The 10 most affordable American cities for retirees


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There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a retreat hideaway.

Many retirees want, or need, to be close to their families. Others consider health problems and decide to relocate to a town close to reputable hospitals and doctors. Some need a mild, long weather to put the shoveling days behind them.

And then there is the money. If you have plenty, no problem. Retreat to the beach, the mountains, a resort community, the French Riviera – the sky’s the limit. But most of us need to give serious thought to cities that fall in the affordable price range. And this range is different for everyone.

A recent analysis By personal finance website WalletHub compared the “retiree usability” of more than 180 US cities based on 48 metrics, including several affordability metrics.

Overall, theme park paradise Orlando, Florida came out on top as the best retirement city, and major metropolitan areas such as Minneapolis, Denver, Miami, and Atlanta made the list as well.

But when you shake things up and rank cities purely on affordability, you get different results. Smaller places, for the most part, with a lower cost of living are at the top of the list. It might not be right for you, or it might sound like a year-long dream come true.

Here’s a look at the most affordable retirement cities, according to WalletHub.

10. Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida
Sean Pavone /

Sunny The Jacksonville slogan is “It’s easier here” and if you’ve suffered your fair share of blizzards and subzero temperatures, you might agree. The city has 35 km of beaches, a large network of parks, historic districts and more. And if you’ve been dreaming of catching the big one, the waters of this oceanfront city are calling to you. Jacksonville has also landed on a recent list of major cities where buyers get the best bang for their buck.

9. Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama
Sean Pavone /

Three Alabama cities are on WalletHub’s list of 10 Affordable Retirement Cities. Birmingham is the biggest of the tree. Perhaps due to its size, it also scored high in the activities category, ranking 38th out of 182 cities. Golf courses, concert halls and museums will keep retirees busy. Hunger? Birmingham is called the “Southern Dinner Table”For its culinary offer and its southern culinary heritage.

8. Huntington, West Virginia

Dee Browning /

Huntington, West Virginia, may seem much smaller than most of the towns on this list, as the town’s population is only around 50,000. But that doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on the amenities of big cities. Huntington is the hub of a metropolitan area which spans three states and has a population of over 365,000. It helps that Huntington is home to a bustling college campus – Marshall University has made H-Town its home since 1837.

7. Casper, Wyoming

Casper, Wyoming
Oscar C. Williams /

Beach bunnies, Casper is not your place. But for those who yearn for a cheap life among natural beauty and mixed with all-American cowboy culture, you may be right at home. And it’s good to know that Casper is in one of nine US states that don’t have income tax. This is just one of the reasons retirees are flock to wyoming.

6. Columbia, South Carolina

Colombia, South Carolina
Kevin Ruck /

Scenic Columbia ranks in the top half of WalletHub’s business category, ranking 63rd out of 182 cities. This number is likely increased by the fact that Columbia is home to the University of South Carolina, the flagship campus of the state university system. And if you’ve been shivering in Michigan or New York or another northern state, get ready to donate these snow pants – Columbia is the hottest city in the state, with an average summer maximum temperature of 93.5 degrees and a minimum summer average of 71.9 degrees.

5. Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee
Sean Pavone /

The bustling city of Memphis is full of music and history, from loud bars to Beale Street to the stimulating exhibitions of the National Civil Rights Museum. Snow is sporadic here, but it does happen. Like Wyoming, mentioned earlier, Tennessee does not have state income tax. And if the security of owning your own retirement home appeals to you, know that Memphis came in at # 2 on a recent list of the best cities to buy rather than rent.

4. Knoxville, Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee
Kevin Ruck /

Return to Tennessee for charming Knoxville on the banks of the Tennessee River. The states first capital, Knoxville may be smaller than Memphis, but it remains alive and active in part thanks to the flagship campus from the University of Tennessee. And you can choose between living in the city with all of its amenities or branching out and buying or renting in the scenic area leading up to the Great Smoky Mountains.

3. Mobile, Alabama

Sean Pavone /

If fishing and outdoor recreation are the star of your retirement dreams, Mobile could be for you. This quaint town in southern Alabama alone deep-water port, lies on the Mobile River. There is also a lot of history – The mobile is some 300 years old and boasts Battleships Memorial Park, houses the retired battleship USS Alabama and the submarine-turned-museum USS Drum. Mobile landed at # 3 for affordability on WalletHub’s list, but when activities, healthcare, and quality of life are factored in, its overall retirement score is higher than the following two cities on this list.

2. Montgomery, Alabama

Montgomery Alabama
Kevin Ruck /

Alabama’s capital, Montgomery, ranked second on WalletHub’s list of affordable places to retire, the highest ranking of the three Alabama cities on the list. However, only Montgomery was ranked in WalletHub’s top five cities for the lowest annual cost of home services. This is good news for your wallet if you are retiring here.

1. Fort Smith, Arkansas

Fort Smith Arkansas
The bohemian lens /

No city is more affordable for retirees, according to WalletHub, than Fort Smith, Arkansas. Still, it is perhaps the least familiar city name listed here. Think of the old western town nestled in America’s New South. Fort Smith, which sits on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border and along the Arkansas River, was once a western border military post and today is home to the Fort Smith National Historic Site. Its affordability and mild winters also make it a favorite of modern Americans.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, sometimes we receive compensation for clicking on links in our stories.

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