20 cities where retirees are struggling to get by

It can be difficult to get by in retirement. For many, finding the extra space in the budget to routinely contribute to a 401k or IRA just wasn’t possible, so retirement means living on a fixed income and relying on Social Security.

And depending on where you live, your city might be a big part of why it’s so hard to make ends meet after you retire, according to a study from GOBankingRates. After closely examining things like average income for retirees, the cost and availability of quality healthcare, the housing market in the area and the poverty rate among seniors, the study determined which 20 cities are the toughest for retirees

U.S. cities where retirees are struggling to get by
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U.S. cities where retirees are struggling to get by

20. Detroit

Average Retirement Income: $20,418

Detroit’s high poverty rate among seniors is a major factor for why it made this list — nearly one in five people aged 65 and older is living in poverty. That’s part of the reason why Detroit is the poorest city in Michigan. That said, the poverty rate among seniors is just under half that of the population as a whole.

19. Boston

Average Retirement Income: $27,021

Boston is actually among the best cities in the study in terms of the availability of healthcare, but that appears to be coming at a price: The rent for a single-family dwelling is among the highest of the cities surveyed at $3,400 a month.

That’s contributing to the fact that you need $88,967 to live comfortably in Beantown, which is more than triple the average income for its retired residents.

18. San Jose, Calif.

Average Retirement Income: $28,248

Of course, as far as high rent goes, San Jose edges out Boston as the priciest place to live of the 20 cities on this list, with the median rent on a single-family home at $3,500. Someone receiving the average retirement income has no chance of renting a single-family home; the median monthly rent is $1,146 more than the average monthly income.

17. San Antonio

Average Retirement Income: $25,227

Some of the lowest availability scores for healthcare is a big part of why San Antonio is on this list, but the city also experienced an almost 2 percent decline in average income in retirement over the last five years.

San Antonio might have ranked worse were it not for the very reasonable cost of renting there. It’s one of the best big cities for renters.

16. Orlando, Fla.

Average Retirement Income: $22,529

The lack of affordable healthcare is a major issue for retired residents in Orlando, with the city posting some of the lowest scores in the study.

However, there are some reasons for hope. The five-year trend in average income in retirement is up by more than 10 percent. And not all retirees in Orlando are struggling to make ends meet. Despite the issues in the rest of the city, Orlando is actually among the best neighborhoods to retire to.

15. Richmond, Va.

Average Retirement Income: $22,151

Richmond didn’t score especially poorly in any one category, but it made this list on the back of an array of below-average scores. The 12.5 percent increase in median rents year-over-year did represent an especially troubling trend.

14. Winston-Salem, N.C.

Average Retirement Income: $23,412

No city on this list saw a bigger increase in the poverty rate among people aged 65 or older, with poverty climbing by more than a quarter over the five-year period. Affordable healthcare also isn’t accessible: The city ties for the least affordable healthcare in the study.

13. Columbus, Ohio

Average Retirement Income: $22,606

Retired residents in one of the Buckeye State’s most southerly major cities actually scored relatively well for the availability of healthcare and the affordability once you’ve accessed it. However, it’s the rest of your bills that could end up making it much harder to make ends meet: Columbus is one of the cities where the cost of living is rising the most.

12. Houston

Average Retirement Income: $23,847

Houston experienced one of the sharpest drops in average retirement income over the past five years at 5.1 percent. The city also has some of the lowest scores on the availability of healthcare.

11. Fort Wayne, Ind.

Average Retirement Income: $17,522

Fort Wayne actually boasts the lowest median rent of the 75 cities this study looked at, something that probably contributed to it having one of the lowest poverty levels among those age 65 and older.

However, while you can stretch your dollar a little further in Fort Wayne, many of the city’s seniors have a lot less of them: Fort Wayne’s $17,522 in average retirement income is the second-lowest of the cities considered.

10. Jacksonville, Fla.

Average Retirement Income: $22,057

No city of the 75 this study looked at had a larger five-year decrease in average retirement income than Jacksonville.

9. Indianapolis

Average Retirement Income: $18,961

Indianapolis has one of the lowest average incomes in retirement in the study, which is likely a serious issue for someone looking to find a cozy place to retire in the capital of the crossroads of America. Indianapolis is also one of the cities where home prices are skyrocketing.

8. El Paso, Texas

Average Retirement Income: $21,764

Few cities had a larger five-year drop in average retirement income than El Paso, which saw incomes drop by 5.6 percent despite already being on the low side. Add to that the fact that El Paso — like many other Texas cities — has low levels of access and affordability for its healthcare services.

7. Greensboro, N.C.

Average Retirement Income: $22,024

The 16.9 percent five-year increase in poverty rates is part of why Greensboro ranks so poorly. But it also ties for the least affordable healthcare of the cities considered.

More Affordable Cities: Best Cities to Retire on a Budget of $1,000 a Month

6. Reno, Nev.

Average Retirement Income: $29,234

While an average retirement income of almost $30,000 a year is actually relatively strong, Reno scored poorly in terms of both the availability and affordability of healthcare, making life significantly more difficult for its retirees.

5. Atlanta

Average Retirement Income: $25,867

Atlanta is one tough place to make ends meet, with generally poor scores regarding the access, affordability and quality of healthcare in the city. And costs are a major concern, with Atlanta ranking as one of worst cities to live on minimum wage in the U.S.

However, there are signs that the situation could be improving. Atlanta saw the highest five-year rate of decline in poverty rates at 22.5 percent.

4. Charlotte, N.C.

Average Retirement Income: $22,553

Charlotte is the last of three different North Carolina cities to rank among the 20 where retirees are struggling to get by, and all three have several things in common. Most notably, these cities rank high for the five-year increase in poverty rates among people aged 65 or older, and all three tie for the least-affordable healthcare.

Get Affordable Healthcare: Best and Worst States for Health Insurance Costs

3. Boise City, Idaho

Average Retirement Income: $24,174

While the poverty rate among seniors is under 10 percent in Boise City, there’s a sign that’s changing: The city experienced a five-year increase in that level of 13.2 percent. Over that same period, the average retirement income also fell by 1.5 percent.

2. Buffalo, N.Y.

Average Retirement Income: $18,315

Average retirement incomes in Buffalo are the third-lowest across the entire study, barely clearing $18,000 a year. While the city scored well for the availability of healthcare and its relatively affordable rents, that low income was impossible to overcome.

1. Newark, N.J.

Average Retirement Income: $17,363

Newark ranks as the city where the average retiree is struggling the most — and that’s probably not a huge surprise. It has the lowest average retirement income, and over one in five seniors living in the city are below the poverty line 

Where Retirees Are Struggling the Most

While all these cities stand out as being places where retirees have an especially tough time, there could also be some state-level issues at play.

Four states landed multiple cities among this list of the 20 worst for retirees — two from Indiana and Florida and three each from Texas and North Carolina. In some cases, there is consistency in the categories where the cities underperformed — like the high poverty rates among seniors in North Carolina and the lack of access to affordable healthcare in Texas.

Photo credit: GO Banking Rates


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