The Most Affordable Places to Retire | Baby Boomers

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Retired couple walks together.

Inexpensive places to retire

Moving to a place with a lower cost of living can improve your retirement finances. If you sell a home in an expensive city and buy or rent in another city with more reasonable housing costs, you may be able to boost your retirement savings, retire sooner or enjoy a higher quality of life. A recent U.S. News analysis compared the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. as potential retirement spots. The study included data about housing affordability, happiness, desirability, retiree taxes, the job market and access to quality health care. These are the cities with the most affordable housing that also scored highly on the U.S. News Best Places to Retire in 2021 ranking. Consider these affordable cities for retirement.

Spokane Falls in the city of Spokane, Washington.

25. Spokane, Washington

Spokane is located in eastern Washington state near the border with Idaho. The Spokane Lilac Garden has over 100 named cultivars, and the city celebrates this favored flower with a Lilac Festival and the Lilac Bloomsday Run each spring. The median cost of homeownership is $1,377 monthly, and renters in Spokane pay a median of $867 per month. Many of Spokane’s best attractions, including Spokane Falls, the Riverfront Park Sculpture Walk, Gonzaga University’s Jundt Art Museum and outdoor movies and concerts throughout the summer, are free of charge.

Inexpensive places to retire

Moving to a place with a lower cost of living can improve your retirement finances. If you sell a home in an expensive city and buy or rent in another city with more reasonable housing costs, you may be able to boost your retirement savings, retire sooner or enjoy a higher quality of life. A recent U.S. News analysis compared the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. as potential retirement spots. The study included data about housing affordability, happiness, desirability, retiree taxes, the job market and access to quality health care. These are the cities with the most affordable housing that also scored highly on the U.S. News Best Places to Retire in 2021 ranking. Consider these affordable cities for retirement.

25. Spokane, Washington

Spokane is located in eastern Washington state near the border with Idaho. The Spokane Lilac Garden has over 100 named cultivars, and the city celebrates this favored flower with a Lilac Festival and the Lilac Bloomsday Run each spring. The median cost of homeownership is $1,377 monthly, and renters in Spokane pay a median of $867 per month. Many of Spokane’s best attractions, including Spokane Falls, the Riverfront Park Sculpture Walk, Gonzaga University’s Jundt Art Museum and outdoor movies and concerts throughout the summer, are free of charge.

24. Lincoln, Nebraska

This college town is affordable to students and retirees. The median monthly mortgage payment in Nebraska’s state capital city is $1,374. It costs a median of $819 per month to rent an apartment in Lincoln. Lincoln residents say they have a manageable economic life, which helps them to reduce stress and increases security, according to a Gallup survey. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has over 24,000 students, and seniors age 65 and older can sit in on up to two classes per semester for just $25 through the Senior Learning Passport Program. The city’s extensive parkland and bike trails can be enjoyed free of charge.

22. McAllen, Texas

This southern Texas city is located across the Rio Grande from the Mexican city of Reynosa. McAllen is one of the most inexpensive places to retire in the United States. Those with mortgages on their homes pay a median of $1,135 per month to live in the McAllen metro area, which also includes Edinburg and Mission. Renting is also a good deal, costing retirees a median of $716 monthly. The low housing costs can help retirees with modest incomes to enjoy a higher quality of life than they could in a more expensive city.

21. Rochester, New York

You need to enjoy winter to live in Rochester. The city has long winters filled with lake-effect snow. However, when the snow melts, the city comes alive with spring festivals, summer live music and delightful fall foliage. The area has multiple top colleges, including the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology. The Strong Memorial Hospital of the University of Rochester provides health care services to the community. The area’s low housing costs make it possible to live well in Rochester on a modest retirement income. The median homeownership expense is $1,372 per month, and rent costs a median of $879 monthly.

20. Greensboro, North Carolina

Greensboro is a city of parks and flowers. Many of the city’s carefully cultivated gardens are free to visit, including the Greensboro Arboretum, Bog Garden at Benjamin Park and the Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden. North Carolina’s housing prices often feel affordable to those relocating from more expensive states. The median cost of homeownership is $1,187 per month, including mortgage payments. You can rent an apartment in Greensboro for a median of $809 each month. The city hosts the annual Greater Greensboro Senior Games athletic competition and art showcase to help those age 50 and older stay physically active and mentally engaged.

19. Lansing, Michigan

Michigan’s state capital city has a diverse economy with state government and education jobs as well as several major insurance companies. The 5,200-acre Michigan State University campus is located in nearby East Lansing and has over 50,000 students. Retirees can root for the Spartans or attend performances or concerts on campus. Lansing has four distinct seasons with cold, snowy winters and humid summers. Housing costs a median of $1,302 monthly for those who are making mortgage payments on a home. The median rent for an apartment in Lansing is $850 per month.

18. Augusta, Georgia

Augusta is a college town, and Georgia residents age 62 and older can take classes for free at Augusta University. The city has a large military base, Fort Gordon, which is the biggest employer in the area. The median cost of housing is $1,219 per month for homeowners making mortgage payments. The median price to rent an apartment is $840 per month. Augusta hosts the annual Masters Tournament each spring, which brings some of the best golfers in the world to the area.

17. Green Bay, Wisconsin

Located along a bay of Lake Michigan, Green Bay has a four-season climate with hot summers and cold, snowy winters. Green Bay residents report having a manageable economic life, according to a Gallup survey. The reasonable housing costs make it easier to live on a modest retirement income. A home with a mortgage costs a median of $1,342 per month, and renters pay a median of $760 monthly. The area’s beloved Green Bay Packers provide senior discounts to visit the Hall of Fame and a senior series of events.

16. Greenville, South Carolina

Located about halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte, Greenville has considerably more affordable housing than these larger cities. Homeowners making mortgage payments have a median of $1,175 in monthly housing costs. Renting a house or apartment allows you to test out a retirement spot before committing to a home purchase. It costs a median of $822 per month to rent a home in Greenville.

15. Kalamazoo, Michigan

Located about halfway between Chicago and Detroit, Kalamazoo is a smaller city with far lower home prices. The reasonable cost of living makes it easier to live well on a modest retirement budget. The median monthly cost for a house with a mortgage is $1,257. Renters pay a median of just $780 monthly. This college town is home to Western Michigan University, which has over 20,000 students. Kalamazoo is known for a wide variety of locally produced craft beers, and there are many breweries and pubs to explore.

14. Spartanburg, South Carolina

Spartanburg’s low housing costs make it affordable to relocate to the area. The median monthly housing cost is $1,077 for homeowners with a mortgage and $763 among renters. Retirees can explore the free botanical garden, the Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve, which has over 200 species of conifer. The over 7,000-acre Croft State Park was once an army training base, but now has hiking, biking and horseback riding trails for an admission fee of just $1.50 for South Carolina seniors. Spartanburg is located within a 1 1/2-hour drive from both Charlotte, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina.

13. Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Many retirees are priced out of wine country in Napa Valley. But you can tend your own field of grapes and enjoy locally produced wines at a much more reasonable cost in the Yadkin Valley. The low housing costs make it easier to comfortably afford a home in the Winston-Salem area. Homeowners with a mortgage pay a median of $1,156 per month in housing costs. You can rent an apartment in Winston-Salem for a median of just $752 monthly.

12. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Relocating to a city with significantly lower housing costs than where you live now can allow your existing retirement savings to stretch further and improve your quality of life. It costs a median of only $1,038 per month to own a home with a mortgage in Fort Wayne. Renters in Fort Wayne pay a median of $739 monthly. You can research your family history at the Allen County Public Library’s extensive Genealogy Center or visit the Fort Wayne Museum of Art for free on Thursday or with a senior discount on other days. Fort Wayne has several farmers markets that supply local produce and live entertainment.

11. Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh combines low housing costs with a high quality of life. The median cost of homeownership is $1,312 per month for those making mortgage payments. Renting is also an affordable option for retirees who don’t want the responsibility of maintaining a home. The median rent in the Pittsburgh metro area is $807 per month. Health care is provided by UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside. Pittsburgh is an ideal retirement spot for retirees who no longer drive. Free public transportation on the bus and rail systems is available for residents age 65 and older.

10. El Paso, Texas

This western Texas city borders Mexico and New Mexico, and is located directly across the Rio Grande from the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez. El Paso is one of the sunniest cities in the country, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. Home prices are among the lowest of any metro area in the U.S., costing homeowners with a mortgage a median of $1,201 per month. Rent is also affordable, with retirees paying a median of $812 per month. The city has a large military base, Fort Bliss, and is home to the 26,627-acre Franklin Mountains State Park, the biggest urban park in the country.

9. Knoxville, Tennessee

Living in a college town often has many perks for retirees. In Knoxville, the University of Tennessee allows senior citizens to audit classes for free, enroll in classes for credit at the significantly reduced rate of $7 per semester hour, and the University of Tennessee Medical Center provides health care services to the surrounding community. The median housing cost in Knoxville is $1,205 per month for homeowners with a mortgage and $801 for renters. The state of Tennessee doesn’t tax wages and salaries, but does tax dividends and interest, although low-income seniors age 65 and older might be exempt.

8. Pensacola, Florida

If you’re looking for an affordable Florida beach retirement, consider Pensacola. This western Florida city is located on the Pensacola Bay near the Gulf of Mexico and the border with Alabama. You could spend your retirement years fishing, sailing or strolling along white-sand beaches spotting dolphins and sea turtles. Nearby beaches include Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The median homeownership cost is $1,287 per month with a mortgage, and renters are charged a median of $992 monthly. There’s no state income tax in Florida, which can benefit those who plan to work in retirement.

7. Grand Rapids, Michigan

You don’t need a fortune to retire in an artistic community if you live in Grand Rapids. The median homeownership cost with a mortgage is $1,253 per month. Renting an apartment can be a good way to test out a potential retirement spot and easily move on if the neighborhood doesn’t suit you. The median rent is $860 per month in the Grand Rapids metro area. Grand Rapids has several art museums, including the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, but you can also view the public art on display throughout the city for free.

6. Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga calls itself the “Gig City” because the area has a high-speed fiber optic network. Chattanooga is located along the Tennessee River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. On a clear day, you can check out the view from the top of Lookout Mountain, which is easily accessible via the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway. Chattanooga’s low cost of living makes it possible to live well on a limited budget. The median monthly housing cost with a mortgage is $1,204. You can rent an apartment in Chattanooga for a median of $802 monthly. Chattanooga even has its own typeface, Chatype, which is used on signage throughout the city.

5. Lakeland, Florida

Waterfront property doesn’t have to be expensive if you consider retirement in this inland Florida area with 38 lakes. Lakeland is located within an hour’s drive of both Orlando and Tampa, but has far less expensive housing than these larger cities. Retirees with a mortgage pay a median of $1,223 per month to own a home in Lakeland. Renters are charged a median of $944 per month. Lakeland retirees enjoy mild winters, but must watch out for the humid summers and accompanying air conditioning bills. There’s no state income tax in Florida, which helps to keep costs low for retirees with part-time jobs.

4. Daytona Beach, Florida

Retirement near the beach can be enjoyed on a modest budget in Daytona Beach. Homeowners with mortgages pay a median of $1,258 per month. Renting an apartment in Daytona Beach costs a median of $1,029 monthly. But don’t expect a quiet retirement in this dynamic city that contains the headquarters for NASCAR and hosts several large motorsports events each year. Cars can even be driven on some of the white, sandy beaches.

3. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach is a vacation destination located along South Carolina’s Atlantic coast. Popular attractions include the beaches, amusement parks and a boardwalk with a 200-foot SkyWheel. The reasonable cost of living makes it possible for retirees to live near the beach all year long. Housing costs a median of $1,267 per month for homeowners with a mortgage. You can rent an apartment in Myrtle Beach for a median of $913 per month. Those interested in golfing during retirement will appreciate the dozens of local courses, including greens designed by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones.

2. Asheville, North Carolina

While it’s certainly possible to splurge on Asheville’s high-end culinary experiences, the area’s natural beauty comes free of charge. There’s no entrance fee for Great Smoky Mountains National Park or to drive along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. The mountainous terrain provides numerous waterfalls and dramatic fall foliage. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities for mountaintop summit hikes and mountain biking. Many of Asheville’s artists, writers and musicians are able to earn an income from their creative pursuits. Asheville scores high marks for affordable housing, with a median monthly mortgage cost of $1,286 and a median monthly rent of $874.

1. Ocala, Florida

Ocala is a less expensive alternative to Florida’s beach destinations. This inland Florida city has a low cost of living and affordable housing. A house with a mortgage costs a median of only $1,065 per month in Ocala. Renting costs even less, with a median price of $859 monthly. There’s no state income tax in Florida, which means retirees who work get to keep more of their earnings. Ocala is best known for its award-winning horses and equestrian events and competitions. The city is also an ideal base from which to explore the Ocala National Forest.

The 10 Most Affordable Places to Retire:

  1. Ocala, Florida.
  2. Asheville, North Carolina.
  3. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
  4. Daytona Beach, Florida.
  5. Lakeland, Florida.
  6. Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  7. Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  8. Pensacola, Florida.
  9. Knoxville, Tennessee.
  10. El Paso, Texas.



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