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

The Roebling Bridge in Cincinnati in the summer
aceshot / Getty Images/iStockphoto

As you get ready to retire and look to spend your golden years somewhere that your cost of living will match your fixed income, look to the Midwest. States like Kansas, Ohio and North Dakota have a remarkably low cost of living.

As of July 2022, the average Social Security monthly benefit is 1,623.10, 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.

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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. Keep reading to see which cities made our list.

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7. Wichita, Kansas

  • Monthly Expenditures: $1,568.38
  • Percent of population 65 and older: 14.5%
  • Livability: 60

Wichita is a decent place to retire. However, the city also has the highest average monthly healthcare cost, at $440.48, though the second lowest monthly grocery cost, at $391.24. The rent for a one-bedroom apartment falls about in middle of the three cities at an average of $737 per month. 

6. Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Monthly Expenditures: $1,565.38
  • Percent of population 65 and older: 12.5%
  • Livability: 68

Cincinnati is another good choice for retirement. Healthcare costs will run you only $368.43 per month, on average, groceries, $401.95 The rent for a one-bedroom apartment $795 is on the higher side but still significantly lower than the national average, which is $1,927.

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5. Topeka, Kansas

  • Monthly Expenditures: $1,553.58
  • Percent of population 65 and older: 18.1%
  • Livability: 61

In Topeka, over 18 percent of the population are 65 and older, making it a growing area for retirees. Here, while healthcare costs are pricier than the national average by a smidge, $444.36, coupled with your other expenses, you’re still paying less than half the national average overall in monthly expenses, which are $2,770.25. The rent for a one-bedroom apartment here is $723.

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4. Fargo, North Dakota

  • Monthly Expenditures: $1,543.97
  • Percent of population 65 and older: 12.8%
  • Livability: 76

Though Fargo is only 4th on the list, it has the highest livability score of all the cities on this list. The rent for a one-bedroom apartment here is $723. And while you’ll pay less for your healthcare costs each month, $368.86, than your groceries, $409.77, all told, you’re still paying about $1,300 less per month than the national average. 

3. Lansing, Michigan

  • Monthly Expenditures: $1,530.84
  • Percent of population 65 and older: 12.2%
  • Livability: 66

Here in Lansing, where the population of those age 65 and older is 12.2%, you’ll find reasonable prices for most of your big expenses. A one bedroom apartment is $795 to rent, about $1,200 less than the national average. Your healthcare costs are even lower than the previous four cities, at $360.66 per month. And your monthly grocery costs are less than $400 per month.

2. St. Cloud, Minnesota

  • Monthly Expenditures: $1,513.25
  • Percent of population 65 and older: 13%
  • Livability: 66

In St. Cloud, though the rent of $777 per month is the third highest on this list, it’s still over $1,100 cheaper than the national average. Your healthcare costs are the lowest on the list, at $336.94 per month, and. And your monthly grocery costs are less than $400 per month.

1. Grand Forks, North Dakota

  • Monthly Expenditures: $1,495.48
  • Percent of population 65 and older: 12.6%
  • Livability: 74

Grand Forks takes the top spot, not because everything is cheaper here, but through a combination of factors. It has the second highest livability score on the list. Rent here is the cheapest on the list, at $671 per month. Monthly healthcare costs are the third highest on the list, at $415.45, and grocery costs are the second highest on the list at $409.36, but overall cost of living is cheapest on the list, and about $1,200 less than the national average.

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More From GOBankingRates

Jennifer Taylor contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: To find the best Midwest cities to retire on a monthly budget of $1,600 dollars or less, GOBankingRates first used Zillow’s 2022 rent data to find Midwest cities that have an (1) average monthly rent of $8000 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 in order to find how much a person 65 and over 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 $1,600 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 according to the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. All data was collected on and up to date as of July 5, 2022.

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Retire Comfortably

About the Author

Jordan Rosenfeld is a freelance writer and author of nine books. She holds a B.A. from Sonoma State University and an MFA from Bennington College. Her articles and essays about finances and other topics has appeared in a wide range of publications and clients, including The Atlantic, The Billfold, Good Magazine, GoBanking Rates, Daily Worth, Quartz, Medical Economics, The New York Times, Ozy, Paypal, The Washington Post and for numerous business clients. As someone who had to learn many of her lessons about money the hard way, she enjoys writing about personal finance to empower and educate people on how to make the most of what they have and live a better quality of life.

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