Retirement living communities aim to fit needs of people age 55 and older, with amenities such as housekeeping, maintenance, organized activities and transportation to shopping, entertainment and medical appointments. Meals may also be included. Independent living communities are the most affordable level of senior housing options, but generally exclude nursing, custodial care, help with medications and similar services that are supplied in nursing homes and, to a lesser extent, assisted living facilities. A financial advisor can help you evaluate the options when you’re selecting a place to retire.

Median Monthly Cost for Independent Living by State

You are likely to find the least expensive retirement living deals in the South and Midwest. Alabama has the lowest median monthly cost and is followed by Louisiana, based on a study by state from A Place for Mom, a senior living referral service. Next is Oklahoma and then Minnesota.

At the other end of the range, Hawaii and Vermont, respectively, are the most expensive and second-most expensive places to live in a retirement community, each averaging just over twice as much as Alabama. After Vermont, two more Northeastern states, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, occupy the spots for third- and fourth-most expensive for retirement living.

Here’s the median monthly cost for independent living based on the complete list of all 50 states ranked from lowest to highest by A Place for Mom.

Alabama $2,376
Louisiana $2,469
Oklahoma $2,495
Minnesota $2,518
Arkansas $2,529
Indiana $2,550
Iowa $2,573
Kansas $2,590
Wyoming $2,610
Michigan $2,635
Texas $2,640
Tennessee $2,679
Illinois $2,701
Utah $2,710
Arizona $2,738
New Mexico $2,813
Ohio $2,872
North Dakota $2,880
Missouri $2,905
Idaho $2,907
South Carolina $2,919
Wisconsin $2,938
Georgia $2,995
Oregon $2,995
Kentucky $3,000
Montana $3,020
West Virginia $3,020
Pennsylvania $3,060
Florida $3,067
South Dakota $3,073
Nebraska $3,098
Colorado $3,116
Virginia $3,248
North Carolina $3,281
Nevada $3,285
New York $3,300
Maine $3,300
New Jersey $3,340
Mississippi $3,375
California $3,466
Washington $3,480
Alaska $3,500
Massachusetts $3,770
Connecticut $3,885
Maryland $3,895
Delaware $3,995
New Hampshire $4,193
Rhode Island $4,492
Vermont $4,790
Hawaii $5,031

Data for the ranking of states by the cost of independent living was collected from 12,600 communities between 2022 and 2023. The referral service had access to the monthly cost data that senior clients paid. It averaged monthly cost figures for the first year in order to account for upfront costs, such as entry fees paid the first month, as well as regular ongoing charges.

What You Get in Retirement Living Communities

A senior couple comparing the costs of living for different retirement communities.

When selecting a place to retire, people aged 55 and older are presented with a range of options. And depending on the level of care that you may require, prices will vary greatly. According to data from A Place for Mom, the national median cost for independent living is $3,000 per month. This is lower when compared with the national median cost for assisted living ($4,807 per month) and memory care ($5,995 per month).

While individual facilities offer varying types of services, nursing homes generally include medical and safety care, room, board, housekeeping, personal care such as help with bathing and dressing, organized activities and transportation to shopping, entertainment and medical appointments outside the facility.

Assisted living will typically offer room and board, housekeeping, transportation, activities, assistance with medications and sometimes personal care services.

With independent living, 55-and-older residents receive the fewest services and amenities. These still are beyond what an ordinary community offers and typically include an apartment or small home, maintenance, housekeeping such as laundry and cleaning, organized activities and transportation. Often meals will be included as well.

Bottom Line

A senior calculating her cost of living for a retirement community.

The cost for living in a 55-and-older community can vary widely depending on where it is located. In the least expensive states, median monthly costs are less than half those in the most expensive states. The national median cost per month for independent living is $3,000, with Alabama coming in most economical ($2,376) and Hawaii most costly at ($5,031). Independent living communities for retirees typically provide room, board, maintenance, housekeeping, activities, transportation and sometimes meals in exchange for their monthly fees.

Retirement Planning Tips

  • A financial advisor can help you create a retirement plan for your specific needs and goals. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Use SmartAsset’s retirement calculator to get an idea of whether you are saving enough now to pay for the lifestyle you envision in retirement.

Photo credit: ©iStockPhoto/Prostock-Studio, ©iStockPhoto/ProfessionalStudioImages, ©iStockPhoto/staticnak1983

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