Social Security is an essential safety net for many Americans. Even if you haven't saved enough for retirement, you can still count on Social Security benefits in retirement.
However, with an average monthly benefit of just over $1,400, America's most expensive cities are far out of reach without another source of income. If you do have to rely on your Social Security benefits alone — and still want to make the most of your golden years — you'll need to live somewhere affordable that won't compromise your quality of life.
That's why GOBankingRates compiled a list of the 20 best cities to live off of just Social Security. The study factored in the cost of living, livability and median rent and — after comparing the 143 largest cities in the U.S. — combined the scores to determine where you really can get by on just your Social Security benefit.
20. Lubbock, Texas
Cost of Living Score: 79.9Livability Score: 68Average Rent: $719Lubbock is one of five Texas cities identified in the study as a good place to live just on Social Security. Its relatively low livability score and rent of more than $700 per month prevented it from moving up on the list.Related: 50 Cheapest Places To Retire Across America
19. Toledo, Ohio
Cost of Living Score: 72.7Livability Score: 62Average Rent: $651Toledo's cost of living indicates that you can expect to spend more than 25% less on your basic expenses than you would in the rest of the country, on average. What's more, Toledo is one of the cities where your money stretches the furthest, according to a separate GOBankingRates study.Read: 27 Genius Things Retirees Should Do With Their Money Now
18. Cleveland, Ohio
Cost of Living Score: 72.6Livability Score: 60Average Rent: $612If you're younger and looking to avoid living off your Social Security check alone when you reach retirement, one of the best ways is to start saving early. However, even if it's too late to build the sort of nest egg you would like, a city like Cleveland — which combines modest rent with a low cost of living — should help you make the most of your Social Security benefits.
17. Magnolia, Texas
Cost of Living Score: 104Livability Score: 80Average Rent: $773Magnolia is about 45 miles northwest of Houston in fast-growing Montgomery County. Its popularity probably has led to the high rental rate in the city - eighth-highest on the list. It also has the second-highest cost of living in the study.Find Out: 35 Countries Where Social Security Goes Far
16. Richmond, Texas
Cost of Living Score: 108.2Livability Score: 82Average Rent: $780Also located in the Houston metropolitan area is Richmond, and it has the highest cost-of-living index in the study. It's livability score is among the biggest, too.
15. Roanoke, Virginia
Cost of Living Score: 84.1Livability Score: 75Average Rent: $792The average rent cost in Roanoke is the fourth-highest on the list, but its lower cost of living and high livability rates make it desirable for retirees. If you wanted supplement your Social Security earnings, Roanoke is a good place to do it. Another GOBankingRates study showed it's one of the top 20 cities for remote workers.
14. Lincoln, Nebraska
Cost of Living Score: 89.8Livability Score: 78Average Rent: $806The average rent in Lincoln of $806 is second-highest on the list, but overall, living in this college town still is 10% cheaper to live in than the rest of the United States.
13. Grand Forks, North Dakota
Cost of Living Score: 88.2Livability Score: 74Average Rent: $733Grand Forks is the northernmost city on the list, and one of two in North Dakota. At $733, rent in Grand Forks is at the midpoint, but it's still 11% less expensive to live here than elsewhere.
12. Odessa, Texas
Cost of Living Score: 88Livability Score: 63Average Rent: $504The primary appeal of Odessa to retirees is the low cost of rent. At $504 per month, it's the cheapest in the study - and by a wide margin. But the livability score of 63 also is among the lowest, knocking Odessa to No. 12 on the list.
11. Fargo, North Dakota
Cost of Living Score: 91.9Livability Score: 77Average Rent: $740Fargo is one of the best cities to live in on a fixed income, another GOBanking rates study revealed. That should appeal to those relying on Social Security.Related: 10 US Cities With Plenty of Jobs and Cheap Housing
10. Davenport, Iowa
Cost of Living Score: 81.7Livability Score: 69Average Rent: $644It costs about 19% less to live in Davenport than the average American city, fueled by its average rent of $644 per month. Dragging it down is its livability score of just 69.
9. Abilene, Texas
Cost of Living Score: 78.1Livability Score: 75Average Rent: $780The last of the five Texas cities on the list, Abilene has a cost of living that is about 22% below the national average - one of the lowest in the study. That makes the comparatively high apartment cost of $780 easier to bear.
8. Norman, Oklahoma
Cost of Living Score: 89.4Livability Score: 76Average Rent: $715Norman is the home of the University of Oklahoma, and living surrounded by all of those college students will keep a retiree young. The average rent of $715 is the seventh-lowest among cities on the list.
7. Lake Charles, Louisiana
Cost of Living Score: 83.4Livability Score: 70Average Rent: $622For retirees interested in living near the water, with all of the recreational opportunities that brings - think fishing! - there's good news: Lake Charles has the third-lowest rent cost of the cities considered in this study.
6. Des Moines, Iowa
Cost of Living Score: 81.2Livability Score: 75Average Rent: $729Des Moines scored high in two categories, livability and cost of living, which led to its No. 6 ranking on this list.
5. Rochester, Minnesota
Cost of Living Score: 94.1Livability Score: 84Average Rent: $800About 3 million people visit Rochester annually, many of them to visit with doctors at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, which opened in the city in 1889. While rents are the third-highest in the study, its livability score is high, too, making it desirable for retirees.
4. Fort Wayne, Indiana
Cost of Living Score: 78.9Livability Score: 75Average Rent: $718Fort Wayne is a little pricier than many of the other cities on this list, but it still is among one of the best cities in the nation to retire on $1,500 a month, found a separate GOBankingRates study.
3. St. Charles, Missouri
Cost of Living Score: 92.2Livability Score: 86Average Rent: $831St. Charles has the highest rental cost in the study at $831 but it also has the highest livability score at 86. There's a lot for retirees to do there, from exploring historic Main Street to touring the local wine country.Plan for the Future: What Social Security Will Look Like in 2035
2. Lynchburg, Virginia
Cost of Living Score: 82.9Livability Score: 81Average Rent: $786Lynchburg's relatively high livability score is the primary factor in pushing the city to No. 2 on this list, but its retiree-friendly cost of living is another major factor. The cost of living is about 17% below the U.S. average.
1. Rock Springs, Wyoming
Cost of Living Score: 96.2Livability Score: 83Average Rent: $692Outlaw Butch Cassidy once called Rock Springs, an outpost of the Old West, home. Today, it's a city welcoming to retirees, with a low average rent of $692 and a high livability score. An old mining town located in the high desert, Rock Springs is near the Killpecker Sand Dunes, which are the largest sand dunes in North America.More From GOBankingRatesThe 5 Fastest Ways To Become Rich, According To Experts
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Joel Anderson contributed to the reporting for this article.Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best places to live on only a Social Security check based on the (1) average monthly benefit for retired workers, $1,518.97, sourced from Social Security Administration; (2) the overall cost of living in each city, sourced from Sperling's Best Places; (3) average 2021 rent for a one-bedroom apartment as sourced from ApartmentList,; and (4) Livability scores sourced from areavibes. Factors (2) through (4) were scored and combined with the lowest score being best. Factor (4) was weighted double in final calculations. All data was collected and is up to date as of Dec. 14, 2021.
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 20 Best Places To Live on Only a Social Security Check