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7 Affordable U.S. Cities to Live In

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Kate MurphyGuest Blogger
June 12, 2016 · 2.1k Views

New York City is home to world-class art and culture of all forms. Los Angeles is where you’ll find beautiful beaches. But living in these cities comes with a hefty price tag. The ever increasing cost of rent, housing, and other expenses like food and transportation is a struggle many face daily. People are starting to look at other U.S. cities where the cost of living is much more agreeable. Another great thing about living in these cities? They offer a lot of cool things to do, which residents can enjoy now that they actually have the money. Here’s a list of America’s most affordable cities.


1. Birmingham, Alabama

Source: Solid Earth

Head South and you’ll find one of the most affordable cities to live in the United States. Compared to the rest of the country, the cost of living in Birmingham is 21.90% lower than the national average. The median home cost is $87,400. A downside is Birmingham’s job negative job growth, which has decreased by 0.96%. Still, your dollar will go far here. Residents have access to the Birmingham Museum of Art and Red Mountain Park.

2. Columbus, Ohio

Source: Clout Political

Columbus has much to offer both residents and newcomers. The cost of living in Columbus is 17.90% lower than the national average and 29.53% lower than in New York! The median home cost in Columbus is listed as $95, 900. As the state capital, it is home to the state government and one of the nation’s largest schools, Ohio State University. This is excellent news for the local job market. The city is not without its culture and entertainment. Residents and visitors alike count the Easton Town Center, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and Ohio Theater as their favorite things to do in Columbus.

3. Memphis, Tennessee

Source: Chicago Policy Review

This quintessential southern city is known for its soul and vibrant character. Memphis also tops the list of most affordable cities. There you’ll benefit from a cost of living that is 26.60% lower than the national average and a median house cost of $65,800. The employment market is struggling though, showing negative growth with a 1.02 decrease of jobs. Still, you’ll have some extra cash to spend taking in the legendary music scene. Music enthusiasts will find much to love in Memphis. There’s Graceland, the Memphis Rock n’ Soul Museum, and Beale Street, which serves up live music, southern food and strong drinks.

4. Indianapolis, Indiana

Source: Cleveland

A Midwestern city that is affordable and has a lot to offer is Indianapolis. The cost of living is 11.10% lower than the U.S. average. The median home cost is $120,000 with an appreciation rate of about 8%. The city has experienced an increase of job growth by 4.17%. Compared to other major cities, Indianapolis is spacious with a nice mix of urban and green spaces. In addition to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Colts football, residents look forward to hanging out at the beautiful parks that line the White River.

5. San Antonio, Texas

Source: Stillwater Ranch

San Antonio hits all the marks when considering an affordable city. Undergoing a growth in local economy, San Antonio is attractive with a mix of modern buildings and Hispanic influence. The cost of living is 7.70% lower than the national average and jobs have increased by 2.21%. The median home cost is $154,300. You’ll be having so much fun grabbing dinner and live music with friends at San Antonio’s famous Riverwalk that you won’t even notice all the tourists.

6. Buffalo, New York

Source: Bolton St. John

After suffering through decades of de-industrialization, Buffalo is undergoing a revitalization period as of late. The cost of living is 26% lower than the national average and the median home cost is $54,600 with an appreciation of 4%. The local economy is still not great, but job growth is positive with an increase of .12%. Lake effect snow makes Buffalo winters brutal. But the spring/summer and early fall months are perfect for taking in all the nearby recreational activities. Buffalo also has a great art scene headlined by the Albright Knox Art Gallery. And Canada is just across the border.

7. Omaha, Nebraska

Source: Popista

Home to the world’s most successful investor Warren Buffet, Omaha has a reputation thanks to its strong economy. In fact, it boasts more millionaires per capita than any other major U.S. city! The cost of living here is 11.90% lower than the national average and the median home cost is $130,700 with an appreciation of 2.70%. The surrounding agriculture means fresh and local vegetables and meats are plentiful. Vegetarians and followers of the paleo diet are both happy in Omaha. There’s also a strong arts and culture scene thanks to the Joslyn Art Museum and a thriving gallery district.


It’s getting more and more expensive to live in most major American cities. New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston seem to have it all. But are they worth it? Especially when living there costs so much that you can’t even enjoy what they have to offer. Today, residing in an affordable city doesn’t mean you can forget about art and culture, entertainment, architecture, and history. Rather, the places on this list are home to fantastic art museums, legendary music scenes, beautiful public parks, and great restaurants and bars.


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Kate Murphy is a native of Pennsylvania. After receiving a degree in art history, she moved to New York City to test the waters. She enjoys writing about art, culture, fashion, design, and travel. In addition to writing, Kate works with artists, leads, street art tours, and moonlights as an illustrator.

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