The average Social Security benefit for retired workers in 2017 was $1,369 per month. That comes out to $16,428 in annual benefits for a single person or $32,856 per year for a couple — about $25,000 less than the U.S. median household income of $57,617.
Living on a fixed income basically means you’re solely or almost entirely dependent on funds like 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.
If you rely mostly — or solely — on a fixed income, click through to see the best places to live in your state.
Data is accurate as of April 14, 2019, and is subject to change.
Alabama might be the best state to retire on a fixed income, especially if you want your retirement nest egg to stretch the furthest. Decatur has a stable housing market, making it a safe choice for those on a fixed income. Home values increased less than 5 percent year over year, while rents actually decreased. Additionally, homes are relatively affordable, with the median home value at $116,900.
Alaska is an income-tax-free state, making it one of the best places to retire on a fixed income. Home values in Palmer increased only about 2 percent year over year, but home prices are still relatively high compared with other cities on this list: The median home value is $252,400. But there is good news for renters, as the median rent decreased about 9 percent year over year.
Arizona: Sierra Vista
If you’re thinking of buying a home on a fixed income, consider Sierra Vista. Home values in Sierra Vista rose less than 1 percent year over year, which means the market there is less volatile than the state as a whole: Arizona’s home values increased about 7 percent over the same time period, according to Zillow.
Arkansas: Little Rock
Rent prices in Little Rock did not change at all year over year, and the current median rent is $1,003 per month. In fact, Little Rock is one of the cheapest places to rent, found a 2017 GOBankingRates study. Home values remained stable as well, with less than a 3 percent increase year over year.
The median home value in California is $535,100, according to Zillow. But in Hanford, it’s significantly less at $191,200. Home values are rising about 7.5 percent year over year in the city.
Colorado: Fort Collins
The median home price in Fort Collins is high — $369,100 — but the market is pretty stable, with only a 7 percent increase in home values year over year. Rent prices have remained stagnant, increasing less than 1 percent year over year.
Connecticut: New Haven
Real estate prices in New Haven increased only about 2 percent, which is good news for those on a fixed income. However, although rent decreased year over year, it’s still relatively expensive with the median monthly rent at $1,599.
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 last year, Felton home values rose about 2 percent, while rents decreased about 1 percent.
Home values are stable in Bradenton, with a median home value of $225,200 and a year-over-year increase of 2.5 percent. Rents are pretty much stagnant but still relatively high at a median of $1,626 per month.
Columbus is one of the best cities to retire on a budget of $1,000 a month, a previous GOBankingRates study found. The city has affordable housing for people on a fixed income: The median home price is $105,800, and values are stable, increasing about 4 percent year over year. Rent prices are also affordable, with a median cost of $896 per month, increasing less than 1 percent year over year.
Hilo’s median home value rose less than 1 percent year over year, but its current level is already $336,900. That is the second-highest home value in the study. And rents increased by much more in the last year, about 12 percent to $1,685.
However, the city is the best place for people on a fixed income to live in Hawaii because it’s affordable compared with the state as a whole: The statewide median home value is $628,600, and values increased about 7 percent year over year, according to Zillow.
Idaho: Twin Falls
In Twin Falls, home values increased about 6 percent in the last year, while rent increased about 4.5 percent. The median home value is now $158,200, which is $49,400 less than the national median.
The median home value in Champaign-Urbana is roughly $76,500 cheaper than the U.S. median home value, making homeownership a little more accessible for people who live on a fixed income.
Angola has a steady housing market, with home prices increasing about 2 percent year over year. And rent prices have also remained stable, with about a 1 percent increase year over year — good news for renters living on a fixed income.
Iowa: Des Moines
Des Moines has stable housing and rental markets: Home values increased about 2 percent year over year, and rent prices increased about 1 percent. The median home value in the city is $174,100.
Topeka has some of the most affordable housing of any of the cities in this study: The median home value is $105,600, and the median rent is $943.
Danville is a good place for renters on a fixed income to live: The median rent is $896, and rent prices increased less than 1 percent over the last year. Homes are affordable too, with the median price at $111,500.
Home values in Lafayette have remained steady, with a 2 percent increase over the last year, while rent decreased almost 3 percent. Median rent in the city is $1,186.
Home values in Augusta increased about 11 percent over the last year, but with a median home price of $146,100, homes there are still much more affordable than the national median of $207,600. And rent prices are actually decreasing: They went down almost 3 percent year over year.
Home prices in Hagerstown increased about 5.5 percent year over year, and the median home value is $172,300. Rent costs remained about the same over the last year, with the median rent at $1,194.
The median home value in Worcester is $258,600. Although this is about the national median value, it’s much less than the median home price in the state of Massachusetts as a whole, which is $388,300, according to Zillow. Home values in the city increased about 6 percent year over year.
Rent in Midland decreased almost 6 percent year over year, now at $1,021. Home values increased about 1 percent, and the median home value is now $130,100.
People on a fixed income can benefit from Mankato’s stable housing market: Home values increased about 2 percent year over year. Rent decreased slightly, and is now $1,318.
The median home price in Tupelo is $114,000 — $93,600 less than the national median, which can help those on a fixed income be able to afford housing. Home values rose about 2 percent year over year.
Home and rent prices are both below the national median in Springfield: The median home value in the city is $123,300, and rent is $833. Not only does Springfield have the cheapest rent of all the cities included in this study, but the prices are stagnant too: They increased less than 1 percent over the last year, which is helpful for renters on a fixed income.
Montana: Great Falls
Renters with a fixed income in Great Falls shouldn’t have to worry too much about rent hikes: Prices went up less than 2 percent in the last year. The median rent price in Great Falls is $1,197.
Nebraska: North Platte
Housing costs in North Platte are at 68 percent of the U.S. median. Home values showed a 2 percent growth year over year, but North Platte’s median home value of $141,500 is over $66,000 less than the U.S. median.
Rental costs in Elko increased about 2 percent year over year, but they decreased about 3 percent in the previous quarter, which could make rent more affordable for those earning a fixed income.
New Hampshire: Berlin
New Hampshire is the best state — in terms of income levels, safety and other quality-of-life factors — if you want to create a richer life for your family. And home prices in Berlin are nearly 60 percent cheaper than the national median.
New Jersey: Absecon
The median home price in New Jersey is $313,200, according to Zillow, while in Absecon it is $159,300. Home values in the city have remained stagnant, but rent is actually becoming more affordable: Rent prices decreased about 1 percent over the last year.
New Mexico: Albuquerque
Albuquerque is one of the best places to live on a budget, a previous GOBankingRates study found. Fixed-income residents in Albuquerque don’t have to worry about a volatile housing market: The year-over-year change in home values was about 4 percent. And rent prices have remained steady, with an increase of less than 1 percent over the last year.
New York: Corning
Corning’s median home value of $89,500 is the least compared to all of the cities in this study, and values have remained stable, with an increase of less than 1 percent over the last year. Corning is also a good city for renters living on a fixed income, as rent prices decreased 3 percent over the last year.
North Carolina: Fayetteville
Home values are rising while rents are dropping in Fayetteville, a 3 percent increase year over year versus a decrease of 1 percent, respectively. With a median rent of $883, Fayetteville ranks among the cheapest cities in the study to rent.
North Dakota: Fargo
Home values in Fargo increased about 2 percent over the last year. The rent is stable with just a 1 percent increase, with a median rent of $1,349 per month.
Ohio: Port Clinton
The median monthly rent in Port Clinton is $1,168, which is higher than the national median — but it’s decreasing. Rent prices dropped more than 1 percent in the city over the last year.
Oklahoma: Elk City
Elk City is one of the most affordable cities included in this study. The median home value is $93,300, and the median monthly rent is $856. And rent is decreasing, with nearly a 3 percent decrease in the last year.
Oregon: La Grande
The median home price in Oregon is $323,200, according to Zillow, but in La Grande it’s only $171,200, making it an affordable option for Oregon residents who earn a fixed income. The market is stable, with a 3 percent year-over-year increase in home values.
Rents in Williamsport dropped about 4 percent over the last year, bringing them to an affordable $974 per month. And the median home value in the city is $62,500 less than the national median.
Rhode Island: Providence
New England can be fairly pricey in certain locations. Fortunately for Providence residents, the housing market is relatively stable, with a 7.5 percent year-over-year increase in home values, which is less than the statewide increase of 9 percent, and only a 3 percent year-over-year increase in rent costs.
South Carolina: Columbia
South Carolina doesn’t tax Social Security benefits, according to SmartAsset. And the average effective property tax rate is only 0.57 percent, one of the lowest in the country, according to Tax Foundation. Columbia 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 $127,400. The housing market is also stable, with a 3 percent year-over-year increase.
South Dakota: Rapid City
Rent is decreasing in Rapid City, and the median rent is now $1,270. Meanwhile, home values are rising. The year-over-year increase in home values was about 5 percent.
People living on fixed incomes can benefit from the low volatility and steady growth of home values in Morristown. The metro area’s median home value rose less than 3 percent year over year. Another money-saver for fixed-income residents is rent cost. The median rent in Morristown increased year over year from 2017 but is still below $1,000.
Texas: College Station
College Station’s relatively low housing costs could be beneficial to someone on a fixed income. Home values crept up by about 2 percent year over year, while rents got cheaper.
Texas is one of the handful of U.S. states that don’t have a state income tax. Nor does it tax Social Security benefits. However, Texas has a notable drawback: It has the nation’s sixth-highest property tax rate.
Although both the median home value and rent cost are relatively high in Provo, it seems that rent prices have started to take a dip. They dropped 0.30 percent over the last quarter.
The median home price in Rutland is almost $50,000 less than the national median, and the housing market is stable, making it a safe place for someone on a fixed income to buy a home. Home values increased 2 percent year over year.
The median home value in Lynchburg is almost $100,000 less than the statewide median, making it an affordable option for those wishing to live in Virginia on a fixed income. It’s also a stable housing market: Values increased about 3 percent over the last year.
Home values are on the rise in Wenatchee, increasing about 7 percent year over year to a current median of $290,700. Rents, however, have been on the decline, with the median rent decreasing almost 4 percent to $1,531 per month.
West Virginia: Parkersburg
Home prices in Parkersburg are among the lowest compared with the other cities in this study, with the median home value at $104,500. Rent is also among the cheapest at $860 per month, and prices decreased both year over year and quarter over quarter.
Home values in Watertown rose 2.5 percent over the last year. Rising home values can help retirees on fixed incomes, especially if prolonged costs wipe out retirement savings, leaving your home as your only financial asset.
Home values in Riverton are increasing, while rent costs are decreasing. Rents dropped 6 percent over the last year, bringing the median rent price down to an affordable $1,021.
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Methodology: GOBankingRates identified the three cities in each state with the smallest percentages of (1) Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) for (a) quarter-over-quarter changes and (b) year-over-year changes; and (2) Zillow Rent Index (ZRI) for (a) quarter-over-quarter changes and (b) year-over-year changes, based on Zillow’s data as of the end of January 2018. 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. Decreasing rental prices benefit a household on a fixed income. Each city was scored and ranked based on home value and rental score, with the top city named the best city in the state.
Data is accurate as of April 14, 2019, and is subject to change.
About the Author
Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert.