GOBankingRates

The Best Beach Cities To Retire on $2,500 a Month

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Some of America’s beach cities are among the priciest areas in the world to live. Malibu’s cost of living, for example, is nearly five times the national average, and the median home price is more than $3.6 million. If you’ve only got $2,500 per month to spend, this puts Malibu and other similar beach cities out of reach. Yet, you might be surprised to learn that there are actually a large number of beach towns in America that remain quite affordable, even on a monthly income of $2,500 per month.

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To determine the top 15, GOBankingRates compiled data from a number of cities with at least 10% of residents 65 or older and ranked them according to affordability and livability. Here are the results, presented in reverse order.

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15. Sanford, Florida

  • Monthly expenditures: $2,115.17
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,276.67
  • % population 65 and older: 15%
  • Livability: 75

Sanford’s livability score of 75 is one of the highest among the top 15 beach cities, while healthcare costs are also slightly better than average.

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14. Hampton, Virginia

  • Monthly expenditures: $2,068.31
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,215.67
  • % population 65 and older: 15%
  • Livability: 72

Hampton has one of the lowest grocery costs on the list, with monthly expenses for those 65 and older at $395.77. That’s nearly 4% below average.

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13. Wilmington, North Carolina

  • Monthly expenditures: $2,033.04
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,094.00
  • % population 65 and older: 17%
  • Livability: 65

Wilmington has much to offer but its healthcare costs are by far the highest on the list at $527.62 per month, more than 22% above average.

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12. Melbourne, Florida

  • Monthly expenditures: $2,020.34
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,200.83
  • % population 65 and older: 21%
  • Livability: 75

Melbourne sports a high livability score and healthcare costs more than 5% below average, at just $407.26 per month. Demographically, the city also has the highest proportion of seniors, at 21% of the population.

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11. Jacksonville, Florida

  • Monthly expenditures: $2,009.78
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,182.33
  • % population 65 and older: 16%
  • Livability: 69

Jacksonville’s seniors enjoy both grocery and healthcare costs that are below average.

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10. Palm Bay, Florida

  • Monthly expenditures: $2,004.72
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,189.33
  • % population 65 and older: 19%
  • Livability: 80

Palm Bay’s livability score of 80 is the second-highest on the list, making it an enjoyable place to reside. Grocery costs are a tick below average, while healthcare expenses run more than 5% below average.

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9. Newport News, Virginia

  • Monthly expenditures: $1,975.46
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,128.50
  • % population 65 and older: 13%
  • Livability: 73

Healthcare expenses run about 4% above average in Newport News, but this is countered by grocery costs that are 3.5% below average.

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8. Norfolk, Virginia

  • Monthly expenditures: $1,940.68
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,067.67
  • % population 65 and older: 11%
  • Livability: 66

At $470.24 per month, healthcare costs in Norfolk run 9% above average. This is partially offset by monthly grocery costs at just $402.77, 2.2% below average.

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7. Panama City Beach, Florida

  • Monthly expenditures: $1,938.86
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,098.67
  • % population 65 and older: 17%
  • Livability: 76

Panama City Beach has a reputation as a spring break haven, but 17% of the city’s population consists of seniors 65 and older. Grocery costs run a bit higher than average, while healthcare costs run below trendline.

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6. Seabrook, Texas

  • Monthly expenditures: $1,931.85
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,119.33
  • % population 65 and older: 12%
  • Livability: 85

Seabrook has both the highest livability score of any of the top 15 beach cities, at 85. It also boasts the lowest monthly healthcare cost on the list, at $398.63. That’s a full 7.6% below average.

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5. Garland, Texas

  • Monthly expenditures: $1,930.23
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,122.33
  • % population 65 and older: 12%
  • Livability: 74

Garland combines a high livability score with a low cost of both groceries and healthcare.

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4. Corpus Christi, Texas

  • Monthly expenditures: $1,801.84
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $983.50
  • % population 65 and older: 14%
  • Livability: 69

Corpus Christi’s average monthly healthcare expense of $436.16 is just slightly above average, but its average monthly grocery expense is the lowest on the list. At just $382.18 per month, seniors spend about 7.1% less than average.

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3. Galveston, Texas

  • Monthly expenditures: $1,772.66
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $933.33
  • % population 65 and older: 18%
  • Livability: 71

Beautiful Galveston boasts a cruise ship port, a relatively high percentage of seniors and low rents and total expenditures. Healthcare costs are about the only small drag on this city’s score, coming in a scant 1% above average.

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2. Baytown, Texas

  • Monthly expenditures: $1,645.01
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $852.67
  • % population 65 and older: 12%
  • Livability: 75

Baytown rounds out the impressive showing of Texas, which has five of the top six best beach cities to retire on $2,500 per month. Baytown’s strengths are in its high livability score, low rent and low cost of groceries and healthcare, which run 4.4% and 7.6% below average, respectively.

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1. Lake Charles, Louisiana

  • Monthly expenditures: $1,525.03
  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $722.67
  • % population 65 and older: 15%
  • Livability: 70

Taking the top spot on the list of best beach cities to live on $2,500 per month is Lake Charles, Louisiana. With the lowest rents and overall cost of living of any city on the list, everything in Lake Charles is priced well below average. A livability score of 70 is the icing on the cake and enough to push this city to the head of the line.

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Methodology: To find the best beach cities to retire on a monthly budget of $2,500 or less, GOBankingRates first used ApartmentList’s data to find (1) average 2022 rent in cities with at least one beach within its municipality. GOBankingRates then used Sperling’s Best to find the cost of living index for each selected city, looking at (2) grocery and (3) healthcare index scores. Next, GOBankingRates used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 Consumer Expenditure Survey to find the annual expenditure amount for both grocery (“food at home”) and healthcare costs for people aged 65 and older to determine how much a person 65 and over would spend on groceries and healthcare in each city monthly. GOBankingRates then added monthly housing, grocery, and healthcare costs together to find where beach cities a person 65 and older could survive on $2,500 or less. In order for a city to be qualified for the study, its population had to be 10% or more over the age of 65, (4) according to the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey; and (5) must have a livability score of 65 or above, as sourced from AreaVibes. All data was collected on and up to date as of July 27, 2022.

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