12 Cheapest Small Towns in America

Affordable small towns might not be for everyone, but their charms put them among the best places to live for plenty of folks.

Muskogee is the cheapest small town in America
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Small-town living has plenty of perks: light traffic, a strong sense of community and a slower pace of life. Perhaps best of all, there's the cost of living, which typically is cheaper in small towns than in expensive big cities.

To get a better sense of what inexpensive small-town living really has to offer, we compiled a list of the 12 cheapest small towns in America, with small towns defined as places with populations of 10,000 to 50,000 people. We based our rankings on the Council for Community and Economic Research's (C2ER) calculations of living expenses in 267 urban areas. C2ER's expansive study tracks thousands of prices under the categories of housing, utilities, healthcare, groceries, transportation, and miscellaneous goods and services (such as an appointment with a physician or a ticket to the cinema).

It goes without saying that you should weigh the pros and cons before you pack up and relocate to one of the 12 cheapest small towns in America. While a low cost of living is attractive, it can be offset by issues such as scarce jobs, small paychecks or a lack of things to do in the area. Plan an extended visit to ensure the small town fits your lifestyle. And if you prefer larger locales, consider our list of the cheapest U.S. cities to live in.

Without further ado, here are the 12 cheapest small towns in America.

C2ER's Cost of Living Index data is based on average prices of goods and services collected for the first three quarters of 2021, with index values based on the new weights for 2022. Population figures, median household incomes, median home values, poverty rates and other demographic data are from the U.S. Census Bureau. Unemployment rates, courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, are as of April 27 for the month of March 2022, and are neither smoothed nor seasonally adjusted.

Dan Burrows
Senior Investing Writer, Kiplinger.com

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 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.