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Ranked: Most Affordable Areas for Empty Nesters to Buy Homes

a bunch of hundred dollar bills in the shape of a house

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Housing affordability reached a 40-year low last year, making it harder for empty nesters to find inexpensive places to live. Thankfully, there are still some places across the country where you can find affordable housing; you just need to know where to look.

Here are a few locations that give empty nesters plenty of activities while offering lower-than-average housing and healthcare costs.

1. Youngstown, Ohio

Housing costs: 35% below the national average

Retirees looking for affordable housing and inexpensive healthcare costs will have difficulty beating Youngstown, Ohio. Located right between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, Youngstown’s median monthly mortgage cost is just $653, and healthcare costs are 25% below the national average.

Golfers will appreciate the city’s two Donald Ross courses at the Mill Creek Golf Course. If golfing isn’t your thing, an 11-mile MetroParks Bikeway offers a paved trail for hikers and bicyclists. There are also several award-winning local wineries just outside the city.

2. Jonesboro, Arkansas

Housing costs: 29% below the national average

The home of Arkansas State University is also a great place for empty nesters looking for outdoor activities. Located in the Jonesboro and Delta regions, the city boasts beautiful waterways and nearby Craighead Forest Park is ideal for hiking and biking.

In addition to its low cost of living, empty nesters will love that healthcare costs in the city are 20% below the national average, making Jonesboro a great place to retire.

3. Brownsville, Texas

Housing costs: 29% below the national average

Brownsville, Texas, packs plenty of big adventures into a medium-sized city. Brownsville sits along the border of the Rio Grande river and near the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, offering residents plenty of outdoor recreation, including trails and bike paths that connect communities.

With beautiful beaches and an active birding community, retirees are bound to find something they love in Brownsville. Space enthusiasts will love that SpaceX’s launch site is fewer than 10 miles outside the city limits. Retirees will also appreciate that the city’s healthcare expenses are 11% below the national average.

4. Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Housing costs: 24% below the national average

College football fans don’t need an introduction to the home of the University of Alabama. But for the uninitiated, Tuscaloosa boasts a walkable downtown steeped in history and located along the Black Warrior River.

Empty nesters can stroll through the beautiful University of Alabama Arboretum or shop the city’s river market while enjoying Tuscaloosa’s low healthcare costs, which are 19% below the national average, and average monthly mortgage costs of $955.

5. Lynchburg, Virginia

Housing costs: 22% below the national average

Lynchburg, Virginia, is an excellent location for retirees who love the mountains and the city. Located along the James River, Lynchburg is just a short drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains and near the Appalachian Trail. The city boasts 40 miles of urban trails for those who want to stick closer to town and enjoy its thriving riverfront.

Retirees will love that housing costs are far below the national average and that healthcare costs are 1% lower. You’ll also spend less at the supermarket, with grocery costs 10% lower than the average.

How to save on housing costs no matter where you live

Sticking to a budget is more critical than ever when living on a fixed income. However, many people don’t need to move to a new city to find more affordable housing.

You might be able to stay where you are simply by moving into a smaller home. Homeowners could save an average of $196,000 by downsizing from four bedrooms to two in America’s top 20 metropolitan areas, according to StorageCafe. Empty nester baby boomers own 28% of large homes, which means many of them could downsize and likely pocket some cash.

If that’s not an option, you may consider moving further outside town or to a slightly less convenient location. Doing so may help keep you in the city you love but at a reduced cost.

With housing still in high demand, now could be a good time for empty nesters to consider selling a home they’ve built equity into.

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