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    What Cities Do Retirees Collect the Most Income In?

    By Eric Bleeker,


    This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase anything through these affiliated links, may earn a commission. A recent study by SmartAsset, in partnership with 24-7 Wall Street, analyzed retirement income across 345 U.S. cities, including Social Security benefits and income from retirement accounts like 401ks, IRAs, and pensions. The study found that affluent cities like Arlington, Virginia, topped the list with the highest average retirement income. The national average retirement income from these sources is $52,723, which is significantly lower than the median U.S. household income of $74,580. Key takeaways include the importance of consistently contributing to retirement accounts and recognizing the potential need for additional income sources in retirement. Retirees should also consider the cost of living in their chosen retirement location.


    Eric, SmartAsset, who is a partner of 24-7 Wall Street, recently released data on 345 cities across the United States and calculated how much income retirees are collecting in each city.

    So this study included social security benefits as well as income received from retirement accounts like 401ks, IRAs, and pension payouts.

    So what jumps out at you from this study? You took a look at all of their data and what did you see?

    Yeah, I went through this study and I think the most important thing is first, we just need to go through the numbers.

    As you might expect, the cities where retirement income is the highest are, well, they're generally pretty affluent.

    Coming in by Arlington, Virginia was number one. That's just a short distance from where I live in the Washington, D.C. area. Its retirement income was $90,140 on average.

    Now, Arlington had an average retirement income of more than 10,000 in the next closest city to show you how far ahead it is.

    Cities that trailed it included Cambridge, which is near Boston, Woodlands. That one's near Houston, Berkeley, California, and another DC suburb, which is Alexandria, and rounded out the top five.

    If you're wanting to compare your retirement income to the average across large cities in the United States, there is a specific number, and that's $52,723 in retirement account income and social security benefits.

    Now, we need some important perspective, which is the median US household income, 74,580.

    So that's quite a drop from the income you might receive in your working year. So what are the takeaways from this data?

    First of all, I counted up 331 out of 345 cities. In them, retirees relied more on retirement account income than Social Security.

    So more from 401ks, pensions, those sources.

    So I would emphasize as Social Security payouts are a formula that factors in years worked, retirement age, they might not be as significant as you think they will be for your retirement.

    When we look at where social security payouts for the lowest it's areas like Brownsville, Texas, which had an average of 14,556.

    Well, the highest payouts came in Ann Arbor, at $30,428. So what's the biggest difference in total retirement income from retirement accounts?

    And what are the takeaways from the study?

    As we've often discussed, it's staying consistent with your contributions to your retirement accounts.

    Make sure you're maximizing employer benefits and don't break consistency.

    Second, viewers just need to be clear-eyed around these income levels. In 337 out of 345 cities studied, retirement income is lower than the median income of US families.

    There's just less income coming in in retirement years than you'll earn in your prime working years.

    Next, if you project your retirement income as less than you budget, you may need to consider some alternative income sources, you know, that could include areas like dog walking or even driving rideshare.

    And finally, I should note you might look at the retirement income levels of around 90,000 for Arlington, which I noted earlier.

    The fact of the matter is all the cities near the top of retirement incomes had extremely high costs of living.

    And even at the income levels I noted, retirees in those cities might be stretched and need to look at moving to a lower-cost-of-living area.

    So Austin, I think that those are the main points from this study.

    You know, once again, the emphasis here being across the U.S., we are seeing almost uniformly higher income from 401ks, sources like IRAs and Social Security, and people just need to plan accordingly.

    You know, Eric, I really love that point here.

    And the nice thing about those accounts, so to speak, is that it gives you a little bit of control over your destiny.

    We talked to a lot of retirees and I don't think any of them have ever said to me, "Boy, I saved too much for retirement," right?

    But the risk on the other side, of course, is not saving enough.

    So staying consistent with those accounts that you control, your IRA or 401k, a little bit of money today does go a long way in retirement.

    And hey, if you've got a little bit more than you need, that's just a chance to take another trip, to get another car, or to do all those experiences that retirement is all about in the first place.

    So for retirees watching today, please stay consistent with your contributions, continue to fund those accounts to the best of your ability, and we hope that you live a richer retirement as a result.

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