"Where's the cheapest pizza near me?" is an astonishingly popular Google search, which would tend to suggest that Americans are somewhat price sensitive when it comes to one of their favorite delivery foods.
And with annual inflation still running at multi-decade highs, who can blame them?
It's reasonable to assume that at least part of pizza's enduring popularity has to do with its budget-friendly price. True, there's no shortage of ways to purchase the same number of calories for less cash, but once you throw in the tastiness quotient, pizza is pretty tough to beat.
After all, the average cost of a regular cheese pizza in the U.S. comes to $11.51. That's according to the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER), whose cost of living index surveys scores of prices for goods and services in 265 urban areas on a quarterly basis.
Of course, what pizza lovers pay for a pie varies widely depending on where they live. The cheapest pizza near me isn't necessarily the cheapest pizza near you. Indeed, the standard deviation of pizza prices across all urban areas surveyed by C2ER stands at 1.34.
It's also true that reputation and cost don't really correlate. New York City and Chicago are famous for their pizza, but residents will be relieved to hear that they don't pay a premium for their well-established pizza brands.
Manhattan, which ranks at No 1 for the most expensive cities in the U.S., comes in at No 22 when it comes to having the priciest pizza. A regular cheese pie will set you back an average of $13.42 in the heart of the Big Apple. As for Chicago, at an average price of $12.83, the Windy City ranks at No 34 on the pizza price charts.
Meanwhile, the most expensive pizza by far – at an average price of $20.84 for regular cheese – is found in Kodiak, Alaska. That makes sense. Due to its remote location, loads of goods cost more in the Last Frontier State. And Kodiak (pop. 5,682) is remote even by Alaskan standards.
Then there's the other end of the pizza price spectrum, which we're happy to share with you below. From large cities to small towns, these 10 locations can't be beaten when it comes to finding the cheapest pizza.
Data courtesy of C2ER's Cost of Living Index. Cities are listed by the average price of a regular cheese pizza, from highest to lowest.
10. Mobile, Alabama
- Metro population: 430,714
- Average price for a regular cheese pizza: $9.77
- Savings compared to the national average: 15.1%
Mobile's colonial past – it was founded in 1702 by the French and for the next century served as a colony of France, England and Spain – and its mixture of Creole, African and Catholic heritage gives this port city one of the more distinctive cultures of any American city.
More importantly, Mobile also happens to have some of the cheapest pizza of any city in the U.S. A regular cheese pizza pie goes for an average of $9.77, according to C2ER's cost of living index.
But then cheap slices are just part and parcel of Mobile's overall low cost of living. Comparatively affordable housing costs and bargain prices on all manner of goods and services – like pizza! – make Mobile one of the 10 cheapest places to live among all U.S. cities.
9. Asheville, North Carolina
- Metro population: 472,341
- Average price for a regular cheese pizza: $9.67
- Savings compared to the national average: 16.0%
Costs for housing, healthcare and utilities all run higher than the national average in Asheville, but at least residents of this scenic city in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains have access to some of the cheapest pizza you can find.
That might seem incongruous given that Asheville is chock full of high-falutin cultural attractions. After all, the city is best known for its abundance of fine arts galleries and museums, as well as architectural gems such as the 19th-century Biltmore estate and the dome-topped Basilica of Saint Lawrence.
And yet when it comes to cities with the cheapest pizza, Asheville easily ranks among the top 10. At $9.67, a regular cheese pie costs 16% less than the national average.
Be forewarned, however, that prices for pizza's best friend are by no means similarly discounted. Beer in Asheville costs 15% more than what the typical American pays.
8. Austin, Texas
- Metro population: 2,352,426
- Average price for a regular cheese pizza: $9.66
- Savings compared to the national average: 16.1%
Long-time Austin residents are well accustomed to the fact that prices only go up in the state capital. A multi-decade influx of tech companies and a high concentration of venture capital have helped make Austin one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.
But it doesn't end there. Austin has been minting millionaires at the fastest clip of any U.S. city, too. Indeed, the number of Austin millionaires more than doubled between 2012 and 2022, according to a study by Henley & Partners, a London-based investment migration consultancy.
Relentless upward pressure on prices has been the predictable result. Case in point: Austin's overall housing costs are more than 15% higher than the national average.
Happily, folks who call the sprawling metro area home do catch a break on one of life's most fundamental necessities: the average price of a regular cheese pizza comes to just $9.66 – or 16.1% less than what the typical American pays.
7. Conway, Arkansas
- City population: 65,126
- Average price for a regular cheese pizza: $9.65
- Savings compared to the national average: 16.2%
The city of Conway – an affordable enclave in the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway metro area – is home to a number of high-tech companies, including information technology firm Insight Enterprises (NSIT).
At the same time, a large proportion of younger residents helps keep costs in check. Known as "The City of Colleges," Conway hosts three post-secondary educational institutions: the University of Central Arkansas, Hendrix College and Central Baptist College.
It would be a stretch to say that college students survive on pizza, but its popularity cannot be denied. Fortunately for cash-strapped undergraduates, Conway has some of the cheapest pizza in the U.S. A regular cheese pizza pie goes for an average of $9.65, or 16.2% less than the national average.
By the way, Conway's pizza discount is pretty much in line with the city's other highly affordable expenses. With an overall cost of living that's 16.7% below the national average, Conway is one of the cheapest places to live among U.S. cities.
6. Orlando, Florida
- Metro population: 2,691,925
- Average price for a regular cheese pizza: $9.60
- Savings compared to the national average: 16.6%
For tourists, Orlando is the city where money goes to die. The home of Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort sucks cash out of vacationers' pockets with more force than a Category 5 hurricane.
But folks who live there full time have quite a different experience. The overall cost of living in Orlando is only 4.8% greater than the U.S. average. Residents pay about 11% more for housing and 3% more for groceries, but healthcare and utilities are both about 8% less expensive.
And while miscellaneous goods and services cost about 7% more in Orlando, pizza doesn't contribute to that pain. The average price for a regular cheese pizza comes to just $9.60, or almost 17% below the national average.
Unfortunately, beer and carbonated soft drinks are anywhere from 7% to 8% greater than what the typical American pays.
5. Florence, Alabama
- Metro population: 151,517
- Average price for a regular cheese pizza: $9.52
- Savings compared to the national average: 17.3%
Florence and the Florence-Muscle Shoals metro area, which encompasses the birthplace of Helen Keller, sits in the northwest corner of Alabama on the Tennessee River. It's about a two-hour drive from Birmingham.
In addition to having some of the cheapest pizza – or 17.3% less than the national average – the metro area boasts a number of attractions and a rich history of music. Florence native W.C. Handy's legacy as the "Father of the Blues" is celebrated with an annual summer festival. And it's no coincidence The Rolling Stones recorded the hit songs "Wild Horses" and "Brown Sugar" at the nearby Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
Pizza is just one of many goods and services essentially on sale in metro Florence. Housing-related expenses are almost 38% lower than what the average American pays. Healthcare, meanwhile, costs about 22% less.
4. Amarillo, Texas
- Metro population: 270,119
- Average price for a regular cheese pizza: $8.99
- Savings compared to the national average: 21.9%
Amarilloans are known for their love of high school football, hot sauce and thick steaks. They also enjoy savings on a wide range of goods and services. Need to get your eyes checked? An appointment with an optometrist is 37% less expensive in the city known as "The Yellow Rose of Texas." Dry cleaning bills are about two-thirds below the national average. And you'll save about 16% getting your washer repaired after it inevitably breaks down.
And then there's the case that Amarillo has some of the cheapest pizza of any city in the U.S. A regular cheese pizza will set you back $8.99, on average – a savings of almost 22% over the national average.
If pizza just happens to cause you acid reflux, then Amarillo's got your back there too. Locals save about 5% on over-the-counter drugs, while prescription medications go for about 11% less than the U.S. average.
3. Charleston, South Carolina
- Metro population: 813,052
- Average price for a regular cheese pizza: $8.91
- Savings compared to the national average: 22.6%
Few U.S. cities have a more storied history – or cheaper pizza – than Charleston, South Carolina. Founded in 1670, this quintessential Southern port city is known for its charming cobblestone streets, antebellum architecture and Civil War sites. Indeed, the first hostilities of that great conflagration were fired upon Fort Sumter, which sits in Charleston Harbor.
Today, Charleston enjoys an overall cost of living 2% below the national average, driven by comparatively affordable housing, healthcare and transportation expenses. And helping matters in its own small way is the price of pizza. The average price of a regular cheese pizza pie comes to $8.91, or nearly 23% less than what the average American pays.
Beverages, on the other hand, will set you back a bit compared to U.S. average prices. Beer costs about 9% more, while wine is almost 18% more expensive. Prices for carbonated soft drinks, meanwhile, run about 10% higher than the national average.
2. Vero Beach, Florida
- Metro population: 163,662
- Average price for a regular cheese pizza: $8.33
- Savings compared to the national average: 27.6%
Would-be vacationers should be happy to learn that not only is Vero Beach a less popular location for spring breakers, but that it also serves some of the cheapest pizza in America.
The average price of a regular cheese pizza pie comes to $8.33, a savings of nearly 28% to the U.S. average. And while beer is about 13% more expensive in this small Florida city 140 miles north of Miami, wine is about 5% cheaper than the national average.
The overall cost of living in Vero Beach and neighboring Indian River is quite reasonable, too, running about 3% less than what the typical American pays. Although groceries and utilities are roughly 12% higher than the U.S. averages, housing is nearly 15% less expensive.
1. Topeka, Kansas
- Metro population: 232,670
- Average price for a regular cheese pizza: $8.03
- Savings compared to the national average: 30.2%
It might sound like the answer to a trivia question no one will ever ask, but here we are: Topeka, Kansas has the cheapest pizza in the U.S.
Sitting along the Kansas River out on the prairie, the state capital is known for its dense suburban feel of single-family homes, parks and plenty of coffee shops. In addition to government and government-related employment, the metro area supports jobs in plenty of other industries too, including healthcare, retail and manufacturing.
Topeka happens to crack the top five cheapest places to live in the U.S. for city dwellers, mainly due to affordable housing. But pizza is doing its damndest to keep costs in check, too. A regular cheese pizza pie in Topeka goes for an average of $8.03, or a whopping 30.2% discount to what the average American pays.
Dan Burrows is Kiplinger's senior investing writer, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.
A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.
Once upon a time – before his days as a financial reporter and assistant financial editor at legendary fashion trade paper Women's Wear Daily – Dan worked for Spy magazine, scribbled away at Time Inc. and contributed to Maxim magazine back when lad mags were a thing. He's also written for Esquire magazine's Dubious Achievements Awards.
In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics, demographics, real estate, cost of living indexes and more.
Dan holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a master's degree from Columbia University.
Disclosure: Dan does not trade stocks or other securities. Rather, he dollar-cost averages into cheap funds and index funds and holds them forever in tax-advantaged accounts.
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