May 24, 2024

Cleveland, Ohio, Is the Best Place to Retire on a Budget

Cleveland, Ohio, Is the Best Place to Retire on a Budget

With high interest rates and inflation making it harder for Americans to save for retirement, affordability is of utmost importance when deciding where to spend your golden years. Recently, Ohio has emerged as one of the most retirement-friendly states in the country as several of its cities — most notably, Akron, Youngstown, and Toledo — have been highlighted in different reports for their low cost of living.

But if you’re after big-city life and all the amenities that come with it post-retirement, then put Cleveland on your radar, too. The second most populous city in The Buckeye State and the largest on Lake Erie, just ranked eighth in’s list of cities to retire on less than $2,500 per month.

GoBankingRates crunched the numbers and estimated that monthly expenses — like groceries, entertainment, and transportation — would cost less than $1,700. (Or $1,690, to be exact.) Add to that $622 in monthly mortgage costs, and you should have a budget of at least $2,312 to retire in Cleveland. The company also points out that Cleveland is the largest city on their list, “and living there would give retirees a lot of options of things to do.” 

The city, which sits at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, is home to about 372,000 residents, 14,6 percent aged 65 or over, according to census data. Because of Lake Erie, the city’s climate is milder than the rest of the state, so Clevelanders enjoy warmer winters and cooler summers.

Thankfully, the city has plenty of parks and hiking trails where residents can enjoy the weather and keep active. Cleveland’s Metroparks system boasts 25,000 acres worth of amenities, offering activities like hiking and biking (the area has 325 miles of trails), golf, fishing, and swimming. Sports fans can watch the city’s three major league teams (the Cavaliers, the Browns, and the Guardians) live at world-class sports venues.

And music and art fans can always pay a visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Cleveland’s Art Museum, two of the country’s finest cultural destinations. (Cleveland residents are granted complimentary access to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and general admission at the city’s art museum is free.) Moreover, Playhouse Square, Cleveland theater district, is the second largest in the country after New York City. 

According to data from the Council for Community and Economic Research, housing is the main factor that drives the lower cost of living in Cleveland. While utilities and groceries cost slightly above the country’s average, housing is the least expensive category.

“Cleveland is one of the most affordable and accessible markets that sits close to a major metropolitan area,” Janis McCormick, regional vice president, Ohio East, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services/Luxury Portfolio International, told Travel + Leisure. In December 2023, the median home price in Cleveland was $113,300, according to Zillow, while the national median was $382,600.

“We are seeing a trend with empty nesters who are selling their family homes and buying or renting near the downtown area and surrounding cities such as Tremont, Ohio City, and Gordan Square, and along the lakefront. The inner-ring communities of Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, and Lakewood are excellent locations for those who want a short trip to the cultural scene. Smaller, quaint and serene communities like Chagrin Falls, Bay Village and Hudson offer a variety of housing products and all feature downtown areas with restaurants, shops, outdoor festivals, farmers markets, and concerts,” McCormick explained.

Her No. 1 piece of advice for potential buyers, especially those out-of-state, is to explore the city, as “there are vast differences from the East Side to the West Side, and from urban, the suburban, village and rural areas,” and then find a knowledgable, local real estate agent to work with.

“Cleveland and northeast Ohio offer so many possibilities for anyone looking to retire to an affordable, active, convenient location to anywhere in the country,” she said.