When the work days are over and the retirement chapter begins, many retired couples find themselves relying on their Social Security checks as their main sources of income.
In fact, according to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly check as of June 2023 is around $1,702. So for couples looking to stretch their dollars and make the most of their well-earned retirement, finding an affordable place to live in Arizona is a smart move.
To make the search easier, we’ve put together a list of the 15 best places in Arizona where retirees can enjoy life on a Social Security check alone. In order to do this, GOBankingRates took the median Social Security benefits for 2023, doubled it for couples, and then set out to find cities where the rent doesn’t take up more than half of that total. Plus, we made sure these cities also scored well on the AreaVibes livability index.
Here are the 15 best places to live in Arizona on just a Social Security check. And here are the 15 best places overall.
- Average monthly rent: $1,540
- Monthly total cost of living: $3,348
- Livability index: 65
While Bullhead City might not top the charts in terms of livability, it boasts a unique appeal for retirees drawn to waterfront living. Situated along the Colorado River, this city is a paradise for water enthusiasts, offering an array of activities such as boating, fishing and water sports.
- Average monthly rent: $1,164
- Monthly total cost of living: $3,035
- Livability index: 60
If your retirement dreams involve serene desert landscapes and a more laid-back lifestyle, Tanque Verde might be the perfect fit. With an invitingly affordable cost of living, it allows you to savor the tranquility of a quieter, rural existence while remaining close to essential urban amenities.
- Average monthly rent: $1,814
- Monthly total cost of living: $3,745
- Livability index: 76
Phoenix, with its lively urban scene and higher livability score, beckons retirees seeking a bit more excitement. While living costs trend higher, the city rewards you with a plethora of attractions, from museums and galleries to outdoor trails, ensuring you won’t run out of things to do.
- Average monthly rent: $1,792
- Monthly total cost of living: $3,733
- Livability index: 77
Glendale captures the essence of history and modernity, offering a slightly elevated cost of living compared to Phoenix. The city’s historic downtown — featuring antique boutiques and art galleries, combined with major sports venues — offers retirees a blend of enriching activities.
- Average monthly rent: $1,210.60
- Monthly total cost of living: $2,996.66
- Livability score: 61
Nestled just north of Tucson, Flowing Wells boasts affordable living costs and a suburban ambiance. While its livability score leans modest, the city provides a peaceful retreat for retirees seeking a suburban haven near Tucson’s amenities.
- Average monthly rent: $1,864
- Monthly total cost of living: $3,759
- Livability index: 78
For those who yearn for an urban lifestyle, Tempe offers a vibrant atmosphere and a top-notch livability index. Although it comes with a higher cost, the city presents an affordable alternative to many areas across the nation. Plus, Tempe Town Lake promises water-based leisure and scenic trails.
- Average monthly rent: $1,196
- Monthly total cost of living: $3,021
- Livability index: 63
Drexel Heights strikes a balance between suburban charm and breathtaking mountain views. While its livability score ranks mid-range, its proximity to the Tucson metropolitan area offers retirees a tranquil suburban setting paired with picturesque natural beauty.
- Average monthly rent: $1,820
- Monthly total cost of living: $3,729
- Livability index: 80
Mesa takes the crown for livability, making it a prime contender for retirees seeking an enriching retirement. While it’s a bit more expensive, the city’s abundant amenities, from spring training baseball to the Mesa Art Center and nearby Tonto National Forest, create an oasis of cultural and natural experiences.
- Average monthly rent: $1,314
- Monthly total cost of living: $3,143
- Livability index: 69
Catalina Foothills strikes a harmonious balance between upscale living and nature’s allure. With a wealth of outdoor attractions, including Sabino Canyon’s canyons and hiking trails, this locale promises an upscale suburban lifestyle with a touch of wild beauty.
- Average monthly rent: $1,529
- Monthly total cost of living: $3,311
- Livability index: 73
Tucson shines with its high livability score and affordability, making it a magnet for retirees seeking an enriching lifestyle. From a vibrant arts scene and numerous museums to its famed Sonoran-style Mexican cuisine, Tucson offers a well-rounded and budget-friendly retirement.
- Average monthly rent: $981.43
- Monthly total cost of living: $2,787.72
- Livability score: 62
For those who crave excitement, Eloy delivers an adrenaline rush. With a lower livability score, it compensates with the thrill of skydiving and aviation centers. Plus, its affordable rent and living costs make it an attractive choice for retirees seeking an adventure-packed retirement.
- Average monthly rent: $1,471
- Monthly total cost of living: $3,270
- Livability index: 74
Situated along the iconic Route 66, Kingman beckons with a healthy dose of nostalgia and a gateway to outdoor escapades. The city’s museums and recreational opportunities, such as hiking, camping and off-roading, ensure retirees will find both history and adventure in equal measure.
- Average monthly rent: $1,463
- Monthly total cost of living: $3,262
- Livability index: 74
Casas Adobes offers a warm welcome to retirees with a combination of character-filled homes, shopping centers and a tight-knit community. Its modest living costs and charming neighborhoods create an inviting residential atmosphere for those seeking a tranquil retirement.
- Average monthly rent: $1,100
- Monthly total cost of living: $2,724
- Livability index: 66
Situated on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, Nogales embraces a unique blend of cultures and an affordable cost of living. Despite a lower livability score, the city’s cultural richness, complete with distinctive shops ad markets, offers retirees a vibrant and budget-friendly lifestyle.
- Average monthly rent: $1,492
- Monthly total cost of living: $3,258
- Livability index: 79
Claiming the top spot is Sierra Vista, celebrated for its proximity to Fort Huachuca and an abundance of natural beauty. With a high livability score, this city beckons with historical attractions rooted in the Old West and the nearby Ramsey Canyon Preserve, a haven teeming with biodiversity, ensuring retirees find solace and adventure.
Methodology: To find the best places to live in Arizona on only a Social Security check, GOBankingRates started by finding the current median Social Security benefits from the Social Security Administration Annual Statistical Supplement for 2023 and doubled it for a retired couple. A list of all the cities in Arizona and their average rental costs sourced from Zillow Observed Rental Index and all the cities where the rent was over 50% of the total monthly Social Security benefits were removed as financial experts recommend not spending more than 50% income on housing needs. For the remaining cities, cost-of-living indexes were sourced from Sperling’s Best Places for grocery index, healthcare index, transportation index, utilities index and miscellaneous index. Each cost-of-living index was multiplied by the national average expenditure cost for each category. The monthly expenditure cost and the monthly rental cost were added together to find a total monthly cost to live in each city, and all cities above the couple’s Social Security benefit amount were removed. For all the remaining cities, the livability index was found from AreaVibes. The livability and the total monthly costs were scored and sorted to show the best places in Arizona to live on only a Social Security check. All data was collected on and is up to date as of Aug. 1, 2023.
More From GOBankingRates