The average Social Security benefit for retired workers in 2021 is $1,548 per month. That comes out to $18,576 in annual benefits for a single person, or $37,152 per year for a couple — about $31,500 less than the U.S. median household income of $68,703, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
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Living on a fixed income basically means you’re solely or almost entirely dependent on funds such as Social Security, pensions and inheritance, with little to no flexibility in the amount you’re paid each month. Unstable costs, such as a volatile housing market, can be especially challenging to deal with on a fixed income.
Alabama might be the best state to retire on a fixed income, especially if you want your retirement nest egg to stretch the furthest. Jasper has a stable housing market, making it a safe choice for those on a fixed income. Home values increased by 4.84% year over year, but rents dropped. Additionally, homes are relatively affordable, with the median home value at $126,233.
Pictured: Decatur, Alabama
Alaska is an income-tax and sales-tax-free state, making it one of the best places to retire on a fixed income. Home values in Fairbanks increased about 12.09% year over year, and the median home value is $255,438 — below the national median of $287,148. And there is good news for renters, as the median rent in Fairbanks decreased about 2.3% year over year.
Arizona: Sierra Vista
If you’re thinking of buying a home on a fixed income, consider Sierra Vista — but act quickly. Home values in Sierra Vista rose over 12% year over year, making it one of the cities with the largest increase in the past 12 months. Average rents also rose by $12 to $994 a month, but they still are less than the national average.
Arkansas: Little Rock
Rent prices in Little Rock went up $57 a month year over year, and the current median rent is $953. Little Rock is one of the more affordable places to own a home, though, with the median home value coming in at $165,027.
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Zillow lists the price of a typical California home at $668,300, but a median-valued home in Delano is much less at $257,342. Home values rose 12.09% in the past year, above the California average of 10.9% Rents also increased by 2.64%.
Pictured: Hanlon, California
The median home price in Pueblo is $244,009 but going up fast, increasing about 17.90% year over year. Rent prices have remained stagnant, even decreasing less than 1% year over year to $908 a month.
Real estate prices in Hartford increased 15.23%, with the median home value going up to $188,305. Rent prices went up even more — by about 10.2% — to $1,392 a month.
Delaware: New Castle
Delaware is one of the few states that doesn’t levy a state sales tax. It also does not tax Social Security benefits, which makes it one of the best places to retire in the U.S. In the past year, New Castle home values rose about 11.88% to a median of $264,884, while rents increased 2.79%.
Home values in Kissimmee went up 7.37% year over year, with a median home value of $264,884. Rents also rose 5.70% over the same time span to an average of $1,457 per month.
Home prices in Statesboro are flat, increasing 1.20% year over year to $162,557. Rent prices grew 1.43% in the same span but remain on the low side at $837 per month.
Pictured: Augusta, Georgia
In uber-expensive Hawaii, Pahoa is an affordable option. Zillow puts the typical home prices in the 50th state at $718,095, but the median home value in Pahoa is just $217,858. That’s up 13.88% year over year. The average rent is close to $1,500 a month, up 3.52% year over year.
Pictured: Hilo, Hawaii
In Pocatello, home values increased almost 18% in the past year, making it one of the biggest gainers in the study. The median home value now is $231,035, which is still about $56,000 less than the national median. Rents went up about 1.54% to $872 per month.
The median home value in Galesburg is the lowest in the GOBankingRates study: $73,009. That makes homeownership more accessible for people who live on a fixed income. The average rent also is affordable at $715, and both housing and rental prices remained virtually the same year over year.
Home prices in Richmond increased about 5.25% year over year to a median value of $99,402. And rent prices also remained stable, with about a 1.2% increase year over year — good news for renters living on a fixed income.
Burlington has stable housing and rental markets: Home values increased about 2.69% year over year, and rent prices increased about 4.45%. The median home value in the city is $96,243, making it one of the most affordable cities on the list.
In Manhattan, the location of Kansas State University, the median home value is $225,182, up 3.85% year over year. The average rent fell substantially, dropping about 7.2% to $1,023 a month.
Kentucky: Bowling Green
Bowling Green is a good place for renters on a fixed income to live, but prices are rising. The median rent is $928, up about 3.3% over the past year. A median-priced home costs $192,853, which is almost $95,000 less than the national median but is less than a 1% rise year over year.
Home values in Pineville have remained steady, with about a 1.06% increase over the past year to $145,066, while rent decreased 2.70%. Median rent in the city is $858.
Pictured: Lafayette, Louisiana
Home values in Bangor increased a whopping 20% over the past year, but with a median home price of $197,690, homes there are still much more affordable than the national median of $287,148. And rent prices are increasing as well: They went up about 5.88% year over year.
Home prices in Salisbury increased about 9.60% year over year, but the median home value is affordable at $182,212. Rent costs also rose slightly, by 2.08%, with the average rent at $1,131.
Massachusetts: West Springfield
The median home value in West Springfield is $275,707. Although this is nearly $12,000 below the national median value, it’s much less than the median home price in the state of Massachusetts as a whole, which is $508,232, according to Zillow.Home values in the city increased about 10.81% year over year.
Michigan: Mount Pleasant
Rent in Mount Pleasant increased 5.87% year over year to $834. Home values increased 6.75%, however, and the median home value is now $155,448.
Pictured: Lansing, Michigan
Homebuyers on a fixed income can benefit from Winona’s relatively stable housing market: Home values increased about 6.50% year over year to $186,452. Rent decreased by $3 month to an average of $808.
Pictured: Minneapolis, Minnesota
The median home price in Starkville is $189,873 — appealing to those on a fixed income. Home value increased by 3.84% and rents by 3.65%.
Home and rent prices are both well below the national median in Joplin: The median home value in the city is $130,466 and rent is $814. The home values rose by 7.38%, and rents went up 8.24% year over year.
Pictured: Springfield, Missouri
Renters with a fixed income in Butte shouldn’t have to worry too much about rent hikes: Prices went up less than 2% in the past year to an average of $888. The median home price, however, rose about 10.13% to $166,952.
Housing costs in Kearney are about $50,000 below the U.S. median. Home values showed nearly a 5.35% growth year over year, bringing the median value in Kearney to $236,999.
Rental costs in Pahrump, in the northern part of the state, dropped about 3.4% year over year to $918. The median value of a home is $279,920, about $7,200 below the national figure.
New Hampshire: Rochester
Home values in Rochester were among the biggest risers year over year, increasing by about 17.63% to $280,307. Rent prices barely budged, however, rising just $2 to an average cost of $1,472 over the same period.
New Jersey: Franklin Township
The median home price in pricey New Jersey is $287,148, according to Zillow, but in Franklin Township it is $265,843 — up nearly 8% year over year. Rent prices dropped about 1.5%, but they are the highest in the study at $1,801 on average per month.
Pictured: Jersey City, New Jersey
New Mexico: Alamogordo
Alamogordo is one of the best places to live on a budget, but prices are rising. The median housing price is $145,479, up about 4.85% year over year. The change in rental price was even higher at 4.3%.
New York: Town of Orchard Park
The median value of a home is $255,916, more than $30,000 below the national average. Home values have increased by about 8.81% year over year and rents have gone up over 9%.
North Carolina: Raeford
Home values are rising while rents are dropping in Raeford. Home values increased about 3.47% to $175,012, while rents increased less than 1%. Still, the average rental cost is $860 per month.
Pictured: Fayetteville, North Carolina
North Dakota: Fargo
Home values in Fargo increased about 7.56% over the past year. The rent rose about 4.4%, bringing it to an average of $988 per month.
The median monthly rent in Findlay is $900 which is nearly 5.96% more than it was a year ago. Home values in the city skyrocketed more than 9.25% to a median value of $176,012.
Pictured: Toledo, Ohio
In Stillwater the median home value is $184,821, and the median monthly rent is $924. Both increased year over year, however, with home values going up about 3.03% and rents about 4.88%.
The median home price in Oregon is $536,921, according to Zillow, but in Roseburg it’s $272,470. The market is shifting, though, with about a 14.29% year-over-year increase in home values. Rents went up nearly 2% to $1,216.
Rents in Williamsport went up more than 4.24% over the past year to $909, while home values rose about 2.73%. The median home value is $156,817– more than $130,000 less than the national figure.
Rhode Island: Woonsocket
The cost of living in the nation’s smallest state, Rhode Island, can be high, but Woonsocket is a more affordable locale for residents on a fixed income. The median home value is below the national average at $108,731, and the cost of rent is about $197 higher than the U.S. price at $1,219.
Pictured: Woonsocket, Rhode Islans
South Carolina: Orangeburg
South Carolina doesn’t tax Social Security benefits. Orangeburg is the best place in the state for people on a fixed income because home prices are relatively affordable, with the median home value at $108,731. The rental market also rose 6.10% year over year, with the average monthly rent now $779.
Pictured: Columbia, South Carolina
South Dakota: Aberdeen
Rent is increasing at a clip of nearly 4.44% in Aberdeen, but the average monthly rent is still just $810. Meanwhile, the year-over-year increase in home values was about 3.17%, bringing them to $177,917.
People living on fixed incomes can benefit from the relatively low home values in Shelbyville. The metro area’s median home value rose nearly 10% year over year. Another money-saver for fixed-income residents is rent cost. The median rent in Morristown increased about 1.27% year over year from 2020 to $831.
Pictured: Nashville, Tennessee
Alice’s relatively low housing costs could be beneficial to someone on a fixed income. Home values rose by less than 5% year over year but is still among the most affordable cities, with a home value of $93,507 though rents increased. The average monthly rent is $913.
Pictured: Corpus Christi, Texas
Utah: Cedar City
The increases in median home value is steeply climbing in Cedar City year over year, at 15.17%. The median home value in Cedar City came in at $278,919, less than $1,000 over the national average, with rent at $830.
Pictured: St. George, Utah
The median home price in Rutland is about $83,000 less than the national median. The housing market is growing here, but not too fast, at 9.27% for home value. Rent actually decreased by a bit more than 1%, with average rent at $1,018.
The median home value in Martinsville is just $82,335 making it a very affordable option for those wishing to live on a fixed income in Virginia. It’s also a stable housing market: Values increased about 4.84% over the past year.
Pictured: Lynchburg, Virginia
Washington: Moses Lake
Home values are on the rise in Moses Lake, increasing nearly 18% to a current median of $273,071. That’s the second highest year-over-year rise in the study. Rents, however, have been on the decline, with the average rent decreasing about 2% to $888 per month.
Pictured: Wenatchee, Washington
West Virginia: Huntington
Home prices in Huntington are among the lowest compared with the other cities in this study, with the median home value at $89,994, with only a 3.32% year over year increase. Rent also is among the cheapest at $854 per month, and prices decreased year over year by nearly 3%.
Pictured: Parkersburg, West Virginia
Home values in Racine rose nearly 8.14% over the past year to $138,222. Rising home values can help retirees on fixed incomes, especially if prolonged costs wipe out retirement savings, leaving their home as their only financial asset.
Home values in Gillette are increasing, while rent costs are decreasing. Rents dropped less than 1% over the past year, bringing the median rent price to $1,074. The median home price rose less than 1% to $278,763.
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Methodology: In order to find the best city in every state to live on a fixed income, GOBankingRates first looked at every city with both Zillow home value data for May 2020, February 2021, and May 2021 available as well as county fair market rent for both 2020 and 2021 sourced from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s data. With all these data points sourced GOBankingRates then parsed down the list to only include cities that met the following criteria: a size rank according to Zillow of 2,000 or less and a May 2021 home value less than the national average of $287,148.
For these qualified cities, GOBankingRates found: (1) the quarter-over-quarter percent change in home value; (2) the year-over-year percent change in home value; and (3)the year-over-year percent change in rent by county. Those cities with negative values for factors (1) or (2) were then eliminated. With the remaining cities GOBankingRates scored and combined all three factors with the lowest score being best. The city with the lowest score from each state was included in our final rankings. These factors were chosen because changes in home values serve as a proxy for measuring the volatility of a housing market, with large increases posing a threat to those living on fixed incomes, while a negative change in value means money is being lost in depreciating house values. However, decreasing rental prices benefit a household on a fixed income.
For Utah and Vermont the size rank criteria had to be enlarged to 3,000 and up to 5,000 for Hawaii. All data was collected on and up to date as of June 17, 2021
Photo Disclaimer: Please note photos are for representational purposes only and may represent the nearest large metropolitan area.