10 Best Cities To Retire on $10,000 a Month

Sunset over downtown Center City, Philadelphia, PA.
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In a world in which the average monthly Social Security benefit is just over $1,792, it may seem like a pipe dream to live off $10,000 per month in retirement. But the truth is that with some preparation, dedication and resolve, many Americans can reach this impressive level of retirement income.

When combined with the average Social Security benefit and estimating just a 2% gain in benefits annually, a $1 million nest egg — invested at a 5% annual return — could last nearly 24 years when factoring in a $10,000 monthly withdrawal. If you save early and often enough, making wise investment choices along the way, you too may be able to reach that goal.

To determine which cities would be the best in America to retire on a $10,000 monthly budget, GOBankingRates analyzed data from the U.S. Census American Consumer Survey, Sperling’s Best Places, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Zillow. The best cities were selected based on a combination of affordability and quality of life. The results are presented here in reverse order.  

Also see why retirees are expected to sell their homes in these 10 cities.

Normal, Illinois

  • Total Monthly Cost: $4,499

Illinois cities bookend the top 10 list. Normal is the city with monthly costs totaling less than $5,000 and a high livability score of 87. Rents of just $923 per month help keep total expenses in the city more than 17% below the national average. 

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Total Monthly Cost: $6,310

Philadelphia has relatively high expenses, running 5% above the national average, but those with a $10,000 monthly income can easily cover them. Meanwhile, the city provides its nearly 1.6 million residents with a host of amenities and services, helping contribute to its livability score of 76.

Grandview Heights, Ohio

  • Total Monthly Cost: $6,775

Grandview Heights is by far the smallest city in the top 10, with a minuscule population of just 8,099. Perhaps surprisingly, it also has the highest cost of living of any city in the top 10, with a cost of living 13.4% above the national average. However, the city’s quality of life boosts it significantly in the rankings, with its score of 96 ranking No. 1 among all 200 cities in the survey.  

Ankeny, Iowa

  • Total Monthly Cost: $5,652

Ankeny is one of the less-known cities in the survey, but it’s an ideal place for retirees living on $10,000 or more per month. The city of 66,000 residents sports a very high livability score of 92, while monthly expenses run 7.8% below the national average, even after including a fairly high cost of rent, at $1,645. 

Ames, Iowa

  • Total Monthly Cost: $4,911 

Ames is known to many as the home of Iowa State University, but most retirees are likely more enamored with the city’s extremely low cost of living. Residents pay just $987 per month in rent. Those drawing $10,000 per month in income can look forward to keeping more than half of that sum in their pockets.

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Dallas, Texas

  • Total Monthly Cost: $6,175 

Dallas is the first of three Texas cities in the top 10, and high-earning residents of all three no doubt enjoy the fact that the state has no income tax. Rents are a bit pricey in Big D, but overall expenses run just 1% above the national average. Meanwhile, the city’s livability score of 81 is quite high for a city with 1.3 million residents.

Frankfort, Kentucky

  • Total Monthly Cost: $4,313 

Frankfort is a bit of an outlier in this list, but in a good way. Costs in the city of 28,000 are more than 20% below the national average, ranking the best in the top 10. Meanwhile, its livability score is an exemplary 91. Rents in particular are cheap, at just $863 on average. 

San Antonio, Texas

  • Total Monthly Cost: $5,426 

San Antonio is the second of three Texas cities where residents enjoy no state taxes. But this vibrant city of 1.4 million is far more inexpensive than either of its Texas brethren, with average costs running more than 10% below the national average. It also boasts the highest livability score of the three, at 82. 

Houston, Texas

  • Total Monthly Cost: $5,776 

For a city with a population of nearly 2.3 million, Houston does quite well on the affordability scale, with costs running 4.5% below the national average. Those with $10,000 per month in income can enjoy residing in a city with no state taxes and a livability score of 74 while keeping more than $4,000 in their pockets.

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Chicago, Illinois

  • Total Monthly Cost: $6,773

When compared with the nation as a whole, Chicago is actually a somewhat expensive city, with its monthly expenses running 7.4% above average. Rent is particularly pricey, coming in at $2,106 per month on average. But Chicago’s large population of 2.74 million helps push it to its No. 1 ranking, as it offers a wide variety of services and amenities to its population. Meanwhile, its livability score of 74 is not terrible for a major metropolis.

Methodology: To find the best cities to retire in for less than $10,000 a month, GOBankingRates analyzed cities across the U.S. for multiple factors including; [1] population, [2] household both sourced from the US Census American Consumer Survey, [3] Zillow Observed Rental Index sourced from Zillow Research Data, [4] Livability Index sourced from AreaVibes; [5] groceries, [6] healthcare, [7] utilities, [8] transportation, [9] miscellaneous cost of living all sourced from Sperling’s Best Places; [10] average annual expenditure costs sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 200 cities by population were analyzed. The cost-of-living indexes were used alongside the average expenditure costs to calculate the monthly cost of living in each city for each category. The total monthly cost was added to the average rent to find the average total monthly amount someone in each city is paying. The livability index, population and total monthly costs were scored, with the livability index being weighted at 2.0, population weighted at 1.5, and the total monthly costs weighted at 1.0. Cities with higher populations are assumed to have more variety and experiences offered, so we can assume someone choosing a new place to live would find them more desirable. The results were sorted to show the best places to retire on $10,000 a month. All data was collected on and is up to date as of Aug. 31, 2023.

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