While Social Security is a “safety net” for some in retirement who have additional funds, for others it is all the income they have to live on. Depending on where you live, however, it may not go very far.
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In many parts of the country, the average monthly Social Security benefit (as of May 2022) of $1,621 is just not enough — but Florida provides some options. It turns out the Sunshine State is a decent place to survive on only a Social Security check for some folks, particularly these five towns.
To figure out where you can live on your Social Security checks in Florida, GOBankingRates determined the average monthly benefit for retired workers, sourced from the Social Security Administration, and the average 2022 rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Florida, as sourced from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
GOBankingRates then researched Sperling’s Best to find the cost-of-living index for each listed city, looking at grocery and healthcare index scores. GOBankingRates also used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 Consumer Expenditure Survey to find the annual expenditure amount for both grocery (“food at home”) and healthcare costs for people aged 65 and older, adding these costs together. Livability scores were sourced from AreaVibes.
5. The Villages
- 2022 1-bedroom rent: $756.00
- Monthly expenditures: $1,593.23
In The Villages — an adult retirement community and census-designated place located in central Florida — 84% of the population is age 65 and older. Fortunately for them, expenses are very affordable. Here healthcare expenses are only $416.75 per month and monthly grocery costs are $420.48 per month.
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- 2022 1-bedroom rent: $806.00
- Monthly expenditures: $1,615.11
In Ocala, expenses are similarly low, with healthcare costs the lowest on this list at $405.10. Monthly grocery costs are $404.01, both lower than their national averages.
3. Levy County
- 2022 1-bedroom rent: $575.00
- Monthly expenditures: $1,457.88
Not only does Levy County have the cheapest rent on the list, but it boasts a good livability score of 71. While it has the highest monthly healthcare cost on this list, $469.81, which is about $38 more than the national average, it also has the second lowest overall monthly expenditures on the list.
2. Homosassa Springs
- 2022 1-bedroom rent: $717.00
- Monthly expenditures: $1,551.80
Homosassa Springs also has a decently high population of people age 65 and over, at 36%. These folks can afford all of their monthly expenditures on their Social Security income, and will be glad to find low monthly healthcare costs of $408.55.
1. Baker County
- 2022 1-bedroom rent: $617.00
- Monthly expenditures: $1,455.21
Baker County takes the number one spot on the list by having the lowest overall expenditures, but it also has the highest livability score of 79. Though the monthly rent isn’t the cheapest on the list, monthly healthcare and monthly grocery costs are both under the national average.
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GOBankingRates determined where in Florida to live on only Social Security checks based on the (1) average monthly benefit for retired workers, sourced from the Social Security Administration; and (2) FY 2022 Florida Fair Market Rent for a one-bedroom apartment, as sourced from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. GOBankingRates then researched Sperling’s Best to find the cost of living index for each listed city, looking at (3) grocery and (4) healthcare index scores. GOBankingRates additionally used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 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 person 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. In order for a city to be qualified for the study, its (5) population had to be 10% or more over the age of 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau; and (6) have a livability score of 65 or above, sourced from AreaVibes. All data was collected on and up to date as of Aug. 8 2022.