Complete Our Anonymous Retirement Income Survey

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

August 31, 2015 — Charles, one of our members, recently asked an interesting question: “Is 5000/month enough to live on”? To help answer it we have prepared a Retirement Income Survey. We had a great response to this survey, with almost 1500 people taking it. You can see our detailed report on the results, which includes access to hundreds of comments made, here at Survey Report- Maintaining Pre-Retirement Income Is Hard

Posted by Admin on August 31st, 2015


  1. I will be very interested to see the results.

    by Joy — September 1, 2015

  2. The survey answers are highly variable depending on the state you live in or contemplate moving to. I would have expected questions on location in the survey.

    by john schmidt — September 1, 2015

  3. It would also be helpful to know whether the $5,000/mo is for a solo person or a couple, and how that baseline could be affected by location (Southeast, Southwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, etc — or retirement location, using Florida, Carolinas, Nevada, Texas, Delaware, TN and some other common retirement locations as comparison points). In other words, please do my retirement research for me LOL.

    by Sharon — September 2, 2015

  4. Good suggestions, John and Sharon. We added questions to the survey about whether the responder is single or a couple, and what region they are retiring to. Thanks for the great suggestion! Another Member noted a typo and that we had omitted a choice for expected income of $3000-4000 – since corrected. You guys are amazing!

    by Admin — September 2, 2015

  5. No point to me taking the survey: if expenses are less I travel more, if expenses are more I travel less. Either way I spend it all. You can’t take it with you. LOL!

    by Sallie50th — September 2, 2015

  6. I think the 5000 a month is possible if there is no mortgage or credit card debt in the south or southeast. If you add in the high property taxes and heating costs in the northeast, that may not be possible. Is that figure pre-tax? That makes a big difference if one chooses a high tax state for retirement.

    by SandyZ — September 3, 2015

  7. My husband and i live in NYS, about 90 miles from NYC. Our taxes are very high and the COL here is relatively expensive compared to the rest of the country. I don’t think we’ve ever spent over $50,000 in one year, excluding savings in our retirement accounts and the years that one of our kids had a wedding or bought a house. I figure if we’ve done it all our lives, we can continue to do it!

    by ella — September 3, 2015

  8. While I personally hate having a champagne taste but only a beer budget, any cries of poverty will fall on deaf ears here. If a retiree, single or couple, cannot make it comfortably on $5,000 month/$60,000 per year then something is amiss, especially considering the average income of a US family is only $52,000 per year and the average income of retired married couples is $44,718, while retired singles earned a median of just $17,261. ella is right, it does not take a fortune to retire living your current lifestyle of less than 5 grand a month.

    by art bonds — September 3, 2015

  9. Really, when you think about it, as Art has mentioned, $5k /month is more than many people make working. As someone that will be happy if I do bring in $4,000+ /mon in retirement I wonder if this site caters more to the higher income retirees than people like me.

    I am finding it difficult to locate resales and retirement communities that offer home in the < $200,000 range. Our goal is to sell our home and save a bunch, not buy something for the same price or even higher.

    by Peter — September 4, 2015

  10. If a refinement is made to this or a future survey, would be interesting to know what % of pretax income people spend on major categories, such as housing/utilities (excluding mtge, if one still has debt), groceries/dining, clothing, healthcare/med insurance, vehicles, discretionary travel, etc.

    by EIBfan — September 4, 2015

  11. Location location location
    I used a cost of living calculator based on a 60k fixed income … no surprise
    Stay in NY ( Long Island ) I need 93k
    Florida here we come……

    by alexmac56 — September 4, 2015

  12. If anyone is retiring or leaving a state that will not tax you to death research, research, research and decide if a big change in your lifestyle or family and friends is what you want. We bought a house in Florida too soon, not over 55 + community and my husband never found a job so we lived in a small condo at the Jersey shore that was our summer place for 36 years and spent time going back and forth, now we are fully retired and find the summers are too hot in Florida and the house too big 3200 sq. Ft and devalued since buying in 2005 , neighborhood expensive, ok the NJ condo 1000sq ft taxes just went up higher than Florida and monthly maintenance. We will put Florida house on the market by November and then decide where on the east coast to go and then after settled we will buy with no mortgage or rent, looking at the Carolinas, first and then sell NJ. I am just telling this story so people do not move unless they know what they want or where to go to spend those twilight years. What will make you Happy and what you can afford.

    by Flo — September 4, 2015

  13. Am currently living on $4500.00 a month here in Georgia. Used to live in the Chicago suburbs so know what it’s like living up north. Still have a large house in the Atlanta area that is payed off. Real estate taxes will drop from $2600.00 to about $800.00 next year when I am 65. Biggest expense now is health insurance even with Medicare.

    by Jim C — September 5, 2015

  14. Peter, I was overjoyed to find a beautiful community and a home over2000 sq feet with a way to customize without taking out a construction loan. Well, it was too good to be true, builder is EARlY and wants to close a month ahead of schedule. Now it’s not so pretty…will keep everyone advised before I mention name again, hopefully they will try to accommodate me

    by Nancy — September 5, 2015

  15. And the home base price in 220s

    by Nancy — September 5, 2015

  16. We live on 1900.00 per month/ Try that in the winter here in Michigan. Our power bills are about 500.00 per month in the coldest months. When I retire, we will get another 1000.00 so we will have 2900.00. 5000.00 per month sounds fantastic. Taxes on our house are 2000.00 per year! We need to get out of here and live somewhere way cheaper!

    by Shelley — September 6, 2015

  17. I can tell you for a fact that $5,000/mo is not enough for two people living in Monmouth County NJ. Property taxes are deplorable!

    by Jim — September 6, 2015

  18. I was happy to take this survey and provide our input. We live in CT, and have lived below our means for years. We were VERY disciplined with saving for retirement, especially aggressive after we paid off our mortgage. We track our expenses, both fixed and discretionary, so we know what we spend. We cut back when we need to, splurge when we are able. It actually has been harder for us to spend, and as our Financial Advisor told us – spenders will be spenders, savers will be savers. We are contemplating a move to a lower cost of living state, but also to get out of these New England winters. The “obstacle” is moving farther away from family, still trying to decide if we want to do that. Living within a $5,000 budget (after Fed/state taxes) is very much dependent on the size of your home. In our case, we could do it. Do we want to? No.

    by Linda — September 7, 2015

  19. The average Social Security check according to media is apprx 1500? I have lived the last 20 years on that as my budget limit, and saving the rest of my paycheck to supplement my retirement. Even with my home paid, I could never spend 5K a month in retirement.(thinking upcoming medical co pay’s, pharmacy, etc) 3K sounds nice and comfortable for me. How about an article on social security amounts, and income supplements the seasoned retirees have found helpful. Thx

    by DeyErmand — September 7, 2015

  20. hi folks,
    if anyone can share their opinion it would be appreciated. I have been under a lot of stress the
    last 3 months. I live in ny and can’t wait to get out for more than one reason. have visited the
    upstate area of SC and liked it , felt home and right for my pocket. my daughters are bringing
    down the hammer on me because they say I am taking their mother too far. my wife loved SC
    but …. the grandkid syndrome. my daughters say DE is just as good and 2 hours away.
    I found a brand new house in SC for $180,000 with $900 yr taxes. don’t think I can find that in
    DE. is anyone familiar with either state pros or cons. thank you for any thoughts.

    by john v — September 8, 2015

  21. john v, I think that you and your wife should do exactly what you want and not be pressured by your daughters to live where they would like you to live, if only for their own convenience. Also, I am sure as most good parents do, you have sacrificed over the years for your children, but now is the time of your life where you should be doing what you would like to do, not what anyone else thinks that you should do. After all, you only go around once in this life. Do whatever makes you happy!

    by Valerie L. — September 8, 2015

  22. John V. Change is hard but can be good too! You have stated that you see the move as a financially good reason to move and the weather will be a huge change with little to no snow. If your wife is in agreement with you, then do it! It isn’t like you are moving to Mars! You can still see your daughters and grand kids. They can come to visit you and there are many modes of transportation they/you can take. Take Amtrack, airplane, drive. The grand kids could come for the summer or for several weeks at a time. There are lots of fun things to do in SC for the grand kids. Your daughters can come and visit for a mini vacation. With computers you can have Face Time and see your kids and grand kids, talk to them daily on the phone to tell them you love them. You and your wife could plan to fly to NY and spend the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday with your daughters. Spend a couple weeks with each daughter then go back to NC! You could even plan a summer vacation by you and your wife travelling half way somewhere and have your daughters come down halfway. Have a summer reunion each year when all of them can come and visit you and the wife. You might look into renting a camper for the grand kids to sleep in on your property. We have friends that have an RV and when the grand kids come, they are so excited to sleep in the camper! Grandpa, usually spends the night with them. It’s like a pajama party! Please don’t throw away your dream. There are tons of things you can do to make it work out for all! Make a list of compromise on how you can make it work out. Another thing I want to point out is that your daughters at some point may have to move due to their or their spouses careers. Then you would be stuck in NY and missed out on a wonderful new chapter in you and your wife’s life! GOOD LUCK!

    by Louise — September 8, 2015

  23. John V. . I lived in Anderson SC for 3 years, and have fond memories. My daughter moved back to SC, Clemson area with her children. It is a wholesome place to live and raise children and retire. More doctor choices in Greenville than Anderson or Clemson. Clemson is a college town. Greenville has more to offer, but high traffic. Hot and humid for two months of the year, maybe an ice storm in the winter, some snow, melts by noon. Day trips to South Myrtle beach are an option.

    by DeyErmand — September 8, 2015

  24. HI Nancy, looking forward to hearing the outcome. I hope it works out better than hoped.

    by Peter — September 8, 2015

  25. Jim, I’m in Monmouth County too. You are right on about 5,000 per month is not enough. We are 6000 a month in our pensions. Sometimes we tap into our nest egg. Property taxes are 10,000 per year. Home owners insurance another 2000. Tough to leave family and this is a great place to live. But it’s getting closer to the time where we need to move to less expensive area.

    by Mike — September 8, 2015

  26. Mike, I agree that NJ is a great place to live. It’s a shame that retirees are forced to relocate at this point in our lives and leave our familiar lifestyle behind. The politicians seem to turn a deaf ear… And can you believe our Governor is running for President!!!!! I pray he does not do to the Country what he did for New Jersey….

    by Jim — September 8, 2015

  27. John V. it sounds as though you have done a great job in rearing your children; especially since they would not want to see you move such a distance. It is time for yourselves. S.C. offers an affordable lifestyle so you and your wife can visit your children and grand kids. Go for it and be strong in your decisions. S.C. gives your family a new destination for vacations and they will come around.

    by Susana Neal — September 9, 2015

  28. John V. Check out a little college town in the upstate called Rock Hill (& surrounding area). It’s close to Charlotte, NC if you want more culture, etc. Depending on what you like to do, you will find most of it within a days drive. Cheers.

    by Daniel Boyle — September 9, 2015

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