We compiled our list of the Best Places To Retire In Each State by comparing data on more than 650 places across all 50 states. Generally, we looked for relatively affordable places (as measured by median home price and cost of living) with high quality of retirement living and populations of 10,000 or more (except for our top Alaska pick, Homer, population 6,000). The key word when it comes to affordable is “relatively”. Some states, especially in the Northeast and along the West Coast, are just a lot more expensive than others.
When it came to judging quality of life, we looked at a range of factors. Among them: doctor availability, the serious crimes rate, ranking on the Milken Institute list of best cities for successful aging, air quality and walkability and bikeability. Since this is a retirement list, we ignored data on local school districts. But the presence of colleges was considered a plus, as that tends to expand cultural and other amenities for senior citizens.
The average Social Security benefit for retired workers in 2017 was $1,369 per month. That comes out to $16,428 in annual benefits for a single person or $32,856 per year for a couple — about $25,000 less than the U.S. median household income of $57,617.
Living on a fixed income basically means you’re solely or almost entirely dependent on funds like Social Security, pensions and inheritance, with little to no flexibility in the amount you’re paid each month. Unstable costs, such as a volatile housing market, can be especially challenging to deal with on a fixed income.
If you rely mostly — or solely — on a fixed income, click through to see the best places to live in your state.
Data is accurate as of April 14, 2019, and is subject to change.
Alabama might be the best state to retire on a fixed income, especially if you want your retirement nest egg to stretch the furthest. Decatur has a stable housing market, making it a safe choice for those on a fixed income. Home values increased less than 5 percent year over year, while rents actually decreased. Additionally, homes are relatively affordable, with the median home value at $116,900.
Alaska is an income-tax-free state, making it one of the best places to retire on a fixed income. Home values in Palmer increased only about 2 percent year over year, but home prices are still relatively high compared with other cities on this list: The median home value is $252,400. But there is good news for renters, as the median rent decreased about 9 percent year over year.
Arizona: Sierra Vista
If you’re thinking of buying a home on a fixed income, consider Sierra Vista. Home values in Sierra Vista rose less than 1 percent year over year, which means the market there is less volatile than the state as a whole: Arizona’s home values increased about 7 percent over the same time period, according to Zillow.
Arkansas: Little Rock
Rent prices in Little Rock did not change at all year over year, and the current median rent is $1,003 per month. In fact, Little Rock is one of the cheapest places to rent, found a 2017 GOBankingRates study. Home values remained stable as well, with less than a 3 percent increase year over year.
The median home value in California is $535,100, according to Zillow. But in Hanford, it’s significantly less at $191,200. Home values are rising about 7.5 percent year over year in the city.
Colorado: Fort Collins
The median home price in Fort Collins is high — $369,100 — but the market is pretty stable, with only a 7 percent increase in home values year over year. Rent prices have remained stagnant, increasing less than 1 percent year over year.
Connecticut: New Haven
Real estate prices in New Haven increased only about 2 percent, which is good news for those on a fixed income. However, although rent decreased year over year, it’s still relatively expensive with the median monthly rent at $1,599.
Delaware is one of the few states that doesn’t levy a state sales tax. It also does not tax Social Security benefits, which makes it one of the best places to retire in the U.S. In the last year, Felton home values rose about 2 percent, while rents decreased about 1 percent.
Home values are stable in Bradenton, with a median home value of $225,200 and a year-over-year increase of 2.5 percent. Rents are pretty much stagnant but still relatively high at a median of $1,626 per month.
Columbus is one of the best cities to retire on a budget of $1,000 a month, a previous GOBankingRates study found. The city has affordable housing for people on a fixed income: The median home price is $105,800, and values are stable, increasing about 4 percent year over year. Rent prices are also affordable, with a median cost of $896 per month, increasing less than 1 percent year over year.
Hilo’s median home value rose less than 1 percent year over year, but its current level is already $336,900. That is the second-highest home value in the study. And rents increased by much more in the last year, about 12 percent to $1,685.
However, the city is the best place for people on a fixed income to live in Hawaii because it’s affordable compared with the state as a whole: The statewide median home value is $628,600, and values increased about 7 percent year over year, according to Zillow.