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.
What’s the cheapest city to live in America? According to the most recent data, Fort Wayne ranks as the cheapest city in America over 100,000 people. And Glendale ranks as the most expensive American city.
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 For 2019
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 307 cities in the US that have more than 100,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in America according to the data is Fort Wayne.
The 10 Cheapest Cities To Live In America For 2019
We know what you’re thinking – “I don’t care how cheap it is to live in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I’m never moving there.”
We don’t blame you. But when you factor in the numbers, Fort Wayne is far, far, far cheaper than anywhere else in America to live.
No wonder Topeka, KS 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.
Springfield is a fairly safe place with a decent economy and one of the lowest rents you’ll find for a big city.
Like Topeka, the cost for a family of four to get groceries for a week is extremely low. Even without coupons!
If you live in Rockford, you might be pleasantly surprised to hear that your transportation costs are the 2nd-lowest in America. That includes gas and auto insurance.
A relatively close neighbor of Springfield, it’s home prices here that are pretty cheap.
Welcome to Wichita Falls, Texas, where you’re free to roam with all of your extra disposable income.
City services are the 3rd-cheapest in the country here and home prices are real cheap, even if rents are the lowest.
We’re sticking right in the middle of the country with Cedar Rapids, IA.
Cedar Rapids 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, Iowa has some of the cheapest places to live in America as Davenport shows up next.
Who knew Davenport had so much 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.
Back down to Texas we go as we stop in Amarillo.
The city hhas 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.
Pasadena, TX ranks in the cheapest 10% for just about every category we measured.
Home prices are low, income are decent, and rent is affordable. A solid combination.
Rounding out the cheapest cities to live in America is Des Moines. Surprised?
It just broke into the top ten this year, up a couple of spots.
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:
- Los Angeles
- Costa Mesa
For more reading, check out: