10 Places in Arizona Where a Couple Can Live off Just Social Security

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In most American cities, it can be hard to live off just a Social Security check. The average monthly Social Security benefit for retirees is just $1,775.81, as of Nov. 2022, or $3,551.62 for a couple. That doesn’t leave a lot of breathing room when the average monthly costs for groceries and healthcare in the U.S. clock in at $374.75 and $585.83 respectively. Although benefits have increased by 8.7% in 2023, so have costs as inflation hasn’t showed signs of slowing down just yet.

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But for couples looking to live only on Social Security to cover their basic needs, there are ten cities in Arizona that have you covered. GOBankingRates used data from a number of government and industry sources — such as the Social Security Administration, Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Department of Housing and Urban Development — to identify Arizona cities that had both a low overall cost of living and a good quality of life, according to livability scores provided by AreaVibes. Seniors have flocked to these destinations in the Valley of the Sun. If you’re looking to live off just your Social Security check in Arizona, here are your best options.

Retire Comfortably
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Sun City

  • Monthly expenditures: $3,113.71

Sun City’s decent livability score of 74 goes a long way toward putting the city on the “best for Social Security” list, but so too do its low costs. The average one-bedroom rent in the city for 2022 was just $1,867, and groceries cost about 7.5% less than the national average.

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  • Monthly expenditures: $3,152.55

Prescott’s even higher livability score, of 77 does come at a slightly higher cost in some costs, though not others. Residents will pay half a percentage point higher than the national average here for groceries, but almost 29% higher for healthcare. However, the cost of a 1-bedroom apartment for 2022 was just $1,685, $347 lower than average.

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  • Monthly expenditures: $3,015.24

Glendale is a city where the cost of living is affordable in every category. Monthly groceries, and healthcare, two of the larger monthly expenses, are both below the national average. Utilities are just slightly over, 2.1% more than the national average, but total monthly expenses are still low. With a livability score of 73, it’s a great place to retire.

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  • Monthly expenditures: $3,057.62

In Tempe, residents can expect to pay $1,817 for a 1-bedroom apartment, $367.63 in monthly grocery costs, and $541.90 each month in healthcare, which are all lower than the national average. Utilities are 1.2% higher than the national average, but Tempe is still quite affordable and has a solid livability score of 75.

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Lake Havasu City

  • Monthly expenditures: $3,089.55

Lake Havasu City is affordable for a retired couple to live in overall monthly expenses. However, some expenses are below national average, such as rent, which is only $1,626 for a 1 bedroom in 2022, and groceries, which are 2.2% below average. However, healthcare is 31.1% higher here than the national average. This all still shakes out to affordable monthly expenditures, however, and with a livability score of 77, it’s a great option.

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  • Monthly expenditures: $2,674.12

Tucson is probably the best-known Arizona city on the list, and it’s also among the best Arizona cities for both livability and affordability. A significant part of this ranking comes from the low healthcare costs in Tucson, which come in at a whopping 14.6% below the national average. It’s also the city with the lowest overall monthly expenditures on this list. The only point working against it is that its livability ranks the lowest on this list, at 65.

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Apache Junction

  • Monthly expenditures: $3,153.72

What makes a town a great place to retire isn’t just the monthly expenditures alone. Apache Junction earns a very high 80 on the livability score, which bumps it above Tucson, despite Tuscon having lower overall monthly expenses. In Apache Junction, residents will save $155 per month on rent over the national average, which is $1,860 annually that can go to other expenses.

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  • Monthly expenditures: $2,983.34

Mesa has the second lowest monthly expenditures on this list of Arizona cities, coming in under $3,000 per month. Rent, groceries and healthcare all fall below the national average, and utilities is just squeaking over. With a livability score of 77, it’s a solid choice for retirement.



  • Monthly expenditures: $3,155.28

Peoria is another example of a town where you can’t look solely at the monthly expenditures to determine how great a place it is to settle down. It takes the No. 2 spot on the list because not only can a couple afford to pay for their basic expenses here on Social Security, it has a very high livability score of 83.

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  • Monthly expenditures: $3,043.33

Sahuarita lands the No. 1 spot for all the right reasons. Here, rent is $170 cheaper than the national average; groceries are $14 cheaper per month; healthcare is $85 cheaper per month, and overall expenditures leave a couple on Social Security with more than $500 extra in their budget. On top of it all, it has a livability score of 81.

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John Csiszar contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best cities in Arizona for a couple to live on only a Social Security check based on the average monthly benefit for retired workers, $1,775.81 ($3,551.62 for a couple), sourced from Social Security Administration. GOBankingRates first isolated all cities in Arizona with a 2022 average monthly rent under $2,000. GOBankingRates then used Sperling’s Best to find the cost of living index for each listed city, looking at grocery and healthcare index scores. Next, GOBankingRates used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 Consumer Expenditure Survey to find the annual expenditure amount for both grocery (“food at home”) and healthcare costs for people aged 65 and older in order to find how much a couple 65 and over would spend on groceries and healthcare in each city on a monthly basis. GOBankingRates then added monthly housing, grocery, and healthcare costs together to find where a couple 65 and older could survive on their Social Security or less. In order for a city to be qualified for the study the city had to have a livability score above 65 as sourced from AreaVibes. GOBankingRates scored and combined both livability and monthly necessities expenditure, with the lowest score being best, to determine final rankings. All data was collected and is up to date as of January 30, 2023.