If you're looking for the best places to retire on a fixed income, moving to an affordable place to live is a key part of the equation. To find the cheapest places to retire, GOBankingRates studied three cost-of-living indexes from Numbeo, an independent, data-driven website that tracks cost of living.
We then used Bureau of Labor Statistics data on average consumer expenditures for Americans aged 65 and older -- along with the BLS average cost-of-living, rent and grocery indexes -- to further zero in on spots for frugal retirees. In our analysis, we looked at large cities and estimated what seniors can expect to pay on average.
What we found might surprise you. The list of the cheapest places to retire does not double as a list of dullest places to retire -- these cities are as vibrant as they are affordable, with everything from natural beauty and colorful histories to world-class culture and amenities.
Check out the full list, ranked from No. 25 to No. 1.
This article was originally published by GOBankingRates.
25. Bakersfield, California
- Annual expenditures: $42,071
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,041
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,224
If you want to spend your golden years in a lot of sun, Bakersfield might be the place for you: Average annual rainfall is just 6.45 inches and the number of sunny days per year averages 272.
24. St. Louis
- Annual expenditures: $42,049
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,225
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,210
In addition to impressive cost-of-living numbers, St. Louis boasts great services for seniors through the St. Louis County Age-Friendly Community Action Plan. This entity provides volunteer drivers, and calls to check on seniors' health. Seniors also get home care and repair, legal assistance, and tax preparation help.
23. Gainesville, Florida
- Annual expenditures: $41,996
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,188
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,138
Gainesville is located in central Florida and is home to the University of Florida. The university is also the site of Lake Alice, a nature reserve where you can spend time checking out alligators, turtles and bats.
22. Columbia, South Carolina
- Annual expenditures: $41,885
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,419
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,397
Seniors are the fastest-growing segment of the population in South Carolina's Midlands region, of which Columbia is a part. The city's parks and recreation department is dedicated to offering more programs and leisure activities to seniors. These include low-cost trips, events from health screenings to balls, clubs, and exercise classes. That can add a lot to retirement at little cost.
- Annual expenditures: $41,837
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,523
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,058
Phoenix has warm winters, hiking and a lot of golf courses. Even better, Arizona does not tax Social Security income. Just make sure you're ready for a big-city feel, as Phoenix is one of the nation's largest metros. Also, bring sunscreen: Phoenix enjoys more hours of sunshine per year than Honolulu.
20. Austin, Texas
- Annual expenditures: $41,739
- Annual amount spent on rent: $9,085
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,085
Austin is one of the fastest-growing big cities in America. But far from being extremely urban, Austin is in large part a series of suburbs, according to Slate. That means you'll need a car to enjoy all the city has to offer, and that reality can take a bite out of your Social Security check.
- Annual expenditures: $41,708
- Annual amount spent on rent: $8,417
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $2,963
In addition to having an impressively low cost of living, many Dallas suburbs have been lauded as stellar places for retirees. Dallas itself features everything you would expect from a major city, from pro sports teams to zoos and world-class dining.
18. Greenville, South Carolina
- Annual expenditures: $41,655
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,671
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,359
How about a little senior softball? You will also find yoga, badminton, horseshoes and other activities through Greenville's department of recreation and other organizations.
If you're planning to buy a home during retirement, Greenville's $122,400 median home price is well below the national average of $170,100, according to Sperling's Best Places data.
17. Pensacola, Florida
- Annual expenditures: $41,541
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,276
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,255
Located at the far west end of Florida's panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola might not be for those who want a quiet retirement: The city is home to the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels, who fly their jets in the region.
Of course, the plentiful sunshine and white sandy beaches should put you back in "relaxed retirement mode."
16. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
- Annual expenditures: $41,421
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,151
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,319
Ready to slash healthcare costs during retirement? Moving to Sioux Falls can be a start. Healthline, a health information site, included the city in its 2016 list of healthiest places to live.
Healthline praised Sioux Falls for its 80 parks, aquatic center, and more than 28 miles of paved hiking and biking trails. One big plus is 123-acre Falls Park, located right in the middle of the city. Healthline also liked the city's plentiful museums and historical sites, as well as its many healthy restaurants.
15. Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Annual expenditures: $41,276
- Annual amount spent on rent: $8,321
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $2,973
Looking for a more "youthful" place to retire to? Ann Arbor is a college town and has one of the youngest populations among big cities, with a median age of 28. Ann Arbor is home of the prestigious University of Michigan, which means great college sports teams, including Big Ten Wolverines football.
14. Fremont, California
- Annual expenditures: $41,196
- Annual amount spent on rent: $10,621
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $2,766
Although Freemont's average annual rent cost is relatively high for our list of winners, it does have the second-lowest annual average food cost. The city does have many forms of inexpensive public transit.
13. Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Annual expenditures: $41,055
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,392
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,263
Tulsa might be called the city of lakes: It has more man-made lakes than any city in the country. Tulsa's also a great place for golfing retirees, since it has 16 public golf courses.
12. Salem, Oregon
- Annual expenditures: $41,046
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,310
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,111
Salem was included on Livability.com's 2015 list of the top 100 places to live for its recreational, cultural and natural amenities, as well as its easy access to health care. Those features are the types of things that can make retirement more fun and comfortable. Oregon doesn't tax Social Security, has no sales tax and has lower property taxes than the national average.
11. Madison, Wisconsin
- Annual expenditures: $41,041
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,994
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,105
Planning to live on a pension or Social Security? You'll be happy to hear that Wisconsin doesn't tax these payments. However, retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs are taxed.
Madison has five area lakes, 260 parks, and more than 200 miles of paths and trails.
10. Kansas City, Missouri
- Annual expenditures: $40,984
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,366
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,045
Kansas City offers good transportation choices within the city. It has several bus systems, but also features a bike-sharing system. Just swipe your member card or credit card and a bike is unlocked for you. Ride it to your destination and turn it in.
The city made the 2016 U.S. News and World Report list of best affordable places to live, finishing at No. 19.
9. Rochester, New York
- Annual expenditures: $40,586
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,421
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,067
If you want a retirement spot that has four distinct seasons, the city of Rochester is it. The summer average temperature is 78 degrees Fahrenheit, while the winter average temperature is 32.
8. Salt Lake City
- Annual expenditures: $40,529
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,619
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,066
Salt Lake City lies at 4,330 feet above sea level, with ski areas at 7,000 to 8,000 feet. Thanks to the world-class skiing and white winters, your family will surely want to visit during the holidays.
7. Omaha, Nebraska
- Annual expenditures: $40,008
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,461
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,046
It's a good thing Omaha has such a low cost of living and modest grocery costs because Nebraska is not the tax-friendliest state for seniors. Social Security income that is taxed by the federal government is also fully taxed here.
6. Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Annual expenditures: $39,641
- Annual amount spent on rent: $6,929
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $2,909
With a moderate annual average high temperature of 68.8 degrees Fahrenheit and 310 days of sunshine a year, Albuquerque enjoys a dry high-desert heat that many seniors might enjoy. And if you want to see the city from above, Albuquerque is known for its hot air ballooning.
5. Mobile, Alabama
- Annual expenditures: $39,566
- Annual amount spent on rent: $6,816
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,031
Love rain? If so, Mobile is the place for you: The city is the rainiest place in the country, according to Business Insider. Its average annual rainfall is 66.22 inches -- that's 5.5 feet, folks.
On the plus side, Mobile has famous Southern hospitality and the oldest Mardi Gras celebration in America.
4. Tucson, Arizona
- Annual expenditures: $39,402
- Annual amount spent on rent: $6,755
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,052
Looking for a great place to live a simple life? According to AARP The Magazine, Tucson is in the top 10 cities to do just that. An hour from the border of Mexico, this city is ringed by wilderness and enjoys 286 sunny days per year. And although other types of retirement income are taxed, Social Security is not.
3. Oklahoma City
- Annual expenditures: $39,248
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,282
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $3,109
With one of the lowest costs of living in the nation, Oklahoma City is an attractive spot for seniors on a budget. Oklahoma also fully exempts Social Security from taxation and provides a $10,000 deduction for other types of retirement income, such as 401(k)s or pensions. Sales taxes are high, but property taxes are low.
2. San Antonio
- Annual expenditures: $38,210
- Annual amount spent on rent: $7,729
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $2,873
The home of the Alamo is also the place of very low taxation for seniors. There is no state tax taken on Social Security income, or withdrawals from retirement accounts or pensions. Add those factors to warm weather and a low cost of living, and you can see why San Antonio is our runner-up big city in which to retire.
1. Athens, Georgia
- Annual expenditures: $36,999
- Annual amount spent on rent: $6,781
- Annual amount spent on groceries: $2,633
The top spot for affordable places to retire on our list goes to the city of Athens, about an hour east of Atlanta. Its low cost of living and very low annual average grocery cost helped put Athens at the front of the pack.
Even better, Georgia is a very friendly tax state for seniors. It does not take taxes from Social Security income, and there is no state inheritance or estate tax. If you are older than 64, a $65,000 per person deduction on other types of retirement income applies. Property taxes and sales taxes also are low. Congratulations, Athenians.
GOBankingRates.com examined three cost of living factors for 81 U.S. cities from Numbeo on Sept. 12, 2016:
1) cost of living index, 2) rent index and 2) grocery index. Then, we compared each city's index to the average annual expenditures from Americans aged 65 and over from the Bureau of Labor Statistic's Consumer Expenditures Survey, 2014-2015 to come up with a formula to predict annual expenses in each city.