Cheapest Places to Live on Social Security

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If you're retiring on Social Security benefits alone, it can be tough to live well. As of July 2015, the Social Security Administration reports that the average retired worker was paid a $1,336 monthly benefit, which means a couple living off of Social Security has an average income of around $2,672 a month. Luckily, there are a few cities -- both domestic and international -- that offer retirees safety, easy transportation, good health care systems, a mild climate and a low cost of living.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

U.S. News and World Report lists Albuquerque, New Mexico as one of the best places for retirees to maximize their Social Security benefits. Renting a home averages just $686 per month and homeowners pay a median of $1,078 in monthly mortgage payments. Livability also recommends the city for retirees, citing low-cost public transportation and good quality health care as big perks. Albuquerque offers a variety of senior centers that older adults can join for as little as $13 a month.

Jacksonville, Florida

If you want warm Florida weather without the high prices, consider Jacksonville. U.S. News and World Report notes that the median rent for homes is $861 a month. Homeowners with a mortgage pay a median price of $1,247 a month. Opportunities abound for retirees to fish and boat on the St. Johns River and beaches are only a short drive away. NerdWallet ranks Jacksonville as one of the top 10 U.S. cities to retire to, reporting that the overall cost of living in the city is low and that health care is affordable.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

AARP recommends Buenos Aires, Argentina as a retirement destination for those on a tight budget. The city itself is cosmopolitan and sophisticated, but the cost of living remains low after an economic turndown in 2002. Couples can expect to pay $500 to $2,000 a month for a rental property and should budget about $2,000 per month for other cost of living expenses.

Prices are lower in other parts of Argentina, but the city itself boasts a great health care system and direct flights back to the U.S. Buenos Aires also has reliable and low-cost options for local transportation, complete with a modern subway system and a large network of bus routes.

Algarve Region of Portugal

The Algarve region of Portugal was voted the number one place to retire in Live and Invest Overseas' 2014 Retire Overseas Index. The publication determines the index based on factors like crime, cost of living, climate, health care, infrastructure, English spoken and the existing expat community. Kathleen Peddicord, publisher of Live and Invest Overseas, recommends Algarve because the health care system is sound, the infrastructure is improving and it's one of the safest cities in the world -- not to mention that the region has a mild climate and boasts 100 miles of gorgeous coastline.

Tip

  • Peddicord notes that the cost of living in Portugal is around 30 percent less than in the rest of Europe. A retired couple can live modestly on $1,500 to $2,000 a month.

Cuenca, Ecuador

Located in Ecuador's Azuay Province, the city of Cuenca also ranked high on the 2014 and 2015 Retire Overseas Index. Peddicord notes that a couple can live frugally in the region for only $1,010 per month, so it's perfect for those who receive less in Social Security benefits. Forbes.com notes that reasonable health care and affordable entertainment offer big perks for retirees living in the area. Discounted flights originating from Ecuador are available for those 65 and older. The city offers movie discounts for senior citizens and a doctor's visit costs only $10 on average.

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