The Getaway
The Cheapest Places to Live in America

College debt and other factors make it challenging for millennials to buy houses in the United States. Most people in this demographic are well into their 30s, but they can't afford real estate prices in big cities. This financial reality coincides with more opportunities for remote work in a post-COVID world. Perhaps it isn't surprising that a lot of people have started looking for real estate in smaller towns with lower costs of living. Let's explore some of the cheapest places to live in America so you can focus on the best opportunities available.

Advertisement

01 Portland, Maine

Surfer dudes and dudettes—here's one for you! Portland is a beachy town on the East Coast that offers relatively affordable housing at an average of $248,000 per home and monthly rentals around $1,000 per month. You can expect a total monthly cost of living of about $2,444. Portland also has a terrific equality of life thanks to its gorgeous coastal scenery, excellent healthcare, and weekend events. The are two downsides to consider, though: Maine has brutal winters and a relatively high tax rate. Portland's current population estimate is 68,313.

Aerial View Portland Head Lighthouse Maine USA GabrielPevide/ Getty Images

02 Spirit Lake, Iowa

Lakeside real estate doesn't get more affordable than the options in Spirit Lake. And the area's high quality of life here is exactly what you'd want to start a new chapter. This Midwest town is home to 5,439 people, so it's a pretty intimate setting. Obviously, water sports enthusiasts will like the idea of buying homes in Spirit Lake, but there are other leisure options, like hiking and visiting state parks, that don't involve water. It certainly helps that you can get a four-bedroom home near East Okoboji Beach for as little as $230,000.

Pier on Lake Spirit, Arnolds Park, Iowa, USA baluzek/ Getty Images

03 Rapid City, South Dakota

Rapid City, South Dakota, is home to about 75,000 people and is both a retirement and tourist destination known for its proximity to Mt. Rushmore. The Wall Street Journal put Rapid City at the top spot of its Spring 2022 Emerging Housing Markets Index. Home buyers from the East Coast, Colorado, and California have been drawn to this town near the Wyoming border. Why? Because of the small-town atmosphere, outdoor recreation opportunities, robust local economy, and more affordable housing market.

White Water Tower in Rapid City South Dakota dallasgolden/ Getty Images

04 Albert Lea, Minnesota

Albert Lea is a natural fit for people pursuing health-conscious lifestyles. The city participates in the AARP/Blue Zone Vitality Project and encourages locals to pursue various wellness goals. The schools offer healthier food, which is good news if you have kids. There are numerous walking trails and biking lanes. You'll even find loads of chances to volunteer and help the community while socializing. You can buy a three-bedroom house on a lake for just $210,000, and the overall cost of living is relatively low in this 18,492-person town.

Aerial View of Albert Lea, Minnesota during Winter Jacob Boomsma/ Getty Images

05 Glens Falls, New York

Glens Falls has a lot going on between its hot air balloon festival and the medical device manufacturing industry. You can invest in a slice of Hometown U.S.A. (that's the town's nickname) if you like the idea of work-life balance. Plus, it's just a four-hour drive to N.Y.C. for times you want to experience the Big City life. The average home price in this part of the Empire State is $189,900, and rent comes in at about $1,000 per month.

Feeder Canal in Glens Falls, NY with vibrant leaves in autumn Ashley Freiheit/ Getty Images

06 Muskogee, Oklahoma

With a cost of living that's 21.3% below the national average, Muskogee is arguably the cheapest small town to settle in. The town has a population of 37,337 and is 50 miles southeast of its better-known Sooner State counterpart, Tulsa. In January 2023, excitement overtook Muskogee when a meteorite landed in the area. That's big news for a small town!

Muskogee is a town in and the county seat of Muskogee County, Oklahoma, United States. DenisTangneyJr/ Getty Images

07 Topeka, Kansas

Topeka is famous for the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, and motorsport fans may be aware of the city's Heartland Park. It's a great place to live with a low cost of living that's about 19% lower than the U.S. average. Plus, it has small-town vibes with city amenities. In early 2022, the median sales price for homes was $155,000. Groceries, utilities, healthcare, and transport are cheaper here, too, but the Sunflower State isn't very tax-friendly.

Aerial View Mid Day at the State Capital Building in Topeka Kansas USA ChrisBoswell/ Getty Images

08 Logan, Utah

Logan has a population of 54,436. The average monthly cost of living is $2,641, with the average monthly rent hovering around $1,239. Home prices are around $372,450. That's not exactly cheap, but you're paying to live in a family-friendly town with good public transport and highly walkable communities. The public schools are excellent, and there are people of all ages enjoying active adventures, the art scene, and other local options. Utah State University lends this college town a youthful atmosphere, and the Cache Valley is scenic. In other words, you get a lot for your money.

Logan is a city in Cache County, Utah, United States. DenisTangneyJr/ Getty Images

09 Statesboro, Georgia

Statesboro is home to a Georgia Southern University campus, and the college injects life into the town. The cost of living in Statesboro is about 16% lower than the U.S. average. The town has around 30,000 residents, and the median household income is $32,790. The average home is worth $115,100, which is extraordinarily low in today's real estate climate. Statesboro has a high poverty rate, with close to 40% of the town struggling to make ends meet. Homes in the southeast part of the city are safest for potential buyers looking to move to the small town.

Aerial View of Downtown Statesboro, Georgia in Autumn Jacob Boomsma/ Getty Images

10 Sweetwater, Texas

People are moving to Texas en masse. If you're looking for a more affordable Texan option than the big cities, check out Sweetwater, an underrated prospect. The "Wind Turbine Capital of Texas" is a college town with affordable housing. You can score a three-bedroom house for the grand sum of $100,000. Plus, Texas has affordable income tax rates that will help you keep more of the money you earn.

Wind Mill Electorical Generators. mj0007/ Getty Images

11 Berlin, New Hampshire

New Hampshire's northernmost city by the Androscoggin River is an incredibly safe town with below-average costs. You can get a three-bedroom house in Berlin for a mere $184,500. There are 9,425 residents in Berlin, so you get those small-town vibes. Berlin sits next to the White Mountains, where you'll find enough public trails to keep you busy for free. You'll also see ATVs on the town's streets, so four-wheeler bike fans can geek out.

Berlin, New Hampshire on androscoggin river in coos county Marlene Ford/ Getty Images

12 Lynchburg, Virginia

This Virginia town near the Blue Ridge Mountains is packed with history, from Thomas Jefferson's holiday home to the 19th-century Old City Cemetery. From the Maire Museum of Art to Liberty Mountain Snowflex Center, the community has something for every member of your family. Lynchburg is also appealing because it's one of the top 10 safest mid-sized cities in the country. Plus, it has a stable economy thanks to flourishing small businesses. Houses cost about $185,300 and the monthly rent costs about $905, both well under the national average.

Lynchburg, Virginia, USA monuments and cityscape. Sean Pavone/ Getty Images

13 Wausau, Wisconsin

Wausau in central Wisconsin is worth putting on your longlist. Many know it as a vacation destination that offers skiing, tubing, and other outdoor activities. What if you're not into sports? Check out cultural establishments like the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum or stroll along the downtown riverwalk. The average home price is $198,446, and rent is approximately $1,100 per month, so it's an extremely affordable location.

Wausau, Wisconsin in autumn Michael-Tatman/ Getty Images

14 Macomb, Illinois

Bargain hunters should head for Macomb. It's a college town where you can find homes for well under 100 grand if you're lucky. The wider region is known as Forgottonia, which shouldn't bode well, but parks, restaurants, community activities, and work-related opportunities abound in the memorable Illinois countryside. Macomb's population is an estimated 21,516.

Old courthouse in Macomb, McDonough County, Illinois, United States benkrut/ getty Images

15 New London, Connecticut

Fancy living in a beach town? Consider New London. This small seaside city with a whaling history has a population of about 27,635, and the median home price is $220,000. The winters here are cold, but the city makes up for the temperatures by being budget-friendly and having a rich cultural scene. The county has dozens of properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

New London is a seaport city and a port of entry on the northeast coast of the United States. It is located at the mouth of the Thames River DenisTangneyJr/ Getty Images

16 Elkhart, Indiana

Elkhart is a low-cost city with a population of 53,923 as of the 2020 census. Halfway through 2022, unemployment in Elkhart was 1.6% compared to the 3.7% average across the 300 metros in the WSJ's Emerging Housing Markets Index. Elkhart produces recreational vehicles and is referred to as the RV capital of the world. The median home sale price in 2022 was $236,000. What else sets Elkhart apart? It's location near the Indiana-Michigran border make it easy for you to visit larger cities like Indianapolis and Detroit. Those destinations are just a few hours away, so they make great day trips.

Mill-Bonnyville Mill built in 1832-Elkhart County, Indiana William Reagan/ Getty Images

17 Dublin, Georgia

Dublin's housing costs are super low. Accommodation costs around 40% less in this Georgian town compared to the U.S. average. Going to a doctor will set you back $75, which is a lot cheaper than elsewhere. Something like a haircut is also much more cost-effective here, so if you're WFH, you'll save big time. Georgia a is tax-friendly destination for retirees. The downside? The town struggles with high poverty levels and crime. If you're looking to buy, focus on the northwest part of the city where crime remains low.

Dublin, Georgia BOB WESTON/ Getty Images

18 Tupelo, Mississippi

Tupelo, Mississippi, has 38,251 permanent residents, so it's one of the more populated places on this list. Elvis Presley's birthplace celebrates its musical icon just about everywhere in town. It's like the King was born there but they wouldn't let him leave. But you don't need to know anything about Elvis to recognize the benefits off living in Tupelo. It's cost of living is 18.7% below the U.S. average. Housing is a whopping 35% cheaper at $148,900. You might be a fool not to rush in.

Tupelo is the county seat and the largest city of Lee County, Mississippi, United States. DenisTangneyJr/ Getty Images

19 Holtville, California

Holtville has 5,582 residents, give or take a few. This small Cali town is close to the border with Mexico and about two hours away from San Diego. Holtville bucks the Golden State trend by offering would-be homeowners decently-priced real estate. That might sound impossible, but it's true! The average home costs $150,900, and monthly rent is $716, one of the cheapest we've come across. The monthly cost of living is comparatively steep, though, at $3,315. What can you say? Living in California will always cost a bit more than in most places, even when you get a good deal on your home.

Desert oasis pool in the Imperial Valley near Holtville, California. CampPhoto/ Getty Images

20 Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Elizabethtown's claim to fame is the 2005 film starring Orlando Bloom. But while you may know of its existence, did you know it's also one of the cheapest places to live? The monthly cost of living is $1,960 on average, houses cost $164,800, and rent is often below $1,000. Believe it or not, there are plenty of fun things to do in Etown, as the locals call it. Visit the Cars of Yesteryear Museum, see the Lincoln Heritage House, or catch a flick at Crowne Point Theatre.

Scenic view of lake against sky,Elizabethtown,Kentucky,United States,USA Kali Rofkahr / 500px/ Getty Images

21 Albuquerque, New Mexico

With a median rent of just $700 per month, Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a sun-soaked haven for those seeking affordability without sacrificing beauty. The city boasts around 300 days of sunshine annually, painting the Sandia Mountains a watermelon pink at dusk. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do, from riding the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway to attending the annual international hot-air balloon festival.

Albuquerque Skyline During Autumn With Trees And Lake Davel5957 / Getty Images

22 Wichita, Kansas

Known as the "Air Capital of the World," Wichita offers a breath of fresh air with its low pollution levels and affordable living. The city is a haven for foodies, with a vibrant food truck scene and the birthplace of White Castle and Pizza Hut. With over 100 biking paths and nearly 200 parks, it's a city that encourages an active lifestyle.

Wichita, Kansas DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

23 Minneapolis, Minnesota

Mill City is a bustling city with a rich cultural scene. With a median studio apartment rent of $990, it's a city that offers affordability without compromising on quality. From its origins as a lumber and flour milling capital to its current status as a hub for local breweries and top-notch restaurants, Minneapolis is a city that's always evolving.

Minneapolis Skyline S. Greg Panosian / Getty Images

24 Seattle, Washington

Despite being a tech hub, Seattle offers a surprisingly affordable lifestyle. With a median studio apartment rent of $1,479, it's a city that balances the hustle of the tech industry with the tranquility of its many parks and coffee shops. It's a city where culture and caffeine are never far apart.

Seattle Skyline and Space Needle Joel Rogers / Getty Images

25 Colorado Springs, Colorado

Nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs offers a strong sense of community and a median studio rental of $925. With endless trails, waterfalls, and near-perfect weather year-round, it's a city that encourages an active, outdoor lifestyle.

Aerial View of Colorado Springs with Autumn Colors Jacob Boomsma / Getty Images

26 Columbus, Ohio

Columbus's median studio rent of $849 makes it an attractive destination for anyone who wants to save money. You'll also find a lot to do. From the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens to the historic German Village, Columbus always has something to explore. When you want to get out of town, you can make easy drives to nearby cities like Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.

A high-level view of Downtown Columbus Ohio and Scioto Mile Park at Sunrise, Columbus, OH - USA David Shvartsman / Getty Images

27 Kansas City, Missouri

Lovingly referred to as "Cowtown," Kansas City is known for its barbecue and craft breweries, With the world-renowned Nelson Atkins Museum and the Hallmark Visitors Center, Kansas City always has something to see. Kansas City, Missouri has a zero on the cost of living index, which makes it as average as any city can get. In today's world of hyperinflation, average is a very good thing.

Kansas City Edwin Remsberg / Getty Images

28 Milwaukee, Wisconson

Known as "Brew City," Milwaukee is steeped in tradition and taste. From its world-class breweries to its famous Wisconsin cheese curds, it has something for everyone. With a strong work-life balance and a vibrant festival scene, the people of Milwaukee know how to work hard and play hard. Learn about the history of motorcycles at the Harley-Davidson Museum, get inspired at the Milwaukee Art Museum, or vibe with the animals at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

The Milwaukee River and Milwaukee Skyline Jon Mattrisch / Getty Images

29 El Paso, Texas

El Paso is rich in history and sunshine. Known as one of the safest cities in the U.S., it offers a sense of security and community. With a rich culinary scene and a wealth of historical sites, you'll find plenty of things to do during your downtime. Top places to visit include the El Paso Zoo and El Paso Museum of Art. The small city also has ample historic spots and parks to enjoy.

El Paso, Texas DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

30 Fresno, California

Centrally located within California, Fresno offers a diverse culture and a median rent of $900 for a studio apartment. The fifth-most populous city in California, Fresno is in the heart of it all. With San Francisco, San Jose, and Yosemite National Park just a few hours' drive away, Fresno offers the best of both urban and natural worlds. Whether you're exploring the local vineyards or taking in the city's rich history, there's always something to discover in Fresno.

Fresno, California DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
Share

Scroll Down

for the Next Article

The Getaway Badge
Sign up to receive insider info and deals that will help you travel smarter.
Advertisement
Advertisement