Retirement looks different for everyone. If you’re a retiree who has to count every penny, it’s important to choose a place to live that will allow you to get the most out of your tight budget. Between rent, groceries, utilities and healthcare, costs can really add up.
To find the five best cities in the Northeast to retire on $2,500 a month, GOBankingRates looked at total monthly expenditures, percentage of people 65 and older and livability scores. For total monthly expenditures, we found cities with an average monthly rent of $1,250 or less for a one-bedroom apartment. We also reviewed the cost-of-living index for every city on the list, looking at the cost for groceries, utilities and healthcare.
We then added the cost of rent, groceries, utilities and healthcare together to find the five best cities where people 65 and older could retire for $2,500 or less per month.
Note that this list could have been longer. Other affordable cities like Philadelphia; Worcester, MA; Rochester, NY; and Hartford, CT also have monthly expenditures under $2,500, but their livability scores were below 65 so they did not make the cut. Still, something to consider.
1. Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Monthly expenditures: $2,497
In Lansdale, the monthly expenditures clock in right under $2,500 and close to half of that — $1,237 — goes toward rent. Monthly grocery costs are $376.86, which is 7.4% higher than the U.S. average. Additionally, monthly utility costs at $344.57 are about 9.3% higher than the U.S. average.
Although Lansdale doesn’t offer the lowest monthly expenditures among the five cities on the list, it does offer a livability score of 82, which is considered exceptional. Additionally, the percentage of the population that’s 65 and older is one of the highest among these cities at 16.2% and average healthcare costs are $539, which is 3% lower than the U.S. average.
2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Monthly expenditures: $2,143
Pittsburgh holds the top spot for the lowest monthly expenditures among these five Northeast cities. Utilities cost $322.50 per month, which is about 2% higher than the U.S. average, but lower than the cost of utilities for the rest of the cities on the list. And monthly healthcare cost is the second-lowest on the list at $476.21, which is about 14% lower than the U.S. average.
Additionally, you can rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city for $990 per month, which is at least $101 cheaper than every other city listed.
3. Allentown, Pennsylvania
Monthly expenditures: $2,360
Allentown’s total monthly expenditures are neither the highest nor lowest among the pack, but the city does feature the second-lowest average monthly rent after Pittsburgh. A one-bedroom apartment in Allentown will cost you around $1,091 per month. Groceries run the same as in Pittsburgh at $353.84 per month — about 1% above the U.S. average. Utilities run about 3% higher than the U.S. average at $325.65.
However, monthly healthcare costs are the highest on the list at $559.86, which is a little over 6% more than the U.S. average.
4. Lowell, Massachusetts
Monthly expenditures: $2,317
Lowell falls somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to monthly expenditures, and its livability score matches Allentown’s exactly. Average monthly rent is $1,116 and groceries are $372.05 per month or 6.2% higher than the U.S. average. Also, utilities run almost 16% higher than the U.S. average of $365.37.
However, healthcare costs are the second-lowest on the list at $463.43 — 16.6% lower than the average for the country.
5. Middletown, Connecticut
Monthly expenditures: $2,511
Middletown’s monthly expenditures go ever-so-slightly above $2,500, but that figure is close enough to include on this list — especially with the city’s exceptional livability score of 83, which ranks No. 1 on the list. Perhaps that’s why 16.2% of its population consists of people 65 and older.
Groceries are $368.90 or 5.3% above average for the U.S., and utilities, at $378.30, are 20% higher than the average. Also, the average rent is the second-highest on the list at $1,226. However, healthcare costs are 3% lower than the U.S. average, coming in at $538.44 per month.
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Methodology: For this study, GOBankingRates found the best east coast cities to retire on a budget of $2,500 dollars or less. GOBankingRates used ApartmentList April 2022 data to find every northeast city in the U.S. that has an (1) average 2022 monthly rent of $1,250 dollars or less for a 1 bedroom apartment. GOBankingRates then used Sperling’s Best to find the cost of living index for every city on the list, looking at (2) grocery, (3) utilities and (4) 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 a person 65 and older could survive on $2,500 or less. In order for a city to be qualified for the study, it had to have a livability score of 65 or higher as sourced from AreaVibes and its population had to be 10% or more over the age of 65 according to the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. For final rankings, all qualified cities were ranked by (5) total monthly expenditures, (6) % of population over 65 and (7) livability with the lowest score being best. Factor (7) was weighted 1.5x. All data was collected on and up to date as of June 23, 2022. Due to lack of population and availability, ME, VT, and RI were excluded.