Best cities to retire on a budget of $1,000 a month

Living on a fixed income is challenging enough. But if you are preparing for retirement with very little in savings, like over half of Americans, you might want to consider living in a place where you'll get more for your money.

GOBankingRates analyzed monthly expenditures for all major U.S. cities and isolated the places where you can live for under $1,000 per month. We based the findings on the assumption that you own your home and your only housing expenses are property taxes and maintenance costs. The cost of utilities, groceries and healthcare are also included. To come up with our final list of 30 cities, we also incorporated livability data from AreaVibes into the final ranking.

The list includes both small and larger cities with varying climates, activities, crime rates and healthcare systems. Click through to see the 30 best cities that offer a rich life and find out how much you need to survive retirement, no matter where you live

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Best cities for retirees to live on a budget of $1000 a month
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Best cities for retirees to live on a budget of $1000 a month

30. Shreveport, La.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $873.91
  • Livability Score: 63

The numerous amenities, low cost of living and sunny skies are just some of Shreveport's strengths. Located in northwest Louisiana along the Red River, it's an ideal place for seniors to retire on modest means. There, monthly expenditures tally to $873.91, which leaves you some wiggle room with your finances.

There are many fun ways to spend your leisure time, including going to a football game, visiting museums, trying out the culinary delights — and checking out the Louisiana State Fair, which takes place in Shreveport every fall. Though the southern city has many plusses, the city's overall crime rate is high, 126 percent above the national average, which contributes to bringing the livability score down to 63.

Shreveport Is on This List: 50 Cheapest Places to Retire 

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29. Huntsville, Ala.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $999.56
  • Livability Score: 67

Located in Madison County just north of the Tennessee River, Huntsville barely made it under the $1,000 threshold, with total monthly expenses coming to $999.56. A good chunk of that goes to housing, $343.20 per month, which is the third highest on this list. Even so, the figures do allow retirees to live on a budget in a tech-friendly metropolitan area.

Huntsville is home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, which designed the Saturn V, the rocket used during the Apollo missions. Though the crime rate and housing market are not the city’s shining stars, Huntsville makes up for it in low cost of living, abundant activities and good weather. And thanks to NASA’s influence, the city takes education seriously. 

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28. Wichita, Kan.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $904.95
  • Livability Score: 65

The largest city in Kansas, Wichita has plenty to offer retirees living on modest means. Although the cost of living in Wichita is 2 percent higher than the Kansas average, it's 9 percent lower than the national average. The proof is in the grocery receipts; the monthly average amount spent on groceries is $262.17, which is one of the lowest on this list.

The local economy is strong, thanks to the aviation industry. The Midwestern city is known as the air capital of the world since many airplane manufacturers call Wichita home, including Cessna and Spirit AeroSystems. To fill your leisure time, visit any of the 127 public parks covering 5,000 acres. Wichita has a low WalkScore of 32, which means you'll need a car to get around.

Don't Miss: This Is All You Can Buy With the Average Social Security Check 

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27. Macon, Ga.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $922.85
  • Livability Score: 66

In the center of the state, 85 miles south of Atlanta, you'll find Macon, Georgia. Macon offers a low cost of living, lots of amenities and sunny weather. The mild weather provides for an abundance of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking and fishing along the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail, which runs for 11 miles along the Ocmulgee River.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is held every March, as Macon is the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World. There are plenty of indoor activities, too, including museums, live shows, shopping and delicious southern dining. 

Photo credit: Getty

26. Des Moines, Iowa

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $891.55
  • Livability Score: 66

The capital of Iowa, Des Moines is a big city with a friendly small-town vibe. Downtown is packed with amenities, and you can easily spend an afternoon browsing independently owned boutiques, taking in theater or live music, or biking on one of the many trails offered in the area.

The cost of living is ideal for people on a budget; the monthly cost for utilities is $260.19, which is one of the lowest on this list. Healthcare costs, at $66.19 per month, are also a list-best. Winters can be chilly as temperatures often fall below freezing, but spring and summer are generally mild and sunny. 

Photo credit: Getty

25. Augusta-Richmond, Ga.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $829.24
  • Livability Score: 65

Located near the South Carolina border, Augusta has quite a lot to offer to seniors in their golden years. For one, the weather can’t be beat — it received an “A-“ from AreaVibes — and it provides a pleasant atmosphere for retirees who want to avoid cold, harsh winters. The overall cost of living in the area is low, with the total monthly expenditures coming to $829.24, which is considerably below the benchmark $1,000.

The WalkScore in Augusta is only 20, so a car is needed to get around. But if you want to give your feet a workout, head to the Augusta Riverwalk, which runs along the Savannah River. Golf is a passion in the area, as Augusta hosts the Masters Golf Tournament every spring at the Augusta National Golf Club — here's how much it will cost you to play there. Additionally, the area is great for foodies and those who enjoy the art scene. 

Photo credit: Getty

24. Birmingham, Ala.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $786.77
  • Livability Score: 64

Located in north-central Alabama, Birmingham provides southern comforts at an affordable price. The historical city offers the lowest monthly expenditures on our list, $786.77, and the overall cost of living is 18 percent lower than the national average. The housing and healthcare monthly costs are among the most affordable on this list, coming in at $149.02 and $62.39, respectively, which is perfect for seniors living on a budget.

With roots deep in the Civil Rights movement, Birmingham is experiencing a revival — working to preserve history while welcoming all things contemporary. The population in the bustling city is a blend of millennials, entrepreneurs, families and retirees who enjoy the modern culinary treats, outdoor amenities and activities, and the bustling art scene. 

Photo credit: Getty

23. Akron, Ohio

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $824.28
  • Livability Score: 65

Akron and Cleveland are linked together in regional statistical data, but that’s where the similarities end. The overall cost of living in Akron is slightly higher than that of its neighbor to the north. While Akron did come out as the second highest for monthly costs on groceries at $313.95, the housing expenses, $153.54 — some of the lowest on our list — help to balance the expenditures.

Akron comes out ahead for leisure activities as well. The lively arts scene is considered a bit more hip and experimental than Cleveland, and the city has been known as the “jazz corridor of the Midwest,” dating back to the 1940s and 1950s, according to Vogue. Nearby Cuyahoga National Park offers plenty of outdoor activities, including whitewater rapids, biking, hiking, horseback riding and camping.

Related: 42 Easy Ways to Save for Retirement 

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22. Columbus, Ohio

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $922.90
  • Livability Score: 68

Columbus’s low cost of living and abundance of activities make it an ideal place to retire. If you are the outdoors type, you’ll appreciate the budget-friendly 175 acres of parks, walking and biking trails and various other activities that are offered along the Scioto River.

When it’s time to go inside, you'll find plenty of dining, shopping and theater options. Top-ranked healthcare system The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is also a plus for the central Midwestern city. 

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21. Tulsa, Okla.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $882.57
  • Livability Score: 67

The “oil capital of the world,” as Tulsa is called, offers seniors thrifty living and an abundance of recreational activities, all within a city that values a strong sense of community. Though a mid-sized city, Tulsa is transitioning into a modern metropolitan area.

Nestled along the Arkansas River, Tulsans get plenty of fresh air while enjoying the numerous public parks, water parks, pools and walking and biking trails. Furthermore, your money will go farther here; the cost of living is 9 percent lower than the national average. 

Photo credit: Getty

20. Fayetteville, N.C.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $963.01
  • Livability Score: 70

Located on the Cape Fear River in southeastern North Carolina, Fayetteville offers retirees easy living amid an abundance of natural wildlife. The cost of living is the second highest on the list, with monthly expenditures of $963.01. Groceries are also expensive at $316.63, but you can use these tips to save money on food costs.

However, with a livability score of 70, you do get what you pay for. A bustling downtown offers the latest trends in food, shopping and entertainment. Its public parks system includes acres of trails, woods, lakes, rivers, mountains and beaches. That means there's plenty of space for exploring, swimming, biking, running, climbing, rollerblading, fishing, boating and relaxing. 

Photo credit: Getty

Downtown Fayetteville, North Carolina

19. Beaumont, Texas

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $876.10
  • Livability Score: 68

Beaumont is an East Texas city that combines a small town feel with the amenities of a major metropolitan area. The cost of living in Beaumont is one of its top features — 5 percent lower than the Texas average and 15 percent lower than the national average. Plus, Texas does not have income tax.

Seniors will have lots of company in Beaumont since 16.8 percent of the population is over 62 years of age. The weather can’t be beat, with mild average temperatures. Beaumont is also a city that takes education seriously; almost 80 percent of the population has completed high school. 

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18. Louisville, Ky.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $944.98
  • Livability Score: 70

Located along the Ohio River, Louisville is a picturesque city where seniors can easily retire while living on a budget. Louisville’s amenities, cost of living and weather all get high livability marks.

In addition to hosting the Kentucky Derby every year, Louisville is home to numerous arts festivals, craft fairs, and music and dance performances. The parks system, designed by New York's Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted, offers plenty of ways to spend leisure time outdoors. Louisville's attractive qualities actually make it a city where the cost of living is quickly rising

Photo credit: Getty

17. Mobile, Ala.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $940.13
  • Livability Score: 70

A metropolitan city with a rich history, Mobile earns top marks for cost of living, things to do, the weather and education. Along with living expenditures being 8 percent lower than the national average, Alabama’s sales and income taxes are also lower than the average U.S. state. Healthcare costs, at $65.43 per month, are one of the lowest on this list. Grocery costs, however, are the third highest on this list, at $299.37 per month.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you can see why Mobile earned a livability score of 70. Residents can enjoy outdoor sporting and leisure activities 12 months out of the year, thanks to moderate to warm weather year round. Beautiful beaches and lush lakes allow for swimming, boating, fishing, waterskiing and relaxing. 

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16. Greensboro, N.C.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $975.66
  • Livability Score: 71

Located in the “Triad,” along with Winston-Salem and High Point, Greensboro offers budget-friendly living in a region that is packed with things to do. One downside to the area is the cost of healthcare, which is the third highest on the list at $78.37 per month.

Still, you'll hopefully find room in your budget to enjoy the top-rated golf courses, a state-of-the-art theater and arts center, and an eclectic array of dining options. The mild weather makes it all the more livable. 

Photo credit: Getty

15. Pittsburgh, Pa.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $933.61
  • Livability Score: 70

Pittsburgh's livability score of 70 means the city is “very livable.” The western Pennsylvania city has undergone a revitalization over the last 10 years. The Steel City has embraced STEM, as tech giants like Google, Facebook and Uber have taken up residence.

The area is now home to millennials, families and retirees, which has attracted trendy cafes and restaurants, high-end boutiques and a lively arts scene. PNC Park, where the Pirates play, offers a beautiful view of the Pittsburgh skyline. The cost of living in Pittsburgh has remained moderate throughout the transition, and expenditures are 15 percent lower than both the Pennsylvania and national average.

Related: Here’s How Much It Will Cost You to See a Game at These Must-See Stadiums Across America 

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14. Winston-Salem, N.C.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $928.39
  • Livability Score: 70

Located in the same area as Greensboro, Winston-Salem is a multicultural city filled with southern charm. The same amenities that Greensboro offers are available here as well, such as the Blue Ridge Mountains, the beach, a variety of golf courses, the arts, shopping and a lively dining scene.

Also like Greensboro, the healthcare costs are high — in fact, they're the highest on our list at $79.13 per month. However, the overall lower cost of living might just balance out cost concerns. 

Photo credit: Getty

13. Omaha, Neb.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $965.34
  • Livability Score: 71

Omaha can get pretty chilly during the winter, but the affordable cost of living might help to keep a smile on your face. Located on the Missouri River, the city boasts a healthy job market and economy. One caveat is the price of housing — at $343.20 per month, it's the third highest on our list. But Omaha is still one of the best cities to live if you're trying to save money.

Even so, the newly developed downtown and riverfront areas offer plenty of ways to be out and about without spending much money. For example, when the weather permits, you can walk to the neighboring state by way of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Footbridge, an S-shaped 3,000-footbridge that connects Omaha’s riverfront with Iowa. 

Photo credit: Getty

12. Columbus, Ga.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $880.61
  • Livability Score: 69

Columbus, Ga., is located in Muscogee County near the Alabama border. The cost of living here is 9 percent lower than the national average. Contributing to the affordability is the beneficial income tax rate, which is 55 percent lower than the national average.

You will never run out of ways to stay busy in Columbus, as the region is filled with world-class golf courses, great restaurants, lots of live music, museums and art performances. Enjoy the RiverWalk along the Chattahoochee River for a leisurely and scenic afternoon stroll, or take to the many waterways for swimming, fishing and boating. 

Photo credit: Getty

11. Oklahoma City

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $928.67
  • Livability Score: 71

Oklahoma City provides retirees with a friendly, tight-knit community where they can easily manage their living expenses. The cost of living is 14 percent lower than the national average and the cost of groceries per month, $264.55, is among the lowest on this list. In fact, Oklahoma City is one of the best places to live on only a social security check.

The livestock, oil and natural gas industries still dominate the area, but the technology and healthcare sectors have recently taken an interest in Oklahoma City. That has led to development and expansion downtown, bringing a larger variety of shopping and dining options. 

Photo credit: Getty

10. Lubbock, Texas

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $846.91
  • Livability Score: 69

Living on $1,000 per month in Lubbock, the birthplace of rock 'n’ roll legend Buddy Holly, won’t be tough for seniors to do. According to our data, the total monthly expenses come in way under at $846.91, and the cost for utilities, $215.84, is one of the lowest on this list.

Lubbock has a reputation for being a small town, but it is actually growing into a large metropolitan area. The current population is 237,000, with a 7 percent growth rate projected for the coming years. As the economy strengthens in this northwest Texas town, millennials are taking note and putting down roots, which means expansion and an increase in amenities.

9. Lexington, Ky.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $996.91
  • Livability Score: 74

If you are a horse person, then Lexington might be the place for you. The city in north-central Kentucky is home to many horse farms and thoroughbred racetracks. Though the housing costs are the highest on our list, $379.33 per month, Lexington is still a place where seniors can live on a budget. If you rent instead of own your home, Lexington is still an affordable option.

The area contains more than 100 public parks, and younger families are moving into the region. That means more shopping, dining and arts options for everyone to enjoy. 

Photo credit: Getty

8. Montgomery, Ala.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $878.92
  • Livability Score: 71

Located on the Alabama River, Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, combines a low cost of living with southern charm. Retirees should be comfortable living here on a budget, as the monthly housing expenses are among the lowest on our list at $203.21, as are the $67.71 monthly health costs. Utilities do run high in Montgomery, and at $316. 36 they are the second highest of the 30 cities on this list.

Having been at the center of the Civil Rights Movement, Montgomery is rich in history and there are numerous attractions to commemorate the events that took place at that time. The southern city is transitioning into a tech hub as more companies discover all the city has to offer. One caveat: Montgomery has a low WalkScore of 25, which means you'll need a car to get around. 

Photo credit: Getty

7. Laredo, Texas

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $899.16
  • Livability Score: 72

Connected to Mexico, Laredo is home to four border crossing bridges, which makes it the largest border port; it's also bustling with numerous border zone manufacturing plants.

The cost of living is easy on the wallet, with monthly expenses totaling below $900. The overall cost of living is 23 percent below the national average. Here's how long your retirement nest egg will last in Texas.

Residents get the best of both Texas and Mexico in this quaint spot, including authentic Mexican cooking, handmade pottery, an annual Jalapeño Festival, a yearly George Washington birthday celebration, historical museums and boating on the Rio Grande. 

Photo credit: Getty

6. Corpus Christi, Texas

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $945.38
  • Livability Score: 74

Located in Corpus Christi Bay, just off the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi combines cultural attractions, a bustling economy, quality education and low-cost housing, which is ideal for thrifty retirees.

The area contains several long barrier islands, which with the warm weather makes the perfect spot for swimming, boating, fishing and various other water activities. In addition to a livability ranking of 74, the city's cost of living is 11 percent below the national average, making it a budget-friendly sea town that is perfect for spending your golden years.

Related: From Healthcare to Groceries: Brilliant Ways Seniors Can Save Money 

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5. Amarillo, Texas

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $860.40
  • Livability Score: 72

Starting our top 5 countdown for the best cities to retire on $1,000 per month is Amarillo, the biggest city in the Texas panhandle. Amarillo is a quintessential Texas town filled with cowboys, rodeos, horses, the cattle industry and all the Tex-Mex you can eat.

The cost of living is 16 percent lower than the national average. Monthly living expenditures total $860.40, and the average amount spent on utilities every month is $242.45, which is one of the lowest on our list. Along with affordable living, Amarillo gets high marks in amenities, education and employment. The weather tends to be hot and windy. 

Photo credit: Getty

4. Pasadena, Texas

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $892.87
  • Livability Score: 73

The fourth-best city on the list is Pasadena, located in the Houston area, which is the fourth-largest metro area in the United States. The cost of living is low for a major city; 12 percent lower than the national average. A nice financial perk, the cost for groceries is one of the lowest on our list, at $250.57 per month.

The area is filled with various types of businesses, but the petroleum and petrochemical industry is the mainstay feeding the local economy. Amenities are plenty, with a lively art and music scene, museums, several major league sports teams and a variety of culinary offerings. Winters are mild, though the summers can heat up to triple digits. 

Photo credit: Getty

3. Fort Wayne, Ind.

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $822.17
  • Livability Score: 74

An area rich in Native American history, Fort Wayne offers affordable living combined with a plethora of culture. Though the sales tax in Indiana is 37 percent higher than the national average, the overall cost of living is 16 percent lower than the U.S. average. Low utility costs, at $242.45 per month, are among the lowest on our list; perfect for seniors living on a budget.

The economy stays active due to the defense industry and the distribution, transportation and financial services industries. This city takes its arts and music seriously, so you'll find plenty of live music, Broadway shows, symphonies, galleries and more. Winters are chilly, but the mild spring and summers allow you to enjoy an abundance of outdoor activities, thanks to the area’s rivers. 

Photo credit: Getty

2. Brownsville, Texas

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $812.03
  • Livability Score: 76

The second-best city to retire on $1,000 per month is Brownsville, which has earned a livability score of 76 and an “A” ranking from AreaVibes for its cost of living, which is 22 percent lower than the national average. Helping to achieve that ranking are low monthly housing costs ($185.15) and low monthly expenditures on groceries ($264.85).

Located in the southernmost tip of Texas, Brownsville is a border town, with a border-based economy. Water activities are a favorite here, thanks to its location on the Rio Grande and the warm, windy weather that sticks around for much of the year. You'll definitely need a car in Brownsville, as like most Texas towns the area is vast and spread out. 

Photo credit: Getty

1. El Paso, Texas

  • Total Monthly Expenditures: $893.25
  • Livability Score: 79

The top pick for the best place to retire on $1,000 per month is the western Texas city of El Paso. The overall cost of living in El Paso is 13 percent lower than the national average, and utilities and healthcare costs ($254.27 and $67.71, respectively) are near the lowest on our list.

Situated on the Rio Grande, El Paso offers lower crime (23 percent below the national average), a Mexico-inspired culture and plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, backpacking, climbing and bouldering. You’ll find everyone from traditional cowboys to hipsters to seniors enjoying the warm weather, cultural amenities and thriving economy.

Next Up: How Much It’ll Cost You to Retire in These Premium Travel Destinations

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Methodology: GOBankingRates compiled monthly expenses for each city based on the Consumer Expenditure Survey. The monthly costs of housing, groceries, utilities and healthcare were added together. Housing costs assume an "owned dwelling," where the main expenses are property taxes and maintenance costs. We scored each city's expenditure cost and its livability score from AreaVibes to create the final ranking.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Best Cities to Retire on a Budget of $1,000 a Month

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