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Richard Rider

Kiplinger ranks CA as worst state to retire in — but their methodology is sloppy

My attention was drawn to a recent Kiplinger study purporting to compare the attractiveness of states for retirees.  It took five minutes for me to verify the report constitutes sloppy work.  I’m genuinely puzzled how and why a supposedly reputable financial advisory firm would distribute such a slipshod analysis.

But sadly, as I point out below, at least Kiplinger got California right.  Yup, we rank as the worst state.  Again.  That matches the Fidelity retiree study done in 2014.

To check the veracity of the study, I went to their Texas summary, ranked as the 10th worst state to retire in.  While there are many factors that affect a state’s attractiveness, some are objective facts that should be easy to glean.

According to Kiplinger, the Texas cost of living (COL) is 1.5% above the national average. That’s total bullshit.  Here’s a couple references:

The “How Stuff Works” survey ranks Texas as the fourth lowest COL.  That makes the Kiplinger assertion far too big a ’rounding’ error to be credible.

Moreover, the study says that the Texas poverty level is above average.  While that’s true under the OLD measure, any honest appraisal of poverty income levels now adjusts for the COL in the state.  This BLS official “supplemental poverty level” shows that Texas poverty is at or below the national average.

BTW, California’s real poverty rate (the new census bureau standard adjusted for COL) is easily the worst in the nation at 23.4%.  We are 57.3% higher than the average for the other 49 states (up from 48.8% higher last year).  Indeed, the CA poverty rate is 17.0% higher than 2nd place Nevada.    page 9

As I said, Kiplinger got ONE state right.  They rate California the worst state for retirees.  Moreover, their write-up for CA is accurate (as opposed to the Texas write-up).  I just wish Kiplinger had put more effort into providing quality analysis for all the states.