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Best and Worst U.S. Cities to Retire Rich

Joel Anderson
Best and Worst U.S. Cities to Retire Rich

Your retirement savings are more than just a nest egg: They’re a representation of a lifetime of hard work. You spent decades building up money so that you could really enjoy your retirement, and you’re not looking to bleed that money away for basic necessities any faster than you have to.

But based on a new GOBankingRates study, you can put your savings in serious jeopardy — or stretch them further than you planned — depending on where you decide to call home in retirement.  To determine which cities are the best for your retirement savings, the study looked at the cost of buying a home, paying for healthcare, covering your property taxes and other basic costs of living. The study found that there are major differences from city to city.

If you want to retire rich, click through to see the best places for retirees.

The 10 Best Cities to Retire Rich

Inexpensive homes are among the primary factors driving the cities that made it to the top 10 best cities to retire rich. All 10 of the cities have median home values under $200,000, meaning that all 10 came in at less than one-sixth of what the median cost to buy a home in San Francisco — $1.34 million.

10. Richmond, Va.

  • Property Tax Rate: 1.101 percent
  • Cost of Living: 97.5
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $296

The one-time capital of the Confederacy is now one of the best 10 cities to retire rich in. And, if you’re looking for additional income streams in your retirement, Richmond might have a lot to offer. It’s one of the best cities to own an investment property in.

9. Norfolk, Va.

  • Property Tax Rate: 1.055 percent
  • Cost of Living: 97.6
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $296

You don’t have to travel far to get to the next state on the list of best options for retiring rich: Norfolk is about a 90-minute drive from Richmond. However, despite scoring two cities in the top 10, not all Virginia residents appear to be planning to retire rich: Most admitted to only having between $10,000 and $49,999 saved for retirement in a GOBankingRates survey.

8. Wichita, Kan.

  • Property Tax Rate: 1.317 percent
  • Cost of Living: 84.6
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $361

Wichita’s low cost of living and cheap houses help make it one of the places where you can stretch your retirement dollar further than most. In fact, Wichita is the No. 7 city where you can live on less than $50,000 a year.

7. Cleveland

  • Property Tax Rate: 2.296 percent
  • Cost of Living: 78.8
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $229

Cleveland has the seventh-highest property tax rate of the 96 cities examined for this study, part of what makes it one of the least tax-friendly cities in America.

However, it has the 10th-lowest average annual property tax bill. How is that possible? Cleveland had the lowest average home value, in addition to the third-lowest cost of living and the lowest health insurance costs.

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6. Memphis, Tenn.

  • Property Tax Rate: 1.513 percent
  • Cost of Living: 74
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $419

Memphis residents trying to stretch their dollar likely aren’t singing the blues: The city is among the top five in four separate categories. It has the fourth-lowest average property tax bill, third-lowest average list price for homes, third-lowest median home value and the lowest cost of living.

All that likely plays an integral part in making it the No. 2 city where your retirement nest egg lasts the longest.

5. Indianapolis

  • Property Tax Rate: 1.06 percent
  • Cost of Living: 90.4
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $286

Indiana claims to be the “crossroads of America,” but its capital’s low cost of living and inexpensive homes — the eighth-lowest average list price — might give anyone with a lot of retirement savings a reason not to simply pass through. That said, if you’re looking to spend, you still have options: Indianapolis suburb Meridian Hills is the wealthiest city in the state.

4. Spokane, Wash.

  • Property Tax Rate: 1.191 percent
  • Cost of Living: 94.2
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $238

Not only does Spokane boast the seventh-lowest health insurance costs in the study, but it might bring something else to the table for wealthy retirees: It’s the best city to retire in Washington, one of the seven states that don’t charge any income tax.

3. Toledo, Ohio

  • Property Tax Rate: 1.957 percent
  • Cost of Living: 76.7
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $229

Toledo might have once sparked a war between Ohio and bordering Michigan, but you won’t need to fight over your own piece of the city today: The city has the second-lowest median home values in the study. That’s in addition to the second-lowest cost of living and the lowest health insurance costs.

See: Best and Worst States for Health Insurance

2. Baltimore

  • Property Tax Rate: 1.519 percent
  • Cost of Living: 90
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $309

Baltimore is famous for being the city that inspired the “Star Spangled Banner,” but perhaps it should be getting more press these days for helping residents stretch their savings: $1 million dollars in retirement savings will last almost 20 years in Baltimore.

1. Fort Wayne, Ind.

  • Property Tax Rate: 0.915 percent
  • Cost of Living: 81.2
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $286

Perhaps the “Fort” in Fort Wayne is there to protect your nest egg. There’s no better place to retire rich in the U.S., with the lowest average property tax bill. It’s also the city in Indiana where your paycheck stretches the furthest.

The 10 Worst Cities to Retire Rich

Interestingly, the average property tax rate across the 10 worst cities to retire rich is much, much lower than it is among the 10 best cities, averaging 0.874 percent to the 1.392 percent for the top 10 cities. One possible explanation is that the high cost of living in these cities also means higher property values, meaning lower property tax rates can still yield enough revenue. When you look at the average amount paid in property taxes, the more expensive cities are consistently larger despite their lower rates.

10. San Diego

  • Property Tax Rate: 0.781 percent
  • Cost of Living: 166
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $258

If you were hoping that your lifetime of saving successfully was going to land you in sunny California, you might think again: The Golden State is home to seven of the 10 worst cities to retire rich — including all four of the four worst cities — with Anaheim and Long Beach just missing after ranking 11th and 13th, respectively.

The first of these is San Diego, where the average list price for a home is about $675,000.

Check Out: 13 Ways California Real Estate Differs From Every Other State

9. Seattle

  • Property Tax Rate: 1.025 percent
  • Cost of Living: 176.5
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $238

Seattle has the sixth-highest average property tax bill in the study, probably due to the fact that it has one of the highest average home list prices. However, Seattle is also one of 10 major cities that survived the last housing crash.

8. Los Angeles

  • Property Tax Rate: 0.793 percent
  • Cost of Living: 166.2
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $258

California is a particularly expensive place to live, but it’s clear that Southern California is a much better option than Northern California for wealthy retirees. Los Angeles and San Diego rank 10th- and eighth-worst, whereas the Bay Area cities hold down three of the four top slots for the worst cities to retire rich.

That doesn’t mean Los Angeles is particularly cheap, though. You need to make more than $87,000 a year to live comfortably in the city.

7. Oakland, Calif.

  • Property Tax Rate: 0.866 percent
  • Cost of Living: 179.3
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $258

The first of the four Bay Area cities is Oakland, where the median home value is now just shy of $800,000 in addition to having a cost of living that’s almost 80 percent higher than the rest of the country, on average. Oakland is one city where you’ll need at least $80,000 a year to live comfortably.

6. New York

  • Property Tax Rate: 1.925 percent
  • Cost of Living: 180
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $456

Living in the Big Apple will cost you dearly. The nearly 2 percent rate they charge property taxes at is by far the highest of the 10 worst cities to retire rich, and it translates to the single highest average property tax bill in the study: $11,446.

That said, there are still some good options if you’re hoping to fill your retirement with Broadway shows and flimsy pizza: The Bronx neighborhood of Spuyten Duyvil is one of the best neighborhoods to retire to in the U.S.

5. Honolulu

  • Property Tax Rate: 0.291 percent
  • Cost of Living: 199.8
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $347

Sure, there are clearly plenty of reasons to think that retiring to Hawaii would be one of the best ways to spend your retirement savings. But you should know that those savings won’t stretch nearly as far, despite the fact Honolulu has the lowest property tax rate in the study. The cost of living in Honolulu is nearly double the national average.

See Where Hawaii Ranks: States Where You’re Most and Least Likely to Live Paycheck to Paycheck

4. Irvine, Calif.

  • Property Tax Rate: 0.715 percent
  • Cost of Living: 207
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $258

Although the Bay Area is pricier overall than SoCal, Irvine would be the city bucking that trend. The cost of living is more than double the national average, and it has the second-highest average list price of the cities in this study.

3. San Jose, Calif.

  • Property Tax Rate: 0.794 percent
  • Cost of Living: 222.2
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $258

San Jose is among the cities where half of its residents can’t afford to buy a home. But is that any surprise? With the second-highest median home value — a stunning $1.17 million — you would need to be a millionaire to get a typical house there.

2. Fremont, Calif.

  • Property Tax Rate: 0.866 percent
  • Cost of Living: 231.3
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $258

There’s nothing “free” about Fremont. The city has the second-highest cost of living in this study in addition to a median home value that’s into six figures and the second-highest property tax bill overall.

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1. San Francisco

  • Property Tax Rate: 0.683 percent
  • Cost of Living: 272.6
  • Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost: $258

San Francisco comes in last in this study, in style. Not only is it the worst city to retire rich overall, but it comes in last place in three different categories: cost of living, average list price and median home value. And those soaring home prices are no joke. For context, San Francisco has the fifth-highest average property tax bill despite having the fifth-lowest property tax rate.

Cities Where It's Best and Worst to Retire Rich

If you’re looking to keep that hefty nest egg robust, you might want to forego the West Coast and look for places in the upper Midwest. Of the 10 worst cities to retire rich in, seven were in California and all but one — New York — were on the West Coast or in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, four of the 10 best were in either Ohio or Indiana.

Click to keep reading about the most and least tax-friendly states for retirees.

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Methoodology: GOBankingRates ranked all 50 states based on four main factors affecting retirees: taxes, living expenses, and healthcare and Social Security. These four factors were broken down into sets of data points.

In the taxes category, we examined: average property tax rates and amount in dollars, sourced from The Tax Foundation; and state taxes on Social Security benefits, sourced from Kiplinger. The Property Tax dollar amount was weighed half as much as the Property Tax Rate and the Tax on Social Security Benefits.

In the living expenses category, we examined: the mean home listing price and median home value, sourced from Zillow’s March 2018 index; each city’s cost of living index value, where the U.S. average is 100, sourced from the Sperling’s Bet Places. The Median Home Value was weighed half as much as mean home listing price and Cost of Living was weighed twice as much.

In the health and Social Security category, we examined: Average Health Insurance Premiums, sourced from the Kaiser Family Foundation; Average Social Security benefits, sourced from the Social Security Administration. Average Social Security Benefits were weighed twice as much as Average Health Insurance Premiums.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Best and Worst U.S. Cities to Retire Rich