8 Worst Places to Retire
When you're looking for a location to retire, you probably have a long list of criteria: prices you can afford, proximity to your children, and a climate that's just right. After all, this is where you're going to live out your golden years. But all too often, retirees overlook several important factors—and wind up making the wrong move. To avoid the same fate, read on as we reveal the eight worst retirement spots in America.
Not-So-Hot Spots for Seniors
Before you embark on your hunt for the perfect place, check out the eight worst spots to retire so you can cross these locales off your list. The rankings are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, National Weather Service, and Federal Aviation Administration.
1. Caribou, Maine
Taking up skiing during your retirement sounds like a great idea, and good skiing calls for snow—but this New England town takes it to extremes. Caribou sees an average of 116 inches of snowfall a year, and in the 2007/2008 winter season, it reported a record snowfall of 197.8 inches. Plus, planning a trip to see the grandkids may prove difficult, since most of the airports in the state are about 200 miles away.
2. Washington, D.C.
Ah, the nation's capital—a symbol of justice, equality, and endless opportunities. Well, not exactly. In its 2005 American Community Survey, the U.S. Census Bureau found that 17.4 percent of residents 65 or older in Washington, D.C., were living at or below the poverty level. Combine this with the fact that air pollution and homicide rates are among the highest in the county, and you'd be doing yourself a major disservice by making the district your new home.
3. Stanley, Idaho
Looking to make new friends in retirement? Your options are going to be pretty scarce in small-town Stanley (pop. 101), where even longtime residents may not venture out of the house much. On any single day, this mountain town is often the coldest place in the continental United States. And if you want to fly somewhere warm from Stanley, it's not going to be easy. The state of Idaho has just six airports; compare that to states like Texas, for example, which has 25 commercial airports.
4. Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
Part of the Eastern Barrier Islands, this serene-sounding location can be anything but. In fact, it's infamous for being hit by hurricanes and tropical storms. Hurricane Isabel in 2003 was particularly devastating for the area, affecting the entire Outer Banks and damaging the nearby towns. So many ships have been lost in the area close to Cape Hatteras (which is filled with turbulent waters and shallow sandbars) that it is known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." Needless to say, it may not the best place to take up your dream hobby of sailing.
5. Green Valley, Arizona
It seems like everyone's retiring to Arizona these days. Although some spots remain great for seniors, Green Valley is quickly losing ground. This once-idyllic area is now facing problems with drugs, gangs, and violence. What's more, water sustainability is a major problem in the southwest. According to a 2007 report by its surrounding Pima County, the Green Valley area doesn't have a sustainable water supply, given current groundwater pumping rates, and supplies are expected to become critical within the next 10 years. You'd better bring your own water if you're looking to move here.
6. International Falls, Minnesota
Its official slogan, "Icebox of the Nation," pretty much sums it up. In fact, just days after unveiling the slogan on January 29, 2008, International Falls reached a record temperature low of -40°F, beating its previous record of -37°F in 1967. And don't depend on the hustle and bustle of the city to keep you warm during the wretched winters. Just 7,000 people reside here, and really, is it any wonder?
7. Quillayute, Washington
The average annual rainfall in Quillayutte is 101.7 inches a year. But at least that means the lakes and rivers (and the wildlife that live in them) are fresh and clean, right? Not exactly. Three recent studies by the Washington Department of Ecology showed that toxic chemicals banned decades ago continue to linger in the environment and concentrate in the food chain. The researchers also found unsafe levels of toxic substances in samples of freshwater fish and fish tissue collected from Lake Washington and the Spokane River, where fish consumption advisories are already in effect. So much for spending your retirement days freshwater fishing.
8. New York, New York
Sure, it's home to hundreds of Broadway shows as well as every type of cuisine available. But beware: You'll need a lot of money to live comfortably in the Big Apple. And how long could you keep up that lifestyle before your retirement funds run dry? Besides, your golden years should be relaxing and laid-back—not exactly the type of lifestyle offered in the city that never sleeps.
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