Top 10 Cities for Frugal Retirees

Written By:

shutterstock_128072579

shutterstock_128072579This is an article from our partner site Money Rates, written by Ollie Geiger.

For some, frugality isn’t a lark. It’s a lifestyle.

If you’re one of these people, you may approach retirement a little differently than the rest. Instead of retiring to a place marked by lush beaches or a sparkling nightlife, you may instead choose a city that allows you to stretch your savings as far as possible — and maybe even leave something extra to a spendthrift heir or two.

[Check Your Credit: Don’t Guess. Know.® Get your free credit report and score. No credit card required.

These rankings emerged by taking the U.S. metropolitan areas with the lowest costs of living (according to 2012 data from C2ER) and removing the cities that also appear on NeighborhoodScout’s list of the 100 Most Dangerous Cities in America. After all, even frugal retirees may be willing to spend a little extra to avoid those places. (Sorry, Memphis, Tenn., and Springfield, Ill.)

This cost of living data doesn’t reflect every expense retirees may face, so data on property, sales and state income taxes from Tax-Rates.org are also listed. And while home prices are included in the cost of living data, the area’s median home prices from NeighborhoodScout appear for additional clarity.

No. 10: Youngstown-Warren, Ohio

  • Cost of living: 88.2 percent of the national average
  • Median home value (Youngstown): $44,813
  • Average state income tax rate in Ohio: 3.42 percent
  • Average property tax rate in Ohio: 1.36 percent
  • State sales tax rate in Ohio: 5.5 percent

Youngstown-Warren hit hard times after the U.S. steel industry collapsed in the 1970s, shrinking the city’s population by more than 60 percent over several decades. But the city is trying to revive its economy today through projects such as the Youngstown Business Incubator, a downtown space that aims to foster growth and collaboration among technology start-ups. On the cultural side, art enthusiasts may appreciate the Butler Institute of American Art and the McDonough Museum of Art, which stand across the street from each other on the Youngstown State University campus.

No. 9: Idaho Falls, Idaho

  • Cost of living: 88 percent of the national average
  • Median home value: $127,626
  • Average state income tax rate in Idaho: 5.38 percent
  • Average property tax rate in Idaho: 0.69 percent
  • State sales tax rate in Idaho: 6 percent

As the state’s second-largest city behind Boise, Idaho Falls is a hub for both eastern Idaho and western Wyoming. The low cost of living and relatively low crime rates in Idaho Falls have earned it appearances on several other “best of” lists, and its recreational and cultural attractions include the Museum of Idaho, the Tautphaus Park Zoo and the Colonial Theater. The city’s Greenbelt offers joggers, cyclists and pedestrians a six-mile paved path along the Snake River.

No. 8: Conway, Ark.

  • Cost of living: 87.9 percent of the national average
  • Median home value: $141,170
  • Average state income tax rate in Arkansas: 4.08 percent
  • Average property tax rate in Arkansas: 0.52 percent
  • State sales tax rate in Arkansas: 6 percent

Nicknamed “The City of Colleges,” Conway hosts three post-secondary schools: Central Baptist College, Hendrix College and the University of Central Arkansas. For culture, Conway boasts the Conway Symphony Orchestra and the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, the latter of which holds an annual festival each June. On the downside, Conway’s violent and property crime rates are above the national medians.

No. 7: San Marcos, Texas

  • Cost of living: 87.6 percent of the national average
  • Median home value: $121,772
  • Average state income tax rate in Texas: No state income tax
  • Average property tax rate in Texas: 1.81 percent
  • State sales tax rate in Texas: 6.25 percent

As the fastest-growing U.S. city of more than 50,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the frugal appeal of San Marcos is heightened by the lack of a state income tax in Texas. San Marcos is home to an abundance of college students (Texas State University is based in San Marcos) and an overwhelmingly white-collar workforce, which comprises more than 85 percent of the area’s workers.

No. 6: Pueblo, Colo.

  • Cost of living: 87.1 percent of the national average
  • Median home value: $105,703
  • Average state income tax rate in Colorado: 4.63 percent
  • Average property tax rate in Colorado: 0.6 percent
  • State sales tax rate in Colorado: 2.9 percent

As part of southern Colorado’s high desert, Pueblo’s winters are milder than many of the other large cities in the state. Pueblo hosts the Colorado State Fair each year, which features a rodeo and major concerts (The Oak Ridge Boys and Lynyrd Skynyrd visited in 2013). If Pueblo’s name sounds oddly familiar, it could be because it hosts the Federal Citizen Information Center, which for more than 30 years has produced public service announcements that invite citizens to write for information to “Pueblo, Colorado, 81009.”

No. 5: Wichita Falls, Texas

  • Cost of living: 86.4 percent of the national average
  • Median home value: $87,273
  • Average state income tax rate in Texas: No state income tax
  • Average property tax rate in Texas: 1.81 percent
  • State sales tax rate in Texas: 6.25 percent

As the home of Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls has strong links to the U.S. military, with nearly 10 percent of the city’s population of 103,931 employed in the armed forces. Only retirees who favor a warm climate should consider Wichita Falls — on average, the temperature reaches or exceeds 90 degrees about 100 days of each year, and days in excess of 100 degrees have occurred as early as March and as late as October.

No. 4. Fayetteville, Ark.

  • Cost of living: 86.0 percent of the national average
  • Median home value: $161,824
  • Average state income tax rate in Arkansas: 4.08 percent
  • Average property tax rate in Arkansas: 0.52 percent
  • State sales tax rate in Arkansas: 6 percent

Fayetteville is a college town, hosting the University of Arkansas, the state’s largest university and home of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Perhaps not surprisingly, about 44 percent of Fayetteville’s residents have at least a bachelor’s degree — roughly twice the national average. The climate in Fayetteville is generally mild, and grilled-food enthusiasts may want to note the city’s No. 8 placing on Livability’s 2012 list of the best cities for barbecue.

No. 3. Norman, Okla.

  • Cost of living: 85.6 percent of the national average
  • Median home value: $143,316
  • Average state income tax in Oklahoma: 3 percent
  • Average property tax rate in Oklahoma: 0.74 percent
  • State sales tax rate in Oklahoma: 4.5 percent

As yet another college city — Norman is home to the University of Oklahoma, which has more than 30,000 students and more than 2,700 full-time faculty members — much of Norman’s population is involved in post-secondary education. While Norman’s violent crime rate is below the national median, other dangers definitely exist: The city resides in Tornado Alley, the most tornado-prone area in the U.S.

No. 2: McAllen, Texas

  • Cost of living: 85.4 percent of the national average
  • Median home value: $97,420
  • Average state income tax rate in Texas: No state income tax
  • Average property tax rate in Texas: 1.81 percent
  • State sales tax rate in Texas: 6.25 percent

While McAllen’s cost of living is low, its poverty rate is high. In fact, it was the highest in the nation for metro areas in 2011, reaching 37.7 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. McAllen is just across the Rio Grande River from the Mexican city of Reynosa, making cross-border commerce a prominent feature of McAllen’s economy. McAllen’s property crime rate is above the U.S. median, but its violent crime rate is only about one-half of the national figure.

No. 1: Harlingen, Texas

  • Cost of living: 81.8 percent of the national average
  • Median home value: $73,270
  • Average state income tax rate in Texas: No state income tax
  • Average property tax rate in Texas: 1.81 percent
  • State sales tax rate in Texas: 6.25 percent

With a cost of living roughly four-fifths of the nation’s average — as well as no state income tax — Harlingen sits firmly atop this list of low-cost cities. Located about 35 miles from McAllen, Harlingen also struggles with a high poverty rate, and its violent and property crime rates are above the national medians. But its attractions include the World Birding Center — this part of Texas enjoys a unique variety of feathered wildlife — as well as the

[Check Your Credit: Don’t Guess. Know.® Get your free credit report and score. No credit card required.

 

Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum and the Harlingen Performing Arts Theatre.

Related articles: