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Old 01-07-2013, 05:35 PM   #21
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I have an aunt who is 69. She lives on SS of $800-something/mo. and a part time job 12 hours/wk at $8/hr for about $300 more per month. So she lives on just over $1100/mo with no savings and no other assets other than a cheap car and cheap furnishings in her $300/mo apartment. She will get less than $10,000 when her 96y/o mother passes. Not much to live on and she has health issues that keep her from being able to work sometimes. Luckily her employer is very nice and keeps her around.

I have another aunt on the other side of the family in similar position except she has maybe $30,000 in home equity and will likely get around $50,000 or a little more for inheritance. Still not much.

Lots of people live like the above examples. If you're married and have 2 SS checks then you should be fine but if you're single and weren't a big earner then you'll be finding a way to live on <$1500/mo.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:39 PM   #22
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I've lived in State College and Syracuse years ago. Now I'm in an area similar to Mt Pleasant MI. I agree my cost of living has been reasonable, which has helped with the pursuit of FIRE.
I also lived outside of Decatur IL but that was taking it too far.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:41 PM   #23
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Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Gainesville, Omaha and Eau Claire.
Ouch.

Well, I guess when you're seeking a safety net you're not too concerned about the quality of the material.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:46 PM   #24
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I project that SS will take care of a large portion of our expenses when I start claiming and close to 100% when my wife claims the spousal portion a few years later (in addition to a very small pension). Of course that's assuming nothing changes between now and 2036. I can survive up to a 33% cut in SS benefits before I need to think about working longer.
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:06 PM   #25
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Ouch.

Well, I guess when you're seeking a safety net you're not too concerned about the quality of the material.
The list of the 5 places from Yahoo is not worse than the list of the 10 places from US News and World Report.
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:13 PM   #26
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The list of the 5 places from Yahoo is not worse than the list of the 10 places from US News and World Report.
The Yahoo list, all written on a single web page, is better just because you don't have to hit "next" 11 times to see 10 cities in a slide show like in the money/usnews link.
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:49 PM   #27
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5 Places to Retire on Social Security Alone - Yahoo! Finance

Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Gainesville, Omaha and Eau Claire.
I just looked at that article, and saw the following excerpt. Note that the bold-faced word was mine.
It’s sometimes hard to imagine life in retirement, but picture living on Social Security alone. Assume all you earn is $2,500 a month, the maximum check a worker currently receives at full retirement age from Social Security. Where can you comfortably pay taxes, afford housing and still have some left over to actually enjoy retirement?
That income of $2,5000/month is $30K/year. My mother, a widow, lives very well on that, or even less. Her SS is not that amount, but she also has a small pension, plus a supplement from her IRA. The key is that she owns a relatively new, small but comfortable home (too big for her actually, after my father passed away), which is worth perhaps $200K.

What does my mother spend $2,500/month on? She pays utility bills, buys some food, pays for Medicare supplement, goes to her hair dresser twice a month, puts a bit of gas in her paid-for car, and faces an occasional big dental bill. That's it! Oh, she buys quite a bit of clothes actually, and all the bedroom closets are overflowing!

Once a retiree owns her place, that $30K/yr lets her live in many places in the country. It should not be a big deal with that income.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:20 PM   #28
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What I currently pay in HOA/maintenance fees will rent or even pay the mortgage on a decent to nice apartment/house in several of these cities. Building on what NW-Bound points out, if you can cover your housing, you can pretty well "fake" everything else. Spend a little more here and a lot less there, and you have it. But, housing can be an ER killer if you are planning to live on 30K/year IMO. Probably the only other wild card is health insurance/medical costs. YMMV
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:25 PM   #29
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The list of the 5 places from Yahoo is not worse than the list of the 10 places from US News and World Report.
Sorry, I grew up in "Someplace Special".

But I suppose San Antonio out of five isn't too bad.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:28 PM   #30
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But, housing can be an ER killer if you are planning to live on 30K/year IMO. Probably the only other wild card is health insurance/medical costs. YMMV
These conversations can get a little pointless, if you don't mind me saying. Sure, housing can be an ER killer, if you're spending more on housing than you can afford. It depends what your expectations are, and if you're prepared to live within your means.

30K/yr might not be enough to live to a particular given standard, but there are many parts of the country in which you can put a decent roof over your head (even if you don't own a home), and buy groceries, transport and even a little entertainment for that kind of income.

If you want to live a 40K lifestyle however, then you're going to have problems........
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:29 PM   #31
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I don't plan to do this (which is why I invest), but I have heard more and more people discuss this. Perhaps you know (as I do) some people who have said they will never be able to retire.

Just curious if you know people who do this currently or plan to.
I'm budgeting to only spend SS type pensions after age 65. Even though I only have 17 years of US SS I will also qualify for the UK equivalent of SS. I project that in future dollars and after WEP the two checks will total $4k a month which should cover my projected spending given 3% annual inflation; I have no mortgage or other debt and as soon as you eliminate those your budget can really shrink. I live in Boston so not especially inexpensive, but I have worked to minimize my post retirement budget.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:38 PM   #32
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I just looked at that article, and saw the following excerpt. Note that the bold-faced word was mine.
It’s sometimes hard to imagine life in retirement, but picture living on Social Security alone. Assume all you earn is $2,500 a month, the maximum check a worker currently receives at full retirement age from Social Security. Where can you comfortably pay taxes, afford housing and still have some left over to actually enjoy retirement?
That income of $2,5000/month is $30K/year. My mother, a widow, lives very well on that, or even less. Her SS is not that amount, but she also has a small pension, plus a supplement from her IRA. The key is that she owns a relatively new, small but comfortable home (too big for her actually, after my father passed away), which is worth perhaps $200K.

What does my mother spend $2,500/month on? She pays utility bills, buys some food, pays for Medicare supplement, goes to her hair dresser twice a month, puts a bit of gas in her paid-for car, and faces an occasional big dental bill. That's it! Oh, she buys quite a bit of clothes actually, and all the bedroom closets are overflowing!

Once a retiree owns her place, that $30K/yr lets her live in many places in the country. It should not be a big deal with that income.
A $200K home in San Antonio would require close to $5K a year in property taxes after exemptions.

Utilities, insurance, food - another $10K-$12K a year.

I supposed it's possible but it doesn't leave much room for anything else.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:52 PM   #33
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My daughter's family lives in a rural texas town with a small college. I have no doubt you could have lived there for that until their recent oil boom. Now housing is at a premium.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:08 PM   #34
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We live in Bellingham, WA, where I expect we will stay for a while. By the time we repatriate, the house will be paid for. In extremis, we can sell and move out to the county and live for super cheap if needed. It is a small town in a low-population county; everything will still be close. We will be able to live on SS and still save money. Investments will be gravy.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:09 PM   #35
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A $200K home in San Antonio would require close to $5K a year in property taxes after exemptions.

Utilities, insurance, food - another $10K-$12K a year.

I supposed it's possible but it doesn't leave much room for anything else.
That still leaves $15K+/year. For an elderly person like my mother who does not travel much, nor into electronic toys, etc..., it is enough.

And by the way, the RE tax here for her home is less than $2K/yr, but then of course we have sales taxes. Bad one too, at more than 9%.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:12 PM   #36
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my Mother lived on $700/month SS plus another $700/month from my sisters and me in a small college town in TN. She managed to save up for things she wanted, clothes, furniture, etc.. This was from 1994 to 2006 when she passed away.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:23 PM   #37
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There are folks here who spend very little, within the range of SS benefits, but they have (significant) other assets.
I was pleasantly surprised when I started looking at my SS statements. Between the two of us, it's probably good for 30k+ a year which will cover a huge chunk of expenses.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:42 PM   #38
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Ouch.

Well, I guess when you're seeking a safety net you're not too concerned about the quality of the material.
For some people, the best place to be is where their family and friends are. The metrics that are used to measure these places for articles are not always the same ones that individuals use to decide where they really want to be.

I know you were saying that in jest (I think you were) and this may have a lot to do with the way I see the world, but I think that happiness and fulfillment are determined by many more factors than merely where a person happens to be.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:17 PM   #39
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Ouch.

Well, I guess when you're seeking a safety net you're not too concerned about the quality of the material.
San Antonio is a nice town (if you can tolerate the heat). My youngest went to CMU and I was shocked how much Pittsburgh had refashioned itself; the suburbs around campus were great.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:30 PM   #40
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Marketwatch has a series on each states retirement highlights

Retire Here, Not There - Where to Retire - MarketWatch.com
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