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Cheap Places to Live

September 18th, 2017 - 4:01 PM

Where are the most affordable places to live?

You may have heard of the cost of living index before, but did you know it’s a good way to choose a city to move to? Because costs for basic essentials vary across the country, this index provides a simple way to determine if your salary will adequately cover expenses. Many areas have a rising cost of living, but there are plenty of places that fall below the national average. If you’re looking for affordable real estate and the lowest cost of living, these 10 places fit the bill.


What are average costs of living?

To see which cities were the most affordable, we looked at national averages. The data below was compiled from the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.  

  • The median household income was $56,516 in 2015 (the last reported Census date).
  • The average price of a new home is $379,500 as of June 2017.
  • The median rent cost in 2015 was $1,009.
  • The average current price for a gallon of whole milk is $3.21.

When looking for a cheap place to live in the U.S., look for areas with lower than average costs.

10 of the cheapest places to live


chart showing the 10 cheapest places to live in the US
  1. Tulsa, OK – As the “Oil Capital of the World,” Tulsa is the economic hub of the area. Affordable housing brings the overall cost of living down, and the average resident spends just 26% of their income on living expenses (housing and utilities), as opposed to the average of 30%.  Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the city comes in around $800.
  2. Wichita, KS – Wichita offers big-city conveniences at small town prices, with the cost of living falling 15% lower than the national average. The attractive downtown and active arts community are supported by residents who have extra income to spend on entertainment.  
  3. Austin, TX – This eclectic Texas town is a vibrant community full of live music, great food and booming growth. The combination of higher paying jobs and lower cost of living makes Austin one of the cheapest cities to live in.  When you examine everyday expenses, Austin comes in just under average, with a gallon of milk costing $3.12.
  4. Fayetteville, AR – Located in the growing Northwest corner of Arkansas, Fayetteville’s economy is sustained by education and business. The very low unemployment rate and affordable housing make it a cheaper spot in the region. When it comes time to have fun, the college town culture makes amenities and entertainment affordable.
  5. Cedar Rapids, IA – When you pair the low cost of living (8.1% below the national average) with cheap entertainment, Cedar Rapids is one of the most affordable places to live. With cheap minor league baseball games, free museums and free performances, you can stay entertained without spending much.
  6. Lincoln, NE – Lincoln has been listed as a city with one of the highest “real” minimum wages, which is the minimum wage adjusted for the local cost of living.  You can make that income go further with affordable homes and apartments. Renters pay $200 less than the national median, and Lincoln has been named a top city for renters because of amenities like the Historic Haymarket and bike trails.
  7. Durham, NC – As part of the Research Triangle, Durham is known for technology and education. The strong economy has fueled recent job growth. Residents receive 17% higher wages. And the average commute time is just 8 minutes — much lower than the national 26 minutes.  Expenses are cheap here — a gallon of milk is just $2.59!
  8. Birmingham, AL – Known as “Steel City,” Birmingham is one of the top steel producers in the country. You’ll find affordable prices across the board with below average costs for housing, healthcare, transportation and groceries.
  9. St. Louis, MO – From professional sports to historic districts, there’s plenty of fun to be had in St. Louis. You’ll have money to enjoy it all because the cost of living is 14% lower than the national average.
  10. Cincinnati, OH – With a great combination of a low cost of living and a growing job market, Cincinnati is a great place to live. The affordable real estate is a major draw, with housing costs coming in at 39% below the national average.

Moving to one of these best affordable cities?

Do you have plans to relocate to one of these cheap places to live? Which one sounds the best to you? Tell us in the comments.

To find out how much it costs to move to one of these towns, get a free moving quote from U-Pack®.

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bestplaces.net/ ; arkansasonline.com/news/2017/jun/04/low-unemployment-in-northwest-arkansas-/ ; gocedarrapids.com/blog/free-things-to-do/ ; realestate.usnews.com/ ; smartasset.com/mortgage/the-cities-with-the-highest-and-lowest-real-minimum-wage-2016-edition ; kiplinger.com/slideshow/real-estate/T006-S001-cheapest-cities-you-will-want-to-live-in/index.html ; numbeo.com/cost-of-living/ ; bls.gov/ ; apartmentadvisor.com/blog/15-best-cities-in-the-us-for-apartment-living/