GOBankingRates

20 Best Places To Live on Only a Social Security Check

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zimmytws / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Social Security is an essential safety net for many Americans. Even if you haven’t saved enough for retirement, you can still count on Social Security benefits in retirement.

Read More: 5 Best Southern Cities To Retire on a Budget of $1,500 a Month
Related: 7 Surprisingly Easy Ways To Reach Your Retirement Goals

However, with an average monthly benefit of just over $1,600, America’s most expensive cities are far out of reach without another source of income. If you do have to rely on your Social Security benefits alone — and still want to make the most of your golden years — you’ll need to live somewhere affordable that won’t compromise your quality of life.

That’s why GOBankingRates compiled a list of the 20 best cities to live off of just Social Security. The study factored in the cost of living, livability and median rent and — after comparing the 177 largest cities in the U.S. — combined the scores to determine where you really can get by on just your Social Security benefit. Read on to find out which cities made the list.

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20. Evansville, Indiana

Cost of Living Score: 78.5

Livability Score: 58

Average Rent: $786.75

Evansville is one of three Indiana cities identified in the study as a good place to live just on Social Security. Its relatively low livability score and rent of more than $780 per month prevented it from moving up on the list.

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19. Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Cost of Living Score: 82.7

Livability Score: 62

Average Rent: $798.25

Hattiesburg’s cost of living indicates that you can expect to spend almost 18% less on your basic expenses than you would in the rest of the country, on average. 

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18. Wichita, Kansas

Cost of Living Score: 82.1

Livability Score: 60

Average Rent: $719

If you’re younger and looking to avoid living off your Social Security check alone when you reach retirement, one of the best ways is to start saving early. However, even if it’s too late to build the sort of nest egg you would like, a city like Wichita — which combines modest rent with a low cost of living — should help you make the most of your Social Security benefits.

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17. South Bend, Indiana

Cost of Living Score: 68.4

Livability Score: 57

Average Rent: $754.50

In South Bend, you’ll pay nearly 30% less in your cost of living expenses than the rest of the United States, which means your Social Security check can go a lot further here.

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16. Beaumont, Texas

Cost of Living Score: 78.3

Livability Score: 63

Average Rent: $786.25

Beaumont’s livability score is higher than many other cities on this list, which might account for its slightly higher rent, too. However, you’re still paying more than 20% less in cost of living than other cities in the U.S.

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15. Greenville, North Carolina

Cost of Living Score: 84.1

Livability Score: 75

Average Rent: $792

The average rent cost in Roanoke is the fourth-highest on the list, but its lower cost of living and high livability rates make it desirable for retirees. If you wanted supplement your Social Security earnings, Roanoke is a good place to do it. Another GOBankingRates study showed it’s one of the top 20 cities for remote workers.

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14. Topeka, Kansas

Cost of Living Score: 79

Livability Score: 61

Average Rent: $708

With an affordable rent, a decent livability score, and a cost of living score that means you’ll pay less than the national average, this midwestern city is positioned to be a great place to live on only a Social Security check.

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13. Williston, North Dakota

Cost of Living Score: 97.8

Livability Score: 72

Average Rent: $749.50

Williston is one of three cities on this list in North Dakota. At $749.50, rent in Williston is on the higher side of cities on this list, but it’s still less expensive to live here than elsewhere.

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12. Shreveport, Louisiana

Cost of Living Score: 77.5

Livability Score: 65

Average Rent: $772

The Southern city of Shreveport, Louisiana is one of two cities based on the state. While this one is a little high on the rent, keeping it lower on the list, you’re paying about 22% less in cost of living here, making your check stretch.

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11. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Cost of Living Score: 92.9

Livability Score: 72

Average Rent: $770

Fayetteville is another solid Southern city to call home if you’re living on a fixed income. With a high livability score, and moderate rent, anyone on Social Security should be able to make a good life here.

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10. Toledo, Ohio

Cost of Living Score: 72.7

Livability Score: 62

Average Rent: $710.50

Toledo’s cost of living indicates that you can expect to spend more than 25% less on your basic expenses than you would in the rest of the country, on average. What’s more, Toledo is one of the cities where your money stretches the furthest, according to a separate GOBankingRates study.

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9. Lubbock, Texas

Cost of Living Score: 79.9

Livability Score: 68

Average Rent: $746.50

Lubbock is one of four Texas cities identified in the study as a good place to live just on Social Security. With a decent livability score and cost of living score, even rent of more than $740 per month can’t keep this from being a great place to live on a fixed income.

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8. Davenport, Iowa

Cost of Living Score: 81.7

Livability Score: 69

Average Rent: $731.25

It costs about 19% less to live in Davenport than the average American city. Its relatively high (for this list) average rent of $731.25 per month and its livability score of just 69, pull it down from the top spot on the list.

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7. Akron, Ohio

Cost of Living Score: 69.5

Livability Score: 62

Average Rent: $679.50

The city of Akron has a lot to offer, not only in a low cost of living, that is more than 30% less than the rest of the country, a decent rent under $700 per month, but lots of natural and cultural attractions.

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6. Odessa, Texas

Cost of Living Score: 88

Livability Score: 63

Average Rent: $510.50

The primary appeal of Odessa to retirees is the low cost of rent. At $510.50 per month, it’s the cheapest in the study – and by a wide margin. A low cost of living makes up for it’s relatively low livability score, as well.

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5. Fargo, North Dakota

Cost of Living Score: 91.9

Livability Score: 76

Average Rent: $782

Despite one of the higher average monthly rents on this list, Fargo is one of the best cities to live in on a fixed income, according to another GOBankingRates study. That should appeal to those relying on Social Security.

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4. Grand Forks, North Dakota

Cost of Living Score: 88.2

Livability Score: 74

Average Rent: $682

Grand Forks is the northernmost city on the list, and one of three in North Dakota. At $682, rent in Grand Forks is at the midpoint, but it’s still 11% less expensive to live here than elsewhere.

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3. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Cost of Living Score: 78.9

Livability Score: 75

Average Rent: $792.75

Fort Wayne is a little pricier than many of the other cities on this list, but it still is among one of the best cities in the nation to retire on a Social Security check, found a separate GOBankingRates study.

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2. Lake Charles, Louisiana

Cost of Living Score: 83.4

Livability Score: 70

Average Rent: $608

For retirees interested in living near the water, with all of the recreational opportunities that brings – think fishing! – there’s good news: Lake Charles has the third-lowest rent cost of the cities considered in this study.

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1. McAllen, Texas

Cost of Living Score: 78.6

Livability Score: 81

Average Rent: $592.75

McAllen Texas holds the number one spot on this list for retiring on a Social Security check because it has a high livability score, the second lowest rent on this list and a cost of living score that’s still nearly 12% lower than the rest of the U.S.

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Jordan Rosenfeld and Joel Anderson contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best places to live on only a Social Security check based on the (1) average monthly benefit for retired workers, $1,619.67, 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 May 23, 2022.