5 Best Places to Retire on a Budget

We all want to spend our Golden Years enjoying life; maybe spending time on the golf course or trying out a new hobby. The last thing we want to worry about is how to stretch our budget.

To help retirees on a fixed income, GOBankingRates has named the “50 cheapest places to retire” in the United States. They looked at the average cost-of-living, rent and grocery indexes as well as state taxes to find the least-expensive cities for retirees.

We took a look at the top five cities. (Check out the complete list but be forewarned that some destinations are a bit unconventional).

A twilight in downtown Athens, Georgia

1. Athens, Georgia

Annual expenditures: $36,999

Annual amount spent on rent: $6,781

Annual amount spent on groceries: $2,633

Athens, about an hour east of Atlanta and home to the University of Georgia (UGA), tops GOBankingRates’ list, boasting a low cost of living and low state, property and sales taxes. Forbes also named Athens one of the 25 best places to retire in 2016.

Just ask one soon-to-be retiree, who moved to Athens with her husband about six years ago. “My husband and I were very specifically looking for a place to retire and wanted a college town,” said Katy Crapo, director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UGA. She will be retiring in two months and her husband has retired.

It has great music. (It’s home to REM and the B-52’s). Great art. Great restaurants. Good grocery stores. Close to a major city and airport. There are so many activities on campus. Free lectures, discussions and authors, so you could fill your calendar from dawn until dusk.”

Anyone over 62 can take classes for free at UGA. If you live near the campus – all campus buses are free – whether you’re a UGA student or not.

“You can do a lot just using the campus transit system,” Crapo said. “What you find about Athens is not only is it very affordable, there’s such a variety of possibilities.”

San Antonio Riverwalk

2. San Antonio, Texas

Annual expenditures: $38,210

Annual amount spent on rent: $7,729

Annual amount spent on groceries: $2,873

San Antonio is the runner-up with its low cost of living and very low taxation for seniors. There’s no state tax on Social Security income or withdrawals from retirement accounts or pensions, GOBankingRate reports. The city was also named one of the top 10 best places for military retirees.

“San Antonio has many retired people, especially military,” said Missy Stagers, broker associate, Realtor at Mstagers and Partners/Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper. “There’s good medical care and that sector is growing rapidly. We’re also still affordable.” She also noted that San Antonio is less congested than Dallas or Houston – at least for now.

I think what my retirees love the most is there’s just not lots of them, but a variety of people,” Stagers said. “There’s a lot do to do and plenty of golf courses! Many things are within an hour or two drive – from hill country, wine tours to the ocean.”

Overlooking Downtown Oasis Crystal Bridge and Skyscraper, Oklahoma City

3. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Annual expenditures: $39,248

Annual amount spent on rent: $7,282

Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,109

While maybe not your parents’ top retirement spot, Oklahoma City is a place where your cash does go further. It has one the lowest costs of living in the country. Social Security income isn’t taxed. There’s no state estate tax, and property taxes are low. Forbes named OKC one of America’s most affordable cities in 2015.

Looking for things to do? With 234 days of sunshine annually and mild winters, you can enjoy the great outdoors.  With 50 universities throughout the state, there are plenty of hip restaurants and cultural events and performances. And you can always get a good steak in OKC!

Tucson Arizona

4. Tucson, Arizona

Annual expenditures: $39,402

Annual amount spent on rent: $6,755

Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,052

Retirees have flocked to Arizona for many years, and now Tucson comes in at No. 4 for its affordability. Although other types of retirement income are taxed in Arizona, Social Security is not.

“The Tucson retirement market is the best bang for your buck,” said Realtor Max Fisher with Brulé & Fisher Re/Max. “A three-bedroom, two-bath retirement home goes for anywhere between $150,000 to $300,000. Tucson is also a top retirement spot for active retirees with a plethora of hiking trails, golf courses, river walks and biking trails. With an average of 300-plus days of sunshine per year and an average high of 78 in November retirees can spend most of their time outside.”

And if you’re a food lover, Tucson was named a “City of Gastronomy for its outstanding cuisine.

Mobile Alabama

5. Mobile, Alabama

Annual expenditures: $39,566

Annual amount spent on rent: $6,816

Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,031

Mobile ranks the fifth-cheapest retirement city boasting a low cost of living and low taxes. But there’s so much more: “Mobile has famous Southern hospitality and the oldest Mardi Gras celebration in America,” GoBankingRates reports. It also has excellent golf courses and affordable green fees.

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