GOBankingRates

50 Cheapest Places To Retire Across America

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Retiring on a tight budget is, unfortunately, the norm -- a recent GOBankingRates survey found that about 42% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.

However, a small nest egg can be stretched further if you retire to one of the cheapest cities in the country. But when considering where to retire, only 22% of Americans choose where to move based on the potential to save money on housing and taxes, another GOBankingRates survey found. Not considering the cost of living can really hurt your ability to thrive in retirement, so choosing an affordable place to retire is vital.

To pinpoint the cheapest places to retire, GOBankingRates analyzed and ranked the 100 biggest U.S. cities based on the annual retirement income needed to cover basic costs, including housing, healthcare, groceries, transportation and utilities. We also rated cities based on their livability, and only considered cities where the percentage of seniors in the population was 9.5% or higher. Take a look and see why these are the places where you don't need to be a millionaire to retire.

Last updated: Oct. 29, 2020

Retire Comfortably
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50. Nashville, Tennessee

  • Total annual expenditures: $54,496
  • Percent of seniors: 11.2 percent
  • Livability score: 69

This Southern city is a good choice for retirees on a budget. The costs of groceries and utilities are both below the national average, with annual expenditures of $3,434 and $3,536, respectively. However, the median home value is $273,400 -- the highest of all the cities included in this study.

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49. St. Paul, Minnesota

  • Total annual expenditures: $54,001
  • Percent of seniors: 9.7 percent
  • Livability score: 65

Grocery, healthcare and utility costs are all below average in St. Paul. But the city also has the eighth-most expensive homes, with a median home value of $220,600.

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48. Bakersfield, California

  • Total annual expenditures: $54,001
  • Percent of seniors: 9.5 percent
  • Livability score: 66

The median home value in Bakersfield -- $244,100 -- is the third-highest compared to the other places included in this study. But seniors will spend less than average on groceries here, and benefit from some of the most affordable healthcare compared to costs at other cities on this list. The average annual expenditure for healthcare in Bakersfield is $5,561.

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47. Tampa, Florida

  • Total annual expenditures: $54,001
  • Percent of seniors: 12.2 percent
  • Livability score: 76

If you’re looking for cheap places to retire near the beach, consider Tampa. The cost of living is below the national average in this city. Healthcare and utility costs are particularly low in Tampa. The annual amount spent on these two expenses is lower here than in more than half of the other cheapest places to retire.

However, Tampa has the seventh-highest housing costs on our list. But retirees can hang on to more of their money longer because Tampa is one of the cities where $1 million lasts the longest in retirement.

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46. Arlington, Texas

  • Total annual expenditures: $54,001
  • Percent of seniors: 10 percent
  • Livability score: 80

Arlington ranks high for livability, with a variety of local amenities and affordable local housing. The median home value in this city is $209,500. Groceries and healthcare costs are also lower than average in Arlington.

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45. New Orleans

  • Total annual expenditures: $53,505
  • Percent of seniors: 12.9 percent
  • Livability score: 71

New Orleans has some of the cheapest utilities compared to the other places on this list, with an average annual expenditure of $3,108. The city also has affordable groceries and healthcare, but transportation costs are high.

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44. Fresno, California

  • Total annual expenditures: $53,505
  • Percent of seniors: 10.4 percent
  • Livability score: 62

The median home value in Fresno is $245,300 -- the second-highest on this list. However, retirees catch a break on groceries and healthcare costs. Healthcare, in particular, is affordable compared to other places in this study, with an average annual expenditure for seniors of $5,627.

Read: Best Cities To Retire on a Budget of $1,500 a Month

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43. Dallas

  • Total annual expenditures: $53,505
  • Percent of seniors: 10 percent
  • Livability score: 75

Housing doesn't come cheap in Dallas. The city's median home value is $227,900, the sixth-highest of any place on this list. But retirees can save on groceries and healthcare, both of which cost less than average here.

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42. St. Petersburg, Florida

  • Total annual expenditures: $53,010
  • Percent of seniors: 17.7 percent
  • Livability score: 72

The Sunshine City is so far the second Florida city to make the list for the cheapest places to retire in the U.S. St. Petersburg is definitely a city to consider for retirement, with great weather year-round and beautiful oceanfront views. But you might have to pay a little extra to get those views -- the city has the 10th-highest median home value compared to the other places on this list.

On the plus side, it has the highest percentage of seniors compared to other cities in this ranking.

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41. Fort Worth, Texas

  • Total annual expenditures: $53,010
  • Percent of seniors: 9.5 percent
  • Livability score: 82

Fort Worth is the most livable city on this list, according to AreaVibes rankings. The site gave it a perfect score for local amenities and a high score for the availability of affordable housing. The median home value in this Texas city is $197,100.

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40. Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Total annual expenditures: $53,010
  • Percent of seniors: 10 percent
  • Livability score: 71

Groceries and utilities are both cheaper in Charlotte than most places in the U.S., but housing can be on the expensive side. The median home value in Charlotte is $229,700 -- the fourth-highest of the places included in this study.

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39. Houston

  • Total annual expenditures: $52,019
  • Percent of seniors: 10.1 percent
  • Livability score: 79

Houston's amenities, affordable housing and good weather make it one of the highest-rated cities on this list in terms of livability. The median home value in Houston is $194,600, and the average summer temperature is 83 degrees.

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38. Lawrenceville, Georgia

  • Total annual expenditures: $51,028
  • Percent of seniors: 13.5 percent
  • Livability score: 74

Homes in Lawrenceville can be pricey compared to the other places on this list. Its median home value -- $219,100 -- is the ninth-highest. But retirees can save on other costs, with affordable groceries and healthcare available.

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37. Durham, North Carolina

  • Total annual expenditures: $50,037
  • Percent of seniors: 10.8 percent
  • Livability score: 73

Durham is one of the most affordable cities to get around, with transportation costs for seniors averaging $6,987 a year. Groceries are also relatively inexpensive in this Southern city. However, Durham's median home value is on the high side compared to the other places in this study -- at $228,700, it's the city with the fifth-highest home values.

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36. Norfolk, Virginia

  • Total annual expenditures: $49,542
  • Percent of seniors: 10.3 percent
  • Livability score: 68

The average cost of groceries, housing, utilities and transportation are all below the national average in Norfolk. Healthcare, however, costs above average, with an average annual expenditure for seniors of $7,745.

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35. Tallahassee, Florida

  • Total annual expenditures: $49,542
  • Percent of seniors: 10 percent
  • Livability score: 64

Among all of the most affordable places to retire, Tallahassee has some of the highest costs for utilities and healthcare. However, if you plan to ditch your car and be active in retirement, keep in mind the city ranks as one of the most affordable bike-friendly cities.

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34. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

  • Total annual expenditures: $49,542
  • Percent of seniors: 13 percent
  • Livability score: 67

You can retire cheap in Louisiana’s capital. Annual expenditures in Baton Rouge are less than $50,000 a year. In fact, it has the third-lowest annual amount spent on utilities. But if you plan on buying a retirement home here, do your research first. Baton Rouge has a large percentage of homes that are "underwater." As a result, it is one of the cities in danger of a housing crisis.

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33. Jacksonville, Florida

  • Total annual expenditures: $49,542
  • Percent of seniors: 12.7 percent
  • Livability score: 75

Jacksonville is a cheap place to retire near the beach. Although it’s Florida’s largest city, the cost of living is on par with the national average. However, Jacksonville experienced a large five-year decrease in average retirement income, making it one of the cities where retirees are struggling to get by.

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32. Tucson, Arizona

  • Total annual expenditures: $49,047
  • Percent of seniors: 13.6 percent
  • Livability score: 65

Tucson has the 10th-highest percent of senior residents compared to the other places on this list -- and it's no wonder retirees flock here with its low living costs. Groceries, housing and utility costs are all below the national average in Tucson. And it's one of the U.S. cities with the lowest healthcare costs for retirees.

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31. Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Total annual expenditures: $48,551
  • Percent of seniors: 14.2 percent
  • Livability score: 59

Those who want to retire among their peers should head to Albuquerque -- the Southwest city has the fifth-highest percentage of seniors of all the places in this study. It also has below-average costs for groceries, healthcare and utilities, making it a good choice for retirees who want to save.

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30. Spokane, Washington

  • Total annual expenditures: $48,056
  • Percent of seniors: 14.5 percent
  • Livability score: 69

Although Spokane has one of the highest annual expenditures among the cheapest places to retire, the cost of living here is still below the national average. In fact, it has the lowest annual amount spent on utilities -- $2,786. Plus, Spokane is the cheapest place to retire in Washington, making it one of the best tax-friendly cities for retirement. In addition, it has the fourth-highest percentage of senior residents compared to the other places on this list.

Discover: Most Affordable Places To Retire Near You

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29. San Antonio

  • Total annual expenditures: $48,056
  • Percent of seniors: 11.6 percent
  • Livability score: 80

San Antonio has one of the higher housing costs among the cheapest places to retire. But the city’s overall low cost of living still makes it one of the best places to retire on a budget. San Antonio has the second-lowest average annual amount spent on groceries -- $3,395. And it has the ninth-lowest annual utility costs on our list. The city also provides a wealth of opportunities to go exploring and great weather to explore in, making it one of the most affordable cities for active retirees.

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28. Lincoln, Nebraska

  • Total annual expenditures: $47,560
  • Percent of seniors: 12.5 percent
  • Livability score: 81

The cost of living in the capital of Nebraska is 4 percent lower than the national average. However, Lincoln’s harsh climate -- particularly in the winter -- might be a turnoff to some.

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27. Louisville, Kentucky

  • Total annual expenditures: $47,560
  • Percent of seniors: 14.1 percent
  • Livability score: 66

Louisville is one of the most affordable places to retire. It has the eighth-lowest annual amount spent on health and the seventh-lowest amount spent on utilities in the study. It's also the city with the seventh-highest percentage of seniors.

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26. Lexington, Kentucky

  • Total annual expenditures: $47,065
  • Percent of seniors: 12.2 percent
  • Livability score: 75

Lexington has more to offer than just beautiful horse farms. This city is one of the best places to retire on a budget thanks to a cost of living that’s about 5 percent lower than the national average. Grocery, utility, healthcare and housing costs are especially low here. These low costs result in Lexington being one of the cities where you can afford to live off $50,000 or less.

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25. Omaha, Nebraska

  • Total annual expenditures: $47,065
  • Percent of seniors: 12.3 percent
  • Livability score: 76

Although Omaha is Nebraska’s largest city, it’s actually a more affordable option than the state capital, Lincoln. The annual expenditures in Omaha are about $500 less than in Lincoln. Seniors living in the city could also find a wide range of activities such as bingo nights, walking groups and health seminars, making it another great city for active retirees.

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24. Pittsburgh

  • Total annual expenditures: $46,569
  • Percent of seniors: 14.2 percent
  • Livability score: 71

Once a steel town, Pittsburgh has undergone a revitalization that’s helped diversify its economy and boost its appeal, according to Sperling’s Best Places. Yet, the cost of living is 6 percent below the national average.

In addition to low living costs, Pittsburgh has the sixth-highest percentage of seniors compared to the other places on this list.

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23. Knoxville, Tennessee

  • Total annual expenditures: $46,569
  • Percent of seniors: 13.2 percent
  • Livability score: 69

Home to the University of Tennessee, this college town in eastern Tennessee offers an affordable cost of living along with plenty of amenities. It’s more expensive to retire in Knoxville than one of the other Tennessee cities on our list, Memphis, but it's cheaper than retiring in Nashville.

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22. Pensacola, Florida

  • Total annual expenditures: $46,074
  • Percent of seniors: 16.9 percent
  • Livability score: 72

You'll be in good company if you retire in Pensacola -- the Florida city has the second-highest percentage of seniors compared to the other places in this study. Plus, groceries and housing are more affordable here than most other places in the country.

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21. Kansas City, Missouri

  • Total annual expenditures: $45,579
  • Percent of seniors: 11.4 percent
  • Livability score: 64

Kansas City doesn’t have a big-city cost of living. In fact, annual expenditures are less than $46,000 here, and the amount spent on housing is lower than in more than half of the cheapest places to retire. However, the annual amount spent on utilities -- $3,608 -- is the eighth-highest on our list.

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20. Oklahoma City

  • Total annual expenditures: $45,579
  • Percent of seniors: 11.9 percent
  • Livability score: 76

The cost of living in the capital of Oklahoma is 8 percent lower than the national average. Oklahoma City has the third-lowest annual amount spent on groceries -- $3,434. And annual spending on utilities is lower here than in more than half of the cheapest places to retire.

The city also has one of the highest livability scores, with a perfect score for its local amenities.

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19. Corpus Christi, Texas

  • Total annual expenditures: $45,588
  • Percent of seniors: 13.2 percent
  • Livability score: 80

Corpus Christi is one of the cheap places to retire near the beach. The cost of living in this south Texas city is 10 percent lower than the national average. It has the lowest annual amount spent on groceries -- $3,357.

Because of its location on the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi features miles of beaches on Texas’ Gulf Coast and ranks as one of the best trips to take if you're over 50. It's also one of the most livable cities on this list, with lots of local amenities and great weather.

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18. Columbia, South Carolina

  • Total annual expenditures: $44,588
  • Percent of seniors: 10 percent
  • Livability score: 63

The cost of living in Columbia is 10 percent lower than the national average, with especially low grocery, housing and transportation costs. Compared to the other affordable places to retire, Columbia's grocery costs are the fifth-lowest, and transportation costs are the third-lowest.

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17. Cincinnati

  • Total annual expenditures: $44,588
  • Percent of seniors: 11.9 percent
  • Livability score: 68

The cost of living is about 10 percent below the national average in this city. Healthcare is especially affordable -- the average annual expenditure to cover health costs in Cincinnati is $5,693, which is the fifth-lowest amount compared to the other cities on this list.

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16. Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • Total annual expenditures: $44,588
  • Percent of seniors: 13.4 percent
  • Livability score: 69

Retirees looking for affordable housing can find it in Tulsa. The median home value is $123,700, the eighth-lowest of all the places in this study, and the average annual expenditure on housing in Tulsa is $10,513.

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15. Milwaukee

  • Total annual expenditures: $44,588
  • Percent of seniors: 10 percent
  • Livability score: 58

Retirees who can handle cold winters will be rewarded with an affordable cost of living and ample amenities in Wisconsin’s largest city. The cost of living in Milwaukee is 10 percent below the national average, which makes it one of the cheapest places to live. It's also an affordable place to buy a home -- the median home value is $122,200, which is the seventh-lowest of all the places included in this study.

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14. Columbus, Ohio

  • Total annual expenditures: $44,588
  • Percent of seniors: 10 percent
  • Livability score: 76

If you live in Ohio, consider retiring in Columbus. The city offers retirees an affordable cost of living that's 10% below the national average. It's also one of the highest-rated cities on this list in terms of livability, with high scores for its local amenities and affordable housing.

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13. Mobile, Alabama

  • Total annual expenditures: $43,597
  • Percent of seniors: 15.5 percent
  • Livability score: 64

Located on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, Mobile is a cheap place to retire near the beach -- it has the sixth-least expensive homes of all the places on this list, with a median home value of $120,400. It's also the place with the third-highest percentage of senior residents.

Take a Look: 17 Clever Ways To Save More for Retirement

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12. St. Louis

  • Total annual expenditures: $43,597
  • Percent of seniors: 12.1 percent
  • Livability score: 58

For a city its size, St. Louis offers an affordable cost of living that’s 12% below the national average. It also has the fifth-most affordable homes, with a median home value of $120,000. That leaves retirees with more money to enjoy the city’s attractions -- including the opera, symphony, museums, theaters and major league sports teams.

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11. Indianapolis

  • Total annual expenditures: $43,597
  • Percent of seniors: 11.5 percent
  • Livability score: 69

Indiana’s largest city and capital is one of the cities where your paycheck stretches the furthest. The cost of living is 12 percent lower than the national average. Indianapolis has the fourth-lowest annual amount spent on utilities, and grocery costs are lower than in more than half of the cheapest places to retire.

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10. Winston-Salem, North Carolina

  • Total annual expenditures: $43,102
  • Percent of seniors: 13.7 percent
  • Livability score: 65

Winston-Salem is one of the best places to retire on a budget thanks to a cost of living that’s 13% below the national average. In fact, this city has the second-lowest annual transportation spending among cities on our list. But with a low average income for retirees, Winston-Salem is another city where retirees are struggling. Despite that, many still live there -- Winston-Salem has the ninth-highest percentage of seniors compared to the other places in this study.

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9. El Paso, Texas

  • Total annual expenditures: $43,102
  • Percent of seniors: 12.2 percent
  • Livability score: 79

This city on the U.S.-Mexico border is one of the cheapest places to live in the U.S., which is what makes it a good place to retire cheap. The costs of groceries, health and utilities are especially low in El Paso. And the median home value is the 10th-lowest of all the places in this study, at $129,100.

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8. Wichita, Kansas

  • Total annual expenditures: $42,606
  • Percent of seniors: 13.1 percent
  • Livability score: 62

Wichita's housing costs are the ninth-lowest in the study. Due to inexpensive homes and relatively low grocery, healthcare and transportation costs, Wichita makes the cut for one of the best cities to retire rich.

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7. Lubbock, Texas

  • Total annual expenditures: $42,111
  • Percent of seniors: 11.5 percent
  • Livability score: 76

The cost of living in this city in northwestern Texas is about 15 percent lower than the national average. Among the cheapest places to retire, Lubbock has the eighth-lowest annual utility costs, at $3,358, and the lowest annual amount spent on groceries. Lubbock has seen a significant rise in per capita income since 1970, and it now stands as one of the cities that used to be poor but are now rich.

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6. Memphis, Tennessee

  • Total annual expenditures: $41,615
  • Percent of seniors: 11.8 percent
  • Livability score: 65

    The cost of living in this city is 16% lower than the national average. Memphis is among the lowest in the annual amount spent on utility costs and annual amount spent on housing. It also has the third-least expensive homes, with the median home value at $80,900.

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    5. Greensboro, North Carolina

    • Total annual expenditures: $41,120
    • Percent of seniors: 13.3 percent
    • Livability score: 69

    This city in central North Carolina is a more affordable alternative to the state’s other cities on this list -- Charlotte, Durham and Winston-Salem. It has the most affordable groceries and healthcare of any of the places included in this study.

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    4. Fort Wayne, Indiana

    • Total annual expenditures: $41,120
    • Percent of seniors: 13.4 percent
    • Livability score: 75

    Fort Wayne’s low cost of living makes it one of the best cities for retirement. This city in northeastern Indiana has a cost of living that’s about 17% below the national average. Plus, it has the fifth-lowest utility costs among the cheapest places to retire.

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    3. Buffalo, New York

    • Total annual expenditures: $40,624
    • Percent of seniors: 12.2 percent
    • Livability score: 63

    The cost of living in Buffalo is 18% lower than the national average. Health costs are especially low, considering that the city has the eighth-lowest annual amount spent on health on our list. And it also has the fourth-lowest home prices, with the median home value at $86,000. However, on top of the cold and snowy winters, Buffalo is also one of the cities where retirees are struggling to get by.

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    2. Toledo, Ohio

    • Total annual expenditures: $38,643
    • Percent of seniors: 13.7 percent
    • Livability score: 62

    Retirees who want to buy a new house to spend their golden years in should head to Toledo. With a median home value of $69,100, the city has the second-most affordable homes of all the places on this list. It's also the city with the eighth-highest percentage of senior residents, which is good news for those who want to retire among their peers.

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    1. Cleveland

    • Total annual expenditures: $38,147
    • Percent of seniors: 13.3 percent
    • Livability score: 61

      Cleveland is the cheapest place to retire, with the least expensive homes -- the median home value is $55,300 -- and the lowest cost of living, the second-lowest annual amount spent on healthcare and the lowest annual amount spent on housing among all the cities on the list. If saving money on retirement costs is your priority, Cleveland tops the list of best places to retire in the U.S.

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      How To Find the Perfect Retirement City

      The perfect retirement city for you will depend on your budget -- but even if you're living on a tight one, you can still retire in a city with warm weather, great amenities and a large senior community. Before choosing where to retire, be sure to account for housing and living costs to make sure it's affordable for you.

      If you already know the city where you want to retire, here's how to find the best neighborhood there.

      More From GOBankingRates

      Cameron Huddleston contributed to the reporting for this article.

      Methodology: GOBankingRates found the 50 cheapest places to retire by analyzing the 100 biggest U.S. cities across the following factors: annual retirement income needed to cover basic costs for retirees, including annual amount needed for housing, annual amount needed for health costs, annual amount needed for food, annual amount needed for transportation and annual amount needed for utilities. All cost indexes were sourced from Sperling's Best Places, and then multiplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' annual expenditure data set for people 65 years and older to determine a yearly expenditure amount for all of the listed factors. The cities are ranked from smallest to largest annual expenditures. For a city to qualify, it had to have a percentage of seniors of 9.5 percent or higher, which was sourced from U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts. Livability scores from AreaVibes were included for each city, and this score covers amenities within the given city, cost of living, crime rates, education, employment, housing costs and weather. 

      Data is accurate as of April 1, 2019, and is subject to change.