The 10 Worst Places to Retire

The expensive cost of living and high taxes make these places unattractive retirement spots.

Washington DC cherry blossom with Washington memorial and lake reflection.
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Oxnard, Calif.

Just 60 miles from Los Angeles, the seaside city of Oxnard is known for its sweet locally grown strawberries and year-round pleasant weather. But those simple pleasures don't come cheap in the Oxnard metro area, which also includes Thousand Oaks and Ventura, Calif. People age 60 and older with mortgages pay a median of $2,107 each month. Retiree renters pay about half that amount, but a still-pricy $1,148 per month. Retirees who have paid off their homes face a more reasonable $476 in monthly housing costs. The daily rate for a nursing home in Oxnard costs a median of $201, which is similar to the national median rate, but assisted living facilities cost an above-average $4,000 per month. As in other parts of California, pension income, including 401(k) and IRA withdrawals, is generally taxable.

Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Located midway between New York City and Albany, this Hudson River city has hot summers and cold winters that include sometimes significant amounts of snow. Housing costs for retirees are almost as high as those in New York City, costing people age 60 and older $1,918 monthly with a mortgage, $746 if they have paid off the house, or $979 monthly in rent. Long-term care expenses, while lower than those in Manhattan, still cost a median of $371 per day for a nursing home or $3,900 monthly for an assisted living facility. New York state does provide some tax breaks for retirees, including allowing them to subtract Social Security benefits from their adjusted gross income and exempting the first $20,000 of pension and annuity income for individuals age 59½ or older.

San Diego

This sunny city near the Mexican border has mild winters and warm summers. And the UC San Diego Medical Center is ranked 37th in the nation for geriatric care. Long-term care typically costs $213 per day for a nursing home or $3,075 monthly for assisted living, which is similar to the rest of the country. What makes it difficult to retire in the San Diego metro area, which includes Carlsbad and San Marcos, are the high housing costs. People age 60 and older spend a median of over $1,000 per month on rent and $1,971 monthly on their mortgages, although costs drop to $436 monthly for seniors who have paid off their houses.

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San Francisco

If you can't stand the heat, head to San Francisco, where you can expect cool and foggy summers and a rainy season in the winter. The city has incredible parks and beaches, and an excellent public transportation system that gives a significant discount to senior citizens. And the UCSF Medical Center is among the top 25 hospitals for geriatrics in the country. The city's big drawback is the cost of housing, which costs people age 60 and older a median of $1,034 in monthly rent or $2,227 in mortgage payments and other carrying costs. And only the wealthiest retirees are likely to be able to afford the steep $4,250 median monthly cost for an assisted living facility or the median $395 daily rate for a nursing home.

San Jose, Calif.

The Silicon Valley area is the place to be for entrepreneurs, and you'll meet plenty of people with ideas for the next great start-up company. But retirees who didn't have the foresight to acquire a few hundred shares of a rock-star company before it went public are likely to be priced out of the housing market. Retirees with mortgages in San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara pay an average of $2,266 per month, and renters are charged a median of $1,059 monthly. Healthcare costs could run $3,500 monthly for an assisted living facility, or $258 per day for a nursing home. Social Security benefits aren't taxed in the state of California, but retirement account withdrawals generally are.

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Washington, D.C.

There are lots of free things to do in the D.C. area, including admission to nearly all of the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo. The hard part is being able to afford to live close enough to take advantage of these world-class exhibits on a regular basis. The typical renter age 60 and older spends $1,122 per month to live in the Washington metro area. Homeowners with a mortgage pay even more: a median of $1,974 per month. And even those who have paid off their mortgages face other housing costs amounting to $652 per month. Median long-term care costs are slightly higher than the rest of the country, typically costing $243 per day for a nursing home stay or $3,698 monthly for assisted living.