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The truth is that times are tough and Americans are looking at ways to cut costs, and this includes moving to the cheapest cities in the US. This guide explores the cheapest cities in the United States, and why they are considered such. Let me chaperone you to the cheapest cities to retire in the United States, wander with me through the most affordable outdoor cities, and let’s help you find the best cities to buy, or rent, a home from.
Where Are the Cheapest Cities to Live in The United States?
Before we answer where the cheapest cities to live in the United States are, we take a look at why some cities, or states, are more affordable than others, and what contributes to the lower cost of living in the most affordable cities in Texas, and elsewhere in our country.
What Does Cost of Living Mean to You?
How much money do you need to stay where you do? You can calculate this as a monthly, or annual amount. Alternatively, the Council for Community and Economic Research publishes a cost of living index that is accepted as the standard unit of measure for the cost of living in a certain area. But what does this mean?
A Miami residential realtor looking to relocate within the state would search for the most affordable cities in Florida. They could be looking for a long term residential investment, or just a quick flip. However, a Cape Air pilot on early retirement might browse, what are the cheapest cities to fly in and out of the United States, or even the cheapest cities to travel to in the US, if he is looking at part-time employment during retirement.
Here is what contributes to the consumer price index that affects the cost of living index:
- Foodstuffs (home and away)
- Energy (gasoline, diesel and other fuel, natural gas, oil, and electricity)
- Vehicles – new and pre-used
- Medical Care
Costs fluctuate not only between communities, cities, and states, but are also seasonal, and could change monthly. There are also other factors that affect the cost of living index (c.o.l.i.), and these include:
- Location (Rural vs Urban)
- Availability/Proximity to energy sources or easy access to fresh produce in farming communities
- Taxes, tax laws, other laws and what these will cost you
The Law of Supply and Demand
Then there is the law of supply and demand. This is a major driving force when deciding what is a desirable location, and which of the cheapest cities in the southwest United States, or elsewhere for that matter, should be avoided.
Oftentimes cities that are unpopular may also have a lower cost of living. You tend to find:
- Fewer employment opportunities
- Lack of, or poor administration of, state or government services
- Lower tax rates
Did you know that the major employers in a state or city have a large influence on what the cost of living in an area can be?
Take for example:
- Indiana – 22% of the employed population work in the production industry
- Arkansas – 17.5% of the state’s workforce are in blue collar jobs.
Because of a large percentage of blue collar workers, (who traditionally earn less than computer analysts, or programmers) and therefore have less expendable cash, there is lower spending power in these areas – which can manifest in lower living costs, but also degradation of an area. This is proven by the fact that these states both feature on the list of cheapest states to live in, as well as having cities that are amongst the most affordable outdoor cities in the country.
(City or Area) – low living cost = Fewer People
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But what can you do when you stay in a city that is not one of the cheapest places to live in the US? Further along in this post we look at a few helpful, dollar saving tips when not living in the cheapest city in the United States, but first I show you the most expensive cities to live in the US.
What are the Most Expensive Cities to Live in the USA?
Although this post predominantly focuses on the cheapest big cities to live in in the United States, I thought it would be interesting to show you the other side of the scale. I am pretty sure that everyone will guess that Manhattan is right up there, but what are some of the other most expensive US cities according to the US Census Bureau?
New York City | Manhattan
Everything in Manhattan costs more, even the maids. This is why people have been singing its praises for millenia – if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!
- Population: 1,7 million
- Cost of Living index: 237.8% higher than US average
- Average cost of a house (All 5 NYC boroughs): $776,946 vs US average – $355,852.
- Unemployment rate: 6.6% vs US average – 3.5%
San Francisco | California
San Francisco, home to The Golden Gate Bridge, is not one of the cheapest American cities by a long shot, in fact, it is near the top of the other end of the scale.
- Population: 875,000
- Cost of Living index: 94.5% higher than US average
- Average cost of a house: $1.6 million (inner city houses) vs US average – $355,852.
- Unemployment rate: 6.4% vs US average – 3.5%
Seattle – Washington State
Seattle, the birthplace of Starbucks, may not be one of the cheapest cities to live in on the west coast of the United States, but people are still migrating towards it. Here is why:
- Population: 734,000
- Cost of Living index: 54.5% higher than US average
- Average cost of a house: $981,548 vs US average – $355,852.
- Unemployment rate: 3.3% vs US average – 3.5%
The truth is that times are tough and Americans are looking at ways to cut costs, and this includes moving to the most affordable cities in the US.
This guide explores the cheapest cities in the United States, and why they are considered such. Let me chaperone you to the cheapest cities to retire in the United States, wander with me through the most affordable outdoor cities, and let’s help you find the best cities to buy, or rent, a home from.
*5 Cheapest Cities to Buy a House in US (*In My Opinion)
After the pandemic limited everyone’s movements for what felt like a lifetime, Americans are now looking for space. This has led to a growing trend that is seeing buyers younger than 40, looking for more spacious, affordable homes with low interest repayments, and they are finding them mostly below the Mason-Dixon line.
A city’s affordability can be measured in a number of ways, but in the end it is up to each individual’s feelings about a certain city or area, and whether they can afford to live there or not.
How Do You Gauge a City’s Affordability?
You Can Measure:
- The average household income
- Average value of homes
- The average rent
- State and local tax rates
- The cost of living index
What Makes a City Attractive (Besides Affordability)?
When you compare the cheapest cities to rent in the United states, you need to look a bit deeper than what it will cost to live there? Will the city you choose fulfill your social, religious and leisure time needs? It is important that you feel happy in your surroundings. So don’t move to any of the cheapest cities for housing just to save a few dollars, just to lose your soul.
Is there enough of the things you like:
- Is it safe?
- Are their good employment options
- Access to public and open spaces
- Cultural opportunities
- How easy is it to get around?
- What’s the food like?
- How good are the schools?
- What is the infrastructure like?
We have taken all of these into consideration and have chosen to highlight these five cities on the cheapest cities to buy a house list:
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Scranton, Pennsylvania
- Syracuse, New York
- Detroit, Michigan
- Wichita, Kansas
Investment activity in Ohio’s third largest city has tripled in the last two years. According to VAPAC figures, and the momentum shows little sign of slowing down in the near future. The Forest City is not just one of the most affordable big cities in the country, it offers something for everyone.
There are countless parks, trails, and conservation areas for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Not to mention world class entertainment, food, sports, and access to superb health care facilities and more.
Why is Cleveland One Of the Cheapest Cities in Ohio?
It seems that most things in Cleveland are cheaper than anywhere else in the country. This translates to a better quality of life, without spending more money. In fact, prices here for transportation, utilities, groceries and housing, are nearly 17% lower than the national median.
- Cost of Living index: 72.3
- The Median cost of a house: $68, 900
- Median household income: $31,838
- The Median Rent: $735
- Unemployment Rate: 6.8%
- Average travel time to work: 23.8 minutes
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awesome weather in June and July. The cost of housing is also 38% lower than the national average. Scranton itself is a bustling little metro with loads of tertiary education options, unique cultural experiences, and friendly folk.
Why is Scranton on the Cheapest Cities in Pennsylvania List?
The fact that people who buy a house in one of the cheapest cities in Northeast PA spend 18.8% less of their income towards housing has increased interest in this unique city.
- Population: 76,532
- Cost of Living index: 72.3
- Median cost of a house: $121,700
- The Median household income: $37,551
- Median Rent: $795
- Unemployment Rate: 8.7%
- Average travel time to work: 20 minutes
Syracuse, New York
When you are looking for the cheapest city for rent, New York would not be your first choice, but Syracuse has the most inexpensive single family houses in the state. Perfect when you need more space, but don’t want to pay expensive large city prices. Many New Yorkers are relocating to this area specifically because of this reason.
Why is Syracuse One of the Most Affordable Cities in New York?
Known for spectacular snowscapes, low crime rate and superior quality of life, Syracuse is certainly worth a search with the keywords, ‘the cheapest city for rent near me’. That is if you are looking for a cheaper than Manhattan lifestyle option.
- Population: 141,229
- Cost of Living index: 84.1
- Median cost of a house: $148,700
- The Median household income: $31,566
- Median Rent: $830
- Unemployment Rate: 8.6%
- Average travel time to work: 17.6
Take away January and February, and you might find the Detroit weather bearable enough. At the moment there are many new residential areas springing up on what was once farmland, and home buyers are taking note. Once only famous as the ‘Motor City’, residents are now spoiled with top class restaurants, superb cultural activities, and family friendly neighborhoods.
Cities With Most Affordable Housing | Detroit
Once ranked as the most affordable city in the United States, Detroit is fast gaining a reputation on the music scene, and this is drawing a new type of homebuyer and investors to the city. Real estate prices here are 68% lower than the rest of the state, and rental prices compare more than favorably. That is great news for first time and entry level home buyers.
- Population: 665,369
- Cost of Living index: 88.7
- Median cost of a house: $68,600
- The Median household income: $26,095
- Median Rent: $850
- Unemployment Rate: 9.6%
- Average travel time to work: 25.8
What is the cost of living index in Kansas? To start with, housing is 32% less than the national average and with affordable living costs, Kansas is not just a place where Dorothy grew up, but investors are certainly following the yellow brick road to the most affordable cities in the United States.
Why is Wichita One of the Most Cheapest Cities in Kansas?
The largest city in the midwest state of Kansas has seen a phenomenal increase in residents in the last 10 years, and there is still plenty of opportunity for people looking for a home in the cheapest cities in the US.
What are the pros of Wichita living? Off the bat, you get four seasons, and that goes well with the great food and barbeques. When you combine this with the cheap living costs, not much urbanization and easy commuting, Wichita is a good choice when you are looking for a home in Kansas cities with cheapest housing.
- Population: 391,731
- Cost of Living index: 81.5
- Median cost of a house: $160,700
- The Median household income: $45,907
- Median Rent: $703
- Unemployment Rate: 5.9%
- Average travel time to work: 18.8
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