Senior citizens are known to flock to cities in the Sun Belt, and this is one of the main reasons that Florida is a haven for retirees. From warm weather to beautiful beaches, great seafood and an affordable lifestyle, Florida has much to offer the older set.
Although major metropolises like Miami can be quite pricey, there are plenty of low-cost towns with high standards of living available to Florida retirees.
To help determine which places in Florida are the best places to live on a Social Security check, GOBankingRates compared the average monthly benefit for retired workers — $1,630.90 — with the overall cost of living in each city, including one-bedroom rents. Livability scores from AreaVibes were also factored into the calculation.
Results were tabulated and are presented in reverse order, with the most affordable city appearing last. Here are the five best Florida cities to live on only a Social Security check.
- Livability score: 75
Melbourne’s high livability score of 75 brings plenty of residents to the city, but those living on Social Security will no doubt enjoy the city’s low cost of living as well. Although one-bedroom rents top out on the high side, at $1,245 per month, total costs run 5.6% below the national average.
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- Livability score: 69
Pensacola’s decent livability score of 69 is just one of many reasons that seniors flock to the city. Those living on limited incomes will find that their Social Security checks stretch a long way in Pensacola, where costs run 12.8% below the national average. Monthly one-bedroom rents run $1,182 on average.
- Livability score: 65
Gainesville’s livability score of 65 is adequate, but not particularly attractive. However, for many retirees, the cost of living in the city outweighs the loss of a few local amenities. The overall cost of living in Gainesville runs 10% below the national average, and one-bedroom rents run a rock-bottom $963, the lowest of all Florida cities surveyed. This is great news for fans of the town’s resident Florida Gators, who have called Gainesville their home since 1905.
- Livability score: 85
Orange Park, a suburb of Jacksonville, boasts a huge livability score, based in large part on its breadth of amenities. Average one-bedroom rents are a bit high, at $1,214 per month, but that’s to be expected if you want to live in a highly desirable area. The true beauty of retiring on a Social Security check in Orange Park is that, even with high one-bedroom rents, the overall cost of living still runs 2.4% below the national average.
- Livability score: 82
When all factors are taken into account, Lakeland ranks as the best place in Florida to live on a Social Security check. On top of its extraordinary livability score of 82, which makes it a desirable place for anyone to live, Lakeland is also a low-cost city. The overall cost of living is 11.7% below the national average, even with one-bedroom rents topping out at a relatively high $1,198 per month.
Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best places in Florida to live on only a Social Security check based on the (1) average monthly benefit for retired workers, $1,630.90, sourced from Social Security Administration; (2) the overall cost of living in each city, sourced from Sperling’s Best Places; (3) average 2022 rent for a one-bedroom apartment as sourced from ApartmentList,; and (4) livability scores sourced from AreaVibes. Factors (2) through (4) were scored and combined with the lowest score being best. Factor (4) was weighted double in final calculations. All data was collected and is up to date as of Nov. 28, 2022.
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