10 Cheapest Small Towns to Live In

The cheapest small towns might not be for everyone, but their charms can make them the best places to live for plenty of folks.

cheapest places to live small towns
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The cheapest small towns to live in aren't for everyone. 

True, 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 sense of what inexpensive small-town living really costs, we compiled a list of the 10 cheapest small towns to live in America, with small towns defined as places with populations of approximately 10,000 to 50,000 people. 

We compiled our rankings based on the Council for Community and Economic Research's (C2ER) calculations of living expenses in 265 urban areas. C2ER's Cost of Living Index measures prices for housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and miscellaneous goods and services, such as going to a movie or getting your hair done at a salon.

The data, which sorts through thousands of prices in hundreds of cities, allowed us to pinpoint the small towns with the absolute lowest living costs. (For larger urban areas, be sure to read our list of the 25 Cheapest Places to Live: U.S. Cities Edition.)

It goes without saying that you should weigh the pros and cons before you pack up and relocate to one of the 10 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 so, without further ado, here are the 10 cheapest small towns to live in the U.S.


Source: C2ER's Cost of Living Index, 2023 Annual Average Data, published October 2023. Index data is based on average prices of goods and services collected during the first three quarters of 2023, with index values based on the new weights for 2023. Population data, household incomes, home values, poverty rates and other demographic information are from the U.S. Census Bureau. Local unemployment rates, courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, are not seasonally adjusted, and are as of February 1, 2024 for the month of November 2023, which is the latest available final data.

Donna LeValley
Personal Finance Writer

Donna joined Kiplinger as a personal finance writer in 2023. She spent more than a decade as the contributing editor of J.K.Lasser's Your Income Tax Guide and edited state specific legal treatises at ALM Media. She has shared her expertise as a guest on Bloomberg, CNN, Fox, NPR, CNBC and many other media outlets around the nation.