Based on the latest Social Security Administration data, the average monthly Social Security check for an individual is $1,618.29. For a couple that would be $3,236.58.
That’s not too bad, especially if it comes along with other sources of income such as pensions, 401(k), or IRA. If you rely exclusively on Social Security checks, you’ll have to choose your retirement place wisely to stretch those dollars as far as possible — especially while living on the notoriously pricey West Coast, which included Alaska for the sake of this study.
However, when it comes to couples living on the West Coast on just their combined Social Security checks, there are actually some affordable cities that make it possible. By using cost-of-living statistics from Sperling’s Best Places, GOBankingRates highlighted those places, and we decided to share them with you.
This list also spotlights ApartmentList information on the average one-bedroom apartment rent, as well as AreaVibes data on each city’s livability score.
Therefore, each city has received a combined score based on a summation of all those indicators, those with lower scores being highly recommended.
Are you curious to find them out? Here’s a list of the 13 best places (Nr. 13 REALLY surprised me!) on the West Coast for couples to live on just a Social Security check!
1. Vallejo, California
- Average 1-bedroom rent (2022): $1,607
This waterfront city holds many historical, cultural, and art-related attractions. Its mild climate and relatively low housing costs create the perfect occasion for those who are looking for a house close to the water. Not to mention that Vallejo has a farmers’ market open on Saturdays throughout the year where you can find fresh vegetables, fruits, and local goods.
Vallejo’s livability score is 56 — calculated by algorithms that evaluate lots of variables such as proximity to school, amenities and crime. Its cost-of-living index is higher than the national average — 131.3 compared with 100 of the latter. The average one-bedroom apartment will cost you around $1,607 a month, which is the highest rent on this list.
2. Riverside, California
- Average 1-bedroom rent (2022): $1,508
Riverside seems to be the perfect place for those folks who love both the beach and the mountains. Living there is not as expensive as in other West Coast cities, so retired couples who rely solely on Social Security checks can find affordable rent for sure.
Riverside has a cost-of-living index of 133.1 which is higher than Vallejo’s and about one-third above the national average. The city’s livability score is quite low — 59 — as a result of its relatively high number of reported crimes.
When it comes to housing costs, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment reaches $1,508, making it one of the top three highest rents on the list. It’s not that bad given that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco reaches about $3000.
- Average 1-bedroom rent (2022): 1,596
Its proximity to nature contributes to Seattle’s vibe: one of patience and calm. That sounds like the place to be for retired couples, doesn’t it?
But before actually relocating here, there are some things you should be aware of. First of all, Seattle is indeed a pricey city, and its average one-bedroom rent hits 1,596. This is one of the main reasons why Seattle’s cost-of-living index is 172.3 — the highest in this ranking, by far — which indicates that the living expenses are 72.3% higher than the national average.
Still, if you compare Seattle with the most expensive West Coast cities, you’ll see it’s pretty affordable for those retired couples who live on just a Social Security check.
Overall, Seattle’s livability score is an unimpressive 65 due to the high cost of living and high crime rates.
4. Sacramento, California
- Average 1-bedroom rent (2022): $1,432
Sacramento, the capital city of California, tends to be overlooked by other West Coast cities, that’s why we want to give it the credit it deserves. It is definitely a clean, well-maintained city, surrounded by picturesque mountains and inhabited by friendly neighbors.
Sacramento’s below-average livability score is 62, mostly because of its relatively high prices and crime statistics. The cost-of-living index reaches 118.2, with nearly 20% costlier than the national average.
If you and your spouse decide to relocate there, you should expect to pay $1,432 for a one-bedroom apartment. Compared with other pricey West Coast cities, this sounds like a reasonable rent price, especially for those couples who live on only a Social Security check.
5. Anchorage, Alaska
- Average 1-bedroom rent (2022): $1,176
You’ve probably heard that Anchorage has some amazing, beautiful mountain views. But did you know that there are also some of the lowest property taxes in the US there? It’s quite favorable compared with other West Coast cities, especially for those who live solely on Social Security checks.
Still, even by Alaska standards, real estate prices and crime in Anchorage are high, leading to the city’s gloomy livability score of 60. Despite the fact that the average one-bedroom apartment there costs $1,176 a month — being one of the least costly in this ranking — Anchorage residents still face a high cost-of-living index of 123.5.
6. Napa, California
- Average 1-bedroom rent (2022): $1,522
Napa, known for its famous, gorgeous vineyards, holds a cost-of-living index that is as high as its wine prices — 162.1, second to Seattle. That can only mean one thing: living in Napa is quite pricey. It’s one of only four places of the bunch where for the average one-bedroom apartment you’ll have to pay more than $1,500. When it comes to quality of life, Napa has a livability score of 70 — right in the middle of this list.
7. Portland, Oregon
- Average 1-bedroom rent (2022): $1,344
Caring for the environment is crucial nowadays. If you’re used to protecting and enhancing the natural environment by recycling, reducing waste, and not using plastic bags, there’s a good chance you may love seeing green spaces in the city you live in.
Well, Portland has more than 297 city parks, being one of the most eco-friendly cities in the whole country. Being environmentally conscious is a big deal there, that’s why grocery stores in Portland will never offer you plastic bags.
Now, let’s see if a retired couple who lives on only Social Security checks should relocate here.
Portland’s cost of living is 30.8% above the national average. It has a $1,344 average rent, making it one of only five places on the ranking where a one-bedroom apartment costs less than $1,400. However, its very high crime rate leads to a drab livability score of 65.
8. Fresno, California
- Average 1-bedroom rent (2022): $1,025
If you and your spouse are looking for affordable rent in a West Coast city, here it is! Relocating to Fresno might be a good idea for retired couples who rely exclusively on Social Security checks.
Only two cities on this ranking are less pricey than Fresno, which has a forgiving cost-of-living index of 102.6. If you consider moving to Fresno, you’ll have to shell out $1,025 monthly for an average one-bedroom apartment. Cheaper rents are in just three other cities on this list. Sadly, high crime contributes to a livability score of 58.
…Keep reading to find other West Coast cities to live on just a Social Security check!
9. Bremerton, Washington
- Average 1-bedroom rent (2022): $1,440
If you and your spouse would rather live your golden years in a less crowded city with more space than in a more densely populated city, then Bremerton might be a good idea! Especially when both of you only receive Social Security checks as retirement income.
Bremerton’s average livability score is 70 (compared with San Diego, for instance, which has a low livability score of 53). It’s definitely one of the most affordable places on this list, having an average rent of $1,440 for a one-bedroom apartment and a cost-of-living index of 108.9.
10. Spokane, Washington
- Average 1-bedroom rent (2022): $947
With its many lakes and stable weather, Spokane makes a perfect option for folks who are looking for a stress-free life after retirement. Furthermore, its low cost of living may be a major quality for retired couples who live on just Social Security checks.
Having an impressive cost-of-living index of 92.3, Spokane turns out to be the cheapest city on this ranking to live in if you compare it with the national average. Although the city’s pitiful livability score of 67 leaves much to be desired, it has a $947 monthly rent which makes it the second least expensive city to rent an apartment.
11. Olympia, Washington
- Average 1-bedroom rent (2022): $1,436
The capital city of Washington is a wonderful place because it’s basically in the middle of everything. Want the mountains? They are not far away to the north and east, while the ocean sits to the west. Many folks consider relocating from another West Coast city to Olympia mainly because it holds lower costs of living.
This might sound tempting to those retired couples who live on solely Social Security checks. Now let’s see some numbers.
Olympia’s cost-of-living index is 106.1, which places it towards the bottom of this list. Also, it has a livability score of 74 — the greatest of any city highlighted here — and a $1,436 average monthly rent.
12. Salem, Oregon
- Average 1-bedroom apartment (2022): $979
Salem has a 101.8 cost-of-living index, which makes it the least pricey city to live in on this ranking except for Spokane. It is also one of just three cities with an average rent price below $1,000, a one-bedroom apartment going for just $979 a month. Despite its low livability score of 69, Salem seems to be a great place for retirees who rely on just Social Security checks.
Are you ready to find out the No. 1 least expensive West Coast city to rent an apartment? Those retirees who live on just Social Security checks would want to know about it!
13. Eugene, Oregon
- Average 1-bedroom apartment (2022): $928
Those retired couples who struggle with high rent prices while living on just Social Security checks can rest because the West Coast doesn’t always have to be extremely expensive.
Eugene’s cost-of-living index is 105.3, being even more affordable than Bremerton. The main reason for that is its low rent price — more, precisely, $928 a month, making it the cheapest in the entire ranking. So, what do you say about a three-figure monthly rent?
Still, Eugene holds a livability score of 65, partially because of its high crime rate. Keep that in mind when considering relocating.
If you still haven’t found the best city to relocate to after retirement, here are the 10 Best Places in the Midwest To Live on JUST a Social Security Check!