Why You Should Flee New York City When It’s Time to Retire

Consider cheaper cities to maximize your savings in retirement.

Few people would argue on the appeal of retiring in New York. After all, it’s a world-famous metropolis, lined with an endless array of parks, trendy restaurants and historical landmarks — enough to keep even the most active retirees busy for the remainder of their golden years.

But it’s that same appeal that has increasingly worked against it over the years.

Many of New York’s inhabitants — including millennials, the generation so often associated with urban life — are either overspending to make their monthly rent, or opting to leave the city entirely in favor of a cheaper, more affordable life in the suburbs or country.

A July 2018 article in Harper’s Magazine claimed that the city has turned into “the world’s largest gated community, with a few cupcake shops here and there.”

So, it probably comes as no surprise to find that, according to a recent GOBankingRates study that looked at the cheapest places to retire across America, New York City is one of the worst cities for retirees.

To determine the cheapest places to retire in America, GOBankingRates analyzed the 100 biggest U.S. cities across a variety of spending categories, including the annual amount retirees spend on housing, groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation.

In addition, GOBankingRates only looked at the cities where seniors (ages 65 and older) represented at least 9.5 percent of the population.

Take a Look: 50 Cheapest Places to Retire Across America

New York City Might Be the Last Place You Want to Live When You Retire

mature middle aged woman riding ferry in New York City
Alex Potemkin / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Just how expensive is New York? For starters, in terms of annual cost of living expenditures, New York placed in the bottom three in the study, ranking behind only San Francisco and San Jose, California, two of the most notoriously pricey cities in the country.

Data shows that the cost of living expenditures for retirees in New York City exceeds $103,000, making it one of only four cities — the others being San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle — to have cost of living expenditures in the six figures.

The city also ranks in the top 10 among all cities analyzed in this study in nearly every spending category (the one exception being healthcare, where the city ranks No. 28).

Overall, the costs associated with living in New York make it an unrealistic option for many retirees who will likely be living on a strict budget.

Annual Cost of Living Expenses
in New York City for Retirees
Cost of Living$103,542.78
Housing$59,075.52
Groceries$4,387.25
Healthcare$6,686.20
Utilities$3,822.04
Transportation $8,639.95
Figures are for February 2019.

Less Expensive Alternatives: Best Cities to Retire on a Budget of $1,500 a Month

For a Cheaper Option, Try Cities Farther Away From New York City

Syracuse is a city in, and the county seat of Onondaga County, New York, United States.
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you’re looking to remain in the state of New York during retirement, but you can’t afford the cost of living in the city, know that there are plenty of solid options all across the state.

For retirees who don’t mind the cold, Buffalo might make for a cheaper, more realistic retirement option. Buffalo ranks as the third-cheapest city in the nation to retire, according to GOBankingRates data. Its annual cost of living of $40,624 is 18 percent lower than the national average, and housing costs come in at $6,675, which also ranks as the third lowest in the study.

Also See: Attention New Yorkers — Your Utility Bill Rose 165% in the Past Year

Other options for retirees include Rochester and Syracuse, both of which were named by U.S. News & World Report as two of the best places to live in the nation for quality of life. Rochester ranked No. 13 overall in the study with high scores in access to quality education and healthcare, and Syracuse placed at No. 18 in the study’s health rankings for its proximity to quality healthcare services.

Ultimately, it’s up to you — and your budget — to decide whether or not retiring in New York City is feasible. While the cost of living in New York City is indeed high, you’re rewarded in the form of world-class museums, theaters and an abundance of cultural activities. If you can afford to live in the city comfortably and can handle the fast-paced lifestyle and chilly winters, there are few arguments one can make against it.

Keep reading to see how retirees can easily save an additional $8,000 a year.

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Methodology: GOBankingRates found the 50 cheapest places to retire by analyzing the 100 biggest U.S. cities across the following factors: 1) annual retirement income needed to cover basic costs for retirees, 2) annual amount needed for housing, 3) annual amount needed for health costs, 4) annual amount needed for food, 5) annual amount needed for transportation, and 6) 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. For a city to qualify in this ranking, seniors (ages 65 and older) had to make up at least 9.5 percent of the population, which was sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 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.