15 Cheap Cities to Move to – The Lowest Cost of Living Cities in the U.S.
At times taxes, high utility bills, rising fuel costs can make the amount on our paychecks deplete way faster than we’d like it to. If you find yourself in a situation where the high cost of living is repeatedly driving your financial goals way backwards, it’s probably a sign that you need to envision your life in a more affordable city.
The switch could practically open up doors to achieving things like buying your dream house and having a bigger lifestyle for yourself too. The possibilities are endless and there are a ton of cities where the cost of living is much lower than the national average. In this article, we’d be covering the top 15 cheap cities to move to in the US.
Things To Know About Living In The Cheapest Cities In The US
We’d just like to mention that the word ‘affordable’ or ‘cheapest’ is a relative term. You could very well live in an expensive city and still manage to find affordable housing if you look hard enough or live frugally. Similarly, even the cheapest cities have hubs and spaces where things are far from affordable.
All we’re trying to say is that each city has its own share of affordable and not-so-affordable areas. Of course, California gets tagged among the most expensive cities in the nation and similarly there are cities that also get labelled ‘affordable’, even though for some people it still isn’t.
Overall, since the term is so subjective, we suggest looking at the following list of cheap cities and then weigh it against your own budget. We’ll also be sharing pros and cons of living in these cities so that you can build a profile of what it would be like to live there.
Top 15 Cheap Cities in the United States
- Buffalo, New York
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Mesa, Arizona
- Tucson, Arizona
- San Antonio, Texas
- Brownsville, Texas
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Dayton, Ohio
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Peoria, Illinois
- Birmingham, Alabama
- Louisville, Kentucky
- Greenville, South Carolina
- Fort Wayne, Indiana
- Lynchburg, Virginia
1. Buffalo, New York
When you think of New York, you often imagine things to be pretty expensive and that’s because we limit ourselves to thinking only of the ‘City of Dreams’. But the state of New York is huge and upon widening the search to different places, you’ll realize that there are affordable cities in the state. One of them is the city of Buffalo!
It is the second largest city in New York where things are roughly 35% cheaper than the national average. The only aspect that’s expensive is the taxes! Residents pay 8.2% but save a great deal of money on housing and utilities.
- Downside – It is one of the cloudiest cities in the USA. The persistent cloudiness can be depressing. Other than that the taxes are also high.
- Upside – Rich in architecture, thriving job market and oceanic views.
Median Home Value – $164,539
Median Rent – $1,095
Median Household Income – $37,359
2. Memphis, Tennessee
The low cost of living and vibrant music scene in Memphis is enough for you to say ‘I’m all ears’! People often assume that if things are really so affordable does that mean that Memphis doesn’t have much to offer? But the rich diversity and soul of the city proves everyone wrong. The city has an interesting food culture and is filled with tight knit communities. It’s said that a single person can live comfortably with a grand total of $1,600 per month. Now doesn’t that scream affordable?
- Downside – Not too many great options for public transportation.
- Upside – Possesses a thriving business district with companies like FedEx, AutoZone International Paper and more.
Median Home Value – $103,798
Median Rent – $850
Median Household Income – $41,228
Also See: Top Neighborhoods in Memphis for Families
3. Mesa, Arizona
Mesa is just one of the many affordable cities in the state of Arizona that boasts of affordable housing. Arizona in general is a hotbed for those looking to find decent prices that aren’t hitting the roof. The most attractive feature of living in Mesa is that the gas prices are 8% lower than the national average. You can expect prices to be low for groceries and utilities too.
- Downside – The scorching heat can get unbearable at times so you have to get used to it. The heat and dust because of it being a desert region, and with no beaches around is also a downside for many.
- Upside – Friendly neighborhoods with plenty of stores and restaurants in close proximity.
Median Home Value – $226,500
Median Rent – $1,044
Median Household Income – $58,181
4. Tucson, Arizona
Tucson is the second Arizona city to make it to the list of the cheapest cities to move to in the United States. It is also coincidentally the second largest city in Arizona. If you choose to live here, you’d practically be living in a central area that is filled with modern conveniences but the good news is that you pay a small price! The city is surrounded by mountains so if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll have a good deal of options for hiking too.
- Downside – Prices are rising because there’s an influx of people moving here, the city is slowly but steadily growing to become crowded.
- Upside – You get a little of everything that a large city has. Museums, parks, universities and historical spots.
Median Home Value – $155,300
Median Rent – $846
Median Household Income – $43,425
5. San Antonio, Texas
The cost of living in the city of San Antonio is 14% lower than the national average (according to PayScale). The median household income stands at $53,455 which isn’t drastically lower than the national average which is at $62,843. Overall, it’s safe to say that you can maintain a great ratio between wage and cost of living in San Antonio. Now doesn’t that sound like a great deal?
- Downside – High property tax and high sales tax (8.25%).
- Upside – Close proximity to mega cities like Austin and the neighborhoods have a ton of greenery.
Median Home Value – $146,400
Median Rent – $992
Median Household Income – $53,455
6. Brownsville, Texas
The cost of living in Brownsville is extremely similar to San Antonio in Texas. The city shares its border with Mexico and there’s fusion of Hispanic and Latino culture. Brownsville is one of the cheapest cities to live and has a good number of decent suburbs. Just a heads up that you may or may not find enough job opportunities to take advantage of because it is ultimately a small city. We suggest also checking cities like Frisco and El Paso if you’re particularly interested in living in bigger yet affordable cities in Texas.
- Downside – Ideal in terms of affordability but doesn’t have all the offerings of a medium or big sized city.
- Upside – Communities are welcoming and rich diversity in food and culture.
Median Home Value – $116,866
Median Rent – $736
Median Household Income – $38,588
7. Cleveland, Ohio
The city of Cleveland is a moderate size metropolitan area in Ohio. The state of Ohio in general is among the cheapest states to live in the US, so other than Cleveland you can find cities where the housing, utilities and groceries are affordable. Cincinnati and Columbus are major hubs of the state and Cleveland isn’t too far from both these hotspots.
- Downside – The median household income is extremely low so this makes it difficult to earn a high figure.
- Upside – Sparsely crowded, less traffic and lots of natural scenery.
Median Home Value – $79,433
Median Rent – $719
Median Household Income – $30,907
8. Dayton, Ohio
The prices for housing and everything else is modestly priced in the city of Dayton. But we’d just like to say that even though you might love the prices of Dayton, the city is likeable to a few. This is because the lifestyle in Dayton is far off from bigger sized metropolitan areas. The pace is slower and chain restaurants are fewer as well. It has a small town vibe so if you do resonate with the way of life, you may end up liking it.
- Downside – The city’s economy is weak so the job market is to an extent mediocre.
- Upside – Beautiful scenery, quaint and not populated.
Median Home Value – $76,093
Median Rent – $706
Median Household Income – $32,540
9. Kansas City, Missouri
The state of Missouri holds the fifth rank for having the lowest cost of living in the nation. This basically makes it easier to own a bigger house or have more facilities for yourself, especially if you’re struggling in a city with high costs. Kansas City is a great choice for jobs too. It specially attracts a good deal of tech companies as well as those related to the field of medicine.
- Downside – You have to drive a great distance just to get to highlights of the city.
- Upside – Notable companies like Ford and pharmaceutical companies have a huge presence in Kansas.
Median Home Value – $179,113
Median Rent – $941
Median Household Income – $54,194
10. Peoria, Illinois
Peoria is an average size city in the state of Illinois. The housing here is affordable just like other cities on this list. People are drawn to the city specifically for the small town charm so it is easy to find local stores and eateries around. Just a heads up that salaries are poor so we suggest it’s best to line up a job before considering this city.
- Downside – Some places are run down and less appealing so you have to be careful about the neighborhood you pick.
- Upside – Beautiful riverfront city with tons of parks and recreational spots.
Median Home Value – $125,700
Median Rent – $806
Median Household Income – $51,771
11. Birmingham, Alabama
The city of Birmingham in the past has topped the Forbes list of most affordable cities to live in the USA and still holds that reputation in 2021. For a city its size, it has a great number of offerings in terms of housing, education and bikeable areas. There’s plenty to do in the city so it’s rare to feel like this is a bad trade off.
- Downside – Things are majorly rural so depending on what your objective with the move is, this may or may not be a downside.
- Upside – Endless outdoor opportunities and beautiful scenery to explore.
Median Home Value – $91,100
Median Rent – $837
Median Household Income – $37,375
12. Louisville, Kentucky
The city of Louisville is a perfect blend of infrastructure found in big cities and the charm that can only be found in small towns. It is the largest city in the state of Kentucky so you can expect to find crowds and a fast-paced life. Overall, there’s numerous job opportunities and the economy is steady for its size.
- Downside – If schools are extremely a priority for you then Louisville may not meet the mark of other cities its size.
- Upside – The city is extremely diverse so it’s easy to meet people from all walks of life. The income in this city is also higher than the state average.
Median Home Value – $158,700
Median Rent – $846
Median Household Income – $53,436
Also See: Best Neighborhoods in Louisville for Families
13. Greenville, South Carolina
The city of Greenville is among the top tier cities to reside in the state of South Carolina. The city is home to phenomenal school systems and established companies have a stronghold here. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you would even have access to both the mountains and the beach. Besides all of these perks, the cost of living is relatively low in the city of Greenville.
- Downside – The urban sprawl is a little concerning because of which traffic is becoming an issue.
- Upside – Great sunny weather for 8 to 9 months and lots of green spaces.
Median Home Value – $292,400
Median Rent – $984
Median Household Income – $56,609
14. Fort Wayne, Indiana
Purchasing a house or renting a home in Fort Wayne is on the lower end of the spectrum in comparison to other cities. Granted, the lifestyle and culture isn’t like cities like New York, but Fort Wayne is pretty progressive in its essence. Most of the largest companies choose this city to lay their headquarters and the economy is diverse for a city its size. All in all, the city has great momentum.
- Downside – Public transportation is limited to certain areas which can be frustrating if you don’t have a car.
- Upside – Not a sleepy town but an active one booming in fields of art, culture and economy.
Median Home Value – $110,600
Median Rent – $735
Median Household Income – $49,411
15. Lynchburg, Virginia
If you’re a nature lover you’ll easily find more than one reason to settle in the city of Lynchburg. The low housing costs will also leave you with a bigger disposable income to spend on things you like doing for yourself and family. Since Lynchburg isn’t exactly in a central area of the state, you can also consider Richmond where the costs are also relatively low.
- Downside – Isolated and off the grid from other popular hubs in Virginia, which may be an issue if you like being outdoors.
- Upside – The city is neat, picturesque and clean. It also has a recognition for being safe and friendly.
Median Home Value – $160,100
Median Rent – $857
Median Household Income – $46,409
Which are the cheapest cities to live in the USA?
Texas cities such as San Antonio, Brownsville, Corpus Cristi and El Paso are surprisingly extremely affordable. The state has a larger number of affordable cities in comparison to others.
What is the cheapest state in the USA?
Mississippi is ranked as the most affordable state to live in the US. The cost of living here is 15% lower than the national average. Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Tennessee are the other states that make it to the list.
What city has the lowest cost of living?
Fort Wayne, Wichita Falls, El Paso and Corpus Christi are some of the cities that have the lowest cost of living in the country. Surprisingly, all of these cities reside in Texas, which has several affordable cities compared to most other states in the U.S.
Where is the cheapest and nicest place to live?
With its warm weather and plenty of outdoor activities, Mississippi is one of the nicest and affordable places to live in the U.S. The cost of living here is almost 15% lower than the national average. Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas are some of the other affordable places that you can consider living in.
What is the cheapest city to live in in the United States?
Buffalo in New York is one of the cheapest cities to live in the U.S. The other cities you can consider living in are Memphis, Mesa, Tucson and San Antonio.
Where is the cheapest and safest place to live in the world?
Portugal is one of the cheapest and safest places to live in. It topped the Annual Global Retirement Index in 2020 according to Forbes. The other cheap and safe places to reside in are Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and Columbia.
What state pays you $10000 to move there?
Maine, Vermont, Alaska, Iowa and Tulsa are some of the states that will pay you almost $10,000 to stay there.
Where can I live for $1000 a month?
Rochester, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Knoxville and Cincinnati are some of the places in the U.S where you can live for $1000 a month.
Where can I retire for $500 a month?
Portugal, Malaysia, Spain, Costa Rica and Panama are some of the places where you can retire for $500 a month because of their low cost of living.
What is the cheapest and safest state to live in?
Mississippi is one of the safest and cheapest states to live in the U.S because of its low crime rates and low cost of living. The other cheap and safe states you can consider living in are Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Tennessee.
Cities like Louisville, Fort Wayne, Tucson, Memphis are major metropolitan areas in the US that allow you to live well without paying exorbitant prices! Few cities on this list could be medium size or small cities so it may or may not be a great trade off depending on what type of cities you’re drawn towards.
Overall, we’d say that it is very much possible to live on less than $50K annually in these cities in comparison to others where even a six-figure income doesn’t cut it to drive your personal financial goals forward. If you’re looking for alternative cities where you can live an alternative lifestyle, taking these cities and states into consideration would be a great place to start.