10 Cheapest Cities You'll Want to Live In

The cheapest places to live aren’t necessarily the best places to live.

Family walking in city outdoors
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The cheapest places to live aren’t necessarily the best places to live. Cities with super-low living costs can suffer from high unemployment, poverty and a lack of services. So while cost of living is an important consideration in choosing where you settle down, it’s equally important to gauge the strength of the local economy and the job market.

With this in mind, we set out to identify the most inexpensive cities where you would actually want to live, based on economic health and affordability. We started with the 100 cheapest cities in the U.S., based on cost of living, and then whittled the list down to the top 10. To do so, we required that each city have below-average living costs, high household incomes relative to the cost of living, and an unemployment rate that’s below the national average. It’s not all work and no play, however. We also looked for places that offer residents access to fun, low-cost things to do. Cities with populations below 50,000 didn’t make the cut.

What did we find? A diverse mix of affordable, thriving cities scattered across the nation, from North Carolina to Utah. Take a look.


Data on living costs is from the Council for Community and Economic Research’s 2013 Cost of Living Index. Median household incomes, home values and populations are from the U.S. Census Bureau. City-level unemployment rates for June 2014 (not seasonally adjusted) are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 10 cities are listed based on median household income, from highest to lowest.

Andrea Browne Taylor
Contributing Editor

Browne Taylor joined Kiplinger in 2011 and was a channel editor for Kiplinger.com covering living and family finance topics. She previously worked at the Washington Post as a Web producer in the Style section and prior to that covered the Jobs, Cars and Real Estate sections. She earned a BA in journalism from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She is Director of Member Services, at the National Association of Home Builders.