Apartment Tips, Homeownership

10 Cheapest Places to Live in the U.S.

June 25, 2019

Maybe you’ve just graduated from undergrad and are looking to begin your life in a place with a lower-than-average cost of living. Perhaps you’re reeling from a divorce or breakup and want to start over in a new place without blowing your entire savings account. Whatever your reasons for wanting to spread your wings and fly, you want an affordable place to land. Why not seek out one of the cheapest places to live?


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If this describes you, you can’t go wrong with one of the following cities. Not only do these locations boast some of the most affordable costs of living, but they also offer a variety of amenities and welcome individuals from diverse backgrounds. Regardless of whether you like it hot or prefer to enjoy all four seasons, these 10 spots rank among the cheapest places to live in the U.S.

  1. Syracuse, NY
  2. Springfield, MA
  3. Omaha, NE
  4. Milwaukee, WI
  5. Grand Rapids, MI
  6. Pittsburgh, PA
  7. Tampa, FL
  8. Tucson, AZ
  9. Albuquerque, NM
  10. Bakersfield, CA

1. Syracuse, New York

  • Annual mean wage: $51,400
  • Median home price: $131,900
  • Median 1-BR rent: $775

Lovers of all four seasons will adore living in Syracuse, New York. Even though the city experiences a quantifiably insane level of snowfall, its winter low temperatures and summer highs still fall into the moderate camp. The younger generation will adore the nightlife in Armory Square, and skiing enthusiasts will enjoy the proximity to many nearby highly rated slopes.

2. Springfield, Massachusetts

  • Annual mean wage: $52,540
  • Median home price: $201,300
  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,025

Although home prices do rank lower than the national average, everyday items such as groceries are slightly pricey. However, the higher average salary in the area coupled with the proximity to Boston’s historic culture and Fenway Park makes this city among the cheapest places to live for those who love Beantown but aren’t fond of its high cost of living. Plus, if you’re a seafood lover, fish and shellfish cost less than average whether you dine out or stay in.

3. Omaha, Nebraska

  • Annual mean wage: $48,690
  • Median home price: $194,900
  • Median 1-BR rent: $843

If you consider yourself fairly country and prefer smaller town living, you’ll adore Omaha. The city is one of the biggest in the state yet retains a local main street feel. And like country folk everywhere, the people here are neighborly. What more could you ask for?

The job market is hot in Omaha, making it a great city for new graduates to call home. The lower home prices make it easier to afford a farmhouse in the country for far less than the price of a shoebox-sized studio in a coastal city.

4. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Annual mean wage: $51,040
  • Median home price: $239,600
  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,216

If you’re young, healthy and seeking a cheap place to live in the U.S., you can’t go wrong with Milwaukee. The winters can be cold and snowy, but ample breweries exist in the area to fill your belly with warming ale. The area has below-average unemployment rates and a thriving job market, making this city another great choice for new grads who live to bundle up in hoodies and chic boots.

While it’s not the cheapest place on this list, Milwaukee offers a city experience at a much lower cost than some of the larger urban centers in the U.S. It’s priced similarly to other Midwestern cities, and as Chicago’s rent prices creep toward a median of $2,000, a one-bedroom in the twin cities is very doable.

5. Grand Rapids, Michigan

  • Annual mean wage: $45,670
  • Median home price: $192,000
  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,082

If you love nothing more than a stroll in the park or a game of pick-up flag football, you’re in luck in Grand Rapids. The city boasts more than 1,200 natural areas interspersed throughout. Various local leagues for sports from kickball to volleyball exist for weekend warriors. Most of the population consists of younger adults, and that probably contributes to Grand Rapids’ designation as Beer City USA — a reputation stemming from its 8+ breweries.

6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Annual mean wage: $50,070
  • Median home price: $144,500
  • Median 1-BR rent: $925

Once known primarily as a steel town, Pittsburgh offers a beautiful temperate climate that comes alive with vibrant color when the leaves change in the fall. Housing prices rank among the lowest anywhere, making it a great city for investors and those buying starter homes. Sports fans will delight in everything from Steelers football to Penguins hockey.

7. Tampa, Florida

  • Annual mean wage: $47,750
  • Median home price: $234,900
  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,237

Snowbirds and first-time home buyers alike will flock to sunny Tampa due to the low housing costs. While rentals can prove pricey, average home prices fall below the national median. Residents in the city never need to worry about snowplows blocking their freshly-shoveled driveway — winter temperatures average in the 60s.

8. Tucson, Arizona

  • Annual mean wage: $47,610
  • Median home price: $230,800
  • Median 1-BR rent: $695

Whether you’re a student or graduate of the University of Arizona, life in Tucson offers a host of cultural experiences and unbeatable outdoor nature areas to explore. Those who like it hot — but who nevertheless prefer to shun alligators and hurricanes — will adore life in the desert southwest. Plus, unlike the muggier East Coast, your towel will actually dry in the summer after you shower!

Hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts will find miles of wilderness to explore around Mt. Lemmon, where you can travel from the desert heat to mountain lake oases all in one day. Combined with low grocery and winter utility costs, these features make Tucson a great cheap place in the U.S. to live.

9. Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Annual mean wage: $46,860
  • Median home price: $208,000
  • Median 1-BR rent: $774

Artistic types will adore the Mexican-inspired architecture that makes up the town as well as the various galleries that abound in the city. Even though the climate is usually warm and mild, there is the chance of seeing snow in the winter. The job market in the state was previously sluggish but is now growing, especially for those interested in entering into the area’s emerging wine industry.

10. Bakersfield, California

  • Annual mean wage: $49,450
  • Median home price: $242,300
  • Median 1-BR rent: $700

If you think finding housing in California priced less than seven figures proves impossible, think again. Living in Bakersfield costs three times less than living in L.A., and this host of smaller mom-and-pop eateries still features the multiculturalism typical of the Golden State. The weather stays warm year-round, making commuting to work via bicycle along one of the city’s miles of maintained trails possible any time.

Finding the Cheapest Places to Live in the U.S.

Even in a tough economy, certain places in the nation prove less expensive than others. Those seeking the lowest cost of living paired with the best variety of conveniences and recreational opportunities do well to consider any of the destinations above. Your future is calling — get packing for the next stage in your life today!


All data on median rent calculated from 2019 figures provided by Zillow Economic Data and Abodo. Data on mean annual salary provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018.

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