Inflation and the steep rise in grocery store prices it has caused has not been kind to America’s retirees in 2022. A new GOBankingRates survey of nearly 1,000 American adults shows that more than one in four people — 26.28% — plan to rely on SNAP benefits to get by in retirement. And, almost exactly half of the study’s respondents plan to move after they punch the clock for the last time.
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Those two dynamics are not unrelated. Location has a lot to do with how far food stamp recipients can stretch the payments they receive on their EBT cards. So, if you plan to rely on SNAP in retirement, consider the following destinations.
SNAP Pays the Most in Paradise (Hawaii)
The dream of retiring in Hawaii remains exactly that for most people — a dream. But consider the possibility before you write off the idea as a fantasy.
“Hawaii has the highest average monthly SNAP benefit for each household at $402,” said Connective CEO Rodney Warner, who cited data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “In fact, Hawaii’s monthly benefit per household is double the amount of what most states offer.”
Warner points out what many people already know — that much of Hawaii is prohibitively expensive even for people who aren’t on SNAP. That’s much, but not all.
“This is why you should choose to move to Big Island in Hawaii,” he said. “It has the lowest cost of living in the state. Aside from a low cost of living, Big Island also has ample scenic drives, shops, farmer’s markets, historical landmarks, and restaurants. It also offers pleasant weather all year round, making it feel like heaven for people coming from Northern cold states. Big Island is a dream for retired people, where they can gain full advantages of SNAP benefits and a low cost of living.”
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New York’s Finger Lakes Region Offers a Different Kind of Paradise
While you won’t find Big Island weather in upstate New York, you will find stunning natural beauty, a small-town feel, and affordable living — especially where food is concerned.
“Rochester is a very affordable city with great access to food and a very low cost of living,” said Dennis Shirshikov, a strategist at the real estate investing site Awning.com. “Many retirees move to upstate New York toward the Finger Lakes or within an hour. The homes are affordable, the food is directly from the farm, and even farmer markets take SNAP benefits here.”
Bloomington, Illinois Has a Lot To Offer Retirees on a Budget
When GOBankingRates asked around about the best places to live for retirees who rely on SNAP, the small city of Bloomington came up over and over again. It’s not hard to understand why.
“Property taxes are high in Illinois,” said Datha Santomieri, co-founder and vice president of the national real estate insurance agency Steadily. “However, it is the only state in the Midwest that doesn’t tax IRA, 401k, and pension income, which is a major plus for retirees living off of their savings. Bloomington’s affordable home prices offset those rates, with a median home list price of $169,000. Additionally, Bloomington is a midsized city that boasts a suburban feel with lots of green scenery and multiple golf courses and senior centers for retirees to socialize, exercise, or adventure with peers for free.”
Michael Kim, co-founder at Evcharger Reviews, agrees. “Bloomington is the best affordable place to retire,” said Kim. “The cost of living is reasonable and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. You can find many retirement communities here, as well as golf courses and other amenities. There are also hospitals and good medical care in the area.”
A High Quality of Life Is Affordable in the Ozark Mountains
In the northwest corner of Arkansas on the border of Oklahoma and Missouri, retirees can stretch their SNAP benefits and all their other dollars without skimping on good living.
“Bella Vista, Arkansas, is one of the most affordable places to retire in the country,” said Alex Wang, co-founder and CEO of Ember Fund. “The average home price in this city is 31% below the national average at $171,000, and the cost of living is 4% below the national average. There’s also no state income tax on Social Security. Plus, retirees can enjoy a warm climate, good air quality, many lakes, low crime rates, and a healthy economy.”
The town goes out of its way to make food affordable to seniors, too. For example, the Bella Vista Farmers Market’s Double Your Dollars program doubles the vouchers that seniors receive from the Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Arkansas Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
Enjoy Low-Cost Living on the Border in McAllen, Texas
As the owner and CEO of Cash For Houses, Shaun Martin is an expert at scouting living costs in the cities and regions his business targets — and for him, one city stands out above all the rest.
“The average house price in McAllen is the third lowest in the country,” said Martin. “Rent costs less than $800 per month on average. McAllen’s cost of living is over 25% lower than the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research.”
Both Payscale and Sperling’s Best back up those numbers — and there’s one other benefit to living in a border town, too.
“One of the most significant advantages of living in McAllen is that if you get sick, you can simply walk or cross into Mexico and receive better, much cheaper healthcare with no insurance. A doctor’s appointment costs approximately $5 to $10.”
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