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Retire on $100 a Day

Here’s a new twist on the tired “ten best places to retire” formula: “The 10 Best Places to Live on $100 a Day,” courtesy of AARP The Magazine.

“Because of the economy, everyone is very much concerned about how much they can buy with their money,” says Gabrielle Redford, editorial projects manager for AARP The Magazine.

Ms. Redford says the project started by assuming retirees would spend no more than $100 per day, or $36,500 a year. From that sum, they deducted 25% in income taxes, leaving after-tax spending of $27,375. The editors assumed one-third of that sum, or $9033, would go towards housing–or, more specifically, a mortgage and property taxes.

The goal: To identify 10 locations where, for $9033 a month, you can buy a median-priced home and cover property taxes. “We also were looking for a good climate, the presence of colleges and universities, which tend to add cultural amenities, and good medical services,” says Ms. Redford. Other items on the magazine’s wish list: a nearby airport, hiking and biking trails, and some mass transit.

“We also considered the local economy. We didn’t want to say this is a great place to live if there was a high foreclosure rate because then you have other problems in the community,” added Ms. Redford, who sought a geographically diverse group.

What made the cut?

  1. Spokane, Washington
  2. Las Cruces, New Mexico
  3. Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  4. Roanoke, Virginia
  5. Morgantown, West Virginia
  6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  7. San Antonio, Texas
  8. Omaha, Nebraska
  9. Grand Junction, Colorado
  10. Gainesville, Florida

Ms. Redford says some states exempt Social Security and/or pensions from income taxation. For example, Virginia does not tax Social Security. Wisconsin, Washington, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Florida do not tax pensions.

“If you happen to be looking to move in retirement, that’s one thing you should definitely look into,” she says. “It can make a huge difference.”

Also see: Retire Here, Not There: State by State


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    • We will be at a little more than that after saving our buns off and investing wisely through booms and busts. And I am still working at 67 while deferrring Social Security. We want two mortgages in retirement, one in the south and one north. Rates are at all time lows and they are paying borrowers to take money, after accounting for taxes and inflation. Much of our nest egg is in taxable retirement accounts, so two mortgages and two real estate tax bills allow us to get a lot more out without payIng that dreaded 25% federal tax.

    • $9000/month?? Hog Heaven!

    • 25% taxes on $36,500?? Is the author NUTS? Federal taxes on $36,500 is only $1,470 or a fraction over 4% if you are both over 65 and claim standard deduction. No state income taxes in Washington state. I am retired in Spokane and I do easily live on $100 a day, but I already own my home outright. I actually spend closer to $25K a year, so I guess I could then afford to pay up to $11,500 a year on rent or mortgage payments, and that is very doable here. 2 bedroom apartments can be had for $950/mo. or less.

    • I live in Spokane and would move in a heart beat if I could. It costs more than 100$ a day unless you want to live in Hillyard or Felon-flats
      - heating bills are sky high and the crime is high was well. Avg home is well over 200k , for a decent low crime area – plus property tax….jobs are so hard to find, and pay very low if you do find one. I would love to see what statistics or resoucrse they used to call these place ” ideal ” ……

    • Error-Wisconsin does tax pensions, does not tax Social Security

About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.