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You need at least $1 million saved to retire in these cities

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How much do you think you’ll need to save for retirement?

If you’re in one of these major cities, the answer will be at least $1 million to live an average lifestyle, according to MagnifyMoney.

To find the amount needed to retire in each city, analysts used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tax Foundation, Census Bureau and Social Security Administration to calculate the pretax income necessary to meet average retiree spending.

“$1 million is a big number,” said certified financial planner Marguerita Cheng, CEO and co-founder of Blue Ocean Global Wealth and a member of CNBC’s Advisor Council.

She added that people shouldn’t necessarily be overwhelmed seeing that figure. There are things you can do beforehand to ensure you’re prepared for retirement.

“You break it down and you build,” she said.

Where the most expensive cities are

The analysis found that there are 28 cities where you need more than $1 million to retire, about 7% of all the metros that were included in the report.

The most expensive places are concentrated on the East and West coasts, and only five states – Alaska, California, Hawaii, New York and Oregon – have more than two of the costliest cities. California has the most of any state, with 14 cities where retirees should have more than $1 million to live comfortably.

“It wasn’t a huge surprise given that we know that a lot of coastal parts of the country tend to have the most expensive metros,” said Ismat Mangla, senior director of content at LendingTree, MagnifyMoney’s parent organization.

The rest of the list also shows that costs vary greatly depending on where you plan to retire. It takes less than $1 million to retire in the remaining 93% of metros analyzed by MagnifyMoney.

“It really is going to depend on which area of the country you’re planning to retire in,” Mangla said. “On the flip side, there are a lot of places in the country where you don’t really need that much to retire.”

In one city – Jackson, Tennessee – the average retiree can make it on less than $500,000.

Start to prepare now

If you are worried about being able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions, it makes sense to start retirement planning as soon as possible, even if that means saving only $50 per month, Cheng explained.

Allowing that money as much time as possible to grow will set you up for success. In addition, remember that your retirement nest egg includes your savings and Social Security payments, Cheng said.

Taking advantage of things such as an employer match will help your retirement funds grow even more over time. This means it’s important to put in enough to get any match you’re eligible for, even if you can’t put away the maximum amount, which for 2021 is $19,500 in an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan if you’re under 50.

“There’s a happy medium between the match and the max,” Cheng said.

She’d also encourage folks to take advantage of multiple retirement accounts with different tax advantages. While an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan grows pre-tax, you can also save in individual retirement accounts, which you contribute to post-tax. The 2021 maximum contribution for a Roth IRA is $6,000.

If you’re behind on retirement saving and over the age of 50, you should take advantage of make-up contributions. If you’re 50 or older, you can put $26,000 in a 401(k) and $7,000 in an IRA in 2021.  

If you’re overwhelmed, it can be helpful to work with a financial professional to make sure you’re on track for retirement, or to come up with a plan if you’re not.

They can also help you make important decisions about your life in retirement, such as when you retire, where you want to live, what kind of house you need or other big expenses.

Working a few years longer could help you save what you need to live comfortably. You could also potentially cut expenses by “right-sizing” your life, Cheng explained.

For example, you could move to a different city, change up your living arrangement or even cut down from two cars to one if you retire around the same time as a partner.

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