If you’re on a budget, you’re going to get a lot more for your money in some states than others. According to Home Snacks, the cheapest places to live in the U.S. in 2020 are (in order of most affordable) Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Tennessee, South Dakota, Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, and Indiana.
But states can be vast, and what gets you a mansion in one corner will struggle to get you a studio in another. So, what places, in particular, are going to give you the most bang for your buck?
Where do you need to head if your bank balance is in danger of hitting sub-zero territory? In a word, Heidelberg. But before we get to that, let’s look at some of the other contenders bidding for the title of America’s most affordable place to live.
20. Wichita Falls, Texas
Wichita Falls, Texas is cheap… really cheap. Not only do its residents enjoy a much cheaper way of life in general than their neighbors (thanks to low transportation costs and cheap price tags on everyday essentials), but property is also a steal.
If you want to buy, expect to get a three bedroom single-family house for just $97,400. If you prefer to rent, you should be able to manage nicely on around $700 per month.
19. South Alamo, Texas
Want low house prices, cheap transport, and a great deal on your groceries? Then head to South Alamo, TX.
The median income might slide in below the national average at $38,149 per household, but when you can buy a house here for just $46,600, we doubt too many people are feeling the pinch. If you’d rather rent, you’re in for an even better deal – expect to part with no more than around $358 for an apartment here.
18. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, PA has shaken off its old image as a grey, industrial city to emerge as a lively place with growing job opportunities, vast amounts of well-maintained parklands, and a wealth of things to see and do.
But despite its shiny new look, it’s still eminently affordable, with the average housing cost comparing favorably to the average income, and general living expenses being almost ludicrously low.
17. DeQuincy, Louisiana
If you want to live in the kind of place where everyone knows your name, DeQuincy, Louisiana might well be your ideal match. Family orientated, friendly, and small enough to get around on foot, it’s perfect for people who’re willing to sacrifice the thrills and spills of the big city for a bit of serenity.
It’s also an outstanding choice for the budget-conscious. If you want to buy a property here, expect to be able to get a three-bedroom family home for as little as $85,800. If you want to rent, $546 should get you a decent apartment.
16. Olney, Texas
If you want affordable, affordable is exactly what you get at Olney. The average property price of $51,200 is so far below the national average of $184,700, it might look like a misprint at first glance, but no, it really is that cheap.
The prices don’t get much higher elsewhere, either, with transportation, groceries, healthcare, and other everyday essentials all coming in at significantly less than the national average.
15. Cienegas Terrace, Texas
Niche ranks Cienegas Terrace, Texas among its list of the most affordable places to live in the US. Considering the average property price of $83,000, the average rental price of $668, and the overall low cost of everyday living, we don’t disagree with them.
14. Ponca City, Oklahoma
By kiplinger.com’s reckoning, Ponca City, OK is one of the cheapest small towns in America. Considering the median home value is just $93,700, we get their point. Total housing costs add up to less than 32% what most Americans pay, while the average cost of living (to include healthcare, food, and groceries) all fares well in the cheap-stakes.
13. Ozona, Texas
If the idea of buying your own, three bedroom house for just a fraction under $80 thousand floats your boat, you might want to make your next permanent base Ozona, TX.
Along with the superbly affordable property price, newcomers can expect to get a big bang for their buck when it comes to everyday living costs. Renters, meanwhile, will be pleased as punch when they hear the average rental cost, which at just $534 per month, is over $400 less than the national average.
12. Muniz, Texas
If you want to snap up a very well-placed home for no more than around $59,700, you might want to place your sights on Muniz. This tiny little suburb of McAllen, Texas is home to just 1,443 people… but with small things come goods things, and in this case, the good things translate to exceptionally low housing and living costs.
Granted, most homeowners aren’t earning much above $35,912 (quite a little less than the national average of $55,322) but when the cost of living is this low, we’re betting they still have quite a bit of disposable income to play with, nonetheless.
11. Muskogee, Oklahoma
In Muskogee, Oklahoma, the cost of living sits a whopping 20% lower than the US average. What does that mean in reality? For starters, it means you can buy a house here for less than what some people spend on a holiday.
The cost of living in other areas in just as affordable, with the cost of transportation, groceries, and health care coming in well below the national average. Just be mindful that things are sometimes cheap for a reason – and with the average household earning just 38,885 (nearly $20000 less than most Americans), it’s not hard to work out what that reason is here.
10. Fayetteville, Arkansas
Fayetteville, Arkansas might be an extremely affordable place to live, but it’s also an extremely attractive city to live, too. If you’d thought a low cost of living equated to a low quality of life, forget it – Fayetteville is packed with shops, restaurants, galleries, and recreational venue.
The arts scene is thriving (as is the local food movement), while the plethora of state parks and green areas on its doorstep makes it just as attractive a proposition for outdoor enthusiasts as it does for indoor lovers.
9. Springfield, Illinois
As Home Snacks notes, Springfield, IL is one of Illinois's most affordable destinations. The home price to income ratio is a very attractive 2.4x, while the income to rent ratio is an even healthier 67.7x.
Transportation, groceries, and healthcare are all equally low-cost, while the median income of $53,405 is proof that not all affordable cities come with low-income expectations.
8. Joanna, South Carolina
Tucked away in South Carolina is a little town called Joanna. A small town with small prices. For those looking to splash out on a property, the median home value of just $51,500 (over two thirds less than the national average) is sure to appeal, while the average rent cost of $438 (over $500 less than the US median) is a big draw for renters. Elsewhere, average costs for everyday essentials are just as affordable.
7. Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines, Iowa might not be the world’s hottest tourist destination, but Iowa’s capital has perks to spare…. especially when it comes to low-cost housing.
Buy a single-family home here, either in one of the low key, family-friendly neighborhoods on the outskirts of the downtown or in the buzzing center itself, and you’ll still have plenty of change left in your pocket to enjoy the very reasonably priced restaurants, boutiques, and recreational venues scattered around this often underestimated city.
6. Brackettville, Texas
If you yearn for the bright lights of the big city, skip onto our next entry. If you’re happy to contend with a sleepy little town with a big heart and tiny house prices, stay tuned, because Brackettville, TX could be right up your street.
Granted, the median income of $31,875 isn’t going to give you a lot of spending power, but with most houses commanding the selling price of just $55,200, you’re not going to need it. If you want to reduce costs even further, you might want to consider renting – with the average rental price coming it at a tiny $399, it’s a seriously attractive option.
5. Memphis, Tennessee
It's big, it's vibrant, and it’s very, very affordable. Where are we talking about? None other than Grind City, of course. As home to the Grizzlies, the blues, and 674,028 people, Memphis is a vast metropolis (the US’s 26th largest, in fact) that goes big on attractions and small on prices.
If affordable rental accommodation floats your boat, look no further than its $813 median monthly rental. $13, meanwhile, will get you a slap-up meal, and other everyday items are likely to cost you far less here than they do in Tennessee’s other big city, Nashville.
Just don’t expect to be rolling in the money – regardless of how cheap it is to live here, the average median wage of $39,333 is unlikely to be enough to keep you in champagne and caviar.
4. Huntsville, Alabama
Next, we come to Huntsville, a little slice of Alabama that ranks as one of the U.S.’s most affordable places to live. As realestate.usnews.com describes, Huntsville was a sleepy little backwater until the Space Race of the 1960s put it firmly on the map.
These days, it’s a buzzing metropolis, home to numerous defense and aerospace firms, along with an ever-growing number of tech firms. It’s also a city on the up, with shabby, down-at-heel neighborhoods fast being replaced with trendy, vibrant centers packed with boutiques, bars, galleries, and more besides. But so far, the gentrification hasn’t come with a corresponding hike in prices.
While food, transport, and other everyday essentials will cost you pretty much the same here as they would elsewhere, it's in housing costs that Huntsville really shines. Expect to pay no more than around $167,300 for a very decently sized family home, or $779 for the equivalent in rental accommodation.
3. Kalamazoo, Michigan
If you want to pay less for life’s essentials, you might want to consider packing up and heading to Kalamazoo, Michigan. According to Yahoo, it ranks as one of the most affordable places to live in the US, with the average rental property costing no more than around $952 and an average meal costing a paltry $13.50. But then again, what you save in outgoings you lose in incomings… at just $37,438, the average median income is way below the US median.
2. Fort Wayne, Indiana
Fort Wayne, IN is cheap. Really, really cheap. As realestate.usnews.com confirms, the cost of everyday essentials like groceries, utilities, gas, transportation, and health care are all way below the national average, and while the typical wage sits a little below the US median, the incredibly tiny average house price more than makes up for it.
1. Heidelberg, Texas
And now we come to our winner in the category of cheapest places to live in the US… Heidelberg. Located in the Brownsville area of McAllen, Texas, Heidelberg is not the biggest of places, and you might have to wait a little while for a property to come on the market.
But if one does, don’t expect to have to dig too deep to afford it. The average family home comes in at the extraordinarily affordable price of just $35,500. Rental accommodation is even cheaper at just $447. If you’re sick of spending half your income on an apartment, Heidelberg is clearly the place to head.
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Written by Liz Flynn
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