If you're behind on your retirement saving, you're not alone. Half of adults over age 55 have no retirement savings at all, according to a survey from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and only around a quarter of U.S. adults are considered financially healthy, a report from the Financial Health Network found.
When you're nearing retirement age with little to no savings, you'll likely end up relying on your Social Security benefits to get by. That's not necessarily an ideal way to spend retirement, because the average beneficiary only receives around $1,400 per month, according to the Social Security Administration. There's also the possibility that benefits could be cut in the next few decades, so if you still have time to save for retirement, it's best to save as much as you can.
That being said, if you have no other option than to depend primarily on Social Security benefits to make ends meet, there are a few U.S. cities where you can live comfortably on just $1,400 per month.
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1. Palm Bay, Florida
There's a reason why Florida is one of the most popular destinations for retirees. Who doesn't want to spend their golden years lounging on the beach with year-round sunny days? Besides the beaches and weather, though, one major advantage to retiring in the Sunshine State is that there's no personal state income tax -- including on Social Security benefits. When you're trying to stretch every dollar, saving money on taxes goes a long way.
For those looking to buy a home in their new retirement destination, Palm Bay is an affordable choice. The median home value is around $180,000, and renters can expect to pay around $1,000 per month for a 900-square-foot apartment.
Halfway between Orlando and Miami, Palm Bay is a quiet town with access to big-city amenities. It's also an ideal choice for anyone looking for outdoor adventures with plenty of hiking trails, beautiful beaches, and fishing spots -- free activities ideal for anyone on a budget. Because it's a smaller town, you won't spend as much on transportation to get around as you would in a larger city.
2. Brownsville, Texas
Texas is another state that doesn't have a personal state income tax, making it a popular place for retirees looking to squeeze every dollar out of their Social Security checks.
Brownsville is one of the most affordable cities in Texas, with a median home value of around $90,000 and average rent of about $700 per month. The city is also in the midst of a very hot housing market so if you buy a home now and the town continues to flourish, you may be able to sell for a pretty penny down the road.
The Texas town boasts beautiful weather year-round, with an annual average of 233 sunny days and comfortable mid-winter temperatures in the 50s. Brownsville is also less than an hour's drive from South Padre Island, which offers a wide variety of activities including shops and restaurants, waterparks, museums, and golf courses -- so you'll never have to stave off boredom in retirement.
3. Sun City, Arizona
If you're looking for a place designed specifically for retirees, you can't beat Sun City, Arizona, a planned retirement community. Roughly three-quarters of the population is over 65 -- so you'll be surrounded by folks enjoying their golden years.
The median home value is around $180,000, making it an affordable place to settle down. And although the average rent price is slightly high at around $1,100 per month, the community offers plenty of free and low-cost activities such as museums, parks and trails, and social clubs for retirees. Also, because the city is only roughly 20 square miles in size, you'll save money on transportation costs. Plus, residents can roam the city using golf carts, so you may not even need a car to enjoy life here.
For those concerned about spending the rest of their lives in a small retirement community, Sun City is a half-hour drive from Phoenix, less than two hours from Sedona, four hours from the Grand Canyon, and almost five hours from Las Vegas, for those seeking a more adventurous trip.
4. Spokane, Washington
The West Coast tends to be an expensive area of the country to live, making it out of the budget for most retirees. But if you're yearning to live in the mountains surrounded by lush forests, Spokane may be the right destination for you.
Although home prices are on the pricey side, with a median home value of around $212,000, average rent prices are roughly $970 per month for an 800-square-foot apartment. Compared to other nearby cities like Seattle and Redmond, where median home prices are between $750,000 and $850,000, living in Spokane is a steal.
If you're looking for a more temperate climate, the Pacific Northwest is an ideal place to live. With summer highs reaching the low 80s and winter lows barely dipping below freezing levels, Spokane offers mild temperatures all year long. Just make sure you can tolerate the rain and snow, as the city receives an average of 16 inches of rain and 45 inches of snow per year.
One of the biggest advantages of living in Spokane is being surrounded by beautiful nature. Between the famous waterfalls, picturesque parks, and stunning walking and hiking trails with views of the downtown skyline, the city is an ideal destination for nature-lovers and those looking for free fun activities for the whole family.
Choosing where to live in retirement is a big decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. If your savings are sparse, it may seem like your retirement options are limited. But by choosing the right retirement destination within your budget and offers plenty of fun retirement activities, you can enjoy your golden years to the fullest without worrying about running out of money in retirement.
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