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15 Best States To Live on Just a Social Security Check

William Reagan / Getty Images/iStockphoto

William Reagan / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Living off just a Social Security check has never been easy, but in a time of high inflation — like 2022 — it becomes even harder.

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For many of the 16% of the U.S. population that is 65 and older, living in a low-cost state can go a long way toward making a Social Security check last longer. To find out the best states to live on a Social Security check, GOBankingRates gathered information from a number of sources, including the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center and the 2020 American Community Survey, on the cost of a one-bedroom apartment and the overall cost of living.

All of the states on the list have rents far below the national average of $1,067.80, and they are almost exclusively from the Midwest and the South. The most affordable states are listed in reverse order, with the most affordable state listed last. See the 15 best states to live on just Social Security.

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15. Nebraska

  • 2022 Average Rent: $832
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 91.8

Nebraska has a cost of living nearly 10% below the national average, but it still has room for more seniors. Only 15.7% of the state’s population is over 65, below the national average.

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14. North Dakota

  • 2022 Average Rent: $671
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 96.8

North Dakota’s total cost of living is actually quite near the national average, but the rent for an average one-bedroom place is the lowest on the list, nearly 40% below the U.S. average.

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13. Indiana

  • 2022 Average Rent: $843
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 89.2

Indiana actually has a relatively high average rent, but its total cost of living is more than 10% below the national average.

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12. South Dakota

  • 2022 Average Rent: $745
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 95.2

South Dakota is another low-cost choice for seniors, and it has attracted more than the national average. About 16.7% of South Dakota residents are 65 and older.

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11. Kentucky

  • 2022 Average Rent: $748
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 93.6

The Bluegrass State’s combination of down-home living and low costs makes it a good place for seniors to consider. The state has a 65-and-over population comprising 16.4% of residents.

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10. Wyoming

  • 2022 Average Rent: $735
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 93.9

Wyoming’s average rent is more than 30% below the national average, helping boost its senior population to 16.4% of residents.

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9. Michigan

  • 2022 Average Rent: $855
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 89.9

Michigan actually has the highest one-bedroom average rental price on the entire list, but other costs are so low that it remains one of the top 10 states to live off a Social Security check.

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8. Ohio

  • 2022 Average Rent: $799
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 90.8

Ohio has the third largest 65-and-over populations on the list, at 17% of residents. A cost of living more than 9% below the national average likely helps.

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7. Missouri

  • 2022 Average Rent: $789
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 90.5

Missouri has a larger-than-average senior population, with 16.9% of residents being 65 or older. The overall cost-of-living index is about 9% below the national average.

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6. Oklahoma

  • 2022 Average Rent: $821
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 84.8

Rent in Oklahoma is actually quite high compared with some of the cities on this list. However, its overall cost of living index is relatively low. Homeowners in Oklahoma who don’t have a mortgage can make a Social Security check stretch quite far.

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5. Kansas

  • 2022 Average Rent: $805
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 85.4

Kansas actually has a slightly below-average percentage of seniors among its citizens, at just 15.8%. Perhaps more will soon be attracted to its low cost of living, ranking almost 15% below the national average.

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4. Alabama

  • 2022 Average Rent: $802
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 87.5

Rents in Alabama are not among the lowest on the list, but overall costs still net out more than 12% below the national average.

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3. Arkansas

  • 2022 Average Rent: $707
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 89.9

Arkansas shares the lowest rent of any city on the list with Iowa, helping to push it to the No. 3 overall ranking of cheap states for seniors. A sizable 16.9% of the state’s population is 65 or older.

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2. Mississippi

  • 2022 Average Rent: $782
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 83.1

Mississippi has the absolute lowest total cost of living of any state on the list, at a whopping 17% below the national average. Rents are not particularly cheap, but the state more than makes up for it in other costs.

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1. Iowa

  • 2022 Average Rent: $707
  • Overall Cost-of-Living Index: 88.1

Iowa ranks as the most affordable overall state for those living on a Social Security check, with low rent as one of the prime contributors. More than 17% of residents are 65 or older.

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John Csiszar contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best states to live on only a Social Security check based on the (1) average monthly benefit for retired workers, $1,624.98, sourced from Social Security Administration; (2) the overall cost of living in each city, sourced from the 2022 Q1 Cost of Living data from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center; (3) average 2022 rent for a one bedroom apartment as sourced from ApartmentList; and (4) % of population over 65 as sourced from the 2020 American Community Survey. All factors were scored and hen combined with e lowest score being best. Factor (3) was weighted double in final calculations. All data was collected and is up to date as of Aug. 25, 2022.

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