Cheapest Places To Live In Michigan For 2020


We used data and science to determine which places in Michigan go easy on your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the cheapest places to live in Michigan.

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You don't have to win the Michigan lottery or make money by shoveling snow from a million rooftops to live in most cities in Michigan: it's extremely affordable.

Yes, learning the value of the dollar is important, but you don't want to stress about it daily when looking for a great place to live, good food, and low cost of living.

Well, you don't have to look any further if you choose a spot on the Michigan mitten to plant your roots. Pure Michigan is one of the most affordable in the country, and you can find ways to save money with every season.For example, Michigan's yearly snow apocalypse lets you save money by providing snow for ice cream, ice for ice fishing, and eco-friendly snowmobile trails. Snow for snowball fights and snow angels is just an added bonus.

While all this might be true for some Michigan cities, the Yoopers, the trolls under the bridge, and the city folk of this state would beg to differ. Michigan cities have a lot to offer to all income levels; and surprisingly, there are cities in the Wolverine State that won't break your bank.

But, to the economically savvy, to truly be the best, the state must have the nicest, most affordable places to call home.

So if you want to live where you can point to a spot on your hand to give people directions, read on.

This economic formula for affordability is no different for the good people of Michigan. Michigan takes pride in its automotive industry, forestry, agriculture, and tourism. Michigan cities have solid jobs that offer competitive salaries to offset their cost of living.

So, what does the most affordable place to live in Michigan look like? Well, after crunching data from the US Census in terms of median housing costs, median income, and overall cost of living for cities with over 5,000 residents, Ishpeming takes the cake.

If you care about home values, cost of living, and high quality of life, take a look at the list below to find the most affordable places in Michigan where your salary will let you live like royalty.

And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Michigan and the cheapest places in the country:

The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Michigan For 2020

Ishpeming, MI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 6,482
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.9x (25th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 88.3x (13th cheapest)
More On Ishpeming: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Ishpeming is the Great Lakes State's most affordable city for 2020. This little city in Marquette County crushed our HomeSnack's snackabiliy scale by earning a 9/10 for affordability. This first place could not have been accomplished without great jobs and a strong economy.

Word on the street is Ishpeming is popular with kayakers, hikers, and skiers. 'Old Ish' is home to the National Ski Hall of Fame. We think those activities are a great way to wind down after a long day of working to pay for Ishpeming's low cost of living.

The median income in Ishpeming comes in at $45,452 and the median home value is $84,800 for 2020.

Review Of Ishpeming by HomeSnacks User

I'm from Ishpeming, proudly, but our community is far worse than Escanaba and can think of dozens of communities across Michigan and the UP that are worse.

Iron Mountain, MI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 7,406
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.8x (18th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 68.2x (57th cheapest)
More On Iron Mountain: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Just around the bend from Ishpeming, on the Upper Peninsula/Wisconsin border, is our second most affordable city in Michigan: Iron Mountain. The median income, here, is close to $46,000 with average home prices up around $44,776. So it's no surprise that Ishpeming scored off our charts in terms of snackability. They are the 18th most affordable city when we looked at home price to income ratio.

While Iron Mountain is known for it's pasties, Bocce Ball Tournaments, World Cup Ski Jumps, and Italian Cuisine, major employers in manufacturing, retail, and education have been keeping the economy in this Dickinson County city moving in the right direction.

The median income in Iron Mountain comes in at $44,776 and the median home value is $79,700 for 2020.

Bay City, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 33,463
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.8x (17th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 62.3x (75th cheapest)
More On Bay City: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Where the thumb meets the hand on 'The Mitten,' is our third most affordable city in Michigan for 2020, Bay City.

You don't have to live on ramen noodles or the McDonald's dollar menu to be able to afford this little city in Bay County. Bay city is the 17th most affordable city in terms of home price to income ratio. Bay City's jobs in healthcare, manufacturing, and education are keeping the real estate agents, here, very happy. They are also keeping the city's median household income close to $37,901/year.

Kudos to to the affordable Bay City for keeping their residents employed and their economy strong.

The median income in Bay City comes in at $37,901 and the median home value is $67,100 for 2020.

Review Of Bay City by HomeSnacks User

I loved visiting Bay City Mi. There is so much to do there. There are boardwalks and water and shops and parks. A wonderful place to vacation

There was nothing bad and what stood out were the Victorian houses - you can even tour some of them!

Center Line, MI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 8,303
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.7x (14th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 62.1x (76th cheapest)
More On Center Line: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Right smack dab in the center of Warren, Michigan is our fourth most affordable city in 'The Mitten': Center Line. This little Michigan gem is 14th when it comes to home price to income ratio. Once a sinking swamp, Center Line's economy is now supported by jobs in manufacturing, retail, and education.

Michigan's 'other' cities could learn a lot from Center Line. This city in Macomb County is working hard to bring their city "Out of the Past and Into the Future."

The median income in Center Line comes in at $42,729 and the median home value is $72,600 for 2020.

Springfield, MI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,208
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.8x (22nd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 60.7x (79th cheapest)
More On Springfield: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Where South Bedford Road meets Avenue A is our fifth most affordable city in Michigan for 2020, Springfield. This city in Calhoun County iis an ideal destination when you're trying find that affordable big town feel. And while you're deciding what home to buy, Springfield has great deals. They are the 22nd cheapest place to buy based on home price to income ratio.

It's also a great city when you're looking for those affordable staycations to keep your budget in check. Springfield currently has four major parks within their city limits, and they are only a short drive from Fort Custer State Recreation Area.

The median income in Springfield comes in at $37,782 and the median home value is $69,000 for 2020.

Melvindale, MI

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 10,419
Rank Last Year: 23 (Up 17)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.4x (4th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 51.5x (113th cheapest)
More On Melvindale: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Located just south of Dearborn, Melvindale is the sixth most affordable city in Michigan. The impressively low cost of living in Melvindale is due to it having the fourth best home price to income ratio in the state. Folks in Melvindale earn a median income of $43,556 and the median home price is $61,700, so that mortgage will be paid off before that new-house smell has time to fade.

Rent in Melvindale isn't quite as amazing as some cities on this list, but it's still about 40% lower than the statewide average.

The median income in Melvindale comes in at $43,556 and the median home value is $61,700 for 2020.

Menominee, MI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 8,214
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.1x (44th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 64.7x (64th cheapest)
More On Menominee: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Where the UP meets Wisconsin on the Green Bay is our seventh most affordable city in The Wolverine State: Menominee.

This Yooper city is home to the greatest percentage of young folks (25 to 44) concentrated into one city on our list. And if we've learned anything about Millenials, they know a good deal.

So what's drawing the 'youngins'? Probably outdoor recreation opportunities and fishing. In terms of what's bringing all the cheddar to make this Northern Michigan city so affordable, they can thank jobs in ship building, auto part and airplane manufacturing, and healthcare.

The median income in Menominee comes in at $35,558 and the median home value is $73,400 for 2020.

Wayne, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 17,063
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.7x (16th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 57.9x (91st cheapest)
More On Wayne: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

And last but not least, our eighth most affordable city in Michigan for 2020 is Wayne.

Wayne is a super cool, super affordable Detroit-burb. Wayne is so cool and affordable, that it's cheaper to buy a home, here, than rent. That's because Wayne's residents want you to call their city home.

Wayne's median household income is close to $43,672/year. We're pretty sure this has something to do with Ford Motor company, Wayne Stamping and Assembly, and the Michigan Assembly Plant in this city's backyard.

The median income in Wayne comes in at $43,672 and the median home value is $76,000 for 2020.

Alpena, MI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 10,086
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 5)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.0x (38th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 63.8x (67th cheapest)
More On Alpena: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Alpena ranks as the ninth cheapest city in Michigan, thanks in no small part to the uber-affordability of rent. The median rent in Alpena is a measly $591. Unfortunately, the median income in Alpena is a bit lower than the statewide average, so the city only ranks #67.0 in terms of income to rent ratio. If you're outdoorsy, though, you'll hardly need cash to have a good time in Alpena. Your options include a wildlife sanctuary, a marine sanctuary, and a state park, so your entertainment budget could be close to zilch in Alpena.

Alpena is located in the Lower Peninsula area of northeastern Michigan.

The median income in Alpena comes in at $37,706 and the median home value is $76,200 for 2020.

St. Louis, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,198
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.0x (33rd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 63.9x (66th cheapest)
More On St. Louis: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

In the middle of The Michigan Mitten, we find our tenth most affordable city for 2020: St. Louis.

We believe that for a city to be truly hip, it needs to be affordable and diverse. This little city in Gratiot County scored an 8.5/10 for affordability and a 9/10 for diversity. We think that makes St. Louis pretty hip.

When St. Louis residents aren't busy preparing for their annual cool, super hip, Blues Festival, they can be found earning the dream with jobs in public administration and education. I think we can all agree that affordability and happiness go hand-in-hand. We bet your residents are pretty happy, St. Louis

The median income in St. Louis comes in at $41,036 and the median home value is $81,100 for 2020.

How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Wolverine State For 2020

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Michigan
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. 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 Michigan 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 148 places in Michigan that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the lowest cost of living in Michigan according to the data is Ishpeming. You can download the data here.

There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Michigan Cheapskate

If you're looking at the cost of living numbers in Michigan, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Michigan for 2020.

Here's a look at the most expensive cities in Michigan according to the data:

  1. East Lansing
  2. Houghton
  3. Ann Arbor

For more Michigan reading, check out:

Where Are The Most Affordable Places To Live In Michigan?

Rank City CheapScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Ishpeming 26.67 6,482 1.9x 88.3x
2 Iron Mountain 35.33 7,406 1.8x 68.2x
3 Bay City 36.0 33,463 1.8x 62.3x
4 Center Line 37.33 8,303 1.7x 62.1x
5 Springfield 40.0 5,208 1.8x 60.7x
6 Melvindale 42.67 10,419 1.4x 51.5x
7 Menominee 44.0 8,214 2.1x 64.7x
8 Wayne 44.33 17,063 1.7x 57.9x
9 Alpena 44.33 10,086 2.0x 63.8x
10 St. Louis 44.33 7,198 2.0x 63.9x

How Is The Area In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.