Retire well with these affordable options for seniors

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to retire well. Of course, everyone wants to know how to save a million dollars or more for retirement. The bad news is that most retirees aren’t sitting on a goldmine. In people who have saved for retirement, median savings for ages 55-64 is just $104,000; for those aged 65-74, it’s $148,000.

For seniors who have modest incomes, paying for housing- whether a home they own, a rental, or a room in a facility that provides additional senior care assistance- can feel nearly impossible. According to the National Council on Aging, in 2019 over 25 million Americans 60 and older were living on $31,225 or less per year, a status recognized as “economically insecure.” For those who rent, have housing debt, or need some form of assisted living, such an income is often inadequate for their housing needs.

Seniors who need to live in assisted living facilities and nursing homes face additional challenges as the costs in those facilities are dramatically higher than the costs of living independently in a rental. Assisted living costs an average of $48,612 in 2019, and living in a nursing home costs $102,200 per year for a private room. 

Read on to see:

  • 5 Places to retire for $1,000 or less
  • 5 Government Programs to aid housing for low-income seniors

5 Places to retire for $1,000 or less

Waterbury, Connecticut

Located right on the Naugatuck River, Waterbury is in New Haven Country. This makes it near New York City and Hartford at the same time. The homes reveal a colonial history. There are a lot of trees in the clean and green downtown. Great health care facilities and cultural art events are nearby. The average cost of housing each month is $700.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Within twenty-five miles of Cedar Rapids, there are over ten assisted living and retirement communities. It’s thirty miles from Iowa City and is voted among the top ten places to retire by the website Livability. 

Bloomington, Indiana

Home to Indiana University, Bloomington is in the south part of the state. There are symposiums, day trips and learning programs for retirees with a lot of concerts and sports events to compensate for colder winters. People aged 60 and older get a 50% tuition discount for up to 9 class credits each semester at the university. Any night of the week, you can sample the culinary scene and see world-class orchestras. Your nest egg goes quite far here in Bloomington due to the low cost of living. It is just $691 a month for housing, for instance.

Lincoln, Nebraska

Lincoln is the state capital of Nebraska. It’s a college town with a few suburbs. There’s exciting architecture and various neighbourhoods including the historic Bungalow District. There are over a hundred parks. There’s a low rate of unemployment and a low cost of living with the average cost of housing each month just $742.

Champaign, Illinois

Champaign is a college town with opportunities for continuing education and tons of cultural events. Free events and lectures are everywhere. There is a reasonable cost of living and the town has a tranquil, serene feel. The cost of housing each month is $593.

5 Government Programs to aid housing for low-income seniors

Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV/Section 8)

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) is the largest housing assistance program in America. This program was initially established in 1974 as the Section 8 Voucher, and many people still call it that despite the recent name change. The HCV program subsidises monthly rent costs for 2.3 million low-income households. Currently, 26% of people who participate in the Housing Choice Voucher program are seniors (defined as 62+). The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers this program in partnership with local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs or HAs).

Rural Rental Assistance (Section 521)

Most people think of HUD as the primary resource for assistance with paying rent, but they may be surprised to find that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also has a Rural Housing Division that provides rental assistance. Through the Rural Rental Assistance (Section 521) program, non-profit and “limited” profit organizations can build multifamily rental properties with government assistance, and they can then offer these subsidized rental units to low-income residents. This program helps as many as 1,204,500 families, according to a 2018 report.

The Housing Improvement Program (HIP) 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA or simply IA) is a division of the United States Department of the Interior, and it offers the Housing Improvement Program (HIP) specifically to ameliorate the problem of substandard housing and homelessness in or near tribal lands. This program was conceived as a solution for those with a high degree of financial need- those for whom other public assistance programs simply cannot offer enough help. The HIP is frequently referred to as a “safety net” program.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program- much more easily referred to as HUD-VASH– brings together HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher system and the numerous supportive services that the VA offers. This program isn’t specifically targeted at seniors but instead serves chronically homeless veterans of all kinds, including those with disabilities. 

Established in 1992, the HUD-VASH program has always been based on a “housing first” philosophy of care. Even veterans who are struggling with substance abuse or other problems can receive housing because the program’s philosophy maintains that housing is the first step to stability.

Supportive Housing for the Elderly (Section 202)

The Supportive Housing for the Elderly program (also called Section 202) was authorized in 1959 and is run by HUD in cooperation with local partners. Section 202 is HUD’s best rental assistance program for seniors since each Section 202 facility is built specifically to address the needs of the elderly rather than the needs of the general population. Construction of Section 202 housing is funded via capital advances provided by HUD to a local organization.

All in all, senior living isn’t one-size-fits-all. You can choose a community that offers everything you want and gives you easier access to resources that support your health and wellness goals. Exceptional senior living communities are designed to enhance your already beautiful and meaningful life.

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Melissa J.

Mother of three, freelance author and blogger - loves gardening and cooking.

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