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The 21 Cheapest Places To Live In The U.S.

Sarah Sharkey8-minute read

September 06, 2022

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If you want to relocate, the cheapest places to live in the U.S. deserve your consideration. With a lower cost of living, the place you call home can give your budget room the breathing room you need.

Let’s explore the more affordable places to live in the U.S. Hopefully, you’ll find an option that suits your style of living and your budget!

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Where Is The Cheapest Place To Live?

The cheapest places to live offer residents a more affordable lifestyle. Of course, price isn’t the only consideration when relocating. But looking at affordable places is a great place to start your search for where you’ll decide to call home.

We based our list of the cheapest places to live on research from The Council for Community and Economic Research, Niche, among other sources.

1. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Fort Wayne, Indiana, is one of the cheapest places to live in America. The affordable housing costs are a major draw for residents moving to the city. But the area also boasts of several picturesque rivers which create boating and other recreational opportunities.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 78.9
  • Population: 263,886
  • Average household income: $51,464
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $121,600
  • Median rent: $777

2. South Bend, Indiana

Home to the Fighting Irish, this Indiana city offers a mix of affordability and culture. Although the price might be right, the chilly winters might not be the right fit for everyone.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 68.4
  • Population: 103,353
  • Average household income: $42,657
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $88,600
  • Median rent: $814

3. Dayton, Ohio

Dayton has earned a reputation as the Birthplace of Aviation. In addition to historic pride, this Ohio city offers an affordable place to call home.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 71.4
  • Population: 137,571
  • Average household income: $34,457
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $69,400
  • Median rent: $724

4. Toledo, Ohio

The Glass City has served as a hub for glass manufacturing since the 1880s. With time, the economy has evolved to attract a wider range of industries to the affordable area. Plus its location on Lake Erie makes it a prime place for water enthusiasts.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 72.7
  • Population: 268,508
  • Average household income: $39,155
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $83,600
  • Median rent: $737

5. Akron, Ohio

Although it might come as a surprise, Akron has significant ties with some high-profile celebrities. For example, Lebron James and multiple members of The Black Keys are from Akron. In addition to ties with the stars, Akron offers its residents an affordable place to call home.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 69.5
  • Population: 189,347
  • Average household income: $40,281
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $83,500
  • Median rent: $795

6. Erie City, Pennsylvania

You’ll find Erie City in the northwest corner of the state. In addition to picturesque lake views, the affordable cost of living makes Erie City an even more enjoyable place to live.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 74.6
  • Population: 93,999
  • Average household income: $38,655
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $90,500
  • Median rent: $725

7. Knoxville, Tennessee

Looking for a mix of country living sprinkled with a hint of a big-city feel? Knoxville is a cost-effective candidate. The University of Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains and the Tennessee River are just a few of the major attractions.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 85.5
  • Population: 192,648
  • Average household income: $41,598
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $142,700
  • Median rent: $883

8. Memphis, Tennessee

Close to the mighty Mississippi River and featuring an NBA franchise as well as legendary barbecue and music, you’ll be happy if you move here and find yourself “walking in Memphis.”

  • Overall cost of living index score: 76.0
  • Population: 628,127
  • Average household income: $41,864
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $107,100
  • Median rent: $915

9. Joplin, Missouri

Ready to live with an outlaw state of mind in the infamous city where Bonnie and Clyde hid out for a while? Move to Joplin. You won’t need to be a bank robber, given how cost-effective it is to live here.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 76.3
  • Population: 51,846
  • Average household income: $45,091
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $125,400
  • Median rent: $774

10. Harlingen, Texas

In the Longhorn State, Harlingen features the Rio Grande to the south and the Gulf of Mexico to the east. This quaint Texas town offers a historic district filled with charming shops and restaurants combined with being a major distribution hub for goods making their way down the Rio Grande.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 67.5
  • Population: 71,925
  • Average household income: $43,003
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $92,000
  • Median rent: $748

11. McAllen, Texas

Too much Texas? Sorry, but McAllen makes our list as one of the cheapest places to live in America. Other features beyond the cheap living? The Quinta Mazatlan, a luxury birding habitat and the International Museum of Art & Science are two of the main features McAllen offers.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 78.6
  • Population: 143,920
  • Average household income: $49,259
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $131,500
  • Median rent: $829

12. Anniston, Alabama

Are you an outdoorsy, mountain biking and hiking type who also likes a bit of quirky character in their city, like it being home to the world's biggest office chair? Anniston may be the place for you! Get lost in the Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge or enjoy the charming Victorian architecture of downtown.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 77.2
  • Population: 21,157
  • Average household income: $41,366
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $117,500
  • Median rent: $734

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13. Kalamazoo, Michigan

With Western Michigan University driving the local economy, “KZoo” (as the locals call it) also is home to two exceptional nationally known microbreweries – Arcadia and Bells. So, if you like education and beer, this might be the spot to call home.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 79.2
  • Population: 261,108
  • Average household income: $58,836
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $168,500
  • Median rent: $846

14. Amarillo, Texas

"The Yellow Rose of Texas" offers the charms of state traditions like big steaks and a love of high school football, in addition to being very easy on the wallet. It’s also known as the "Helium Capital of the World" for having one of the country's most productive helium fields, not that you necessarily care about that for your home search.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 80.1
  • Population: 201,234
  • Average household income: $52,941
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $138,900
  • Median rent: $876

15. Meridian, Mississippi

Although Meridian is the seventh-largest city in the state of Mississippi, you’ll still find small-town vibes and historic charm that create a welcoming environment. The city is known for delicious southern food. Plus, there are tributes to musical talents born here, like the town’s very own Jimmie Rodgers.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 74.6
  • Population: 34,424
  • Average household income: $30,088
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $84,300
  • Median rent: $709

16. Tupelo, Mississippi

If you are looking for other affordable options in the Magnolia State, Tupelo doesn’t disappoint. As the birthplace of Elvis Presley, the town is steeped in musical history. Plus, the Natchez Trace Parkway, a scenic driving route in the state, is headquartered here.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 78
  • Population: 37,667
  • Average household income: $54,691
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $148,900
  • Median rent: $795

17. Muskogee, Oklahoma

The city of Muskogee was originally named for the Creek Tribe. Over the decades, the town has blossomed into an affordable oasis for those seeking a lower cost of living.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 71
  • Population: 36,790
  • Average household income: $38,218
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $98,800
  • Median rent: $683

18. Jackson, Mississippi

An affordable cost of living isn’t the only thing that Jackson, Mississippi, offers residents. Additionally, you’ll find ample opportunities to explore Civil War history and the roots of blues music. The city also hosts the USA International Ballet Competition every 4 years, which offers some extra spice for this robust city full of interesting activities.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 80.5
  • Population: 149,761
  • Average household income: $40,064
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $91,400
  • Median rent: $856

19. Topeka, Kansas

As the state capital of Kansas, Topeka offers a wide range of useful services to residents. Beyond the relatively low cost of living, residents can explore the Mulvane Art Museum and Gage Park, which includes 160 acres of activities, including a zoo and carousel.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 81.7
  • Population: 125,963
  • Average household income: $49,647
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $105,700
  • Median rent: $815

20. Richmond, Indiana

Richmond, or the Rose City, has been named an All America City twice, in 1987 and 2009. With four colleges and seminaries, there are many educational opportunities in this historic town. If you become a resident, expect cold winters and ample springtime weather.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 67.6
  • Population: 35,817
  • Average household income: $40,871
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $86,300
  • Median rent: $704

21. Salina, Kansas

When driving across the Sunflower State, you’ll find Salina nestled in the middle. Although primarily built around the surrounding grain industry, Saline has served as an important stopping point for Americans heading west for centuries. The town is centered around family living. Most families will find plenty of activities to enjoy together.

  • Overall cost of living index score: 76
  • Population: 46,481
  • Average household income: $49,870
  • Owner-occupied median home value: $133,500
  • Median rent: $769

Other Factors To Consider Before Deciding Where To Live

When looking for a new place to call home, affordability is only one of the many factors to consider. Here’s a quick look at a few of the other factors to consider when deciding where to live.

Taxes

Before heading to a new state, it’s important to look up the tax laws. Every state has different rules surrounding income taxes and property taxes. Understanding the tax rules before you move can help you avoid a potentially expensive tax situation.

Safety

The safety of a city can play a role in your decision to move. Make sure you’ll have the community you are looking for in a place before uprooting your life.

Climate

Before committing to a very warm or very cold place, be realistic about your comfort level. For some, a cold winter is something to look forward to, but others dread the same weather. Take the time to research average temperatures. Otherwise, your new home could be uncomfortable.

Job Opportunities

Unless you are retired, the job opportunities available in a location are critical. If you are on the job hunt, consider areas that draw in talent for your industry. Sometimes a location isn’t a good fit based on a lack of job opportunities in the area.

Real Estate Market

If you are planning to buy a home in a new location, it’s a good idea to scope out the real estate market. Determine whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market. If a seller’s market, prepare for a tough housing search. If it’s a buyer’s market, you might be able to easily locate and score a deal on a new home.

The Bottom Line On The Most Affordable Places To Live In The US

While it's important to weigh all the factors when buying a new home, don't forget about the affordability of an area. Make a list of your must-haves, nice-to-haves, and could-do-withouts to start searching the country for the perfect place to call home.

If you find the right home in one of these places, get approved with Rocket Mortgage® to make your dream home a reality.

Get approved to buy a home.

Rocket Mortgage® lets you get to house hunting sooner.

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Sarah Sharkey

Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer who enjoys diving into the details to help readers make savvy financial decisions. She’s covered mortgages, money management, insurance, budgeting, and more. She lives in Florida with her husband and dog. When she's not writing, she's outside exploring the coast. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.