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Cost of moving: New Orleans

New Orleans is a unique, affordable place to call home.

New Orleans is a unique, affordable place to call home.

If your mental image of New Orleans is that of an endless Mardi Gras party where the beads flow as freely as the booze and everyone is dodging crocodiles and voodoo priestesses on their way to a Dixieland jazz concert on Bourbon Street, you've probably seen one too many movies. Despite problems following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city is a wonderful place for families and entrepreneurs, and those searching for a unique place to call home should look no further than New Orleans.

Founded in 1718 by French traders, New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It was named for the Duke of Orleans, and its original boundaries comprised what we know of today as the French Quarter, according to the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. In 1762, possibly after losing a bet, French King Louis the XV gave the city and the territory of Louisiana to his cousin, King Charles III of Spain. Sadly, the city burned to the ground in 1788, and then again six years later. Little of the original French architecture remains.

The city is perhaps most famous for its musical history. As legend has it, New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz. According to the official New Orleans tourism website NewOrleansOnline.com, the city was the only one in the country that allowed slaves to own drums. African tribal rhythms and voodoo rituals collided with European brass bands and church gospels to create a musical tradition that has influenced the world.

The city is an affordable place to live, as well. Real estate guru Bert Sperling says the average cost of living is roughly 3 percent lower in New Orleans than in the rest of the country. Utilities are especially low compared with the nation as a whole, despite the serious need for air conditioning in the summer months. From April through October, according to The Weather Channel, the average temperature in New Orleans tops 80 degrees - 90 in June, July and August.

After finding a house in the city, you'll have plenty of money left over to hire a good moving company - median home prices in the New Orleans area are $159,000, according to real estate analyst Zillow. If you're thinking of packing up and heading to the city's popular and historic French Quarter, however, you'll have to dish out a bit more cash. Median home prices in that area are $370,000.