Everyone wants to save a buck, right?
While most of us could be considered cheapskates every now and then, we don’t actually live somewhere to intentionally live a cheap lifestyle.
Sure, people move into the suburbs to save on living expenses, or flee to the midwest for better life. But we don’t expect people to move to the cities we’re about to talk about just because they have a lower cost of living.
When you see the list, you’ll know what we’re talking about.
So, how do we define ‘cheap’ anyways? While we can’t tell if a population is generous or not, we can measure the cost of living in a place based on criteria most people would agree makes sense. So we used that criteria to determine the cheapest of the cheap cities in the States.
To see exactly how we calculated these rankings, read on.
Or if you’re simply not interested in reading about saving a buck, check out:
How We Determined The Most Affordable Large Cities in The US
When we analyze what it’s like to live in a certain place, we simply look at statistics. You can get any demographic information online – you only have to sort it a particular way.
For this analysis we used cost of living data for major cities across America.
In particular, we looked at following considerations:
- Cost of city services (water, gas, trash)
- Cost of groceries
- Healthcare costs
- Housing costs
- Transportation costs
These are the cost of living factors we used. As you see, we didn’t factor in salary numbers. You’ll see why later. And keep in mind, we only looked at cities with 100,000 or more people, leaving us with about 300 cities total to rank.
To score the cities, we ranked each one from 1 to 300 where 1 is the “cheapest” for that category. We then averaged the three rankings into a cheap score with the lowest overall score being crowned most affordable city to live in America.
Here’s a look at the top ten.
1. Laredo, TX
We know what you’re thinking – “I don’t care how cheap it is to live in Laredo, Texas, I’m never moving there.”
We don’t blame you. But when you factor in the numbers, Laredo is far, far, far cheaper than anywhere else in America to live.
2. Erie, PA
No wonder Erie, PA is so cheap. There really isn’t a lot going on, right?
Actually, we’re being a little tough. Summers are pleasant. And the folks here are pretty nice. But there isn’t a cheaper place in America to get groceries. So, if you’re passing through, stock up! Now you know.
Knoxville is a fairly dangerous place with a crummy economy, so you’ll understand why the cost of living is so low.
Like Erie, the cost for a family of four to get groceries for a week is extremely low. Even without coupons!
If you live in Wichita Falls, you might be pleasantly surprised to hear that your transportation costs are the 2nd-lowest in America. That includes gas and auto insurance.
Groceries are actually on the most expensive side here for some reason.
5. Pueblo, CO
Welcome to Pueblo, Colorado, where criminals are free to roam.
City services are the 3rd-cheapest in the country here. That’s probably why people who live in Pueblo complain about the city services all the time. Hey, careful what you wish for, right?
6. Norman, OK
Norman Oklahoma has the cheapest public utilities in the nation, where a family can expect to pay only about $100 a month for all the basics. That doesn’t include everyone’s astronomic internet bill, nor does it include Comcast’s rapidly inflating cable bills.
It looks like so far, Texas has some of the cheapest places to live in America
No one ever said Brownsville was anything to be desired. But for those who live there, they get to take advantage of some of the least expensive groceries, utilities and basic services in America.
8. Jackson, MS
Jackson has average grocery costs, and water/gas/power bills aren’t extremely low, but across the board, there isn’t a cheaper place in the deep south to exist. And that’s saying something; most people in the south take pride on living as cheaply as possible.
9. Memphis, TN
Memphis ranks in the bottom 10% for just about every category we measured except for city utilities.
10. San Antonio, TX
Rounding out the cheapest cities to live in America is San Antonio. Surprised? We would have thought El Paso would be a lot cheaper than San Antonio.
But when you think about it, outside of River Walk, there really isn’t much to do here. Which is part of the reason it’s so cheap to live there.
There You Have It — The Cheapest Big Cities in America
After measuring every cost of living factor that makes sense, there isn’t a clear ‘region’ that has the advantage for cheap living.
And while this is good news for the places we mentioned, if you happen to live in Yonkers, NY, Jersey City, NJ or San Francisco, CA, you’re probably head over heels in living expenses.
We don’t envy you.
Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in America:
- Ann Arbor
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