Retirement Communities

Americans are forward thinkers. Most of us have been saving money for our post-career plans since the beginning of our careers. According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, most of us start saving for retirement at about age 25. And by the time Americans reach their sixties, the median amount households have saved for retirement is $172,000. Money saved in personal retirement accounts are only one part of retirement income, though. Social Security accounts for 69% of retirement income, retirement accounts like 410(k)s and IRAs are 68%, and other savings and investments count for 45% of income in retirement.

Highest Expenses

Housing is the largest expense for seniors, with transportation and health care close behind. If you’re looking into senior housing like assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, you’ve probably seen that the costs of senior housing options vary quite a bit, across the country and even within states. According to Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey, the average monthly cost at an assisted living facility is $4,051. Per year, that comes to $48,612. The price rises as the level of care rises. The average monthly cost of a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility is $7,513, which is $90,155 a year.

However, some states are markedly more affordable than others. The South has the most affordable senior living costs, with the West coming in just behind. The Northeast has several of the most expensive states. Here are the most affordable states for senior living, based on each state’s average cost of an assisted living facility and the average cost of a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility.

The Most Affordable Senior Living

Missouri tops the list of the most affordable state for senior housing. The average monthly cost of assisted living in the state is $2,881, which is $1,170 less than the national average. This cost comes to $34,566 annually. A semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility is also the most affordable in the state, with an average monthly cost of $5,061, or $60,736 annually. This monthly cost is $2,452 lower than the national average.

Other southern states topping the most affordable list are Arkansas, Alabama, and Georgia. The average monthly cost of an assisted living facility in Arkansas is $3,175 ($38,000 annually) and the average monthly cost of a semi-private room in skilled nursing is $5,505 ($66,065 annually). In Alabama, assisted living costs, on average, $3,250 per month and a semi-private skilled nursing room is $6,388. Georgia is slightly more expensive at $3,335 per month for assisted living and $6,684 per month, on average, for a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility.

The Most Expensive

For comparison, the two most expensive states for senior housing are New Hampshire and New Jersey. In New Hampshire, expect to pay, on average, $7,021 per month for assisted living ($84,255 annually). The average monthly cost for a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility is $9,581 (which comes to $144,975 per year). New Jersey also tops the most expensive list, with assisted living costing less than New Hampshire, at $6,400 ($76,800 per year), but a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility costing more, at $10,646 per month, or $127,750 annually.

Other Factors to Keep in Mind

These average costs are just the beginning as you calculate senior living expenses. Different facilities offer different amenities, which affects their cost. The level of care provided also makes a difference, with specialized care like memory and Alzheimer’s care raising the cost. Even being a different part of the state affects the cost of the housing. In Missouri, the most affordable state, average yearly costs for assisted living range from $33,000 in Joplin, to $46,170 in the St. Louis area. The annual cost of a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility ranges from about $58,400 in Cape Girardeau to $73,365 in Columbia.