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Great Places to Retire Where Rent Is Under $1,000 a Month

Joel Anderson
Great Places to Retire Where Rent Is Under $1,000 a Month

Rental demand in the U.S. has been growing over the last decade or so. Thanks to a number of factors, including the housing bubble burst, the number of families and individuals living in rental housing rose to 43 million in mid-2015. That’s an increase of 9 million from 2005. And across all ages, the largest increase (4.3 million) was among renters in their 50s and 60s, according to a report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

If you’re approaching retirement, you might want to become a renter, too. But, you need to be smart about how you budget. Finding the right place to live can be a tricky balancing act between the amenities you want and the low rent you need.

Fortunately, GOBankingRates examined some 300 different American cities to find places where the median rent on a one-bedroom home is under $1,000 a month to determine which ones are the most accommodating to retirees. That included looking at the percentage of the population that’s 65 and older, how safe the city is and how walkable the area is for seniors who will increasingly need to rely on public transit.

Click through to see the best places to retire with low rent.

21. Fayetteville, N.C.


  • Median rent: $660
  • Population age 65 or older:  11.2 percent
  • Walkability score: 21
  • Safety score: 5

While Fayetteville’s low scores for safety and walkability rank as the worst on this list, the cheap rent still makes it one of the better options for retirees. It’s part of why Fayetteville is one of best places to live on a fixed income.

20. Killeen, Texas


  • Median rent: $450
  • Population age 65 or older: 5.8 percent
  • Walkability score: 28
  • Safety score: 14

Killeen doesn’t necessarily impress for its walkability or senior population, but it is the city with the lowest median rent on this list. In fact, $450 a month was lower than any of the 300 cities the study analyzed before whittling the results down to these 21. That’s part of the reason why it’s one of the best places to live for $1,000 a month.

19. Columbus, Ohio

  • Median rent: $925
  • Population age 65 or older: 9.4 percent
  • Walkability score: 41
  • Safety score: 7

Low cost of living and good walkability make Ohio’s capital city an ideal place to retire. Columbus offers plenty of ways for seniors to stay busy. A string of parks run along the Scioto River — called the Scioto Mile — which contains 175 acres of trails, biking paths, an Audubon and various outdoor activities. The region also provides a top-ranked medical system at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

And, if you want to get more specific about where in Columbus to call home, Clintonville is one of the best neighborhoods to retire in the U.S.

18. Arlington, Texas


  • Median rent: $965
  • Population age 65 or older: 9.6 percent
  • Walkability score: 37
  • Safety score: 12

Arlington just barely qualifies for this list with a monthly median rent $35 under the $1,000 threshold. It’s middle-of-the-pack in safety and walkability, but the city is still one of the most affordable places to live and offers plenty of amenities for seniors.

 

17. Oklahoma City

  • Median rent: $700
  • Population age 65 or older: 11.7 percent
  • Walkability score: 33
  • Safety score: 7

Oklahoma City is one of the best big cities for renters. It’s common to see this city on all sorts of “best places to live” lists, thanks to a low cost of living, low crime rate and healthy wage growth. The dining, arts and entertainment options are quickly expanding as more millennials, families and retirees make the city their home.

16. Lexington, Ky.

  • Median rent: $750
  • Population age 65 or older: 11.7 percent
  • Walkability score: 34
  • Safety score: 7

Louisville might have the Kentucky Derby, but its neighbor to the east comes out ahead with its affordable rent.

A car-dependent locale, downtown Lexington is expanding as more cafes, eateries, boutiques and art galleries open to meet residents’ demands. The city also maintains 131 public parks, which provide plenty of walking, running and biking trails. And if all of these amenities weren’t enough, Lexington is also one of the cheapest places to rent.

15. North Las Vegas, Nev.


  • Median rent: $900
  • Population age 65 or older: 8.9 percent
  • Walkability score: 33
  • Safety score: 16

North Las Vegas might not be nearly as well known as Las Vegas, but it could provide a solid option for proximity to the entertainment Mecca without necessarily being right in the midst of it all. And there’s other benefits beyond just the low rent: Nevada is one of the most tax-friendly states for retirees.

14. Marietta, Ga.


  • Median rent: $965
  • Population age 65 or older: 11.6 percent
  • Walkability score: 35
  • Safety score: 9

Marietta tied with Arlington for the highest median rent on this list, but it’s worth noting that this is more a symptom of the company than a reflection on Marietta. While it might be a little pricier to rent here than the other 20 cities included, it’s still one of the 31 cities where you can afford to live off less.

13. Greensboro, N.C.

  • Median rent: $748
  • Population age 65 or older: 12.9 percent
  • Walkability score: 29
  • Safety score: 11

Greensboro is one of the best cities to retire on a budget of $1,000 a month is located in the Piedmont Triad, along with Winston-Salem and High Point. Settling here for your retirement is not only cost-effective — the monthly median rent is $748 — but you might never run out of things to do with your spare time.

A car is necessary, but many of the major cities in North Carolina such as Winston-Salem, Raleigh and Durham are just a short drive away. There are numerous top-rated golf courses in the area as well as gardens and cultural centers.

12. Fresno, Calif.

  • Median rent: $695
  • Population age 65 or older: 10.3 percent
  • Walkability score: 46
  • Safety score: 7

“Farmland meets city life” is the best way to describe Fresno. Situated in California’s Central Valley, the culturally diverse city is surrounded by farms that grow a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Downtown, on the other hand, is bustling with shops, restaurants, breweries and numerous cultural attractions. With a WalkScore of 46, Fresno is the third-most-walkable city on this list.

The median rent is generous at $695 a month, and the mild weather makes outdoor activities enjoyable all year long. Click to see how much money you need to live comfortably in Fresno.

11. Corpus Christi, Texas


  • Median rent: $949
  • Population age 65 or older: 12.8 percent
  • Walkability score: 41
  • Safety score: 8

Texas is the best-represented state in this study with four different cities making the final ranking. No spoilers on where that last one lands, but the Lone Star State appears to be one place where low rent and good living go hand in hand. And, between a median rent under $1,000 and the lack of income tax in Texas, Corpus Christi is among the cheapest places to retire.

10. Fort Wayne, Ind.


  • Median rent: $500
  • Population age 65 or older: 13.1 percent
  • Walkability score: 29
  • Safety score: 12

Although Fort Wayne is above the norm for its safety score and percent of residents aged 65 and up, it’s that median rent that’s really attractive. You could double it without clearing the $1,000 a month threshold, helping make Fort Wayne one of the best places to live on only a Social Security check.

9. Omaha, Neb.

  • Median rent: $830
  • Population age 65 or older: 12.1 percent
  • Walkability score: 45
  • Safety score: 8

With rent under $1,000 a month for a median one-bedroom apartment, it’s not hard to see why Omaha is one of the cities where your retirement nest egg will stretch the furthest.

Omaha has one of the higher monthly median rent prices on this list, but the overall cost of living is still moderate and affordable. The downtown area has seen significant growth, and there is a $290 million riverfront revitalization plan in the works to help attract even more people and businesses.

 

8. Muncie, Ind.


  • Median rent: $498
  • Population age 65 or older: 14 percent
  • Walkability score: 36
  • Safety score: 7

Of the four cities in this study with a median rent of $500 or less, two are located in Indiana — Fort Wayne and Muncie. Those rock-bottom housing costs are just part of why Indiana is one of the best states to retire rich.

7. Las Vegas


  • Median rent: $955
  • Population age 65 or older: 13.9 percent
  • Walkability score: 41
  • Safety score: 11

Your retirement nest egg might not be entirely safe if you opt to live in Las Vegas, but the danger there is casinos — not excessive rent. If you want the benefits of Vegas without the 24/7 lifestyle of the city, consider going with nearby Mesquite: It’s one of the 20 best suburbs for retirees.

6. Lincoln, Neb.

  • Median rent: $813
  • Population age 65 or older: 12.1 percent
  • Walkability score: 43
  • Safety score: 13

The overall low cost of living keeps rents reasonable in Lincoln, so reasonable, in fact, that it’s one of the cheapest places to retire in the U.S.

Along with trendy shops, restaurants and a burgeoning arts scene, the area contains plenty of parks and outdoor activities to keep any nature lover satisfied. One of the local favorites is Wilderness Park, which provides trails that can be explored on foot, bicycle or horse.

Lincoln’s neighborhoods are as diverse as the residents, offering historic homes, modern suburban dwellings and newly built apartments and condos in a revitalized downtown area. Lincoln’s safety score is the fifth-best of the cities on our list.

5. Toledo, Ohio


  • Median rent: $495
  • Population age 65 or older: 13.4 percent
  • Walkability score: 46
  • Safety score: 5

Only Killeen has a lower median monthly rent payment on a one-bedroom apartment than Toledo, which is situated on Lake Erie at the border of Michigan and Ohio. Toledo has something to offer for bargain hunters and people with a robust retirement account alike: It’s one of the best cities to retire rich.

4. Pensacola, Fla.


  • Median rent: $818
  • Population age 65 or older: 17.7 percent
  • Walkability score: 35
  • Safety score: 6

The perception that Florida is a popular destination for retirees certainly holds true for Pensacola: The percentage of the population 65 and over is the highest of all the 21 cities on this list. Although the city does have relatively low safety and walkability scores, the high proportion of seniors and low rent helped push it up the rankings.

Click to See: Top Retirement Communities in America

3. Rochester, N.Y.

  • Median rent: $775
  • Population age 65 or older: 10.1 percent
  • Walkability score: 65
  • Safety score: 7

Rochester is situated in upstate New York on Lake Ontario. The majority of housing is in the suburbs, but the downtown area is expanding as more trendy apartments, condos and lofts are being built. Winters are cold, make no mistake about it. But if you enjoy indoor activities while living in a family-friendly area, then Rochester might be perfect for you.

When the snow thaws and spring arrives, Rochester — which has the top WalkScore on this list — can be enjoyed in many ways by foot. Along with the downtown area, there are 12,000 acres of parkland to explore. Access to 60 public golf courses should also help keep you busy.

2. Mesa, Ariz.

  • Median rent: $902
  • Population age 65 or older: 16.1 percent
  • Walkability score: 37
  • Safety score: 21

Sun lovers, rejoice! Coming in at No. 2 is Mesa, a city 20 miles outside of Phoenix that offers plenty of warm weather all year long. Mesa is technically considered a suburb, but it offers plenty of amenities to seniors who are looking to enjoy retirement in an area with low crime — it has the second-highest safety score on this list — and without breaking the bank.

Along with a healthy economy, which is important if you’re considering working part time in retirement, Mesa has a large senior citizen population (16.1 percent, the second-highest on our list). So if you decide to hang your hat here, you will have plenty of company. Its museums, theater, art galleries, live music, shopping, trendy restaurants and award-winning golf courses will leave you with plenty to do.

1. El Paso, Texas

  • Median rent: $595
  • Population age 65 or older: 12.1 percent
  • Walkability score: 41
  • Safety score: 29

The No. 1 best place to retire where rent is under $1,000 is also one of the least expensive on the list — El Paso — where the average rent is only $595 per month. El Paso also received the highest safety score.

Situated along the waters of the Rio Grande, the low cost of living is matched with a plethora of natural wonder and outdoor amenities. There’s something for everyone, such as hiking, backpacking, biking, horseback riding, climbing and bouldering.

Great Places to Retire Where Rent Is Under $1,000 a Month

If you’re a soon-to-be retiree, consider looking to either the Midwest or the South for an affordable retirement. Of the 21 cities on this list, 16 are located in one of those two regions. Furthermore, the top five cities with the cheapest monthly median rent prices are also located in either the Midwest or the South.

Click through to see the best countries to retire in 2018.

More on Retirement

Methodology: GOBankingRates analyzed the 100 largest U.S. cities in which median rent for a one-bedroom home is $1,000 or less per month, based on Zillow’s May 2018 data. In order for a city to be included in the ranking, the city must have a minimum safety score of 5; safety score is sourced from NeighborhoodScout, and operates on a scale from 1 to 100, with 100 being the safest. The percentage of the population that is aged 65 and older was sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau. Walk Scores were sourced from Walkscore.com, where each city was given a score from 1-100, with 100 being the best. Walkable neighborhoods defined as those having access to public transit.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Great Places to Retire Where Rent Is Under $1,000 a Month