For most people, retirement marks the beginning of a better quality of life. But some things are more difficult in retirement - finances are tighter, storms and disasters are harder to recover from, and time may seem quite long when you’re not spending eight hours per day working.
A lot of those difficulties, though, can be alleviated by retiring in a safe, affordable, accessible city. Check out our article, 9 Easiest Places To Retire On A Fixed Income, for advice on where you should settle in retirement. Keep reading for advice on cities to avoid.
1. Dover, Delaware
Housing prices in Dover are fair, averaging less than $200,000, but the city’s affordability is overshadowed by its exceptionally high crime rate. While crime rates are dropping, Dover is still considered one of the most dangerous cities in the United States.
The city gets about 45 inches of rain and 15 inches of snow per year across 167 days. With 167 sunless days per year, staying active in Dover can be challenging.
The weather isn’t the only thing that’ll keep you in the house, though. Dover’s Walk Score (a measure of walkability) is a modest 35. It’s Transit Score is even less impressive, at 29. For perspective, Wilmington, Delaware’s most populous city, boasts a Walk Score and Transit Score of 73 and 50, respectively.
2. Auburn-Opelika, Alabama
The Auburn-Opelika metro area is quite charming at first glance. There are plenty of quaint historic houses, and there’s always something interesting happening, from festivals to fitness classes. The cost of living is nearly 10% less than the national average.
Unfortunately, the district has seen a major spike in crime rates since 2012. In fact, the incidence of crime has more than doubled.
The district is temperate and only sees about an inch of snow each year. However, there’s no shortage of rain, with an average of 54 inches across about 160 days. Thunderstorms and local flooding are not uncommon.
Auburn has a Walk Score of 27, why Opelika fares even worse at 17. Walk Score rates the entire district as car-dependent. There aren’t many bike lanes, either, so you’ll need to drive to a park or green space if you want to be active outside.
3. Fairbanks, Alaska
If the subarctic climate isn’t enough to keep you away, former Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth declared an opioid crisis in 2018 and attributes the escalating crime rate to the escalating drug crisis.
The crime rate in Fairbanks isn’t quite as high as it is in the rest of Alaska, but it’s about 60% higher than the national average.
The temperature is uncomfortably cold in Fairbanks most of the time, and in June, July, and August, when the temperatures are bearable, it rains one-third of the time.
The city has a sub-par Walk Score of 33, and transit services are minimal. Fairbanks is somewhat bikeable, but we don’t endorse riding a bicycle in the snow.
4. Flagstaff, Arizona
Tourist brochures on Flagstaff depict a dream destination. Known as The City of Seven Wonders, Flagstaff is located in the Coconino National Forest and is surrounded by 7 natural wonders, including the Grand Canyon, Sunset Crater, and the San Francisco Peaks.
Sadly, the city has been plagued by an increase in every type of violent crime across the past eight years. No rate has increased as much as the murder rate; however, which has jumped more than 150%.
Natural disasters are rare in Flagstaff, but the city sees about 81 inches of snow per year - that’s more than three times the national average. Rainstorms are a common occurrence during the Spring and Summer.
Flagstaff is a car-dependent city, with a Walk Score of 38 and a Transit Score of 35. The cost of living is more than 15% higher than the national average.
5. Los Angeles, California
LA is a dreamy city and a definite must-see for vacationers. Living in Los Angeles is nowhere near as enticing. Los Angeles is an incredibly expensive place to live, with a median house price of about $450,000.
The weather in Los Angeles is wonderful but dry. It’s impossible to discuss Los Angeles without mentioning California’s wildfire season. In this past season, more than 259,823 acres of land were lost.
Los Angeles is well-equipped in terms of police, but the crime rate is still higher than the national average.
Los Angeles is a walkable city, with a Walk Score of 68. Transit is exceptional, and many areas are bicycle-friendly. Traffic can be a nightmare, so if you are considering relocating to Los Angeles, you’ll likely rely heavily on public transit.
6. Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo may seem like an excellent place to retire. Homes are affordable (at a median price of about $180,000), and the cost of living is low. The reason Pueblo is affordable, though, is that many of the neighborhoods are older, and many houses are poorly kept.
There are good and bad neighborhoods in Pueblo. Some areas are safer than others. The crime rate is on the rise, and the city’s violent crime rate is nearly twice as high as the rate in Colorado as a whole.
Pueblo’s climate is fair. The winter months are cool, but not cold. The rest of the year is comfortable. Pueblo sees 25 inches of snow per year, which is near the national average of 28.
The riverwalk is breathtaking, and there are places to kayak and paddle board when the weather permits. The downtown and State Fair districts are foot-traffic-friendly, but the rest of the city fares poorly, with a Walk Score of 35.
7. St. Louis, Missouri
It’s a buyers market in terms of real estate in Missouri. There’s an abundance of houses for sale, and the median price is around $155,000. Despite the plentiful housing options, however, the population rate is growing at less than one-quarter the rate of population growth across the nation.
Crime is on the rise in St. Louis and has been rising consistently for quite some time. Its crime rate is significantly higher than in both Missouri and the nation. The violent crime rate is exceptionally high, at more than 2000 incidents per 100,000 people.
Summers in St. Louis are hot and humid. Winters are cold, with about 16 inches of snow per season. About one-third of the days are rainy between March and June, inclusive.
The city is walkable and bikeable, with scores of 65 and 62. Public transportation is okay, but most people need a second mode of transportation.
8. Detroit, MI
Before the rise in St. Louis’ crime rate, Detroit held the position of America’s Most Dangerous City. The city is undergoing an impressive revitalization program, and its population is rising.
At nearly three times the national average, Detroit’s crime rate is cause for concern. The city has a heavy police presence, but it seems it’ll take much more than that to reduce crime.
Winters in Detroit are cold and snowy. Summers are warm (not hot) but short.
The Walk Score and Bike Score are poor right now, at 53 and 55, but developers and city officials aim to improve those numbers dramatically throughout the city’s revitalization process.
If you’re not retiring right away, don’t count Detroit out. With its massive redevelopment, officials are expecting big changes for the city within the next few years.
9. Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is an affordable city with fair housing prices (about $155,000, on average). There are many beautiful parks and outdoor spaces.
The crime rate is high, at three times the national average. Many of these crimes are violent. The city has an average number of law enforcement officers.
The city has a controversial past, and tensions are high right now, as issues surrounding segregation are at the forefront of public policy and human rights discussions.
With its subtropical climate, temperatures in Little Rock are relatively high all year. Winters are comfortable, and it rarely snows. Summers can be extremely hot, though, and people who are at a higher risk for dehydration and heat stroke (including seniors) may find themselves restricted to air-conditioned environments. To make matters worse, Little Rock is in Tornado Alley, and the frequency of tornadoes is much higher than average.
Little Rock’s Walk Score is an unimpressive 32, and its Transit Score is worse, at 19. It’s a car-dependent city with minimal public transportation.
10. Jersey City, New Jersey
Tax rates are so hefty in Jersey that even Jersey natives don’t want to retire there. With high housing costs (up almost 160% since 2000) and the highest property taxes in the nation, people on a fixed income may struggle to make ends meet.
While there are more police in Jersey City than ever, crime is on the rise. Jersey’s crime rate is higher than the state and national averages.
Winters in Jersey City are cold and long. The city sees 48 inches of rain and 26 inches of snow per year.
Jersey City’s Walk Score is remarkable at 87, but with eight or more rainy days nearly every month, you may not be able to take advantage of the city’s walkability.
Preparing for retirement is tough, and the idea of relocating can be daunting. Give yourself plenty of time to find your new home. Consider an extended visit before you take the plunge. If you’re considering a city that’s not on the list, check out USA.com for climate, crime, and affordability stats. Walk Score is an excellent resource for learning about a city’s walkability, bikeability, and transit services.