About 21% of elderly couples and about 45% of single seniors rely on their Social Security benefit checks for 90% or more of their income, the Social Security Administration says.
Pensioners and retirees who plan to live on such limited incomes could do worse than move to one of the following 10 counties where Social Security checks stretch the furthest, according to an analysis by the website SmartAsset.
SmartAsset calculates how far such income would go in each county to cover basic necessities, minus the county-wide cost of typical living expenses from net Social Security income. The results were then indexed to 100, with higher numbers representing where Social Security goes the furthest.
Keep reading to see which counties top the SmartAsset list, starting at number 10 and progressing to the most expensive county for Social Security recipients.
10. Steele County, North Dakota
Index rating: 88.62 out of 100
Typical annual cost of living: $19135
Average annual income from Social Security: $23,679
For those seeking a rustic lifestyle, Steel County, North Dakota may be an ideal choice. About an hour northwest of Fargo, the county reports as a primarily agricultural community but also promotes entrepreneurship, which may make it attractive to retirees hoping to start their own businesses.
Fishing and golf are two popular activities in the county. Meanwhile, Golden Lake is home to a seasonal resort that RV campers are popular for.
9. Bremer County, Iowa
Index rating: 88.71 out of 100
Typical annual cost of living: $18,214
Average annual income from Social Security: $22,560
Bremer County is located in the northeastern part of Iowa, and includes several small towns. Retirees will find most activities in Waverley County.
Waverley says it’s ranked as one of the best places to live in Iowa, and its amenities include a community pool, civic center, and golf course.
8. Stanton County, Kansas
Index rating: 89.53 out of 100
Typical annual cost of living: $19,357
Average annual income from Social Security: $23,912
Stanton County can be found in the southwestern part of Kansas, along the Colorado border. Organized in 1887, some of the first settlers were Civil War veterans.
Retirees who move here will find a healthy lifestyle, a rich cultural history, and a commitment to environmental conservation, according to the county’s website. Stanton County is also home to a golf course, hospital, library, and museum.
7. Rich County, Utah
Index rating: 90.05 out of 100
Typical annual cost of living: 19801 dollars
Average annual income from Social Security: $25,289
Retirees can get away from civilization in Rich County, Utah. The sparsely populated county has a population of less than 2,500, according to 2019 Census Bureau data.
Despite its small size, Rich County has a Seniors Center in Randolph that includes a library, quilting area, exercise equipment, and free Internet access. Meals for seniors are also served on site or by home delivery three days a week.
6. Wahkiakum County, Washington
Index rating: 90.90 out of 100
Typical annual cost of living: 18,200 dollars
Average annual income from Social Security: 23,103 dollars
A common theme among places where Social Security goes the furthest is that the most inexpensive counties are rural counties. Wahkiakum County, in Washington state, is among them. It is the second smallest county in the state by population.
Wahkiakum County makes up for what it lacks in terms of population, with beautiful settings, particularly in its communities along the Columbia River.
5. Custer County, Colorado
Index rating: 92.35
Typical annual cost of living: 19,137 dollars
Average annual income from Social Security: 25.010 dollars
You’ll find beautiful scenery and a few neighbors in Custer County, Colorado. The county seat towns of Silver Cliff and Westcliff are known for their star-dark night skies and mountain vistas.
This area in south-central Colorado is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
4. Custer County, Idaho
Index rating: 92.80 out of 100
Typical annual cost of living: $18,495
Average annual income from Social Security: $23,879
Custer County in Idaho proclaims, “We are what America once was.” Founded in 1881, the county is historic and scenic, and includes the remote Salmon-Challis National Forest, which includes part of the largest federally protected wilderness area south of Alaska.
Retirees looking for peace and quiet are most likely to find it in Custer County. Only about 4,400 people live in this area of central Idaho, and its largest city – Chalice – is home to just over 1,000 people.
3. Sumter County, Florida
Index rating: 95.05
Typical annual cost of living: $19,862
Average annual income from Social Security: $25,818
The only Florida entrance on this list, Sumter County, is about an hour’s drive west of Orlando.
It has several communities, including The Villages, a retirement complex best known for being home to many active retirees.
2. Story County, Nevada
Index rating: 98.09 out of 100
Typical annual cost of living: 19,731 dollars
Average annual income from Social Security: 26,458 dollars
Storey County, located in the high desert mountain ranges of western Nevada, provides a beautiful, inexpensive setting for retirement living. The area’s rich Old West history includes a Virginia gold and silver rush sparked by a record strike in 1859, although things have settled a bit since then.
If you crave bright lights and a faster life, then visit nearby Reno, with its casinos and ski resorts.
1. Daggett County, Utah
Index rating: 100 out of 100
Typical annual cost of living: $18,210
Average annual income from Social Security: $26272
The most affordable county for Social Security recipients can be found in a corner of Utah, along the Colorado and Wyoming border. It is a rugged part of the country that will appeal to those who want to live in a picturesque place away from the crowds.
Manila and Dutch John are two cities in Dagit County, Manila maintains a Seniors Center which provides regular meals and organizes a monthly excursion for seniors.
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