With prices of everything going up in the past couple of years, it makes sense to look for the cheapest (yet nicest) places to live in the US.
And I am here to help by sharing the 10 most affordable cities in the USA, where you can live a decent life on a budget.
Of course, you can choose to live in a cheap foreign country for as low as $500 per month, but for those who don’t want to leave the United States, I am here to help.
Let me list them down below first, and we’ll go a bit more in-depth afterwards.
- Youngstown, OH
- Conway, Arkansas
- Fort Wayne, IN
- Quad Cities, IA-IL
- Edmond, Oklahoma
- Missoula, Montana
- Hickory, North Carolina
- St. Paul, Minnesota
- Des Moines, Iowa
- Huntsville, AL
Now that remote work is more popular than ever, why pay a premium to be in a city that won’t really offer a lot more than these cheaper options below? So check them out – I am sure you will find one you’ll absolutely love.
1. Youngstown, OH
Youngstown, Ohio, is a budget-friendly city with a cost of living significantly below both the state and national averages.
Housing is particularly affordable, offering low costs for both purchasing and renting. The city also benefits from lower utility costs.
Essentials such as food and healthcare services are more affordable in Youngstown compared to many other areas in the U.S.
This combination of factors makes Youngstown an attractive option for those seeking an economical lifestyle without compromising on necessary amenities and services.
Related: If being in the US is not really a must, make sure to check out this list of some really cheap countries where you can live a good life on a budget.
2. Conway, Arkansas
Conway is a charming little city in central Arkansas that offers a great quality of life for those on a budget – expect the cost of living to be around 15% lower than the national average.
It’s a very safe city too, which is always an important factor when deciding where to live.
It’s also good if you like fishing and water sports (or even hunting) as there’s a lot of space for these activities around the city.
And with a median rent price of around $850/month, you will be able to live here comfortably on a budget that’s a lot smaller than what you’d spend in most other cities in the country.
There are also some great educational institutions in the area, like the University of Central Arkansas and Hendrix College, so if you’re moving with your family, you’ve got education covered too.
Also read: The Best Cities for Digital Nomads in The US.
3. Fort Wayne, IN
Fort Wayne, Indiana, offers affordable living with a cost of living below the national average.
The city is known for its natural beauty, with numerous parks and outdoor activities available. Education is a strong point, with several well-regarded colleges and schools.
Fort Wayne boasts a rich cultural diversity and a strong sense of community. The city provides ample employment opportunities in various sectors.
Challenges include harsh winters, limited public transport, and a slightly higher crime rate in some areas.
Nightlife is quieter, and issues like homelessness and water quality are present. Despite these, Fort Wayne remains a city with high overall livability and it’s very budget-friendly.
4. Bettendorf, IA
Bettendorf, Iowa, part of the Quad Cities, offers a cost of living a bit lower than the national average, with housing costs remarkably affordable.
The city excels in employment opportunities, with higher median incomes and low unemployment rates.
It boasts a strong healthcare system and high-quality education, marked by impressive test scores and graduation rates.
However, amenities are not within walking distance, and public transportation is limited.
Still, with short commute times and a high overall livability score, Bettendorf is ideal for those seeking a balance between suburban comfort and small-town charm on a budget.
Related reading: Make sure to check out the safest countries in the world this year. They’re usually a bit more expensive, but you can’t really put a price on safety and peace of mind.
5. Edmond, Oklahoma
If you’re looking for a smaller city to live in that still has plenty of amenities and opportunities, like the larger ones, then Edmond, Oklahoma is a great option.
The cost of living here is around 11% lower than the national average, and there are plenty of things to do in this vibrant community, with plenty of green spaces and a nice aqua park.
The median rent price is also pretty reasonable at around $850/month, and there are some great educational institutions like the University of Central Oklahoma that you can take advantage of if you’re moving with your family.
Edmond has a very large Indian population too which creates a nice cultural environment – especially since they celebrate all their religious festivals as well.
If you want some small-town charm but still want to live in a vibrant community with plenty of opportunities, then Edmond might be the place for you.
6. Missoula, Montana
If you’re looking for a place that’s great to live in, but also a bit on the colder side, then Missoula, MT might be just what you need.
This city has plenty of amazing activities and places to see – but it also has one of the lowest costs of living on our list at around 16% lower than the national average.
There are some top-notch educational institutions here like the University of Montana, so Missoula is also a great place to raise a family. It’s safe, surrounded by nature and with good people around.
The only downside to living in this city is that it does tend to get quite cold in winter – but then again, you can’t beat those clear, starry nights.
Missoula offers really affordable rental opportunities – and relatively cheap housing also – while also being a beautiful city, with the Clark Fork River going through the middle and some amazing parks and natural areas nearby. A perfect choice for those who prefer living closer to nature.
7. Hickory, North Carolina
The cost of living in Hickory is about 13% lower than the national average, making it an economically attractive option for many.
The median home cost is approximately $155,000, and a two-bedroom apartment averages around $700 a month in rent.
This affordability extends to everyday expenses like groceries and healthcare, with prices generally aligning with the national average.
The city experiences all four seasons, with hot, muggy summers and chilly, sometimes snowy winters. The climate is generally mild, making spring and fall particularly enjoyable times to be outdoors.
The city does face challenges, with a crime rate higher than both the state and national averages, primarily concentrated in certain neighborhoods.
Overall, Hickory’s atmosphere is laid-back, offering a nice environment ideal for families. The city has several neighborhoods, each with distinct characteristics and housing styles, ranging from historic homes to more modern developments.
The city’s proximity to major urban centers like Charlotte and Asheville adds to its appeal, offering easy access to a wider range of amenities and job opportunities.
Public transportation is limited, making owning a car almost a necessity for commuting and exploring the area.
8. St. Paul, Minnesota
Another city that offers a great combination of affordable living and plenty to do is St. Paul, Minnesota. This vibrant community is also much cheaper than the national average when it comes to the cost of living.
There are some top-notch educational institutions here like Macalester College or University of Northwestern – St. Paul, plus lots of great museums and theaters.
The median rent price is also quite reasonable at around $950/month, so it’s a fairly affordable place to live in compared to other US cities. And you can still find some amazingly lower deals on rent too.
St. Paul might not be the most exciting of places in the US – but there are some beautiful parks here like Phalen Park or Battle Creek Regional Park that offer plenty of recreational activities in the summer.
If you’re looking for a safe and quiet city to live in, then St Paul is just what you need!
9. Des Moines, Iowa
Another cheap US city that’s great to live in and still offers plenty of things to do is Des Moines, Iowa.
This midwestern gem also has some amazing educational institutions like Drake University or Grand View University – plus it’s close to plenty of beautiful outdoor spaces.
The only downside might be its slightly higher median rent at around $940/month, but it’s still very affordable compared to other major US cities.
Des Moines is a city of great contrasts – from the beautiful lakes and rivers nearby to some amazing urban parks like Ewing Park or Gray’s Lake Park, there are plenty of green spaces for you to explore.
If you’re looking for a city with plenty of job opportunities, then Des Moines is a great choice – it’s the financial and insurance capital of Iowa and maybe that of the Nation soon.
10. Huntsville, AL
The final city on our list is Huntsville. The city boasts a diverse food scene, particularly celebrated for its Southern cuisine, and maintains clean, well-kept neighborhoods, enhancing its overall livability.
Despite its size, Huntsville offers a peaceful living environment with quiet neighborhoods and relatively light traffic, ideal for families or those seeking tranquility.
However, Huntsville faces challenges such as severe weather risks, a high sales tax rate, and areas with elevated crime rates, which necessitate careful neighborhood selection.
So there you have it, our top ten cheapest but nicest cities in the US that you can live in.
All of these cities offer great job opportunities, plenty of activities to keep you busy, and a cost of living that’s below the national average. So what are you waiting for? Pick your favorite and go!
Or just let us all know about other amazing cities you might be aware of – US cities that still haven’t been affected (or at least not that bad) by this massive property price or rental price hike, and they’re still cheap and nice to live in.