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People in Kentucky are some of the happiest people in the country according to the Happiness Research Institute. They also have reason to smile because they have some of the most affordable places to live.
How did we determine the most affordable places to live in Kentucky for 2020? We consulted the latest Census data on cost of living.
Most people think that the Bluegrass State is filled with a bunch of horse ranches, silly hat wearing Kentucky Derby-ites, and University of Kentucky Wildcat super fans. And while all this might be true for most places in Kentucky, the trick is to find all of this goodness in the most affordable places to live in Kentucky. While many parts of Kentucky are above the national average for unemployment, there are places that are trying to keep the Bluegrass State in the black. Kentucky companies like Jif Peanut Butter and Post-it Notes provide good jobs for this flyover state's residents. Coincidentally, we can thank Kentucky's education institutions like the University of Louisville for producing smart, hard-working Kentuckians who want to make Kentucky available and affordable for all.
So, want to know where you can find a safe, affordable Kentucky home and a job that pays the bills? Keep reading.
The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In Kentucky
It's simple economics, folks. Good jobs increase median incomes which translates to most people being able to live in our most affordable Kentucky places. This is a good thing because Kentucky has a lot to offer. They have hip millennial cities like Des Moines and cool college cities like Lexington.
What's the cheapest place to live in kentucky? Unfortunately there can be only one place that takes the mantle of the most affordable place in Kentucky for 2020, and that would be Princeton.
So, if you care about home values and affordability, take a look at the list below to see where your Kentucky dollar will go the furthest. And if you don't find your favorite there, head to the bottom.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Kentucky and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Kentucky For 2020
You won't find anywhere cheaper to live in Kentucky than Princeton, a small city in western Kentucky. Homes here are nearly as cheap as a year's tuition at the Ivy League version of Princeton, with a median price tag of $79,000. That's the second lowest median home price in Kentucky. And with folks in Princeton earning a median income of $44,430, the city is the first easiest place to pay off your mortgage.
Not to mention that you'll spend the ninth lowest proportion of your salary on an apartment statewide if you choose to rent instead of buy. With all that money you're saving on housing, you'll have plenty to splurge when the summertime Black Patch Heritage Festival rolls around.
The median household income in Princeton comes in at $44,430 and the median home value is $79,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.3%.
You won't be sacrificing safety for affordability if you choose to live in Central City, because it's among the safest places in Kentucky. Homes in Central City go for about $75,900, the cheapest price tag you'll find in the state. And in terms of home price to income ratio, Central City is the second best statewide. Only a slightly less affordable market for renters keeps Central City from the #1 spot on this list.
The median household income in Central City comes in at $40,590 and the median home value is $75,900 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 9.0%.
Flatwoods already scored an 8/10 on our overall Snackability scale, so we already knew it was a great place to call home. Safety, short commutes, solid amenities, and, of course, uber-affordability are all a guarantee when you're in Flatwoods. The city has the third lowest home price to income ratio in Kentucky, with homes going for $93,100 and residents earning $48,563/year. In other words, it's quite easy to believe that you're living in one of the cheapest states to live in America when you're in Flatwoods.
Flatwoods is located in the eastern part of Kentucky, near the borders of Ohio and West Virginia.
The median household income in Flatwoods comes in at $48,563 and the median home value is $93,100 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 6.8%.
A suburb of Cincinnati, Bellevue is a favorite weekend destination for people from the big city thanks to having countless things to do. People who commute to Cincy from Bellevue appreciate that they get all the convenience of big city life with few of the attendant costs. While homes in Bellevue are the second most expensive on this list at $130,900, it does not detract from the city's overall affordability. With residents earning a median income of $58,750, paying the mortgage or the rent in Bellevue is far easier than most places in Kentucky.
The median household income in Bellevue comes in at $58,750 and the median home value is $130,900 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.6%.
Bardstown's population has been steadily increasing in recent years, and it's not hard to see why. We already named it one of the best cities to raise a family in Kentucky, so Bardstown's affordability is just icing on the cake. It may seem odd that such a great place to raise a family is also in the heart of bourbon country, but hey, parents need a way to wind down too! Bardstown has one of the cheapest median rents you'll see on this list at $663/month, and with folks here earning a median income of $52,754, it's hardly noticeable when the rent check clears.
Bardstown is about 40 minutes south of Louisville.
The median household income in Bardstown comes in at $52,754 and the median home value is $128,200 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 7.4%.
Bardstown may have the market cornered on raising a family on a budget in Kentucky, but if you're trying to find that special guy or gal on a budget, Erlanger is the place to be. That's because Erlanger is one of the best cities for singles in Kentucky. Seeing as singles are more prone to rent than buy, Erlanger's affordable renting market is extra attractive. And if you do decide to settle down with a mortgage, know that Erlanger has the ninth best home price to income ratio in Kentucky. Sounds like a no-lose scenario to me!
Erlanger is just 15 minutes southwest of Cincinnati.
The median household income in Erlanger comes in at $60,124 and the median home value is $130,700 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.0%.
Located just 15 miles south of Frankfort, Lawrenceburg is the seventh cheapest city in Kentucky.
With two distilleries and wineries in Lawrenceburg's backyard, it's a safe bet that you won't be left wondering what to do with yourself on the weekend. Lawrenceburg is one of the most affordable places to rent on this list. The median rent is only $697, which is exceptionally low even by the standards of Kentucky, which is among the states with the cheapest rent in America.
The median household income in Lawrenceburg comes in at $49,098 and the median home value is $125,300 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 9.9%.
Yet another Cincinnati suburb, Dayton ranks as the eighth most affordable place in Kentucky. While Dayton is one of the least economical places to rent on this list, the city is saved by it's exceptional home price to income ratio; the sixth best in Kentucky. Homes in Dayton go for about $101,500 and residents earn a median income of $48,629.
Since the mortgage isn't breaking the bank, you'll have plenty of cash to ball out on a Riverboat Tour of the Ohio River. Heck, you may even be able to afford the yacht option with how much you're saving on housing.
The median household income in Dayton comes in at $48,629 and the median home value is $101,500 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 7.0%.
Located in the eastern part of Kentucky near the borders of Ohio and West Virginia, Ashland comes in as the ninth least expensive city in Kentucky. Living nearby Ashland's gorgeous Central Park is astronomically cheaper than doing so in the NYC version. In fact, with a median rent of $633/month, renting in Ashland is cheaper than the average rent in Kentucky by a huge margin.
But what really lands Ashland on this list is the fact that, at $99,300, the city has the 11th cheapest homes in Kentucky.
The median household income in Ashland comes in at $38,446 and the median home value is $99,300 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 10.3%.
Rounding out our list of cheapest places to live in Kentucky is Independence, another city within a stone's throw of Cincinnati. When you look at the median home price in Independence ($165,700), you might think we're crazy for including it on this list. But when you realize that Independence is also among the richest places in Kentucky, things start to make sense.
Residents of Independence earn a median income of $79,224, which means that the relative cost of housing is quite cheap. Whether you're renting or buying, Independence is firmly in the top ten in Kentucky for housing to income ratios.
The median household income in Independence comes in at $79,224 and the median home value is $165,700 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 4.1%.
How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Bluegrass State For 2020
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 2014-2018 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).
You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Kentucky to figure out which is the least expensive.
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 78 places in Kentucky that have more than 5,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in Kentucky according to the data is Princeton. You can download the data here.
There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Kentucky Cheapskate
If you're looking at the cost of living numbers in Kentucky, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Kentucky for 2020.
Here's a look at the most expensive cities in Kentucky according to the data:
For more Kentucky reading, check out:
The Most Affordable Places To Live In Kentucky