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North Carolina ranks among best states to retire on a budget



KATHERINE ZEHNDER

Carolina Journal


According to a recent study by Seniorly, North Carolina has been ranked amongst the top states to retire on a budget, coming in at No. 14. 


According to the US Census Bureau, Americans 65 and older have the highest poverty rate of any age group. In 2020, during the peak of COVID-19, it was at 9.5% and climbing and has increased steadily since. In 2022, it was up to 14.1%.


“The 3.2 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 66 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2024. Increased payments to approximately 7.5 million SSI recipients will begin on December 29, 2023,” according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).


This will increase to more than $50 a month. “Social Security and SSI benefits will increase in 2024, and this will help millions of people keep up with expenses,” said Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of SSA at the time, in a press release in October. 


Financial factors in all 50 states and Washington D.C. were analyzed, and factors included housing, electricity, gas, groceries, taxes, social security payment, inflation, and Medicare spending, according to a press release. 


North Carolina ranked No. 6 for annual growth in home values (18.4%), No. 14 for Medicare spending (.95 of national average), No. 20 for electricity ($124 per month), No. 20 for inflation ($888 per month), and No. 23 for groceries ($291 per month), according to a press release. 

In 2023, Asheville ranked as the top city in North Carolina to retire in, according to US News & World Report. Coming in at No. 2 were Raleigh and Durham, followed by Winston-Salem, Hickory, Charlotte, and Greensboro. 


One of the primary factors impacting seniors, which was evaluated in this study, is homeownership and home affordability. 


“In 2021, nearly 11.2 million older adults were cost-burdened, meaning they spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs, an all-time high and a significant increase from the 9.7 million recorded in 2016. Likewise, homelessness is rising among older individuals,” according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, 2023 report


Another prominent factor is the cost of living. According to the study, median rent is $1,798 (#28), average electricity bill 124 (#20), average monthly groceries $291 (tied for #23), and the average gas price is $3.07 per gallon (tied for #24). 


Additionally, Asheville, Raleigh, and Charlotte are all ranked in Southern Living’s top 25 cities in 2024. Asheville ranked the highest at No. 5. 


Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, ranked at No. 12. 


“There’s never been a better time to visit North Carolina’s largest city. A glowing destination for the arts, you’ll want to visit both the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture,” wrote Southern Living. “Outdoor time can be spent at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden or Little Sugar Creek Greenway. And you’ll have your pick of the litter when it comes to dining options, from authentic Carolina barbecue to upscale global-inspired eats.”


Raleigh, North Carolina’s capital, ranked at No. 9. 

“The largest of the three Research Triangle cities, over the past few years, Raleigh has consistently been voted one of the best places to live in the country. The distinction was earned in large part because there’s so much to see and do here,” wrote Southern Living. 

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