15 Best Places in the South To Live on Only a Social Security Check
Life below the Mason-Dixon line is known for warm weather and low costs — and that second part is especially important for anyone planning to retire on Social Security alone. The average monthly benefit for an individual is $1,632.04 and $3,264.08 for a couple.
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That’s not a lot to work with — even in the South — but if a check from the SSA is all you have, you do have options.
To find the best places in the South for retired couples who rely on Social Security alone, GOBankingRates used cost-of-living data from Sperling’s Best Places, average rent prices under $1,632, and livability scores from AreaVibes — livability scores are calculated using factors like crime, schools and local amenities.
More than one third of the list — six cities out of fifteen — are in Texas, and Arkansas has multiple showings as well, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for the others. Keep reading to learn about the places in the South where you should consider moving if SSA benefits are your only income.
15. Conway, Arkansas
- Livability: 74
- Monthly expenditures: $2,434.42
Conway has a monthly rent that’s somewhere in between the lowest and the highest on this list, at $1,234. It does have a decent livability score, however, of 74, making it a good place to live on a Social Security check.
14. Brownsville, Texas
- Livability: 73
- Monthly expenditures: $2,364.89
Life is pretty darn affordable in Brownsville. The monthly rent at $1,144 is over $800 less than the national average, and the livability score is also good at 73.
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13. Madison, Alabama
- Livability: 89
- Monthly expenditures: $2,979.53
While Madison is still affordable compared to the national average, it is one of the pricier cities on this list. It has the highest monthly expenditures on this list. It’s also one of six states where the average monthly rent is over $1,500, at $1,570. However, it makes up for it with a high livability score.
12. Brandon, Mississippi
- Livability: 86
- Monthly expenditures: $2,840.63
Brandon’s monthly expenditures are the fourth highest on this list. However, its monthly rent of $1,559 is still under the national average and it has a high livability score of 86.
11. Edmond, Oklahoma
- Livability: 88
- Monthly expenditures: $2,902.68
Even though Edmond is the city with the third highest monthly expenditures, it’s still a place where you can live comfortably on a Social Security check. Average monthly rent of $1,580 is also $374 less than the national average. And the livability score is an excellent 88.
10. Winter Haven, Florida
- Livability: 89
- Monthly expenditures: $2,934.49
Winter Haven has the second highest monthly expenditures on this list, and the highest rent, $1,625-though that is still several hundred dollars lower than the national average. However, it also has a remarkably high livability score, of 89.
9. Abilene, Texas
- Livability: 75
- Monthly expenditures: $2,376.72
Abilene has a nice medium level of monthly expenditures, and one of the lower rents on the list, at $1,005 per month. With a decent livability score, this would be a great place for people living on Social Security.
8. McAllen, Texas
- Livability: 81
- Monthly expenditures: $2,546.36
Texas shows up a lot on this list, and no wonder. Cities like McAllen offer affordability-its average monthly expenditures are neither the highest nor lowest on this list, but comfortably in the middle. The average monthly rent of $1,338 is over $600 less than the national average, and it has a strong livability score.
7. North Richland Hills, Texas
- Livability: 89
- Monthly expenditures: $2,830.78
North Richland Hills is another Texas town worthy of consideration for moving to if you’re living on Social Security. Its monthly rent of $1,550 is under the national average, and while its average monthly expenditures are on the higher side of this list, it’s still less than the U.S. average. It makes it all worthwhile with a livability score of 89, the second highest livability score on the list, which ties with two other cities.
6. Lynchburg, Virginia
- Livability: 82
- Monthly expenditures: $2,553.17
Lynchburg also happily falls under the national average in monthly expenditures by nearly $700, and monthly rent of $1,258 is also nearly $700 less than the national average. And with a high livability score, what’s not to love!
5. Rogers, Arkansas
- Livability: 81
- Monthly expenditures: $2,500.73
Rogers offers an average monthly expenditure that is $741 less than the national average, and a decent average rent of $1,281. With a nice high livability score, Rogers is a great place for folks living on Social Security.
4. Richmond, Kentucky
- Livability: 76
- Monthly expenditures: $2,257.32
Richmond is one of two cities on this list where the average monthly rent is less than $1,000-$985 to be specific. The average monthly expenditures are also nearly $1,000 less the national average, and the livability score is decent.
3. Longview, Texas
- Livability: 78
- Monthly expenditures: $2,323.02
Taking the third spot on this list is another Texas town, Longview, where the average monthly expenditures are more than $900 less than the national average. The monthly rent is barely over $1000-$1,098 to be exact-and the livability is a solid 78.
2. Bentonville, Arkansas
- Livability: 92
- Monthly expenditures: $2,824.91
Bentonville, Arkansas takes the No. 2 spot on this list despite having one of the higher monthly expenditures on this list. Here, the monthly rent of $1,588 is $366 less than the national average. What really sells it, however, is that it has the highest livability score on the list.
1. Edinburg, Texas
- Livability: 73
- Monthly expenditures: $2,152.03
The No. 1 spot on this list is also a Texas town. Edinburg has the lowest monthly expenditures on this list, the cheapest average monthly rent, at $944, and a decent cost of living.
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Andrew Lisa contributed to the reporting for this article.
Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best cities in the South (AL, AR, DE, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, and WV ) for a couple to live on only a Social Security check based on the average monthly benefit for retired workers, $1,632.04 ($3,2604 for a couple), sourced from Social Security Administration. GOBankingRates first isolated all cities in the South with a 2022 average monthly rent under $1,632 and a size rank above 1,000. 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 70 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 4, 2023.