GOBankingRates

Great Places to Retire Where Rent Is Under $1,000 a Month

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If you’re approaching age 65, you might be looking forward to retiring from your job and transitioning into a relaxing lifestyle that includes plenty of leisure activities. But if you’re like most Americans who don’t have enough saved for retirement, according to a recent GOBankingRates study, you’ll probably need an affordable place to live.

To find ideal cities for retirees with affordable housing options, GOBankingRates analyzed Zillow’s apartment data, scraped city census information for the population percentage over age 65, used a city’s Walk Score to measure its walkability and checked each city’s safety score from Neighborhood Scout. The following 20 cities have affordable rents, where an average one-bedroom apartment is under $1,000 per month, and have relatively low crime rates and high walkability scores, with a larger senior population.

Many of the cities here appear regularly on “top cities to live” lists, and combine the great outdoors with thriving downtown areas that offer modern amenities, restaurants and entertainment. Read on to find a comfortable place to retire among these 20 cities that offer a great quality of life and low cost of living.

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0. Columbus, Ohio

  • Average housing cost: $826
  • Population age 65 or older: 8.6 percent
  • Walkability score: 41
  • Safety score: 8

A low cost of living combined with a healthy job market makes Ohio’s capital city, Columbus, an ideal place to retire. Located in the central Midwest, Columbus offers plenty of ways for seniors to stay busy. A string of parks run along the Scioto River, called the Scioto Mile, which contains 175 acres of trails, biking paths, an Audubon and various outdoor activities. The region also provides a top-ranked medical system at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Rental prices are a little higher in Columbus than in fellow Ohio city, Cincinnati, which has an average housing cost of $767 per month. But statistics show Columbus has a relatively lower crime rate than Cincinnati, as indicated by the safety scores of each city — 8 and 2, respectively.

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-1. Louisville, Ky.

  • Average housing cost: $806
  • Population age 65 or older: 12.6 percent
  • Walkability score: 33
  • Safety score: 6

Louisville is best known for hosting the Kentucky Derby every May. However, the city that borders the Ohio River and Indiana is also an affordable city where seniors can spend their golden years while living on a budget. Many do just that, as Louisville is one of the top five cities on our list with an over-65 population.

The city is filled with independent restaurants, boutiques and cultural activities, including music festivals, the ballet, opera and the orchestra. Taking advantage of all the city offers means you’ll need a car as the city is quite spread out. Louisville has an extensive park system — designed by New York Central Park designer, Frederick Law Olmsted — which contains miles of trails suitable for taking a leisurely stroll or going for a bike ride.

There are diverse living options throughout the city in neighborhoods that run from hip and trendy to historical. Healthcare is one of the top employment sectors in Louisville, which means the city is home to numerous state-of-the-art hospitals and health facilities, making it one of the best retirement cities.

Related: Cities Where Your $100,000 Retirement Nest Egg Will Stretch the Furthest

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-2. Oklahoma City

  • Average housing cost: $733
  • Population age 65 or older: 11.3 percent
  • Walkability score: 33
  • Safety score: 7

It is common to see Oklahoma’s capital, Oklahoma City, on all sorts of “best places to live” lists, thanks to a low cost of living, low crime rate and healthy wage growth. Located right in the middle of the state, the city is home to many government employees, and workers in the livestock, oil, natural gas, technology and healthcare industries. The dining, arts and entertainment options are quickly expanding as more millennials, families and retirees make the city their home.

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-3. Lexington, Ky.

  • Average housing cost: $708
  • Population age 65 or older: 10.5 percent
  • Walkability score: 34
  • Safety score: 8

Louisville may have the Kentucky Derby but Lexington comes out ahead with its affordable housing costs, which are the fifth-lowest on this list. Plus, Lexington is as horse-crazy as its Derby neighbors one hour to the west. The progressive southern city in north central Kentucky is transitioning as millennials are attracted to the area and putting down roots as they start families.

The benefits of this shift cater to senior citizens who are looking to enjoy their retirement while living on modest means. Though a car-dependent locale, downtown Lexington is expanding as more cafes, eateries, boutiques and art galleries open to meet residents’ demands. The city also maintains 131 public parks, which provide plenty of walking, running and biking trails.

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-4. Greensboro, N.C.

  • Average housing cost: $687
  • Population age 65 or older: 11.5 percent
  • Walkability score: 29
  • Safety score: 9

Greensboro is located in the Piedmont Triad, along with Winston-Salem and High Point. Settling here for your retirement is not only cost-effective — the monthly average housing cost is $687, the fourth-lowest on our list — but you might never run out of things to do with your spare time.

A car is necessary, but many of the major cities in North Carolina such as Winston-Salem, Raleigh and Durham are just a short drive away. There are numerous top-rated golf courses in the area as well as numerous gardens and cultural centers.

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-5. Bloomington, Ind.

  • Average housing cost: $728
  • Population age 65 or older: 7.9 percent
  • Walkability score: 41
  • Safety score: 11

Bloomington is located in the southern region of Indiana. The city combines the friendliness of a small town with the sophistication of a city twice its size. Perfect for retirees, Bloomington has plenty of affordable housing options, top medical care and Indiana University, which is a major research institution with 40,000 students.

Unemployment is low and biotech and pharmaceutical companies are big employers in the area. Bloomington takes its trees and landscaping seriously and has been designated a Tree City USA for the last 30 years. Bloomington also has a thriving culinary scene and plenty of outdoor recreation.

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-6. Des Moines, Iowa

  • Average housing cost: $835
  • Population age 65 or older: 11 percent
  • Walkability score: 45
  • Safety score: 7

Located in Iowa on the Des Moines River, the city of Des Moines has something for everyone, including seniors. The capital of Iowa is best known for hosting the first caucuses of the presidential primary elections. On an everyday basis, the midwestern city is focused on the insurance and financial industries.

Although it has a large proportion of wealthy residents — and the average rent for a one-bedroom is the second-highest on our list — there is still plenty of room for the 65-and-older crowd living on a lower income. You can spend your leisure time by taking advantage of the numerous biking trails, or go downtown to shop, dine, visit farmers markets, and watch Broadway shows and live music.

Des Moines is a walkable city. However, winters are chilly, so consider your transportation needs before relocating.

Find More Affordable Retirement Options: 50 Cheapest Places to Retire

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-7. Missoula, Mont.

  • Average housing cost: 729
  • Population age 65 or older: 10.7 percent
  • Walkability score: 46
  • Safety score: 6

Missoula is a small, friendly city located along the Clark Fork River. It is the second-largest city in Montana and the fourth-most-walkable city on this list.

If you enjoy being outdoors, this might be the ultimate location to enjoy your retirement. Along with its awe-inspiring “big sky,” Missoula has no shortage of rivers and streams for fishing and water activities of all types. Plus, you will be within driving distance of both Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. The theater, arts and micro breweries can keep you busy when it’s time to go inside.

The town revolves around the University of Montana, which is the city’s biggest employer. You’ll have access to good healthcare in Missoula, which has two large medical centers, St. Patrick Hospital and Community Medical Center. Extra perks: Missoula has low crime, and almost half of the residents are college educated.

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-8. Fresno, Calif.

  • Average housing cost: $632
  • Population age 65 or older: 9.3 percent
  • Walkability score: 46
  • Safety score: 7

“Farmland meets city life” is the best way to describe Fresno. Situated in California’s Central Valley, the culturally diverse city is surrounded by farms that grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. Fruit and nut trees, anyone? Fresno has 62 miles of them.

Downtown, on the other hand, is bustling with shops, restaurants, breweries and numerous cultural attractions. Much of the downtown area can be explored on foot; with a Walk Score of 46, Fresno is the third-most-walkable city on this list.

It has the third-lowest average rent per month on our list, at $632. You can see here how much money you need to live comfortably in Fresno. Mild weather makes outdoor activities enjoyable all year long. San Francisco, Oakland and Silicon Valley are all about a three-hour drive away.

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-9. Sioux Falls, S.D.

  • Average housing cost: $718
  • Population age 65 or older: 10.9 percent
  • Walkability score: 37
  • Safety score: 12

A small-town feel with big-city amenities is what you will find in Sioux Falls. Low cost of living, low crime and a thriving job market make this South Dakota metropolitan area an ideal place to retire. Located on the banks of the Big Sioux River, along with the arts, Sioux Falls’ top industries are healthcare, finance, agribusiness and telecom.

One of the top attractions in Sioux Falls — and just a short walk from downtown — is Falls Park, where you can watch the magnificent falls from the Big Sioux River. Spend your evenings visiting the visual arts center, seeing a concert or enjoying dinner theater.

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-10. Reno, Nev.

  • Average housing cost: $800
  • Population age 65 or older: 11.7 percent
  • Walkability score: 38
  • Safety score: 12

Skiing and gambling are the main attractions in the “Biggest Little City in the World,” as Reno is frequently called. Located in Nevada by the Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe, Reno is a tourist destination for Northern California and Nevada residents. However, it is also a relaxing and picturesque place to spend your time after retiring.

Zillow ranked the Reno real estate market as “very hot,” but there are also lower-cost rentals available for people watching their pennies. The average monthly rental price for Reno is $800. Reno also has the fifth-highest safety score on this list.

The tourist industry is tops in these parts, but that comes with advantages, such as a thriving culinary scene with restaurants that meet every budget and every palate. You’ll find no shortage of outdoor activities — skiing, snowboarding, golfing, hiking, swimming and mountain biking are just some of the ways that you can have fun in the fresh mountain air.

Related: Here’s What an Average Apartment Costs in 50 U.S. Cities

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-11. Omaha, Neb.

  • Average housing cost: $838
  • Population age 65 or older: 11.4 percent
  • Walkability score: 45
  • Safety score: 10

A Midwestern city on the Missouri River, Omaha is big on hospitality. Five Fortune 500 companies call Omaha home, which helps to keep the job market and economy healthy. Healthcare, transportation and banking are the top industries in Omaha. Winters are chilly and snow-packed, but spring and summer bring temperatures in the 70s and 80s with a lot of sun.

Omaha has the highest monthly average rent price for a one-bedroom apartment on this list, but the overall cost of living is still moderate and affordable. You can enjoy plenty of events in the theater, arts, music and sports here. Omaha’s downtown area and riverfront have recently been revitalized and have seen significant growth. Among the modern attractions is the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, which is an S-shaped, 3,000-foot bridge that connects Omaha’s riverfront with Iowa.

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-12. Eugene, Ore.

  • Average housing cost: $801
  • Population age 65 or older: 12.6 percent
  • Walkability score: 45
  • Safety score: 9

Situated on the Willamette River, Eugene, the second-largest city in Oregon, offers a progressive and outdoorsy feel that is enjoyed by college students, families and senior citizens. Those 65 and over make up 12.6 percent of Eugene’s population, which makes the city fourth in this list of cities for senior community.

Eugene, a northwest city, has been able to maintain a lower cost of living, especially compared to San Francisco to the south and Seattle to the north. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around $800 per month.

A Walk Score of 45 (fifth on our list) is fitting for a town known as the “running capital of the world.” Eugene is the birthplace of Nike and Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine, who inspired the American running craze in the 1970s. Today, novices and Olympic athletes alike utilize 42 miles of running trails within the city.

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-13. Lincoln, Neb.

  • Average housing cost: $766
  • Population age 65 or older: 10.7 percent
  • Walkability score: 43
  • Safety score: 13

If you’re an American history buff, then you will likely enjoy retiring in the city named for Abraham Lincoln — Lincoln, Neb. The overall low cost of living keeps rents reasonable and are suitable for senior living.

Along with trendy shops, restaurants and a burgeoning arts scene, the area contains plenty of parks and outdoor activities to keep any nature lover satisfied. One of the local favorites is Wilderness Park, which provides trails that can be explored on foot, bicycle or horse.

Lincoln’s neighborhoods are as diverse as the residents, offering historic homes, modern suburban dwellings and newly built apartments and condos in a revitalized downtown area. Lincoln’s safety score is the fourth-best of the cities on our list. Remember, Lincoln is in tornado country, so the weather might be something to consider before moving.

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-14. Billings, Mont.

  • Average housing cost: $598
  • Population age 65 or older: 15 percent
  • Walkability score: 35
  • Safety score: 6

Billings is a bustling city located on the Yellowstone River in southeast Montana. Outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy Billings’ many offerings, including fishing, hunting and hiking with breathtaking views every way they turn.

It’s a car-dependent city, but the low cost housing makes it a great retirement city. Billings has the second-lowest average rent on this list at only $598 per month. Additionally, Billings has the largest senior citizen population on this list. Some costs of senior care in Montana are slightly lower than the national median, which is another factor to consider.

The downtown area is rapidly expanding and contains numerous trendy shops, independent restaurants and microbreweries. Oil and healthcare are booming industries in Billings.

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-15. Waterbury, Conn.

  • Average housing cost: $750
  • Population age 65 or older: 12.6 percent
  • Walkability score: 48
  • Safety score: 8

Despite being near expensive metropolitan areas, Waterbury, Conn., has managed to keep its cost of living — and monthly rent prices — down. Waterbury, which starts our countdown of the top five cities, is located about 90 minutes outside of New York City on the Naugatuck River.

The city has a small-town feel to it, but it provides easy access to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. You’ll also have access to quality healthcare, thanks to the proximity to Yale University. Lower crime, a thriving senior community (the third-highest senior citizen population on this list), good walkability (the second-highest on this list) and modern shops and amenities make Waterbury one of the best places to retire.

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-16. Rochester, N.Y.

  • Average housing cost: $742
  • Population age 65 or older: 9 percent
  • Walkability score: 65
  • Safety score: 7

Rochester is situated in upstate New York on Lake Ontario. The majority of housing is in the suburbs, but the downtown area is expanding as more trendy apartments, condos and lofts are being built. Winters are cold, make no mistake about it, but if you enjoy indoor activities while living in a family-friendly community, then our top-four choice of Rochester might be perfect for you.

When the snow thaws and spring arrives, Rochester, which has the top Walk Score on this list, can be enjoyed in many ways by foot. Along with the downtown area, there are 12,000 acres of parkland to explore. Access to 60 public golf courses should also help to keep you busy.

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-17. Mesa, Ariz.

  • Average housing cost: $805
  • Population age 65 or older: 14.1
  • Walkability score: 37
  • Safety score: 20

Sun lovers, rejoice! Coming in at No. 3 is Mesa, Ariz., a city 20 miles outside of Phoenix that offers plenty of warm weather all year long. Mesa is technically considered a suburb, but it offers plenty of amenities to seniors who are looking to enjoy retirement in an area with low crime — it has the third-highest safety score on this list — and without breaking the bank.

Along with a healthy economy, which is important if you’re considering working part-time in retirement, Mesa has a large senior citizen population (14.1 percent, the second-highest on our list). So if you decide to hang your hat here, you will have plenty of company. Its museums, theater, art galleries, live music, shopping, trendy restaurants and award-winning golf courses will surely keep you busy.

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-18. Boise, Idaho

  • Average housing cost: $762
  • Population age 65 or older: 11.2 percent
  • Walkability score: 40
  • Safety score: 25

Senior living in Boise, Idaho, can be very fulfilling, with a booming downtown paired with the beauty of the surrounding mountains, rivers and lakes. Our second-best place to retire where rent is under $1,000 is located on the Boise River in the southwestern part of the state. It offers a diverse population, the monthly average rent is only $762 and the city has a safety score of 25, which is the second-highest on our list.

The economy is strong; education, technology and healthcare are the region’s top employers. Along with the wide range of outdoor activities, made possible by the vast natural landscape, there are plenty of cultural amenities, including theater, the arts and live music.

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-19. El Paso, Texas

  • Average housing cost: $550
  • Population age 65 or older: 11.2
  • Walkability score: 41
  • Safety score: 29

Our top pick for best places to retire where rent is under $1,000 is also the least expensive on the list — El Paso, Texas — where the average rent is only $550 per month. El Paso also received the highest safety score, 29, on this list. Situated along the waters of the Rio Grande, the low cost of living is matched with a plethora of natural wonder and outdoor amenities. There’s something for everyone, such as hiking, backpacking, biking, horseback riding, climbing and bouldering.

El Paso is perfect for people who enjoy a Mexican flair as the city is located in west Texas, right where Texas, New Mexico and Mexico meet. The top industries are healthcare, education and the military. Many residents speak both English and Spanish.

Next Up: Top Retirement Communities in America and the Cost to Call Them Home

Methodology: GOBankingRates.com used the following factors to identify the best places to retire on $1,000 a month: 1) average rental prices for 1-bedroom apartments pulled from Zillow data for March 2017-May 2017 (the average was used for each city); 2) age population of those 65 and older sourced from 2010 U.S. Census data; 3) safety score sourced from Neighborhood Scout; and 4) walkability score sourced from Walk Score.