wyoming’s elderly population is well off financially compared to elderly populations in other states. Just 6.2% of the state’s 65 and older population lives in poverty, the third lowest rate compared with other states. Also, 4.3% of elderly Wyoming households rely on food stamps, the lowest such share in the country. By contrast, 9.0% of Americans 65 and older receive SNAP benefits. Housing is also relatively affordable for elderly Wyoming residents. More than half of elderly American renters spend more than 30% of their incomes on housing costs. In Wyoming, just 40.2% of renters 65 and older spend such a high share, nearly the lowest proportion nationwide.

3. New Hampshire
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up:
15.8% (11th highest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 5.1% (2nd lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor attainment: 30.4% (4th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.9 years (7th highest)

Nearly 16% of New Hampshire’s 1.3 million residents are 65 and older. The poverty rate among the state’s elderly population is only 5.1%. Only Alaska’s elderly population has a lower poverty rate. The elderly are especially vulnerable to food insecurity, as inadequate access to nutritious food will hinder the mental and physical health of senior citizens more than other adults. In the Granite State, only 5.1% of seniors report being unable to afford food on a regular basis, one of the smallest shares in the nation and much less than the 8.4% food insecurity rate among the elderly across the country. The elderly are often perceived as more vulnerable and are therefore often targeted by criminals. However, living in New Hampshire is especially safe as the state’s violent crime rate of 196.1 incidents per 100,000 people is one of the lowest in the nation.

4. Colorado
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up:
12.7% (5th lowest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 7.1% (7th lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor attainment: 34.0% (the highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.6 years (10th highest)

Though the share of Colorado’s elderly population is relatively small, the state’s senior citizens are among the best situated in the country. Only 7.1% of 65 and older residents live in poverty, a much smaller share than the 9.5% of American seniors living in poverty. Higher college attainment rates typically lead to lower unemployment rates, higher incomes, and a generally higher quality of life. In Colorado, 34% of those 65 and older have a bachelor’s degree, the highest college attainment rate among seniors in any state. Perhaps as a result, median household income in Colorado among those 65 and older is slightly more than $45,000, roughly $6,000 more than the corresponding national average.

5. Minnesota
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up:
14.3% (17th lowest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 7.5% (12th lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor attainment: 26.2% (18th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.4 years (3rd highest)

Fewer than one in three 65 and older Minnesota residents are considered disabled, the third lowest proportion and well below the national average of 36%. While this does not consider the institutionalized population, many of whom are in nursing homes and likely also disabled, the low share reflects relative health among the state’s elderly. Food insecurity, a difficult challenge for older Americans in particular, is also relatively uncommon in Minnesota. Just 4.8% of seniors struggle to afford food on a regular basis, the fourth lowest percentage nationwide. A relatively low incidence of disability and strong access to nutritious food reflect relative health among the state’s elderly. A healthy older population helps extend life expectancy for the population as a whole. In Minnesota, the life expectancy of over 80 years is among the highest in the country.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.