9 Best East Coast Cities To Retire on a Budget of $1,500 a Month

Stretch your retirement dollars further in these affordable East Coast havens.

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Updated June 6, 2024
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Cost of living is a major factor when deciding where to retire. No matter how much you’ve saved, you’re probably worried about making ends meet.

The East Coast of the U.S. is known more for its picturesque locations and gorgeous fall foliage than its budget-friendly prices. However, there are some affordable destinations in the region, even if you retire early with a relatively modest nest egg.

Living on a budget of $1,500 a month here will require some penny-pinching, but it might work in one of these East Coast cities.

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Roanoke, Virginia

jonbilous/Adobe roanoke from mill mountain

Like many mountain towns, the Roanoke area is threaded with a rich network of hiking trails. There are endless opportunities to experience the breathtaking Appalachian Mountains, from the scenic McAfee Knob to the nearby Apple Orchard Falls Trail.

The town itself is home to a variety of other budget-friendly activities. Check out the Taubman Museum of Art, which always offers free admission. Or explore the year-round Roanoke City Market.

A one-bedroom apartment in Roanoke rents for an average of $1,099, according to Rent.com.

Erie, Pennsylvania

Jacob/Adobe erie is a town in pennsylvania

Erie is located on the shores of beautiful Lake Erie, making it prime real estate for anyone who loves to spend time on the water or gazing at lakeside views.

If you’re a history buff interested in tall ships, the Erie Maritime Museum is a must-see. Admission for those 65 and older is just $7. The nearby Presque Isle State Park gives landlocked Pennsylvania residents a taste of the coast.

According to Redfin, the median price for a home in Erie County is just $167,500.

Anderson, South Carolina

Vinzon/Adobe aerial view of the city

Are you interested in a small-town retirement after spending years in the big city? With a population of around 29,000, Anderson could be a good fit for you and your budget.

The city might be small, but it doesn’t lack senior-friendly activities, such as a golf course at Cobbs Glen Country Club and a variety of distilleries and breweries.

If you love the great outdoors, you’ll likely enjoy spending time at Sadlers Creek State Park and other recreational areas bordering Lake Hartwell, a gorgeous Savannah River reservoir.

You can find one-bedroom apartments here for $1,000 or less.

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Jacksonville, North Carolina

Michael/Adobe jacksonville sunset

If you dream of a retirement full of fishing, kayaking, or canoeing, Jacksonville’s many blueways will likely appeal to you.

The city’s downtown area has three boat launches and a fishing pier. If you prefer land-based recreation, the city’s 20 miles of greenways give you plenty of opportunities for walking, jogging, and hiking.

With a median home price of $200,000, Jacksonville is quite affordable. And areas such as Piney Green — located just outside Jacksonville’s city limits — may be even cheaper.

Hagerstown, Maryland

Ryan Smith/Adobe hagerstown maryland

Want to live near a major metropolitan area without paying big-city prices? Hagerstown, Maryland, is within 90 minutes of Baltimore, so a visit to the city is always an option.

Of course, Hagerstown’s attractions and the surrounding sites in Washington County offer enough fun that you won’t be tempted to leave the area all that often. If you prefer spending time in nature, the Antietam Creek Water Trail along the Potomac River offers nearly 42 miles of scenic travel.

If you’re interested in history, you’ll enjoy exploring a variety of Civil War sites, from Antietam National Battlefield to the John Brown Raid Headquarters in nearby Sharpsburg.

Hagerstown’s median rent is $1,151, according to Rent.com.

Audubon, New Jersey

Roman Babakin/Adobe dry dock and repair and port

As a suburb of Philadelphia, Audubon is a relatively densely populated area. So, it’s not the ideal retirement location for those looking for a quiet rural lifestyle.

But Audubon might be a good fit if you have family on the East Coast or want to experience life outside a big city.

You can find a one-bedroom apartment for $1,100. Although that won’t leave you with much extra money, Audubon and Philadelphia are home to budget-friendly activities.

That includes free concerts at the nearby Cooper River Park and a gorgeous winter lights display at Franklin Square.

Hopewell, Virginia

Henryk Sadura/Adobe downtown of arlington

If you love the outdoors, Hopewell, Virginia, is a great place to put down roots. The city is currently working on a new riverwalk, which gives residents access to waterfront fishing and the downtown marina.

Old City Point Waterfront Park offers an additional excellent fishing spot. And if you’re looking for fun community activities, the Old Dominion Barn Dance is a concert series that takes place throughout the year and showcases the best rising Nashville musical talent.

Hopewell’s current median home price is $227,000, so you will have to tighten your belt to live here on a $1,500 budget.

Newport News, Virginia

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe newport news virginia

With a population of around 185,000, Newport News is one of the bigger cities on our list. So, this could be a good choice if you are looking for an affordable urban center.

But it won’t be easy to live on a budget here. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,290, according to Rent.com. That means you will have to watch your costs closely.

The city is an excellent place for history lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. For instance, Anderson Park offers a beach, fishing opportunities, and basketball courts. It’s also the site where you can see the location of the Civil War battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack.

As the birthplace of Ella Fitzgerald, Newport News is also home to plenty of arts centers and concert halls that should appeal to music lovers.

Oglethorpe, Georgia

Jacob/Adobe chattanooga suburb of fort oglethorpe

Oglethorpe is a small rural town of around 1,000 people, which can make for a cozy retirement.

While the town is low on residents, it doesn’t lack attractions — including nature trails, camping at Whitewater Creek Park, and water activity on the Flint River.

Median home prices here are $95,000, according to Redfin. Prices like that will help you get ahead financially.

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Bottom line

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Consider exploring these budget-friendly Eastern cities before you retire to see if one is a good place to spend your golden years.

With the right attitude and a bit of frugal magic, you might find that you can build the retirement of your dreams on the East Coast.

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Author Details

Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.