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20 Best Places To Live on Only a Social Security Check

·7 min read
CrackerClips / Getty Images/iStockphoto
CrackerClips / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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.

Read: 14 Key Signs You Will Run Out of Money in Retirement
Learn: Best and Worst States for Pensions

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.

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

20. Lubbock, Texas

Cost of Living Score: 79.9

Livability Score: 68

Average Rent: $719

Lubbock 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.

Ron_Thomas / iStock.com
Ron_Thomas / iStock.com

19. Toledo, Ohio

Cost of Living Score: 72.7

Livability Score: 62

Average Rent: $651

Toledo'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.

Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

18. Cleveland, Ohio

Cost of Living Score: 72.6

Livability Score: 60

Average Rent: $612

If 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.

RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto
RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

17. Magnolia, Texas

Cost of Living Score: 104

Livability Score: 80

Average Rent: $773

Magnolia 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.

Art Wager / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Art Wager / Getty Images/iStockphoto

16. Richmond, Texas

Cost of Living Score: 108.2

Livability Score: 82

Average Rent: $780

Also 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.

WilliamSherman / Getty Images/iStockphoto
WilliamSherman / Getty Images/iStockphoto

15. Roanoke, Virginia

Cost of Living Score: 84.1

Livability Score: 75

Average Rent: $792

The 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: 89.8

Livability Score: 78

Average Rent: $806

The 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.

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

13. Grand Forks, North Dakota

Cost of Living Score: 88.2

Livability Score: 74

Average Rent: $733

Grand 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.

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

12. Odessa, Texas

Cost of Living Score: 88

Livability Score: 63

Average Rent: $504

The 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.

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

11. Fargo, North Dakota

Cost of Living Score: 91.9

Livability Score: 77

Average Rent: $740

Fargo is one of the best cities to live in on a fixed income, another GOBankingRates study revealed. That should appeal to those relying on Social Security.


10. Davenport, Iowa

Cost of Living Score: 81.7

Livability Score: 69

Average Rent: $644

It 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.

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

9. Abilene, Texas

Cost of Living Score: 78.1

Livability Score: 75

Average Rent: $780

The 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.

Gau Meo / Shutterstock.com
Gau Meo / Shutterstock.com

8. Norman, Oklahoma

Cost of Living Score: 89.4

Livability Score: 76

Average Rent: $715

Norman 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: 83.4

Livability Score: 70

Average Rent: $622

For 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.

benkrut / Getty Images/iStockphoto
benkrut / Getty Images/iStockphoto

6. Des Moines, Iowa

Cost of Living Score: 81.2

Livability Score: 75

Average Rent: $729

Des Moines scored high in two categories, livability and cost of living, which led to its No. 6 ranking on this list.

IMG_191 / Shutterstock.com
IMG_191 / Shutterstock.com

5. Rochester, Minnesota

Cost of Living Score: 94.1

Livability Score: 84

Average Rent: $800

About 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.

ChrisBoswell / Getty Images/iStockphoto
ChrisBoswell / Getty Images/iStockphoto

4. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Cost of Living Score: 78.9

Livability Score: 75

Average Rent: $718

Fort 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.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

3. St. Charles, Missouri

Cost of Living Score: 92.2

Livability Score: 86

Average Rent: $831

St. 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.


2. Lynchburg, Virginia

Cost of Living Score: 82.9

Livability Score: 81

Average Rent: $786

Lynchburg'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: 96.2

Livability Score: 83

Average Rent: $692

Outlaw 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 GOBankingRates

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