Forget LA and New York: These Are the Most Affordable Places to Live in the USA

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Tulsa, Oklahoma

There are several beautiful places to live in the USA, from the snowy planes of Alaska to Florida’s beaches, and Nevada’s deserts to the high-rises of New York. Whether you’re looking for a close-knit community or bustling nightlife, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

When you decide to move, various factors can influence your decision. Are there enough job opportunities? What’s the community and crime rate like? Are there exciting activities or entertainment options? While these are all valid considerations, there’s one factor that’ll always play a key role:

Budget

Affordability is a significant deciding factor, especially for a generation of young adults snared in student loans and low average income levels. They also love to live in culturally rich cities and towns surrounded by nature. That is if the price is right.

Regardless of whether you’re a student, young adult, looking for a family home, or considering a place to retire, you’re likely interested in saving on costs. Luckily, we’ve gathered a list of great, reasonably priced places to live in the United States.

We’re going to give you a brief overview of various cities that are both affordable and meet a few other essential needs as well.

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

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Hattiesburg may be small, but it isn’t quiet. The town is home to the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University. It’s also where you’ll find the largest National Guard training base east of the river. It’s home to various museums, galleries, and theatres. It even has an escape room. If you choose to live here, you’ll save on housing costs, utilities, transportation, and health care.

 

If you’re a fan of the big city, Hattiesburg might not be your ideal place to live. However, if you enjoy close-knit communities, cultural venues, and entertainment, you’ll love this town. As a bonus, it’s a relatively short drive to some of the best casinos along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.

  • Cost of Living: 13.4% below U.S. average
  • Median Income: $33,792
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.2%

Although Hattiesburg is last on our list, it’s still one of the most affordable places to live in the United States. If you’re hunting for the perfect apartment that won’t cost an arm and a leg, this lovely town might still deserve a spot on your shortlist.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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Oklahoma City is one of the few large metropolitans on this list. When you think about the “big-city,” affordability isn’t one of the first thoughts that come to mind. However, that’s precisely what you can expect.

 

Although it’s home to almost 650,000 people, its housing costs are 20% lower than the national average. It has an excellent median income compared to other cities we’ve listed and a significantly low unemployment rate. If that doesn’t appeal to your thrifty nature, nothing will.

  • Cost of Living: 14.2% below U.S. average
  • Median Income: $53,973
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.6%

If you’re set on living in a large metropolitan area, surrounded by attractions, nightlife, and sports venues, there are several cities to choose from in America. However, if you’re looking for all those features at an affordable price, Oklahoma City might be your El Dorado.

Seguin, Texas

Seguin, Texas

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There are many great spaces available for rent in Texas! The sprawling metropolitan areas are some of the most affordable in the U.S., and movers might even give you a rebate. You can check out TheUrbanAvenue here or use one of many online apartment locators.

However, if you really want an affordable space that’s both beautiful and close to a big city, Seguin is the jackpot. Although it’s a relatively small town, Seguin is only 30 miles outside of downtown San Antonio, giving you access to a few big-city benefits. It’s also home to the Max Starcke Pack that runs along the Guadalupe River, making it perfect for any outdoor enthusiast.

 

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There’s a lot more to enjoy in Seguin. It’s the “Pecan Capital of Texas,” so if you’re feeling a little nutty for nuts, you’ll love living here. It also has several historical sights and districts, and it’s home to the Texas Mead Works.

  • Cost of Living: 14.3% below U.S. average
  • Median Income: $48,782
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.4%

Although its cost of living puts it third-last on this list, the high median income and the low unemployment rate still make Seguin one of the most attractive and affordable towns. However, if you’re not a big fan of smaller, close-knit communities, you might want to consider one of our other contenders.

Florence, Alabama

If you’d like to enjoy “southern charm” at a reasonable price, consider making Florence your forever home. It has a rich Native American heritage and deep musical roots. FAME Studios is where artists like Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and The Rolling Stones recorded their albums. 

Residents’ housing expenses are 35% below the national average. If you’re planning on renting an apartment, your average monthly payment will be about $574, which is approximately half of what most other Americans pay. Even health care is more affordable, as are most other general expenses.

  • Cost of Living: 14.7% below U.S. average
  • Median Income: $38,902
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.4%

Florence seems to be a solid average in the best way possible. It has a low cost of living and unemployment rate and an excellent median income. There’s a lot to love about this town; whether it’s history or nature you want to enjoy, Florence has plenty of both, tied up with an affordable bow.

 

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma

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Before Houston claimed the moniker, Tulsa was the Oil Capital of the World. Today, the city celebrates that heritage proudly with museums and cultural tours. However, the sprawling metropolitan is also home to zoos, universities, an aquarium, and several reserves and nature parks.

If that sounds like a place you’d like to live, you’ll be happy to know that you’ll pay almost 39% less than residents of most other cities. It’s not the only bill you’ll save money on, either. Utilities, transportation, groceries, and health care all fall well below the national average.

  • Cost of Living: 15.6% below U.S. average
  • Median Income: $46,113
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.1%

Not only is Tulsa’s unemployment rate low, but the median income is also higher than several other cities on this list. Essentially, you’ll earn more, spend less, and have access to some of the most historical, culturally, and naturally diverse entertainment in the state.

 

Knoxville, Tennessee

If you’re thrifty and thriving, swing by Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s not just about cheap living; this city offers affordable costs across the board. You’ll pay less for almost everything, from transportation to food.

An added benefit is the low unemployment rate and a somewhat higher median income. You’ll be able to save quite a bit of your paycheck since you’ll pay less for health care, utilities, and rent. You can spend those extra pennies by visiting the Old City, Ijams Nature Center, and Market Square.

 

  • Cost of Living: 16.8% below U.S. average
  • Median Income: $40,459
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.9%

Knoxville is a great place to enjoy an affordable, entertaining lifestyle.

It used to be the state capital and offers the perfect blend of city and country living. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or just looking for a great place to call home, Knoxville should definitely make the shortlist.

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas

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Fayetteville isn’t just a great place to live; it’s one of the perfect places to retire. If you’re looking for somewhere to settle down for good, you might want to add this one to your shortlist. Life here is affordable, offering relatively cheap goods, services, and housing to students and residents.

If you decide to move to Fayetteville, you’ll pay almost 30% less on housing than most other Americans. Your health care, groceries, and transportation costs will also come in below the national average.

  • Cost of Living: 16.9% below U.S. average
  • Median Income: $41,890
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.7%

You can’t go wrong with Fayetteville. Unemployment rates are low, and the median income is high. Even better, you can spend your savings on enjoying Dickson Street, the Square, Heritage Trail, or take in a play at TheatreSquared. It’s the perfect town for young and old alike.

 

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Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee

 

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Memphis is the home of Elvis and three Fortune 500 companies. It’s a massive shipping hub, has numerous colleges and universities, and a basketball franchise. The best part, however, is its low real estate prices. As a renter, you’ll pay about $350 less per month than the average American.

If you’re looking for entertainment options, you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy a Peabody rooftop party, or lose yourself to the nightlife on Beale Street. You’ll save more than enough on housing costs to enjoy the city’s thrills, sounds, and flavors.

  • Cost of Living: 17.3% below U.S. average
  • Median Income: $37,199
  • Unemployment Rate: 11,9%

Memphis has had a few ups and downs, and the economy’s been hit hard. Unemployment rates are at 11.9%, so you’ll have to do a bit of hunting to get a job. However, if you do, you’ll save a massive portion of your paycheck on cheap rent and delicious southern ribs.

Amarillo, Texas

Amarillo, Texas

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If you’d like to save on everything, from toothpaste to trips to the vet, Amarillo might be the place to call home sweet home. The residents of this beautiful city pay less for health care, housing and rent, and general goods and services. Even the economy is shining; the unemployment rate is 4.2%, half the national average.

 

You’ll have a lot to do if you move to the city. If you like the outdoors, you can explore canyons, hiking trails, or camping. Alternatively, check out Route 66, try to beat the 72-ounce steak challenge, catch the ballet, or visit the theatre. There’s something for everyone to enjoy.

  • Cost of Living: 18.6% below U.S. average
  • Median Income: $50,234
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.2%

If you’re looking for the sweet spot, Amarillo might be the American jackpot. It’s got a low cost of living, a high median income, and a low unemployment rate. If you love football, steak, and affordable living, The Yellow Rose of Texas should be your next stop.

Joplin, Missouri

Joplin has several appealing features, the least of which is the brief role it played as a hideout for Bonnie and Clyde. You’ll pay less for almost everything, from health care to housing, which is below the national average by about 45%.

The town is situated in the Bible Belt, and it’s been the birthplace of several famous folks, including actor Dennis Weaver, golfer Hale Irwin, and serial killer William Cook. Even if you don’t want to live in Joplin, you might want to swing by to enjoy the historical sights.

  • Cost of Living: 19.6% below U.S. average
  • Median Income: $42,782
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.4%

What’s the catch? In a word, tornados. Joplin is known for its storms, and the last one in 2011 tore about 30% apart. However, it’s well on the mend, and today it’s one of the five most affordable places to live in America. If you’re willing to brave the occasional twister, you can rent yourself a part of this historic town.

 

Kalamazoo, Michigan

Kalamazoo is home to about 76,000 Americans, Western Michigan University, and Pfizer and Stryker’s headquarters. If you’re a student or looking to work in the pharmaceutical or medical equipment fields, you might find the town filled with opportunities.

If it’s recreation you’re interested in, you’ll have your pick of hiking trails, beaches, and nature. You could also stop by the planetarium, Air Zoo museum, or visit the local Institute of Arts. However, if you’d like to take a trip into the city, Chicago is a 3-hour drive away. 

  • Cost of Living: 21.6% below U.S. average
  • Median Income: $42,759
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.9%

 

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Many of the cheapest places to live come with their share of pros and cons, and Kalamazoo is no different. Almost 30% of residents live under the poverty line, which is significantly higher than the national average of 10.5%. Even so, if you’ve got a job lined up in the town, you should be able to live quite comfortably.

McAllen, Texas

McAllen is a South Texas border town, about 30 miles west of Harlingen. It falls on a major migration route and is a well-known tourist spot for bird watchers. There are also attractions like the International Museum of Art & Science, which features a fantastic collection of Latin American art.

There are a few other benefits to living in this beautiful place. Housing costs and rent is approximately 45% lower than the national average. Health care services come in at around 70% lower. That said, you might need to fork out a few extra dollars for your utility bill, but it’s a small sacrifice to make.

 

  • Cost of Living: 24.8% below U.S. average
  • Median Income: $45,495
  • Unemployment Rate: 10.4%

McAllen is the cheapest city to live in, but that affordability comes at a cost. Before you consider moving here, you’ll need to account for its significantly high poverty rate and unemployment numbers and the risks of living so close to the border. Not too far away is the town of Reynosa, a hotspot for gang-related violence and drug smuggling.

You might get to live in one of the cheapest neighborhoods in America, but it’s not the safest one.

Before You Move

Before you start doing your research or making any life-changing relocation decisions, consider the cost of moving. You also need to consider distance, safe transportation, and travel costs.

Moving to a new city can be stressful, so take the time to make your arrangements carefully. If you can, ask a few friends or family members to help you. If you’re going to be making a long-distance trip, it’s essential to have someone riding shotgun. Switch out every few hours and make the occasional stop to stretch your legs.

Hiring a reputable moving company can make a massive difference, but it can also be a costly exercise. Some will simply load up your boxes, dropping them off at your new address. On the other hand, a full service can supply containers, pack up for you, and even help clean up a little before you go.

If you know anyone who’s moved, ask them for recommendations. Alternatively, do your own research. Find customer reviews and compare quotes before making your final decision.

Final Word

Whether you’re trying to save a few pennies on every paycheck or looking for a perfectly affordable spot to call home, your options are varied. Choose between Kalamazoo’s natural beauty or Memphis’ nightlife. Fall in love with small-town comfort or Southern Comfort.

Look for a place that suits your lifestyle, but consider other factors like unemployment, cost of living, and crime. If you can find a city that both your heart and pocket can fall in love with, you know you’ve hit the jackpot.

Remember, moving can be a life-changing decision. Take your time and consider your options carefully. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a place to call your home forever.