US cities where Social Security benefits afford a comfortable lifestyle: report

Economic growth will help save Social Security: Rep. Reed

Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) discusses how growing the U.S. economy will help save Social Security.

Americans are having trouble saving for retirement and many may end up relying solely on Social Security benefits.

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Though it's not ideal, on average, about half of Americans are on track to experience a potential shortfall covering essential expenses in retirement, according to Fidelity Investments. Meanwhile, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recently released a survey that estimated 48 percent of people age 55 and older in 2016 had no retirement savings at all.

Relying on Social Security benefits alone won’t leave retirees with much to live on, however. In 2017, an average retired worker reportedly received nearly $1,400 per month in Social Security benefits. That number fluctuates based on a person's status (i.e. a disabled employee, widow or widower, etc.).

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However, there are places in the U.S. that are affordable. Moving to a cheaper location is one way to make Social Security checks last a little longer, particularly if you live in one of the 13 states where Social Security benefits are taxed.

If Social Security benefits are all you’re relying on in your retirement, here are four U.S. cities where you can live comfortably on $1,400, according to The Motley Fool.

Palm Bay, Fla.

Florida is one of the most tax-friendly states for retirees.

The Sunshine State has "no state income tax, which means Social Security retirement benefits, pension income and income from an IRA or a 401(k) are all untaxed," SmartAsset points out on its website.

In Palm Bay — just over an hour’s drive southeast of Orlando — the average rent for an apartment is $1,036, according to RentCafe. According to the site, the average apartment size is 939 square feet.

Brownsville, Texas

Though Texas has some of the highest sales tax and property tax of any state, according to SmartAsset, it doesn’t have any state income tax. That means Social Security benefits and other kinds of retirement income are tax-free.

In the coastal city of Brownsville, the average apartment size is 864 square feet and the average rent is $698 a month, according to RentCafe. The city is right on the border of Mexico and about a two-and-a-half hour drive to Corpus Christi and a four-hour drive to San Antonio.

Sun City, Ariz.

Sun City, according to The Motley Fool, is a planned retirement community at the size of about 20 square miles, only 30 minutes outside of Phoenix.

Average rent in Sun City is a bit high — at $1,118 a month — but the average apartment size is also a bit larger, at 1,145 square feet, according to RentCafe.

The Motley Fool also reported that the city offers a variety of free and low-cost activities to keep you busy.

Spokane, Wash.

Washington is another state where income isn’t taxed, so Social Security benefits and other retirement income are tax-free, according to SmartAsset.

The average rent in the city is $970 a month, with an average apartment size at 836 square feet, according to RentCafe.

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Other affordable cities for retirees living on Social Security benefits alone include Wichita Falls, Texas (at $874 a month median rent), Muncie, Ind. (at $758 a month median rent), Lawton, Okla. (at $694 a month median rent) and Terre Haute, Ind. (at $711 a month median rent), according to GoBankingRates.com.

Fox Business’ Jennifer Earl and Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.