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10 Most Beautiful and Affordable Places To Retire on the East Coast

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JimVallee / Getty Images/iStockphoto

As inflation soars and the cost of living keeps creeping higher and higher, people looking to retire may find themselves wondering where they can possibly live on a fixed income at this stage of their life. It turns out there are a decent number of places on the East Coast, many of them in the beautiful sunny state of Florida, where the cost of living is lower than the national averages for major expenses such as monthly groceries, rent and healthcare.

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To find the most beautiful and affordable places on the East Coast to retire, GOBankingRates gathered data from ApartmentList to find average 2022 one-bedroom rents. We used Sperling’s Best to find the cost of living index for each selected city, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 Consumer Expenditure Survey to find the annual expenditure amount for both grocery and healthcare costs for people aged 65 and older.

In order for a location to be qualified for the study, its population had to be at least 10% over the age of 65 according to the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, and have a livability score of 75 or above, as sourced from AreaVibes. Here are the top 10 beautiful, and affordable, east coast cities for retirees.

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10. Canton, Georgia

  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,266.29
  • Livability score: 78
  • Total monthly expenditures: $2,073.51

In Canton, not only do you have a high livability score, but monthly grocery cost is only $407.30 and $399.92 for healthcare, lower than the national averages.

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9. Melbourne, Florida

  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,230.29
  • Livability score: 75
  • Total monthly expenditures: $2,049.79

Melbourne is a place where 21% of the population is age 65 or over, which makes sense. Monthly cost for groceries, $412.25, is about the same as the national average of $411.83, but a healthcare cost of $407.26 per month is lower than the national average of $431.42.

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8. Chester, Virginia

  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,215.14
  • Livability score: 80
  • Total monthly expenditures: $2,044.88

Chester has a great livability score, and it’s not even the highest on the list. You’ll pay less than $830 per month for grocery and healthcare costs combined.

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7. Lakeland, Florida

  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,199.86
  • Livability score: 82
  • Total monthly expenditures: $2,038.70

Lakeland may only be seventh on this list, but with a livability score of 82 and 20% of the population being age 65 and older, it’s already got a lot going for any retiree who wants to call it home.

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6. Palm Bay, Florida

  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,196.86
  • Livability score: 80
  • Total monthly expenditures: $2,012.24

Palm Bay could be another dream location for retirees, with great livability and monthly costs for groceries at less than $410 and healthcare less than $420.

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5. Winter Garden, Florida

  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,115.83
  • Livability score: 85
  • Total monthly expenditures: $1,965.54

Winter Garden has the second highest livability score on the list, though you do pay a bit more in monthly groceries and healthcare here than other similar cities.

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4. Panama City Beach, Florida

  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,106.71
  • Livability score: 76
  • Total monthly expenditures: $1,946.91

In Panama City Beach you’ll be too busy enjoying the weather to mind that your monthly groceries are a bit more expensive than other cities on this list. Still, for groceries and healthcare together, you’re paying less than $840 total per month.

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3. Concord, North Carolina

  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,045.57
  • Livability score: 83
  • Total monthly expenditures: $1,881.47

Concord has a very high livability score, as well, at 83. You’ll pay $421.72 per month on average for groceries, and $418.47 per month for healthcare.

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2. Mauldin, South Carolina

  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $944.71
  • Livability score: 88
  • Total monthly expenditures: $1,789.89

Though Mauldin comes in at number two overall, it has the highest livability score of the entire list, at 88. No surprise that 19% of the population here is age 65 and older.

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1. Roanoke, Virginia

  • 2022 1-bedroom rent: $919.71
  • Livability score: 75
  • Total monthly expenditures: $1,783.32

Roanoke wins the top spot, with a solid livability score and 20% of the population is age 65 or older. In addition, you can quite comfortably afford to live here on a retirement budget, with total monthly expenditures falling below $2,000.

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Methodology: To find the most beautiful and affordable places on the East Coast to retire, GOBankingRates first used ApartmentList’s data to find (1) average 2022 one-bedroom rents. GOBankingRates then used Sperling’s Best to find the cost of living index for each selected city, looking at (2) grocery and (3) 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 to determine how much a retired person might spend on groceries and healthcare in each city monthly. GOBankingRates then added monthly housing, grocery, and healthcare costs together to find the most beautiful and affordable places on the East Coast to retire. In order for a place to be qualified for the study, its population had to be 10% or more over the age of 65, (4) according to the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey; and (5) must have a livability score of 75 or above, as sourced from AreaVibes. All data was collected on and up to date as of September 1, 2022.

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