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SmartAsset: Where Seniors Are Most and Least Financially Secure - 2022 Edition

American seniors have many financial considerations to take into account as they navigate their golden years. Retirement income, savings, tax burdens and inflation are a few common examples. The Global Retirement Index from the French investment manager Natixis says that 41% of American respondents believe a miracle would need to happen in order to be financially secure in retirement.

In this study, we uncovered the places where seniors are most and least financially secure. We analyzed data for the 100 metro areas with the largest 65 and older population, considering factors such as retirement income, housing costs and poverty among seniors. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, read the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s 2022 study on where seniors are most and least financially secure. Check out the 2021 edition here.

Key Findings

  • Five of the 20 most financially secure places for seniors are located in the Sunshine State. These Florida metro areas have a high percentage of seniors who own their own homes and low housing costs relative to income.
  • Top- and bottom-ranked metro areas have similar average retirement income, but stark differences across other metrics. On average, the percentage of seniors on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is 6% in the top 10 metro areas, but it is nearly double in the bottom-ranked metro areas (11%). Similarly, average housing costs make up 21% of retirement income for top-ranked cities and that figure is 10% higher in the bottom-ranked cities.
  • Seniors in Northeastern metro areas tend to be the least financially secure. The bottom 10 metro areas represent seven Northeastern states, with the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area ranking worst overall.

1. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC

This coastal area not only ranks as the metro where seniors are most financially secure, but also claims the top spot for its low percentage of seniors below the poverty line (6.1%) and high senior homeownership rate (89.9%). In Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, the average senior retirement income is roughly $55,400 and median annual housing costs make up about 20% of senior retirement income (third-lowest).

2. Salisbury, MD-DE

The average senior retirement income in Salisbury, Maryland-Delaware is roughly $58,400 and housing costs make up 21.23% of this expense (seventh-lowest). This metro area also ranks well in three other metrics. It has the third-lowest percentage of seniors below the poverty line (6.2%), fourth-highest percentage of seniors who own their own homes (87.1%) and seventh-highest percentage of seniors with private retirement income (61.7%).

3. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL

North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida ranks seventh-best for two metrics: senior poverty rate (6.7%) and senior homeownership rate (86.0%). The average senior retirement income is almost $61,500 and housing costs make up an average of about 21% of that income - ranking eighth-best of the 100 metro areas in this study.

4. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA

Seniors in the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pennsylvania metro area can expect housing costs to make up roughly 19% of the average retirement income. In this metro area, 60.7% of seniors have retirement income from private means (ranking 10th-highest) and less than 23% of the senior population are housing cost-burdened (third-lowest).

5. Dayton-Kettering, OH

In Ohio's Dayton-Kettering metro area, the senior retirement income is nearly $52,300. Roughly 63% of the senior population has private retirement income (fourth-highest). Housing costs will take up roughly 20% of the average retirement income (fifth-lowest) and of the senior population in this metro area, 28% are housing cost-burdened (23rd-lowest).

1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

The most populous metro area for people ages 65 and older is also the place where seniors are least financially secure. New York-Newark-Jersey City takes the bottom spot for the percentage of seniors that own their own homes (63.4%) and the percentage of seniors who are housing cost-burdened (almost 46%).

2. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

Only about 36% of the seniors in Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Florida have retirement income from private means, the lowest rate for this metric. More than 15% of the senior population are below the poverty line and roughly 17% are on SNAP - both of which rank second-worst across all 100 metro areas.

3. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

Housing costs in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire metro area make up nearly 38% of senior retirement income - the fourth-worst for this metric. Additionally, the metro area ranks seventh-worst for the percentage of seniors who own their own homes (71.6%) and 10th-worst for the percentage of seniors who are housing cost burdened (40%).

4. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California has the second-lowest senior homeownership rate (67.4%) and second-highest percentage of seniors who are housing cost-burdened (43.86%). Additionally, less than 42% of seniors in the area have retirement income outside of Social Security benefits.

5. Providence-Warwick, RI-MA

In Providence-Warwick, Rhode Island-Massachusetts, roughly 53% of seniors have private retirement income. Additionally, less than three in four seniors own their homes (ranking fourth-worst) or apartments and over 13% of seniors receive SNAP benefits (ranking fifth-worst).

Data and Methodology

To find the metro areas where seniors are most and least financially secure, we looked at data for the 100 metro areas with the largest populations ages 65 and older across the following six metrics:

  • Percentage of seniors below the poverty line. This is the percentage of seniors who live below the federal poverty line.
  • Percentage of seniors who receive food stamps/SNAP benefits. This is the percentage of households that receive food stamps for households in which the head of household is 65 or older.
  • Percentage of seniors who own their homes. This is the percentage of households in which the head of household is 65 or older and the residents own their home.
  • Percentage of seniors with private retirement income. This is the percentage of households in which the head of household is 65 or older which have retirement income from private means. This includes money from income streams such as annuities, insurance, IRAs and retirement pensions.
  • Percentage of seniors who are housing cost-burdened. This is the percentage of households in which the head of household is 65 or older and spends 30% or more of income on housing costs. This includes both owners and renters.
  • Housing costs as a percentage of average senior retirement income. This is median annual housing costs divided by average senior retirement income, from both private means along with Social Security income.

Data for all metrics comes from the Census Bureau’s 2020 5-year American Community Survey.

First, we ranked each metro area in each metric. Then we found each metro area’s average ranking, assigning each metric an equal weight. Using this average ranking, we created our final score. The metro area with the highest average ranking received a score of 100. The metro area with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

Financial Tips for Stretching Retirement Income

  • Adjust your budget to tackle rising costs. Inflation affects not just the cost of living, but also the buying power of your benefits like Social Security. Learn more about the impact on Social Security and use our budget calculator to get a clear picture of your spending.
  • Make a plan for withdrawing from retirement accounts. You’ve planned and worked towards your retirement, but how do you manage account distributions? Learn more about retirement plan distribution strategies here.
  • Get help managing your retirement spending. A financial advisor can help you withdraw your investments and make the most of your nest egg. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock/FangXiaNuo

Anja Solum Anja Solum is a data journalist at SmartAsset covering a variety of personal finance topics, including retirement and debt management. Before joining SmartAsset, she worked on both agency and in-house content marketing teams where she developed her love for data analysis and visualization. In her free time, she nurtures a passion for gaming, a recent addiction to anime & KDramas, and a mischievous labrador retriever. A bit of a nomad, she’s lived in Norway, Jamaica, and Denmark in addition to the U.S. but now resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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