Best Cities to Retire on Just Your Social Security Income

10 Cities to Live Comfortably on Social Security Benefits

Couple researching for best places to retire on social security

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Finding a place to retire comfortably—both physically and financially—can seem like a daunting task. But it certainly doesn’t have to be. The good news: You’ve got options. Whether you’re a soon-to-be retiree or just charting your course, there are ways to keep costs under control while enjoying your golden years. It may come as a surprise to learn the biggest money saver is all about location, location, location.

Across the U.S., there are plenty of attractive and interesting cities that offer a low cost of living and manageable tax burden. And the idea of moving to a new locale isn’t uncommon. 

A recent survey on the topic found that most Americans approaching retirement weren’t satisfied staying in one place. In fact, 57% plan to move out of their current home, while 22% plan to buy an additional home during their retirement years. Many were looking for a more rural, small-town experience, while others favored a more urban environment.

Whatever your preference for the atmosphere of your post-career home, choices abound that are affordable. In fact, many locales are so affordable that it’s theoretically possible for a retired couple to live on just Social Security benefits alone. 

And trust me, you won’t have to make big compromises or lifestyle sacrifices—these places span the range of urban to rural and offer easy access to amenities and quality healthcare options. Take a look at the list below and make sure you're saving enough to start planning your next life move. 

San Antonio, Texas

A major city in South Central Texas with a rich colonial heritage, historic San Antonio is home to cutting-edge technology at its University Hospital. Couple that with cheap costs of living, and you have a win-win. Renters pay a median of $816 per month, while homeowners pay a median of $1,146 monthly with a mortgage to $430 per month without one.

Rochester, New York

Situated on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, Rochester is known for its frosty winters. But if you can weather the snow, you can live a relatively low-cost retirement. Retired residents pay a median of $1,179 per month with a mortgage and $555 with a paid-off house. Retirees who rent are charged a median of $778 per month.

Cape Coral, Florida

How does waterfront property, access to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caloosahatchee River, and over 400 miles of canals sound to you? In Cape Coral, this kind of living is a way of life. And a view of the water won’t cost you a fortune, either. The median monthly homeownership cost for people age 65 and older is $1,251 with a mortgage. The median rent is $983 per month.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

You’ll find a sports fan’s paradise in Pittsburgh. Here, costs for retired homeowners range from $1,069 with a mortgage to $468 without one. The median rent for retirees is $617 per month.

Boise, Idaho

Looking for dry summers and temperate winters? Look no further than Boise, a capital city that offers retirees with paid-off homes extremely low housing costs—around $350 per month. The city is also home to a thriving arts and entertainment community that offers many free or low-cost events. Another perk—Idaho residents 60 or older can take classes at Boise State University for just $5 per credit hour.

Richmond, Virginia

Located on the gorgeous James River just two hours south of the crazy-expensive Washington, DC, area, the vibrant, history-rich city of Richmond is a place where retired couples can live comfortably. The median retiree homeowner pays $1,282 per month with a mortgage. That number drops to $465 among retirees who have paid off their homes. The median rent is about $905 monthly.

Spokane, Washington

Offering plenty of outdoor activities, Spokane is a great place for nature and adventure enthusiasts to reside, at a low overall cost of living. For retirees with a mortgage, housing costs are a median of $1,130, but that drops to $425 per month among retirees who have paid off their home. Renters pay a median of $662 monthly.

Dayton, Ohio

Home to several top-rated hospitals and a thriving arts community, Dayton is a retirement destination that offers plenty of perks. Here, housing costs come in at a median of $469 for retirees with a paid-off house, $659 for renters, and $1,080 monthly for retirees with a mortgage.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Known for its art and culture scene, outdoor recreation, and booming health care industry, Grand Rapids remains remarkably affordable. Housing costs here see a median of $1,113 for retirees with a mortgage, $434 for retirees without a mortgage, and $726 per month for renters.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

This Rocky Mountain city provides scenic beauty with a low price tag. For retirees who have paid off their mortgages, housing costs are around $393 per month. Retirees with a mortgage are looking at costs of about $1,221, and those looking to rent will pay about $827 per month.