14 Great Cities Where You Can Live on Just Your Social Security Check

MANAGE MONEY - BUDGETING
Your Social Security check will go further in these cities.
Updated June 16, 2023
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If retirement is approaching, or you want to make the most out of your Social Security check, then you’re likely looking for cities with a low cost of living and a decent livability score.

It’s estimated that each retiree will receive an average of $1,827 per month for Social Security in 2023. While that number isn’t the highest, there are plenty of cities where you can live comfortably on just that alone, as long as you don’t throw money away.

Let’s take a look at 14 great cities to consider if you're looking for an affordable solution that matches your social security check.

Do you dream of retiring early? Take this quiz to see if it's possible.

Green Bay, Wisconsin

Donald Joski/Adobe city of green bay wisconsin during day time

Rent in Green Bay averages around $881 per month which can eliminate some money stress for retirees. Energy bills cost roughly $164.01, phone bills $186.93 monthly, and a gallon of gas costs $3.45. The total cost of living is 10% less than the national average.

While being inexpensive, it has a pretty large population of over 104,000. There are also plenty of entertainment options, including breweries, parks, and Lambeau Field, home of the Packers.

Anderson, Indiana

Gary L Hider/Adobe anderson indiana on world map

Anderson is another affordable Midwest city, with a total cost of living averaging around $1,553 per month for one person. Rent averages $814 per month, and the city has a population of over 54,000.

Its quality of life scored a 69, with plenty of parks, museums, and community events like farmer's markets to visit. There’s also a race track and a vibrant, historical downtown scene.

St. Louis, Missouri

digidreamgrafix/Adobe saint louis missouri with mild traffic during day time

If you want to retire in a bigger city with a bit more vibrancy, St. Louis has a quality of life score of 73, and the cost of living averages just $1,670 per month. Rent averages $873 a month, and utility bills for one person cost roughly $165 per month.

There is no shortage of activities in St. Louis, including museums, parks and nature, tons of dining options, family-friendly sites, and Busch Stadium, home to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Cleveland, Ohio

woe/Adobe cleveland at sunset with walking tracks besides lake and buildings

The cost of living in Cleveland cuts close to the allocated Social Security budget, at $1,825 per month. However, if you want to retire in a bigger city with just your paycheck, it’s certainly doable.

The average cost of rent and utilities totals $1,021 per month, with food costing $551 and transportation $120 monthly. The quality of life score, though, is a steep 79. Catch a Browns game, check out the museums and parks, or visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Pro tip: Even if you don't settle down here for retirement, Cleveland can be an affordable vacation or destination to enjoy plenty of cultures while you keep more money in your bank account.

Tallahassee, Florida

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe beautiful modern day buildings in tallahassee florida usa under purple sky

Florida is a top retirement destination for many, but the high cost of living can be a deterrent. Tallahassee is a relatively affordable location, though, with a total cost of living averaging $1,593 per month.

Even an apartment in the heart of the city costs roughly $893 per month, but cheaper units can be found for $664. The quality of life score is 64.

Buffalo, New York

Neil/Adobe buffalo ny tall skyscrapers at sunset

New York has a reputation for being expensive, but there are areas where you can live entirely off your Social Security check.

The average cost of living in Buffalo is $1,805 per month for one person, so while it is on the pricier side, it’s manageable. Rent and utilities total an average of $1,036 per month, and the quality of life score is an appealing 88.

Louisville, Kentucky

4kclips/Adobe beautiful streets of louisville kentucky during day time

Louisville is another great city to retire in, with another impressive quality of life score of 89. Enjoy all the city has to offer at an average cost of living of $1,623 per month.

An apartment in the heart of the city only costs around $979 per month, and utilities are only around $99.30 per month. Enjoy your retirement in the homeland of bourbon.

Pro tip: No matter where you settle down, consider these senior money tips to make sure you aren't throwing money away as you prepare for retirement.

Tucson, Arizona

jacob/Adobe aerial view of tucson arizona during day time

If you want to retire somewhere warm on a budget, consider Tucson. The average cost of living is $1,555 per month, with rent and utilities only totaling $868 per month.

The quality of life score is 68, and there’s plenty to experience and enjoy in your retirement. Explore the gorgeous nature scene the city has to offer, look into the location’s rich history, or spend your time on the golf courses.

Omaha, Nebraska

jacob/Adobe skyscrapers in omaha nebraska with holiday lights at sunset

Omaha has a high quality of life score of 84, but it only costs an average of $1,704 per month to live there. Rent and utilities only cost roughly $932 per month.

Omaha has plenty to offer the retired resident, including golf courses, spas, tours, sporting events, nature trails, an amazing zoo, and tons more.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Reagan/Adobe skyscrapers with golden lights and small buildings in tulsa at sunset

Oklahoma is another city with an incredibly high quality of life and an affordable cost of living. It costs roughly $1,504 per month to live in Tulsa, which affords you a quality of life score of 90.

Enjoy any number of Tulsa’s culture and entertainment, from nature trails and parks to museums, casinos, live music, zoos, and more.

Arlington, Texas

4kclips/Adobe aerial view of arlington globe life field headquarter in texas

Texas is a wonderful state to retire in, but the cost of living in most major cities is likely unattainable, especially if you’re only living off your Social Security check. Arlington is a wonderful compromise.

It costs an average of $1,685 per month to live in Arlington, which has a high quality of life score of 77. It’s a short drive from Dallas, but the city has its own vibrant arts, entertainment, and sports scene.

Des Moines, Iowa

Austin Johnson/Adobe aerial shot of papa john sculpture park with buildings in background at des moines

Des Moines has an affordable monthly cost of living of just $1,399, while still having an impressive quality of life score of 70.

It’s a very family-friendly area, perfect for a quiet but active retirement. There are famous farmers markets, breweries, historic towns, zoos and parks, and plenty of shopping opportunities.

Knoxville, Tennessee

Kevin Ruck/Adobe knoxville skyline with beautiful orange sky and trees on ground in tennessee

Knoxville has a slightly pricier cost of living of $1,806 monthly, but it more than makes up for the steep price with its quality of life rating, which is 81.

There’s something for everyone in Knoxville, from a vibrant arts, music, and theater scene, to festivals, tons of food to taste, and plenty of opportunities to explore surrounding nature.

Kalamazoo, Michigan

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe kalamazoo skyline in front of lake and bridge in michigan

Michigan is a wonderful state to retire in, with gorgeous nature all around, lakeside beaches, and plenty of statewide attractions. However, most major cities are too expensive to live on Social Security alone.

Kalamazoo only costs $1,477 a month to live in and has a comfortable quality of life score of 64. There are tons of museums, parks, festivals, zoos, shopping excursions, and more to enjoy.


Bottom line

Krakenimages.com/Adobe senior woman with grey hair wearing glasses smiling confidently in street

The average cost of living is getting more expensive, and it can make living solely off of your Social Security check challenging.

However, there are many affordable cities across the country that offer plenty to do in your retirement. You can also check out ways to boost your bank account to help you get the most out of your retirement years.

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Author Details

Lucy Clark Lucy Clark has considerable experience writing about real estate, as well as homes and gardens, home value, and more. She is savvy and resourceful, and she aims to ensure others can be, as well.

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