However, in the Yahoo! article, "The 10 Best Places to Retire on Social Security Alone," the authors provide a list of places in the United States where you can retire comfortably on the average Social Security amount of $31,000 a year for a couple. They made it clear that this would not be a luxurious retirement, only that it would be possible to get by.
In addition, the article was based on the assumption that the couple would either have a paid-off mortgage or they would be paying the typical rent for that community. In other words, if you are still making large house payments, even these areas are likely to be too expensive for you, based on only receiving the average amount of Social Security. Shown below is the list from the Yahoo article.
Yahoo's List of the Best Places to Retire on Social Security
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Buffalo, New York
Columbia, South Carolina
Grand Rapids, Michigan
St. Louis, Missouri
You can find a link to the Yahoo article at the end of the article if you want more details about why they believe these cities were especially affordable. Basically, all ten of them have relatively low housing costs and they have amenities that are appealing to senior citizens, including sports teams, senior centers, and high quality medical facilities.
I want to add that you do not have to move to the inner city of St. Louis or Pittsburgh, for example, in order to get the benefits of an affordable lifestyle in those states. Most cities also have suburbs and small outlying towns in the surrounding areas that are also quite affordable.
In addition, I was pleased that this list included cities in temperate climates, such as Tucson, Jacksonville, Columbia, Albuquerque and Austin. There is no reason for a couple to feel stuck in a frigid climate that requires them to deal with ice and snow on a regular basis in the winter. There are many affordable places within the United States that also offer desirable lifestyles for senior citizens.
More Ideas for Affordable Places to Retire
When I read the Yahoo article and looked over the list for myself, there were a few things I observed.
* All of the states on the list have MANY communities where people can find affordable places to retire. Not everyone wants to live in a big city, especially not a crime ridden one like St. Louis. However, most of the states of Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas and Florida offer affordable housing ... and even the surrounding states. Be sure to cast a wide net when you are looking for places to live.
* Crime is particularly worrisome if you will be renting a cheap apartment in a big city. It might be preferable to find a charming rental in a small town outside of the cities on this list. I grew up in Missouri and lived in Texas for decades and I know there are hundreds of affordable small towns that are charming, friendly and within a reasonable drive of the larger cities on this list.
* It is also important for people to realize that most couples can increase their Social Security to above the average amount simply by working an extra couple of years. Therefore, they may be able to live on their Social Security alone and even afford a few little extras from time to time, as long as they are willing to defer their retirement a little bit. There is no rule that says you have to settle for the average amount of benefits. Many people have also found they can supplement their Social Security with fun part-time jobs.
* For those people who have large house payments when they reach retirement, they have a couple of options. If paying off their current mortgage is not attainable, they may be able to take the equity in their current home and use it to pay cash for a smaller home or condo. Even if they cannot pay cash, they may be able to get a small, affordable, manageable mortgage that they will be able to handle after retirement.
* Another option for people who are having trouble finding affordable housing is to check out the senior apartment complexes in their area. Most cities and many mid-size towns have apartment complexes that are designed especially for older people. If money is tight, you may even qualify for a subsidized apartment. Contact your local housing authority or Department of Social Services to see what subsidies might be available. I know of both single and married retirees who are living on Social Security alone in expensive areas like Orange County, California, but only because they receive housing subsidies.
The bottom line is that there are many options that are available to people who are just living on Social Security alone. Do not feel that you have to limit yourself to only the cities on the Yahoo list. There are many options available to you, as long as you are willing to search for them. Millions of people retire every year in the United States with Social Security as their only or primary source of income. You can find a way to do it, too.
The 10 Best Places to Retire on Social Security Alone
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