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Best Cities to Retire on a Budget of $1,500 a Month

Joel Anderson

Finding space in your budget to save and invest money isn’t easy for everyone. In fact, a recent survey by GOBankingRates found that 55 percent of Americans who don’t invest attribute it to not having the money. As such, plenty of Americans are facing down a retirement where their only source of income is a monthly check from the Social Security Administration.

Still, living on a fixed income doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a satisfying retirement. In the right place, you might discover that you can stretch your budget further and spend your golden years enjoying yourself. To help you find such a place, a GOBankingRates study identified American cities where you can realistically retire on a budget of $1,500 a month. The study found 23 places where the average cost of groceries and healthcare — combined with the median rent of a one-bedroom apartment — collectively comes in at under $1,500. Cities also had to have a livability score of 65 or better from AreaVibes and a population where at least 10 percent are 65 or older to be considered for one of the best places to retire on a smaller income.

23. Casper, Wyo.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,473
  • Livability Score: 72

It’s Casper, the friendly town for retirees. With a livability score of 72, a median rent under $600 and no income taxes, this Wyoming town could be one of the best places to retire. That said, grocery costs are actually slightly higher than the national average at $324 a month.

22. Davenport, Iowa


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,472
  • Livability Score: 68

Davenport’s home to the second-highest average monthly rent in this study at $615 a month — making it one of just three cities on this list where rent exceeds $600 a month — but its average grocery bill of $306 a month is almost 4 percent under the national average.

21. Lubbock, Texas


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,456
  • Livability Score: 76

The one city where rent is likely to cost more than Davenport is Lubbock, where the median monthly rent on a one-bedroom apartment goes for $620. Still, with grocery costs over 5 percent below the national average and healthcare expenses 3 percent under, you’ll still be able to afford necessities on $1,500 a month.

20. Lorain, Ohio


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,442
  • Livability Score: 65

Lorain is one of just three cities in this study where 15 percent or more of the population are seniors and one of just five cities with a median monthly rent under $500 a month. So why doesn’t it rank higher? Both groceries and healthcare cost about 9 percent more than the national average here.

 

19. Cedar Rapids, Iowa


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,441
  • Livability Score: 76

The $300 average monthly grocery bill in Cedar Rapids is about 5.7 percent below the national average, which — along with a livability score of 76 — makes this Iowa town one of the cheaper places to retire.

18. Lawton, Okla.


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,437
  • Livability Score: 71

Grocery costs in Lawton are 3.7 percent below the national average, but that’s erased by the fact that healthcare costs are 4 percent above the national norm. It’s also the city with the lowest percentage of seniors in its population, just clearing the study’s threshold with exactly 10 percent of the population over 65.

17. Lynchburg, Va.


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,436
  • Livability Score: 75

Lynchburg — one of the best places to live on only a Social Security check — offers some of the biggest discounts on the cost of groceries in this study with an average monthly bill of $292 — some 8 percent below the national average.

16. Grand Forks, N.D.


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,430
  • Livability Score: 69

However grand the forks really are in this North Dakota city, you’ll have an easier time filling them with grocery costs that are 4.3 percent under the national average.

15. Bloomington, Ill.


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,416
  • Livability Score: 65

Bloomington — Illinois, not Indiana — doesn’t stand out in any one category, but offers savings across the board. The monthly grocery bill there is 3.8 percent below the national average, healthcare costs are 3 percent lower and median rent on a one-bedroom apartment is $575.

14. Shreveport, La.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,412
  • Livability Score: 66

Although the median rent of $595 in Shreveport is actually on the higher side for this study, it’s the city’s low healthcare costs that should make it attractive for cost-conscious retirees. At 7 percent below the national average, typical costs for healthcare there are among the lowest in the study.

13. El Paso, Texas

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,407
  • Livability Score: 79

Of course, if you’re looking for the lowest healthcare costs on this list, look no further than El Paso, where you can expect to spend 11 percent less than the average American. Add to that the second-highest livability score of the cities included here, and El Paso might be an attractive option for retirees looking to live comfortably.

 

12. Terra Haute, Ind.


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,405
  • Livability Score: 69

Another city where the cost of groceries is helping drive costs lower, Terre Haute’s average monthly bill of $297 is 6.7 percent lower than the national average.

 

11. Minot, N.D.


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,401
  • Livability Score: 65

Minot is another city where the median monthly rent comes in under $500, which should make life there much easier for cash-strapped seniors. However, healthcare costs will likely eat up some of those savings — they are 7 percent higher than the national average.

10. Abilene, Texas


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,401
  • Livability Score: 83

Abilene has some of the lowest grocery costs in the study. It’s one of nine cities where you can expect to spend less than $300 a month with costs 8.6 percent lower than the national average. What’s more, putting all money questions aside, its livability score of 83 is the highest in the study.

9. Erie, Penn.


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,397
  • Livability Score: 67

Erie gives residents a chance to get by on less with median rent at $545 a month and healthcare costs 5 percent lower than what the average American pays each month. However, you will pay a little more for groceries, with the typical bill there 3.1 percent over the national average. Even still, it’s the first city in this study where a monthly budget of $1,500 will leave you with $100 left over for your savings account.

 

8. Tulsa, Okla.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,386
  • Livability Score: 69

No city in this study has cheaper grocery costs than Tulsa. With the typical grocery bill at $286 a month, it’s a full 10.1 percent below the national average.

 

7. Akron, Ohio

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,383
  • Livability Score: 69

Residents of Akron — which includes LeBron James at least part of the year — are paying one of the three lowest bills for their healthcare costs in this study at just over $500 a month — 8 percent less than the national average.

 

6. Springfield, Mo.


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,377
  • Livability Score: 65

Springfield’s savings are largest for groceries, proportionally speaking. You’ll pay an average of $301 a month for groceries, 5.2 percent less than the average American.

5. Waterloo, Iowa


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,353
  • Livability Score: 71

Another city where median rent comes in under $500 — $498 a month in this case — Waterloo won’t require any last stands to afford groceries as the average monthly cost of $298 is 6.2 percent less than the national average. It’s also one of three cities where at least 15 percent of the population are senior citizens.

 

4. Fort Wayne, Ind.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,345
  • Livability Score: 75

Fort Wayne is among the three lowest average monthly bills for groceries in this study. At just $290 a month, it’s 8.9 percent less than the average American can expect to spend.

3. Amarillo, Texas

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,313
  • Livability Score: 78

Amarillo isn’t among the cities where median rent on a one-bedroom apartment is under $500. That’s because it’s exactly $500. Add to that the second-lowest average grocery bill — $289 a month — and healthcare costs 5 percent below the national average and it’s not hard to see why living there is so inexpensive.

2. Evansville, Ind.


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,304
  • Livability Score: 69

Evansville comes in under $500 for its median monthly rent, 8.6 percent lower than the national average for its grocery costs and 6 percent lower than the national average for healthcare costs. It also has a population where 15.1 percent of residents are 65 or older.

1. Muncie, Ind.


  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $1,291
  • Livability Score: 70

Muncie is the one city included here that came in below $1,300 for its average monthly expenditures, meaning a budget of $1,500 a month would actually leave you with over $200 for luxuries or savings. That includes a median monthly rent under $500, grocery costs 6.4 percent below the national norm and savings of a whopping 10 percent on your typical healthcare bill.

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Methodology: In this study, GOBankingRates found the best cities to retire on a budget of $1,500 or less. 1) GBR used Zillow data to find every city in the U.S. that has a monthly rent of $700 dollars or less for a one-bedroom apartment. 2) GBR used Sperling’s Best Places to find the cost of living index for every city on the list, looking specifically at grocery and healthcare costs. 3) GBR used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find the annual expenditure amount for both grocery and healthcare costs for people aged 65 and older. 4) GBR added monthly housing, grocery and healthcare costs to find which cities a person 65 and older could survive on with $1,500 or less. 5) Once budget costs were found, GBR looked at the livability score for each city using AreaVibes.com as well as the percentage of people 65 and older using data from the Census Bureau. For a city to qualify for the study, its livability score had to be 65 and above, and 10 percent or more of the population had to be 65 and over.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Best Cities to Retire on a Budget of $1,500 a Month