The 22 Worst Big Cities to Live in if You Only Get Social Security!

Retirement is a significant transition. It is not just a significant lifestyle change, but it may also be a significant shift in income. In March 2022, for example, the average Social Security benefit for retired workers was $1,665.

Some people in the United States rely only on Social Security. To put it another way, someone receiving the average payment could be surviving on less than $20,000 per year.

High living costs are unlikely to be tolerated by retired workers, especially if they have little or no retirement funds. Cities with a high cost of living should therefore be avoided.

We’ll look at the worst cities for living on a Social Security check, focusing on data like one-bedroom apartment rent and the general cost of living.

Plano, Texas (#22)

109.3 on the Cost of Living Index

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,483

88 points for livability

Plano has a dense suburban feel to it, with several eateries, coffee shops, and parks. It also has a high livability rating of 88.

Despite its amenities, Best Places gives it a CoL of 109.3, which is higher than the national average of 100. In Plano, a one-bedroom apartment costs $1,483, which eats up the majority of a normal Social Security payment.

Tampa, Florida (21st)

Index of Living Costs: 100.1

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,472

74 points for livability

Tampa, with its laid-back vibe and beach lifestyle, may appeal to retirees looking for a relaxing environment. With a score of 74, the city isn’t quite as livable. Plus, the cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Plano is comparable.

The one advantage of Tampa, given its ranking on our list, is that its overall cost of living is nearly identical to the national average.

The 22 Worst Big Cities to Live in if You Only Get Social Security

Austin, Texas (#20)

119.3 on the Cost of Living Index

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,519

72 Livability Score

In recent years, people have been migrating to towns like Austin in search of high-paying jobs. Austin, in particular, provides high-paying tech jobs in a less expensive location than San Francisco.

All of those high-earners migrating to Austin, however, have driven up the price; one-bedroom rent is $1,519, and the city’s overall cost of living is ranked 119.3. Furthermore, the city isn’t extremely livable, with a rating of 72.

Orlando, Florida (19)

Index of Living Costs: 104.1

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,492

69 points for livability

Orlando is a popular tourist destination since it is home to “The Happiest Place on Earth,” often known as Disney World. Of course, the city boasts hundreds of resort hotels, and visitors flock there because of the pleasant weather and bright days.

However, with a score of 69, its livability leaves something to be desired. Furthermore, the rent is nearly $1,500, and the CoL is 104.1, which is above average.

Miami, Florida (#18)

Index of Living Costs: 123.1

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,639

65 points for livability

There are several reasons why Miami could seem like an excellent destination to move to, including beaches, parks, and tropical weather. While there are benefits to living in the popular beach resort, there are also drawbacks, especially if you are on Social Security.

For instance, a one-bedroom apartment costs $1,639 per month, which is nearly the same as a regular Social Security payment. The city’s overall cost of living is over average, at 123, and it isn’t particularly livable, with a rating of 65.

The 22 Worst Big Cities to Live in if You Only Get Social Security

Denver, Colorado (#17)

128.7 on the Cost of Living Index

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,483

63 points for livability

Denver is a lively city with a diverse arts and culture scene and lively nightlife. Furthermore, the city might be viewed as a less expensive alternative to the more pricey West Coast.

However, Denver’s cost of living index is 128.7, making it less economical than one might hope. Furthermore, the livability score is a pitiful 63. However, rent is lower than in most previous cities.

San Diego, California is number sixteen

160.1 on the Cost of Living Index

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,901

71 points for livability

San Diego is a lovely town. It not only has beautiful weather, but it also has beautiful Spanish and Victorian architecture.

The city’s pleasures, though, come at a price. Rent is a little over $1,900, with a cost of living index of 160.1, making it unaffordable for most Social Security claimants. It also doesn’t have the best livability rating, with a score of 71.

Chula Vista, California is number fifteen

147.1 on the Cost of Living Index

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,693

67 points for livability

Chula Vista is a suburb of San Diego, located to the south and directly on the San Diego Bay. More than 52 square miles of coastal beauty, canyons, rolling hills, mountains, quality parks, and miles of trails can be found throughout the city.

While Chula Vista is less expensive than San Diego, it is nonetheless expensive; a one-bedroom apartment costs $1,693. It’s also not particularly habitable, with a livability score of 67.

Jersey City, New Jersey (14)

146.8 on the Cost of Living Index

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,932

69 points for livability

Jersey City, located immediately across the Hudson River from Manhattan, is one option for individuals who cannot afford Manhattan rent.

However, rent in Jersey City remains costly, at over $1,900 per month, and the general cost of living isn’t any better. Furthermore, the livability score is only 69.

The 22 Worst Big Cities to Live in if You Only Get Social Security

Seattle, Washington (#13)

Index of Living Costs: 172.3

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,681

65 points for livability

Seattle is a significant magnet for those looking for high-paying work, thanks to corporations like Starbucks and Amazon. If you rely on Social Security, though, Seattle is a city you should avoid.

Even while rent isn’t the most expensive item on our list, it still eats up the majority of the average Social Security check. Overall, the city is pricey, with a livability score of only 65.

Irvine, California (12)

Index of Living Costs: 187.1

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $2,846

The score for Livability: is 80

Irvine is in Orange County, about an hour’s drive southeast of Los Angeles. Despite its distance from the city, Irvine is a pleasant place to live, with plenty of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks.

However, at 187.1, the cost of living is extremely high. The one-bedroom rent is almost $2,800, making it the most expensive on the list.

Anaheim, California (#11)

Index of Living Costs: 152.2

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,794

62 points for livability

Anaheim is part of the Greater Los Angeles metro area and is located southeast of Los Angeles. The city is primarily known for being the home of Disneyland, but it also has a plethora of pubs and eateries.

Unfortunately, it does not have the finest livability ranking, and both rent and the overall cost of living are high.

Riverside, California (#10)

Index of Living Costs: 133.1

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,720

59 points for livability

Riverside, like Los Angeles, is not far away, albeit it is much closer to San Bernardino. It has a lot of normal suburban amenities including coffee shops and parks. Rent isn’t too bad at $1,720 on average, and the cost of living isn’t too bad at 133.1.

However, we’re entering an area with extremely poor livability values — it only receives a 59 in that category.

Long Beach, California is number nine

160.4 on the Cost of Living Index

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,593

59 points for livability

Long Beach is located close to Los Angeles. Taking I-710 will get you to Los Angeles in under 40 minutes (traffic permitting). The city is situated close to the water, with a long beach, as its name suggests.

While significantly less expensive than in Los Angeles, a one-bedroom apartment costs approximately $1,600. The overall CoL is 160.4, while the city has a score of 59, which indicates that it is not very livable.

The 22 Worst Big Cities to Live in if You Only Get Social Security

New York City, New York is number eight

Index of Living Costs: 187.2

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $2,068

67 points for livability

New York is known as “The City That Never Sleeps” because there is always something to do. Perhaps more importantly, the city’s diversity and vibrancy ensure that there is something for everyone.

The one-bedroom rent, on the other hand, is more than $2,000, making it unaffordable for individuals on Social Security. The overall cost of living is 187.2, with a livability rating of only 67.

San Jose, California is number seven

Index of Living Costs: 214.5

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $2,004

67 points for livability

San Jose, located in the Bay Area, is another city that may provide some relief from the high cost of living in San Francisco.

San Jose’s rent is still over $2,000, despite the city’s beauty. In addition, the overall cost of living is almost 215 dollars. The livability rating of 67 is comparable to that of New York.

Washington, D.C. is #6

Index of Living Costs: 152.1

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,786

The score for livability: 56

Washington, D.C., as the nation’s capital, is a popular destination for visitors and residents alike. D.C. has lots to offer, whether it’s a tour of the White House or a stroll down the National Mall.

When the novelty wears off, though, your livability score drops to 56. Rent is expensive, at about $1,750 per month, and the CoL is rated 152.1.

Boston, Massachusetts (#5)

162.4 on the Cost of Living Index

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $2,016

59 points for livability

Boston features some of America’s most interesting history, not to mention famous universities like Harvard and Boston University.

However, the city is not exceptionally habitable, receiving a score of 59. Furthermore, one-bedroom rent exceeds $2,000 per month, with an overall cost of living rating of 162.4.

Santa Ana, California is number four

146.3 on the Cost of Living Index

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,795

The score for Livability: 54

Santa Ana is a city in Orange County, about south of Anaheim. The city does have easy access to beautiful beaches, and the cost of living is lower than in the surrounding area.

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Even yet, a one-bedroom apartment costs approximately $1,800 per month, and the overall cost of living is 146.3. Worst of all, the livability score is only 54, which is far from ideal.

3. California’s Oakland

Index of Living Costs: 174.4

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,653

The score for Livability: 53

Oakland, located directly across the bay from San Francisco, provides another affordable option to the city’s exorbitant rents. There are numerous stores and restaurants, and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system serves Oakland.

Nonetheless, it has a livability score of 53, which is dead bottom among the cities on our list. At 174.4, the overall cost of living is still high.

Los Angeles, California is number two

Index of Living Costs: 173.3

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $1,756

The score for Livability: 54

We’ve looked at a lot of the cities in the Los Angeles area, and now it’s time to look at the big metropolis itself. Needless to say, there are so many things to do in the city that you will never be bored.

However, public transportation is in short supply, and traffic is a nightmare. That may explain its low livability rating of 54. While rent is expensive for someone on Social Security, it is not as expensive as some of the other options on this list. Despite this, the overall CoL is 173.3.

San Francisco, California is number one

Index of Living Costs: 269.3

Average 1 bedroom rent in 2022: $2,360

67 points for livability

We’ve looked at neighborhoods in the San Francisco area, and now San Francisco has been named the worst city for people living on Social Security. San Francisco is unquestionably gorgeous, but it is also one of the most costly cities in the United States to live in.

It has the highest cost of living index ranking on this list, with a score of 269.3. Keep in mind that San Jose, in the Bay Area, is ranked second for CoL. A one-bedroom costs roughly $2,400 per month, yet the livability score is only 67.

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