Top 10 Cheapest Cities to Live in the U.S.
City living is wonderful, but the cost of living in some of the big U.S. cities—looking at you New York and Los Angeles—can be prohibitively expensive. Luckily this country has many wonderful cities throughout where costs are much lower but the living is still great! Here are 10 of the most affordable cities you’ll find to live in the U.S.
1. Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh is a great place to get the hustle and bustle of the city without feeling overwhelmed. It’s also cheap, especially when compared to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city. One of the biggest benefits here is the low cost of housing and utilities. Built around where three rivers meet, it’s also in a unique and gorgeous location. Even when you live there, the view of the city from Mount Washington doesn’t get old. Three major sports teams have stadiums here, and the energy in Pittsburgh on game day is something that’s hard to find anywhere else.
2. Fayetteville, AR
Another city with a very low cost of housing, Fayetteville comes in under the national average in every major expense. If that doesn’t sell you, the city has also been in the top five in the best places to live ranking two years running now. Factoring into that ranking were low commute times, a low unemployment rate and a lower crime rate compared to cities similar in size. There are multiple parks in the city, as well as Lake Fayetteville, a sizeable lake great for fishing and kayaking. If you’re into history, the Clinton House Museum is here, as well as one of the most intact Civil War battlegrounds in the country, Prairie Grove.
3. Omaha, NE
Omaha is also under the national average in all the major expenses, with housing and utilities being the farthest under. The city is located right in the heart of the country, an equal distance to all sorts of destinations. Omaha itself offers a strong arts and culture scene with many museums and cultural events. The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is outstanding and takes at least a full day to see it all. Sports fans looking for something out of the box can enjoy the AKSARBEN Stock Show & Rodeo.
4. Des Moines, IA
Des Moines has a solid 10% lower cost of living than the rest of the country—housing and groceries being the lowest costs. It tops the list as the most affordable city in the country due to less than 25% of income being spent on living expenses. It’s the only city that’s under 25% in that category. If you’re a political junkie, the Iowa caucus is one of the biggest factors in a presidential election, meaning campaigns are sure to stop here. Downtown has been revitalized recently and is home to festivals, restaurants and other hot spots.
5. Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis is becoming more affordable, with its housing prices going down a bit this past year. The city boasts both the Indy 500 and the Indianapolis Colts, so it’s another city that’s heaven for sports fans. It has a great arts and antiques scene, as well as live music. And if you need a break from the city, it’s surrounded by state parks.
6. Grand Rapids, MI
While the transportation costs are a bit above average, Grand Rapids makes up for that with low housing and health care costs. If you love public art and craft beer, Grand Rapids is a great choice. The city gives off a small-town feeling, with people always waving hello as you walk by. There are 1,200 acres of parks within the city, and if you’re looking for more water than the river offers, Lake Michigan is less than an hour away.
7. Knoxville, TN
Knoxville’s housing costs come in at a whopping 23% below the national average. Knoxville is known as the most dog-friendly city, which is probably the best selling point a city could have. The Knoxville Museum of Art has fun, creative classes, so you can continue to learn and hone skills throughout your lifetime. Turkey Creek offers 300 acres of shopping if you’re craving some retail therapy.
8. Buffalo, NY
New York City may not be affordable, but Buffalo definitely is. It’s also one of the most beautiful cities to live in with all the waterfront views—it’s right on Lake Erie and the Niagara River. You’ll also have one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders, Niagara Falls, a short drive away. Winter is king here, with great skiing and ice-skating areas.
9 + 10 Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN
They don’t call them the twin cities for nothing. Both of these cities in Minnesota have a low cost of living and residents only pay a little under 26% of their income towards housing and utilities. The cities offer a high quality of life and the job markets here are in their prime. You can be right in the thick of two cities and reap the benefits from both. It means more things to do and explore, and more job opportunities that are close to you.
Living in an amazing city doesn’t have to break the bank. While they might not be the biggest cities the country has to offer, they still have that city feel and their own unique charms—not to mention actually being affordable enough to live in!
Looking for a great city escape? Check out our 48 Hours In series for where to go and what to see when you only have a weekend.