3 Best Midwest Cities To Retire on a Budget of $1,500 a Month

Downtown Toledo skyline and Maumee River aerial / elevated view at dusk with sunset reflections.
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You’re getting ready to retire, and you’re looking to spend your golden years in the Midwest. However, you’re more focused on affordability than ever, since you’ll be living on a fixed income.

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As of April 2022, the average Social Security monthly benefit is $1,538.14, according to the Social Security Administration. However, a 2022 GOBankingRates study revealed the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the U.S. is $1,927. Therefore, the importance of choosing your retirement city wisely cannot be emphasized enough.

Of course, rent isn’t the only monthly expenditure you’ll incur. The average cost of groceries in the U.S. is $4,942 per year — $411.83 monthly — and then you have an average of $5,177 in annual healthcare costs — $431.42 monthly. Add to that an average of $2,770.25 in monthly expenditures, and you seriously need to live in a city that’s easy on your bank account.

Beyond financial matters, you’ll also want your new Midwestern hometown to have a sizable percentage of residents in the 65 and older demographic. The U.S. average is 16%, so keep that in mind.

Retire Comfortably

Ready to find your ideal place to retire in the Midwest? Here’s a look at the top three cities to kick back, relax and enjoy retired life on a budget of $1,500 per month.

Grand Forks, North Dakota

  • Monthly Expenditures: $1,506.82
  • Percent of population 65 and older: 14%
  • Livability: 74

A great place to retire, Grand Forks has the highest livability score on this list. However, the city also has the highest average monthly grocery cost — $409.36 — monthly healthcare cost — $415.45 — and average monthly expenditures — $1,506.82. The rent for a one-bedroom apartment falls in the middle of the three cities at an average of $682 per month. 

If you’re a highly social person, it’s worth noting that the percent of the Grand Forks population in the 65 and older age group is 14% — the only city on the list below the national average. 

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Toledo, Ohio

  • Monthly Expenditures: $1,455.56
  • Percent of population 65 and older: 17%
  • Livability: 62

If you’re interested in Toledo, you’ll be happy to learn the city has the lowest grocery cost on the list, averaging $371.89 per month. It ranks No. 2 for both the average healthcare cost — $373.18 per month — and average monthly expenditures. 

Retire Comfortably

However, the savings might be lost on rent, as the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is $710.50 — the highest of all three cities, but still substantially below the national average. Of course, it’s also worth noting that the percentage of the population 65 and older is above the national average, so making friends should be easy.

Akron, Ohio

  • Monthly Expenditures: $1,423.07
  • Percent of population 65 and older: 18%
  • Livability: 63

The No. 1 city to retire in the Midwest on a budget of $1,500, Akron has the lowest average cost of a one-bedroom apartment — $679.50 per month — average healthcare cost — $358.51 and average monthly expenditures. The city has the second-lowest average grocery cost — $385.06 per month.

However, Akron also has the highest percentage of the population 65 and older on the list, meaning you’ll likely have plenty of opportunities to socialize.

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: To find the best Midwest cities to retire on a monthly budget of $1,500 dollars or less, GOBankingRates first used Zillow’s 2022 rent data to find Midwest cities that have an (1) average monthly rent of $750 dollars or less. 

GOBankingRates then used Sperling’s Best to find the cost of living index for each listed 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 find how much a person in this age group would spend on groceries and healthcare in each city on a monthly basis. 

GOBankingRates then added monthly housing, grocery and healthcare costs together to find where in the Midwest a person 65 and older could survive on $1,500 or less. To qualify for the study, the population of the city had to be 10% or more over the age of 65, according to the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. All data was collected on and up to date as of May 31, 2022.

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