Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

This Is How Much It Costs for a Senior to Live Independently in Every U.S. State

By Christy Bieber – Jun 5, 2020 at 10:31AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

How expensive is it to live in your preferred locale?

Most retirees live on Social Security and money from investments, so making sure retirement account balances don't run out is essential. That's why it's so important to assess the cost of living when deciding where to retire or whether your savings will last in a current location. 

The price of the basics can vary dramatically from one state to another, so whether you're currently retired or are thinking about leaving the workforce soon, it's a good idea to know how much necessities will cost in your preferred location. The chart below, based on research from University of Massachusetts Boston, will help you figure that out. 

Older woman holding envelope full of $100 bills.

Image source: Getty Images.

Here's what seniors need to cover the basics throughout the U.S.

University of Massachusetts researchers estimated the cost for senior renters to cover the basics in every state. Essential expenses included in the calculation include housing; food; transportation; healthcare; and some miscellaneous spending. Here's how much they found a single senior would need in every state in the U.S. 

State

Cost for a Single Senior Renter to Cover the Necessities

State

Cost for a Single Senior Renter to Cover the Necessities

Alabama

$21,504

Nebraska

$23,124

Alaska

$26,556

Nevada

$22,260

Arizona

$23,196

New Hampshire

$28,308

Arkansas

$21,720

New Jersey

$29,616

California

$30,276

New Mexico

$22,992

Colorado

$26,292

New York

$30,480

Connecticut

$28,536

North Carolina

$22,764

Delaware

$25,644

North Dakota

$23,784

Florida

$24,276

Ohio

$21,996

Georgia

$23,544

Oklahoma

$22,392

Hawaii

$32,688

Oregon

$25,716

Idaho

$22,440

Pennsylvania

$23,820

Illinois

$25,140

Rhode Island

$25,560

Indiana

$22,164

South Carolina

$23,040

Iowa

$22,620

South Dakota

$22,884

Kansas

$23,052

Tennessee

$22,188

Kentucky

$21,684

Texas

$23,916

Louisiana

$22,548

Utah

$23,472

Maine

$24,912

Vermont

$29,340

Maryland

$30,480

Virginia

$26,376

Massachusetts

$33,048

Washington

$27,744

Michigan

$23,016

Washington, D.C.

$33,060

Minnesota

$24,576

West Virginia

$21,792

Mississippi

$22,344

Wisconsin

$23,184

Missouri

$22,092

Wyoming

$23,412

Montana

$23,040

   

Table Source: ScholarWorks at UMass Boston

Will you have enough to live where you'd like?

First and foremost, it's important to realize the average Social Security benefit won't give you enough to cover the basics in any U.S. state. The average benefit in 2020 is just $1,503 per month or $18,036 per year; even in the cheapest state, a single senior renter would need $21,504. So there would be a shortfall. 

That means no matter where you'll spend your senior years, you need some savings to provide income outside of what your retirement benefits provide. You can figure out how much by finding out your projected Social Security income (which can be found on your online account) and subtracting it from the elder index in your area.

So if you lived in Montana and expected to receive Social Security benefits of $1,300 a month or $15,600 annually, you'd subtract that amount from $23,040. Your savings would need to produce $7,440 in income. If you plan to follow the 4% rule, multiply that number by 25 to see you'd need a nest egg of at least $186,000. And that's just to cover the barest of necessities. If you want to travel or enjoy life, you'd likely need much more. 

Investing for your future ensures you can cover your costs

When your retirement nest egg is small, you may need to relocate to a lower cost-of-living area in retirement. But if you make sure to save and invest throughout your career, hopefully you'll have enough to cover the basics -- and then some -- in whatever area you want to call home. 

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
329%
 
S&P 500 Returns
106%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 09/26/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.