15 States Where It’s Difficult to Survive on a Social Security Check


The average monthly Social Security retirement benefit payment is $1,613.77. That’s not enough to get by in most parts of the country, but Social Security was never intended to be a retiree’s sole source of income. However, for many seniors, Social Security is just that, as it does not cover the cost of living in some states.


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You might be able to make ends meet in the lower-cost 35 states, but GOBankingRates identified 15 states that retirees can cross off their list if Social Security is their only source of income.

Here are the states where a Social Security check alone will not cover the bills, in order of best to worst.


State of New Hampshire

  • January 2022 cost-of-living index: 109.9 average one-bedroom rent: $1,209
  • The Laconia Daily Sun reported at the end of 2021 that it costs an average of $1,180,933 to retire in New Hampshire. Because of
  • New Hampshire’s high cost of living, this is $60,500 more than the average 65-year-old would spend.


  • In January 2022, the cost-of-living index is 127.1, and the average one-bedroom rent is $1,100.
  • The cost of living in remote, import-dependent Alaska is notoriously high. Housing, on the other hand, isn’t a major contributor.
  • According to Zillow, the average home value in the state is around $311,000, compared to nearly $326,000 nationally.



  • January 2022 cost-of-living index: 101.8 Average one-bedroom rent: $1,344
  • Although the state provides good tax benefits to retirees, Kiplinger reports that Virginia is generally an inhospitable place to try to stretch a Social Security check – but this depends on where you live. Northern Virginia, particularly D.C. Metro, drives the state’s average cost of living way up; instead, consider the Shenandoah Valley.



  • January 2022 average one-bedroom rent: $1,307 Cost-of-living index: 107.9
  • Tiny Delaware has long been a retirement haven due to its miles of beaches and proximity to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and
  • New York. It’s not a place you’d want to live on a fixed income, but the lack of a sales tax is just as appealing as all that coastline.



  • January 2022 cost-of-living index: 105.3 Average one-bedroom rent: $1,341
  • Housing is one of the most significant expenses for retirees and anyone else living in Colorado. The average home in the area now costs more than $545,000.



  • January 2022 average one-bedroom rent: $1,114 Cost-of-living index: 130.1
  • According to SoFi, the population of Oregon has increased by more than 10% in the last decade. However, the state still has fewer than 1.81 million housing units, which explains much of the state’s high cost of living.



  • January 2022 cost-of-living index: 100.3 Average one-bedroom rent: $1,434
  • For generations, Florida has been America’s premier retirement destination, but life there isn’t cheap. There are certainly less expensive places to retire, but not in America’s most sought-after beach destinations. In fact, retiring on the coasts of California or Hawaii will cost significantly more.



  • January 2022 cost-of-living index: 121.6 Average one-bedroom rent: $1,242
  • Everything costs more in Connecticut, which is consistently one of the most expensive states in the country. Groceries, transportation, and healthcare are all included, but housing and utilities are the real deal.



  • January 2022 cost-of-living index: 111.6 Average one-bedroom rent: $1,376
  • Utilities in Washington are significantly less expensive than in the rest of the country. However, retirees and anyone else who lives there will pay more than the national average in every other cost-of-living category.



  • In January 2022, the cost-of-living index is 124.0, and the average one-bedroom rent is $1,397.
  • Only a few states have higher housing prices than Maryland. Healthcare is significantly less expensive than the national average, but nothing else is.


Newark, New Jersey

  • January 2022 cost-of-living index: 115.2 Average one-bedroom rent: $1,490
  • Almost everything in New Jersey is more expensive than the national average, but the most dangerous hidden cost is the state’s notoriously high taxes, particularly property taxes. According to Bloomberg, residents of the state will pay nearly $1 million in taxes – $932,000 to be exact – over the course of their lives. That is more than any other state’s residents.



  • The cost-of-living index is 135.0.
  • The average one-bedroom rent in January 2022 is $1,385 USD.
  • Only four states have higher housing costs than the people who call Massachusetts home. Everything in the notoriously expensive New England state is more expensive than average, with groceries, healthcare, and miscellaneous expenses especially expensive.


New York City

  • January 2022 cost-of-living index: 148.2 average one-bedroom rent: $1,588
  • The cost of housing in New York is a whopping 230.1 on the cost-of-living index, with the national baseline set at 100.0. Healthcare is only slightly above average, and utilities are actually slightly below, but everything else in New York is more expensive.



  • California’s cost-of-living index is 142.2, and the average one-bedroom rent in January 2022 is $1,652.
  • California has earned a reputation as a high-cost, high-tax retirement haven, with a housing index above 200 and above-average costs in every major cost-of-living category. If you plan to retire solely on Social Security, the California dream will most likely remain just that.


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  • January 2022 cost-of-living index: 193.3 Average one-bedroom rent: $1,706
  • Hawaii, located in the Pacific Ocean between America’s West Coast and the Far East of Asia, imports everything it cannot grow or make on its own from afar. It is not cheap to retire in paradise. According to Zillow, the average home there now costs more than $800,000 dollars.
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