While Social Security is a “safety net” for some who have been able to save for retirement or have a pension, for others it is all the income they have to live on. Depending on where you live, however, it may not go very far.
In many parts of the country, the average monthly Social Security benefit (as of December 2022) of $1,775.81 is just not enough — but Florida provides some options, especially for couples, who collectively can make $3,551.62 from Social Security. It turns out the Sunshine State is a decent place to survive on only a Social Security check for some couples, particularly these ten 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.
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 and healthcare costs for couples aged 65 and older, adding these costs together. Livability scores were sourced from AreaVibes.
Here are the best places in Florida where couples can live off just Social Security.
- 2022 average rent: $1,721
- Monthly expenditures: $2,992.14
In Titusville a retired couple will have over $550 left after key expenses. Here healthcare expenses are $585.25 per month and monthly grocery costs are $369.50 per month.
- 2022 average rent: $1,693
- Monthly expenditures: $3,008.76
In Bartow, the living is good-with a livability score of 79. Here healthcare expenses are $591.11 per month and monthly grocery costs are $382.99 per month.
8. Lake Wales
- 2022 average rent: $1,493
- Monthly expenditures: $2,813.94
In Lake Wales, overall monthly expenses are $742 less than the average monthly Social Security benefits for a couple. Utilities are only $347.66 per month, healthcare expenses are $591.11 per month and monthly grocery costs are $382.25 per month.
- 2022 average rent: $1,785
- Monthly expenditures: $3,127.99
Largo may have slightly higher overall monthly expenses, but it comes with a very high livability score of 85. So, while monthly grocery costs are 4.4% higher than national average, and healthcare costs are 3.7% higher, the quality of living here makes these costs worthwhile.
6. Winter Haven
- 2022 average rent: $1,651
- Monthly expenditures: $2,960.37
In Winter Haven expenses are manageable. Here healthcare expenses are $591.11, the same as three other cities on this list, and monthly grocery costs are $384.49 per month.
- 2022 average rent: $1,707
- Monthly expenditures: $3,002.79
Lakeland is another city with a great livability score, of 80. Here, utilities are 2% below the national average. Healthcare is also $591.11, just like Winter Haven, and monthly grocery costs are $384.87 per month.
- 2022 average rent: $1,360
- Monthly expenditures: $2,664.99
Brooksville has the second lowest rent on the list, at $1,360 per month. Overall monthly expenditures are also second lowest on this list. Healthcare costs are $582.90 per month, and monthly grocery costs are $384.49.
3. Altamonte Springs
- 2022 average rent: $1,691
- Monthly expenditures: $3,011.28
Altamonte Springs may not have the lowest overall monthly expenditures, but it has a super high livability score of 85, and monthly groceries are lower than the national average. Monthly healthcare costs are $610.44, which is about $25 more than the national average.
2. South Daytona
- 2022 average rent: $1,563
- Monthly expenditures: $2,851.71
In South Daytona the monthly expenditures leave a surplus of about $700. Both grocery and utility costs fall under the national average, and monthly healthcare costs are only 2.7% above national average here. In addition, it has a great livability score of 83.
1. Crystal River
- 2022 average rent: $1,183
- Monthly expenditures: $2,491.78
Crystal River takes the number one spot on the list by having the lowest overall expenditures, the lowest monthly rent, and a decently high livability score of 81. Healthcare is also 2.6% below the national average here.
More From GOBankingRates
- 11 Signs You're Struggling Financially -- and 3 Ways To Get Back on Track
- 11 Uncommon Investments That Can Actually Make You A Lot of Money
- 3 Things You Must Do When Your Savings Reach $50,000
- The 4 Fastest Ways To Destroy Your Credit
Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best cities in Florida for a couple to live on only a Social Security check based on the average monthly benefit for retired workers, $1,775.81 ($3,551.62 for a couple), sourced from Social Security Administration. GOBankingRates first isolated all cities in Florida with a 2022 average monthly rent under $1,750. 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 65 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 30, 2023.