The Most Affordable Places to Live in the U.S. - Saving Advice Articles
"I'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart." - E.E. Cummings

The Most Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.

By , July 22nd, 2016 | One Comment

cost of living
Where you live can have a huge affect on your financial standing. If you live in a city that has a high cost-of-living it can greatly affect your financial security. On the flipside of the same coin, living in a low cost-of-living area can also affect your budget. Things like rent, food and entertainment are all more or less expensive depending on where you live.

At the end of each year there is an assessment of the best (and worst) places to live as far as  your wallet is concerned. There are a number of factors considered when naming these cities. Various factors such as real estate, food cost, taxes, average salary and other average costs of living in the area are considered when making the list of wallet-friendly places to live. If you’re in the financial standing to make a move, you may want to check out one of these cities:

Cheapest Cities to Live in the U.S.

Houston, Texas

Houston is one of the best places in the United States to live if you are trying to stretch your salary farther. According to Forbes, Houston’s average annual salary sits at about $60,000. While this isn’t a ton of money, the overall lower cost-of-living helps land the city on the list of cheapest places to live in the U.S. The average cost of a home in the Houston area is $215,000. With average salaries in the area sitting over $60,000 and the median price of a home so low, living in Houston can help stretch your salary.

San Jose, California

California is not usually the first place that comes to mind when you think about saving money. In fact, California has some of the most expensive cities on a cost-of-living basis in the country. However, San Jose is somewhat of an anomaly. The city has a plethora of technology-based jobs that pay handsomely. The average salary in the city is over $98,000. While the median price of homes in the area is higher than Houston at $795,000, the average salary being higher makes it a more wallet-friendly place to live.

Augusta, Georgia

When thinking of budget-friendly places to live, many people think of the center of the country (where there’s not a whole lot to do). However, there are a few Southern cities that can positively affect the way you’re able to use the money you make. The average salary in Augusta is just below $39,000 which, compared to the first two cities, seems like a barely livable amount. Augusta’s extremely cheap real estate market evens things out though. With median home values at just over $102,000, Augusta can also be a great place to live if you’re trying to make your money last a bit longer.

Youngstown, Ohio

That Youngstown is much closer to Pittsburgh than most other cities in Ohio which makes it a great place to live if you enjoy the hustle and bustle of a large city like Pittsburgh. The city’s roots lie within the steel industry and like many other Rust Belt cities, Youngstown has struggled to find its place in the modern economy. However, this makes it a rather affordable place to live. Home values are 73 percent less than the national median at $48,100. The median household income is extremely low though at $24,000. Although people don’t make a ton of money in Youngstown, the lower housing costs are partnered with grocery and health care costs that are well below the national average as well.

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Idaho Falls is a city in the county of Bonneville, Idaho. It is the largest city in Eastern Idaho and the second largest metropolitan area outside of out Boise. Idaho Falls serves as a hub to all of eastern Idaho and much of western Wyoming. Due to its relative economic vitality, high quality of life and proximity to world-class outdoor recreation, it is often featured in various publications’ lists of “best places to live.” In addition to great quality of life Idaho Falls boasts the Chukars minor league baseball team, and the Idaho Mustangs, a semi-professional football team that plays in the Rocky Mountain Football League. According to Zillow, the median housing value is an affordable $132,100 and Federal statistics show the unemployment rate is a low 3.2 percent. The median household income is just over $46,000, making Idaho Falls a great place to live as far as finances are concerned.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, along the banks of the Mississippi River in southwest Tennessee, is known for its vibrant food and music scene. Jazz, rock and blues spill out from the clubs along Beale Street, and restaurants serve barbecue and soul food. Complementing the lively cultural scene is a low cost of living. The median household income in Memphis is just below $37,000. The average price of a home is $180,375, and a typical price for an average two-bedroom/two-bathroom apartment is $726 a month. In fact, the cost of living in Memphis is 14.3 percent lower than the national average. At $40 per visit, even the price of having your lawn professionally maintained is affordable.

Pueblo, Colorado

Situated at the confluence of the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek, 112 miles south of Denver, Pueblo has been described as the sixth most affordable city in Colorado. The median price for homes in Pueblo is $147,851 as of February 2013 and the median household income is around $35,000. The cost of housing, goods and services, utilities, transportation, groceries and health care are all lower cost than the national average. Since Pueblo has historically been the only steel producing city west of the Mississippi and is often referred to as the “melting pot of the west” due to the large numbers of immigrants drawn to work in the mills and foundries.

Expensive Cities to Live in the U.S.

Although each of these places are great if you want to make the most of your salary, there are a number of cities that are becoming increasingly expensive to live in. If you want to move, and aim to make your dollar stretch, avoid these cities:

San Diego, California

The initial attractiveness of the sun and the beach in San Diego may be what attracts most people to the beautiful city, however, you must pay a stiff price to live there. Housing costs are 30 percent above the national average and most people are having to pull second jobs to afford their living costs. The median household income sits just under $64,000 while the average home value in San Diego is at $477,800. Other cost-of-living items like groceries and health care are also well above the national average.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston has a lot of big-city benefits that come at a high price. The city is full of universities, art collections and historic sites so many people view the high cost-of-living in the area to be well worth it. The unemployment rate in Boston sits at 5.7 percent, below the national average of 6.8. The median household income is just over $53,000 and the median home value sits around $374,000. Although the housing costs are seemingly affordable, that is just about the only thing that is affordable in the city. Groceries are prices at about 25 percent above the national average, health care 26 percent higher and utilities run about 44 percent higher than the national average.

Washington, D.C.

While Washington, D.C. boasts world class cultural attractions, the cost of living in the city is much higher than the national average (40 percent higher). This is partly due to the very strong labor market providing upward pressure on housing and food costs, as well as to strong influx of people who want to live in the district. The median household income sits at just over $64,000 and the median home value is $443,000 (2.5 times the national average). While housing costs are much higher, other items and services like health care, transportation and utilities are near normal prices.There are also a plethora of free things to do like visit national monuments and museums to attend in D.C.

Stamford, Connecticut

If you think you’ve heard of this city before, you probably have heard it at the end of an episode of “Maury” or “Jerry Springer.” It is where each of those shows are filmed. Stamford has one of the highest concentrations of millionaire households in the country. The median household income is just below $77,000 and the median home value sits at $537,300. Living expenses run between 8 and 27 percent above the national average, however, compared to the closest suburban area (Manhattan), Stamford is affordable.

San Francisco, California

It is no surprise that more than one city on the “most expensive” list is in California. San Francisco has a cost-of-living that sits at 61 percent above the national average. According to Kiplinger, the median household income is $73,802 and the median home value in the city is $750,900. The steep housing costs (nearly three times the national average) are what lands San Francisco in the most expensive list. A typical two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment rents for $2,925 a month. Household incomes are about 40 percent above the national average though so there is a sense of balance between the astronomical housing costs and the job market.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Living in Hawaii would be a dream, right? The lure of a tropical island and the laid-back lifestyle seems to attract many people, however, Honolulu is one of the most expensive places in the U.S. to live. The cost-of-living is 69 percent above the national average and the median household income is only $58,397. We say “only” because the median home value sits at $547,600. Although the views and tropical atmosphere are tempting, housing costs are 2.6 times the U.S. average. Utilities, groceries, gasoline and transportation cost 71%, 55%, 21% and 26% above the national averages, respectively.

New York, New York

A list of expensive cities would not be complete without mentioning New York City. The cost-of-living in Manhattan is 120 percent above the national average. Median household incomes sit at $51,865 while the median home value is $501,500. If you can budget and survive in Manhattan, you can survive anywhere. Other boroughs in the city are slightly more affordable. Brooklyn and Queens have costs-of-living at 71% and 52% above the U.S. average, respectively. The reason behind the expensive cost-of-living is mostly the housing expenses in the city. Housing costs in Manhattan are more than 4.5 times the national average. Other expenses are also exorbitant. Grocery costs are 35 percent higher than the U.S. average, utilities are 33 percent higher and transportation is 26 percent higher. All of these high prices are partnered with a median household income below the national average of $53,046.

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