These 8 Eastern Cities are Getting Too Expensive for Retirees

You’ll pay more for everything from a home to groceries in these eight eastern cities.
Updated May 1, 2024
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As you plan for retirement, you may be thinking about making a move, perhaps to a city with luxurious amenities or better weather. However, you don’t want to avoid throwing your money away

That’s why it helps to know which cities can help you get the most out of your savings. So, if you want an affordable city to retire in, don’t choose these eastern U.S. cities.

New York City, New York

Tierney/Adobe Aerial view of lower Manhattan New York City

Being in the center of one of the largest and most impressive cities in the world could be your dream. However, the median sale price of a home in NYC is $790,000 as of December 2022. 

Though home prices are not growing as quickly as a few years ago, it still costs about $552 per square foot for real estate here. The cost of living is high, too, about 26% higher than any other city in New York and 95% higher than the national average.

Newark, New Jersey

Christopher Boswell/Adobe Newark New Jersey

If the Big Apple is too expensive, you might consider moving across the Hudson River to New Jersey so you can still be in the heart of it all. 

The housing market here is still highly competitive, with the median sale price of a home about $409,000 and the average price per square foot around $201.

The cost of living is about 23% higher than the national average. If you boost retirement savings enough, choosing Newark over New York City makes sense, but it will still be an expensive place to call home.

Boston, Massachusetts

jovannig/Adobe Boston Massachusetts

The history, charm, and waterfront all make Boston an attractive option for those looking for a modern and upscale place to call home. The median sale price here was $775,000 in November 2022, costing $619 per square foot.

The cost of living in Boston is about 53% higher than the national average, with groceries about 18% higher and utilities about 26% higher than in other cities across the country. You would need an income of $73,382 on average to maintain the cost of living.

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Washington, D.C.

lunamarina/Adobe Washington DC aerial Thomas Jefferson Memorial

For those who want mild winters and exceptional access to the museums and culture of the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., could be an attractive option. 

There are some more affordable pockets surrounding the city, but the median sale price of a home in the District is around $650,000, with the price per square foot averaging $517.

As for the overall cost of living, it will cost you around $65,169 to maintain the same quality of life here compared with other cities. Average monthly grocery and food costs are about $475 per person and utilities cost about $246 per month.

Hilton Head, South Carolina

FotoRike/Adobe Leuchtturm Hilton Head Island

There’s something fantastic about the ocean waves here, and the 23 golf courses make it an attractive location for retirees and vacationers. Consequently, Hilton Head has become a much more expensive place to live.

Home prices continue to rise here, reaching over $575,000 on average. The cost of living is also about 12% higher than the national average, requiring an income of $53,564 annually to maintain the current standard of living.

Palm Beach, Florida

jovannig/Adobe water color of Palm Beach aerial view of Florida

Palm Beach, Fla., is an excellent place to call home if you’ve got the money. The island city sits between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway and boasts a resort lifestyle. 

The median home sale price here in November 2022 was more than $1.1 million. Even a condo is expensive, with a median sale price of $585,000 in November. The cost of living in Palm Beach is in the top 1% across the world, though those beaches are quite alluring.

Asheville, North Carolina

Kevin Ruck/Adobe Asheville North Carolina

The mountain city of Asheville, N.C., has a cost of living that’s about 8% higher than the national average. You will need an annual income of $49,017 to afford the cost of living here. The highest expenses include utilities and housing.

As for the median sale price, a typical home sells for about $423,725, or about $268 per square foot. You’ll certainly get more space here along with more of a laid-back lifestyle, but you’ll likely have to spend more in retirement here than in other cities in North Carolina.

Boca Raton, Florida

Matthew Tighe/Adobe sunset over city of Boca Raton Florida

Making the decision to live in Boca Raton could be your dream. After all, the East Coast city is a popular retirement destination in the state. 

Overall, the cost of living here is about 10.5% higher than the national average, and that’s likely thanks to the impressive weather and amenities. 

The median sale price of a home in November was $530,000, or about $321 per square foot. You could rent, but the cost of food and utilities is also higher here than in other areas.

Bottom line

KMPZZZ/Adobe stressed senior couple

If you plan to supplement your Social Security and perhaps put away a sizable amount of money, you may be able to live in one of these areas. 

But if you want similar amenities and locations at a lower price, look at communities 20 to 30 minutes outside of these popular destinations. You could still be able to enjoy the benefits of the area just at a fraction of the cost.

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Author Details

Sandy Baker Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.

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