Picking the right place to live might be the secret to reaching financial freedom or even retiring early.
In a recent study by MagnifyMoney, Wichita Falls was ranked third out of 217 United States cities for best places to retire early.
The study notes a new goal for some workers called FIRE, or Financial Independence and Retiring Early.
Through the FIRE concept, workers who normally would retire at 62 can retire in their 40s and 50s through careful saving.
Even with a medium to low-paying job, financial planners say if a person pays off debt, invests a large amount into savings and maintains a low cost of living — financial freedom and retiring early is possible.
The goal is for retirees to be able to live off savings or dividends until they can draw from traditional retirement benefits like Social Security, 401(k) or IRA.
For the study, the 217 cities were scored from zero to 100 in three categories, which were weighted differently — cost of living (50 percent weight), quality of life (30 percent) and employability (20 percent).
Wichita Falls was tied on the list with Jonseboro, Arkansas, each with a score of 76.
Cost of living (COL)
The COL score was based on average prices in each city for things like groceries, housing, utilities, transportation health care and other goods and services.
Quality of life (QOL)
The QOL score was calculated based on weather (average temperatures and number of sunny days), access to arts and entertainment and walkability of the city.
Employability was a factor because many early and regular retirees still enjoy working part time. In this area, the study looked at minimum wage for the area, unemployment rate, average commute and state income tax.
Wichita Falls scored the highest in the COL category with a 99, which was the most heavily weighted category. The city scored lower in QOL (48) and Employability (60).
Overall in the study, Southern cities dominated the top ten with eight on the list. The next best areas in the U.S. were the Midwest, followed by the West.
The South scored the best in the regions for employability.
The northeast fared the worst for retiring early, mostly due to a high COL giving it a score of 17.
However, the area scored better than the South, Midwest and West for Quality of Life, scoring a 67 versus the national average of 50.
Whether it’s financial independence or retiring early, hanging on to your dollars is a little easier here in Wichita Falls.
Top 10 cities to retire early (cities had tied scores for second, third and fourth places) and final score
1. Knoxville, Tennessee – 78
2. Memphis, Tennessee – 77
2. Sherman, Texas – 77
2. Benton Harbor, Michigan – 77
3. Wichita Falls, Texas – 76
3. Jonesboro, Arkansas – 76
4. Cleveland, Tennessee – 75
4. Hattiesburg, Mississippi – 75
4. Evansville, Indiana – 75
5. McAllen, Texas – 74
For the full report of the study go to MagnifyMoney.