Cheapest Places to Retire in the U.S.A.
Your options for cheap places to retire depend on your desired standard of living and your willingness to relocate. Retiring abroad can offer affordable locations with warm climates. GreatRetirementPlaces.com explores many of these overseas retirement options. What if retiring overseas is not right for you? We have found some cheap retirement places in the U.S., including sunny, warm Florida.
If you understand the value that today’s manufactured homes represent, you will be glad to know there are thousands of manufactured home communities in Florida and some rival the style of site-built homes. Equally important, the newer “mobile” homes stand up as well as site-built homes in high winds.
The first region we explored for cheap retirement places was the Central Florida Gulf Coast. Home prices in this region are among the lowest in the state, yet the area is rich in attractions, arts, sports and lifestyle diversity. Most single-family homes in coastal Florida are not cheap, but many multi-family dwellings are.
There are plenty of villas, townhomes and condos for as little as $39,000. Many communities have two-bedroom villas and townhomes for under $150,000. We looked at two very nice 2BR 2BA villas in a golf community that included golf membership and greens fees. One was priced at just $112k! Condos offered many more available listings, but many condo communities are higher-density high-rises.
In 2012, we visited Sarasota, FL, consistently a top-rated retirement destination. There we found an affordable 55+ boating community with cozy villas, beautiful grounds, and an awesome location. Adjacent were even cheaper two-bedroom condos for under $90K.
Granted, what defines a “cheap place to live” differs depending on the criteria. Things like property values, health care, utilities, and even food can make a difference between “affordable” and “out of reach.” So for our purposes, a “cheap place to live in America” will take a variety of these factors into account.
- It doesn’t get much more affordable than “free,” and if you want land, there are free plots available. Thanks to “Mini Homestead Acts” and other offers, organizations such as the Center for Rural Affairs provide all kinds of information on ways to get land for free. The only catch is that you have to be willing to live in a rural area, and there may be some restrictions on land use, as well as rules regarding the type of buildings that you can build. So if these are actually benefits for you, these are the easily the cheapest places to live in America.
- If you’re looking to purchase a home but would like to keep payments less than $600 a month, you might be surprised just how many options there are. Places such as Phoenix, Tampa, and Las Vegas might not be considered cheap places to live. And at one time, they weren’t.
But the fall in housing prices has placed a number of very nice, and very affordable, homes within reach for those on limited budgets. And with interest rates at historical lows, now is a good time to buy a house for those with good credit and a down payment. Just make sure to take into account the other expenses (utilities, gasoline, and even taxes), when putting together your budget.
Buying a retirement home for under $600 a month
- If you’re more of the renting type of person, then almost anywhere you move in America will be cheaper than buying when it comes to housing. The question is whether you’re the type of person who wants to travel, likes being close to a large city with public transportation, or prefers somewhere better suited for the things you want to do, such as golfing, fishing, etc. For example, if you like to travel to Europe instead of the Caribbean, living somewhere like Charlotte, NC, could be considered a cheap place to live. Rent is affordable and available, it has a large airport that offers direct flights to many European cities, and it doesn’t get too cold in the winter. If you’re more of a Caribbean traveler, there are many attractive cities not just in Florida, but in southern Alabama and Mississippi as well, such as Biloxi. They feature similar weather, offer beachfront views, have very affordable costs of living, and are close to where you want to visit.
Cities where it’s better to buy or rent
- If you prefer to keep your travel stateside and you like to travel a lot, one of the cheapest places to live in America is… nowhere! Well, technically, it’d be an RV, with a post office box or perhaps even small home centrally located. While you would have upfront costs of the RV itself, after that, you can stay at literally thousands of high-quality parks all across the nation. Some of them not only offer amenities such as pools, parks, and shopping, but also offer long-term leases so you know you’ll always have a spot. You can even buy or rent somewhere close to family as a “permanent” residence, yet spend your winters in warmer regions.