While the Southwest can be a pricey place to live, retirees who want to settle there don’t need to fret. Even if you’re on a fixed income, places exist in the region where you can live comfortably.
GOBankingRates set out to identify the Southwestern cities where you can live for way less than the national average of $2,626 per month. For our study, we used $2,200 as the cap for monthly expenditures and studied cities in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and West Texas to find affordable places for retirees to live.
We looked at the monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment — as well as monthly costs for groceries, healthcare and utilities — to come up with our list of seven cities. Six of them are in one state: Texas.
As well, we limited the list to Southwestern cities with a population base of more than 10% of people ages 65 and older. That gives retirees access to programs for people their age, helping them to stay active and social.
Ready to explore GOBankingRates’ findings? Here are the seven best cities in the Southwest for retirees to live on $2,200 a month.
7. Tucson, Arizona
- Monthly expenditures: $2,063
- Percent of population 65 and older: 14.8%
- Livability: 65
At $453, the monthly healthcare costs in Tucson are the lowest on the list of seven cities and a full hundred dollars below the national average. Despite an average high of 100 degrees in July and 98 in August in Tucson, according to the Weather Channel, the air-conditioning bills won’t break you. The monthly utility costs of $313 are on par with the national average, but the average rent of $962 is the highest on the list.
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6. Lubbock, Texas
- Monthly expenditures: $1,976
- Percent of population 65 and older: 12.3%
- Livability: 68
The first of six Texas cities on the list, Lubbock has an average monthly cost of groceries of $322 – nearly $30 below the national average. The average monthly cost of a one-bedroom apartment is $777 – especially attractive when you consider the national average costs $1,405. Despite it being the home of Texas Tech University, which houses thousands of young people, Lubbock still has a healthy percentage of residents 65 and older.
5. Midland, Texas
- Monthly expenditures: $1,930
- Percent of population 65 and older: 10.3%
- Livability: 72
The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Midland is just $714 – about half of the national average and the lowest of the seven cities listed here. Monthly costs for groceries ($341) and utilities ($313) also are below the national averages, though the monthly healthcare costs ($562) are about $6 more than the national average.
4. El Paso, Texas
- Monthly expenditures: $1,991
- Percent of population 65 and older: 12.9%
- Livability: 74
El Paso gets high marks for having the lowest cost of utilities among the seven cities on the list, at $275 – about $20 less than its next-closest competitor. Its healthcare costs ($482 per month) make El Paso one of just two cities on the list with health costs below $500 — and way below the national average.
3. Amarillo, Texas
- Monthly expenditures: $1,985
- Percent of population 65 and older: 13.8%
- Livability: 73
In Amarillo, you’ll find a lot of other people in your age group to join in activities, with 13.8% of the population age 65 and older. The Amarillo Senior Citizens Association offers plenty of activities, from table tennis to bridge to billiards, to keep seniors interacting with each other. The cost of living is affordable, too, with the average price of a one-bedroom apartment ringing in at $791 – one of four cities on the list with rent of less than $800.
2. Abilene, Texas
- Monthly expenditures: $2,001
- Percent of population 65 and older: 13.2%
- Livability: 75
In Abilene, the rent is low – $771 per month — and the livability is high. When the grandchildren visit, they might enjoy a trip to the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden, where they can see more than two dozen sculptures of their favorite characters from literature. Abilene is known, after all, as the Storybook Capital of America. While monthly healthcare and utilities costs are slightly higher than the national prices, you’ll pay nearly 8% less for groceries.
1. San Angelo, Texas
- Monthly expenditures: $2,118
- Percent of population 65 and older: 15.7%
- Livability: 78
San Angelo has the highest monthly expenditures of the seven cities on the list, but it has a lot to offer for seniors. The livability score is the highest, as is the percentage of people 65 and older. The $849 monthly rent is offset by grocery costs ($324) that are lower than the national average. The downside: Utilities costs ($336) and healthcare ($610) rank the highest on the list.
Methodology: For this study, GOBankingRates found the best Southwest cities (from Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and West Texas) to retire on a budget of $2,200 or less. GOBankingRates used ApartmentList June 2022 data to find every Southwestern city in the U.S. that has (1) an average 2022 monthly rent of $1,250 or less for a one-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. GOBankingRates then added monthly housing, grocery and healthcare costs together to find where a person 65 and older could survive on $2,200 or less. 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) percent 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 July 6, 2022.
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