If you are disabled and living off Supplemental Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits, your fixed income could present unique challenges regarding where you live. Although SSDI benefits come from the federal government, individual states assess these benefits differently, so your monthly payments might go farther in some states than others.
Although living on SSDI benefits alone is difficult, it is not impossible. While few large cities offer budget-friendly living opportunities, many mid-size cities throughout the country are affordable. If you are open to relocating, you might be able to maximize your benefits without sacrificing quality of life. Extra consideration should be given to how disability-friendly areas are, specifically with respect to building accessibility, diverse entertainment options, and reliable public transportation.
Texas and Florida are notoriously tax-friendly, since neither of them levy state income taxes. That also means these states do not tax your SSDI benefits. Other states like Mississippi, Alabama, Ohio, and North Carolina do have state income taxes, but they do not tax SSDI benefits.
Affordable options exist across the country. Compared to the national average, Jackson, Mississippi’s cost of living is 11% less, housing costs 24% less, groceries cost 11% less, and transportation costs 13% less. Birmingham, Alabama’s cost of living is 9% below the national average, and housing costs 14% less, groceries cost 4% less, and transportation costs 9% less. Both of these areas host a variety of historic sites and provide many cultural and family-friendly experiences.
If Texas is more your scene, take a look at Abilene, which boasts a cost of living that is 4% less than the national average and housing and transportation costs that are both 10% less. Although Texas has higher utilities and healthcare costs, they are offset by the lack of a state income tax. Other cities in Texas worth considering include Waco, Killeen, Brownsville, McAllen, El Paso, and Wichita Falls.
Durham, North Carolina has a cost of living 11% less than the national average and housing that costs 27% less, utilities that cost 13% less, and groceries that cost 4% less; the city is also a vibrant arts, culture, and history hub.
Indiana provides a variety of affordable city options, including South Bend, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Terre Haute, and Muncie. And if you are looking for a planned retirement community, consider Sun City, Arizona, where 75% of the population is over age 65, and you are only short trips away from nearby Phoenix, Sedona, Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas.
If you don’t mind colder weather, Dayton, Ohio offers a cost of living 9% less than the national average and housing that costs 32% less, utilities that cost 16% less, and groceries that cost 4% less. Much of Dayton is within walking distance, but it also has reliable public transportation. Akron and Toledo are also worth considering. Looking for a temperate climate? Spokane, Washington offers the natural beauty of other Pacific Northwest cities like Seattle and Redmond but remains decidedly more affordable than them, despite median home values that are higher than many of the cities above.
Have you explored your options and think that a move could work for you? Be sure to contact a real estate agent in that area (if you do not already know it well) who can advise you on housing options that will fit your budget.