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Top 10 Cheapest Places to Live in the USA

Have you ever wondered what areas are the cheapest to live in the United States? Well, right off the bat, I’m sure you can cancel out New York, Los Angeles, and also my last residence, Palm Beach, Florida.

My wife and I recently moved to West Michigan and everything seems to be on sale! Food, entertainment, and residences are all half the price that we’re used to.

Let me give you an example: Our Florida apartment was a 1 bedroom, 1 bath unit and it cost us $875 a month + utilities. This price did include some amenities like a pool, tennis courts, and a small workout facility (maybe 10 machines), but listen to what we have now in West Michigan. While we are looking for a permanent property, we are renting a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home (with 4 outbuildings and some property), for $600 a month + utilities. It’s more than double the space for about 2/3 of the cost.

Naturally, I have grown curious about the cost of living in different areas within the USA. Am I currently living in one of the cheapest areas? Or are there other areas with an even lower cost of living?

Top 10 Cheapest Places to Live in the USA

According to Kiplinger.com, the Top 10 Cheapest Places to Live in the USA are:

1)      Battle Creek, MI

2)      Danville, IL

3)      Decatur, IL

4)      Detroit, MI

5)      Monroe, MI

6)      Saginaw, MI

7)      Michawaka, MI / South Bend, IN

8)      Abilene, TX

9)      Akron, OH

10)  Albany, GA

The average home prices for these locations range from $52,000 (Detroit) to $106,838 (Albany).

When I saw this list, I laughed out loud! I’m currently living in Michigan, and 5 out of the top 7 most affordable areas are in Michigan. I guess I picked a good spot!!

Now, of course these locations may not be paradise, but they’ll definitely be more affordable than where you live now.

Do you live near any of these locations? Have you ever considered moving to a cheap area within the US?

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50 comments to Top 10 Cheapest Places to Live in the USA

  • Lucky you don’t live in one of the more expensive places. Washington DC and it’s surrounding areas are right up there behind LA and NYC. I live about 30 minutes outside the city and that one bedroom one bath apartment without as many amenities and in a slightly elevated crime area… almost $1100! I think the median home price in this area is also around $200,000+. But we are one of the two metro areas that is still seeing home prices increase where the rest of the US is still seeing a decrease. And job growth is on the rise here as well. So maybe the increased COL is worth it!

    (but honestly, I can’t wait to move back to the Midwest!)
    Mercedes recently posted..Guest Bathroom Progress!

    • Wow, $1,100 is pretty steep for being so far away from the city! Home prices in my area are definitely still decreasing. I think I could wait a year and watch them go down another 20%.

      P.S. The Midwest is great! I love being back here!

  • Sharon

    With the money you save, you can vacation to paradise!

  • I don’t remember MI being in 5 out of 10 most affordable place to live in the past. It must have changed due to the economy.
    retirebyforty recently posted..Always Ask for a Discount

  • We lived in Clarskville, TN 4 years ago and purchased a brand new 4 bedroom house for something like $140,000. I felt like I was “cheating” to live in a house that cheap coming from the east coast.
    Super Frugalette recently posted..Super Frugalette takes on the “Front Desk” person…

  • There is a reason those places are cheaper than the rest of the country. The local economy has a material effect on costs. Higher wages usually mean higher housing and food costs. We can argue which comes first the costs or the wages, but those iare some of the reasons why things are more expensive around cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
    krantcents recently posted..KC Awards- Weekly Recognition

  • Man it sounds like you get a great deal on your rent – that’s a huge house, plus outbuildings (swoon!). I want to get some property and outbuildings soon, but im not quite sure yet where I’d be looking – i’d like to stay in wyoming, because things are cheap here as well.
    Jeff @ Sustainable life blog recently posted..An Ode to Vinegar

  • I have a friend who moved to Western Michigan with his family, from Phoenix of all places. Warm weather to Lake Effect Snow, sound like your move!

    That said, they seem to really like it there. I’ve always enjoyed southwest Michigan and have visited there with my family when growing up, many times. That it’s low cost seems like a nice deal for you!

    Speaking of the places on your list, it’s amazing how cheap homes can be in Detroit. I’m sure there are TONS of homes there, within city limits, that one could charge on a credit card for all intents and purposes.

    Here is suburban Chicago, prices are high and taxes have become outrageous. Great city and area though, with tons to offer, but you pay for it. I could see moving to a lower cost of living locale many years from now.
    Squirrelers recently posted..New Crazy Keywords

    • Chicago is a beautiful city. My wife and I love it there, and it’s not too far away from us now, so we visit from time to time. We are still enjoying our West Michigan weather. I forgot how nice and cool it is, even in the summer time! The blistering heat of Florida wasn’t for me. And, of course, we love the fact that Michigan is much cheaper too! Looks like we just bought a 1700 sq ft house for less than $80,000! :)

  • That is one great deal on your rent! On the other hand the key to exploiting the low cost of life is to find a nice paying job in these states…which is the challenge right here.
    BeatingTheIndex recently posted..Calling You for Career Advice in Finance

    • Fortunate for me, I am paid very well considering the area. And, my wife is a superstar with her job too (it helps that her job is actually based in New Jersey, but she can work virtually from anywhere). Life is good!

  • I live in Orange County so we’re definitely out haha, but I can’t imagine picking up and moving out to Michigan. I’m fine in California, even with the ridiculous cost of living out here.
    20 and Engaged recently posted..When Your Spouse Needs You

  • Its great to see five locations in Michigan on the list, although I agree with what BeatingTheIndex said earlier. I used to live in Marquette, MI which also was an extremely affordable (and beautiful) place to live. Unfortunately, this is because the employment opportunities were few and far between. I have since moved to the south east and while paying much more than I used to at this time last year, I am also able to earn more through a quality work opportunity. I think the trick here is being able to establish a reasonable budget and savings wherever it is you end up settling down.
    FinanceProfessor recently posted..Financial Planning Blogs – Information From Financial Planning Blogs

    • Very true FinanceProfessor. The best way to go would be to find an awesome opportunity in an inexpensive area. But, I understand these are few and far between. Budgeting is key! Live below your means wherever you are and life will be enjoyable!

  • [...] Top 10 Cheapest Places to live in the US – I have often thought about moving to a cheaper place to live (Seattle is pretty expensive), but never got close to making the switch.  This post is from someone who did. [...]

  • I guess that I am living in the wrong place as my city is not on your list. I would not recommend Florida to any body. not only are jobs hard to find but salaries and wages are very low.
    George Petersen recently posted..Melatrol

    • You’re right George! I lived in Florida for 3 years. My pay was low and the cost of living was high. Once I moved to Michigan, I was pleasently surprised that the cost of living was so low, plus I now make a much larger salary! :)

  • Betty

    Hi,
    Wow my husband and I are looking for an inexpensive place to live next year after he retires with no pension:(
    We are looking to rent for no more than $800 max.
    Is West Michigan a town or the western part of Michigan. I like your deal.
    Is the weather any worse than Chicago where we are now?

    • When I say Western Michigan, I just mean the west side of Michigan. We live very close to the lake and it is beautiful! Anywhere between Grand Haven and Holland is beautiful, and cheap! I think we get more snow than Chicago, but we don’t get all of those blustering winds!!! If you like beaches, you’ll love Holland and Grand Haven. Check it out! :)

  • Kari

    I live near Saginaw (Bay City) and I love how cheap it is to live here. I am used to living closer to Ann Arbor and I’ve been here over a year and it STILL feels like everything is cheap. Even groceries seem to be half the price in some stores. My parker and I rent a big house with a full back yard, upstairs and basement for $450 a month. :)

    • Lol! $450 a month for an entire house? Lol. That’s awesome! When my wife and I moved from Boca Raton to West Michigan, our income actually increased! And, the cost of living was nearly cut it half. It became very easy for us to pay off our debts! :)

  • I think another affordable place to live is in Olive Branch Mississippi. Cheaper housing prices with great city services. People are wonderfu. gasoline price is about 50cents cheaper than Michigan. More than 20 well known restraurants within a few miles. Humidity is higher than Michigan but winter is not harsh.

  • jenjoyb

    My husband and I are contimplating a move to somewhere cheeper than Northern CA. I’m am a Registered Dental Assistant and he an EIT of Civil Engineering. With a combined income of approximately $75,000 yearly, we can’t make it here. We live in a fixer upper that we can’t fix. Quite frustrating.

    • With those careers you could easily make it is West Michigan! In fact, you’d probably live like royalty compared to most! Pack your bags and head on over! ;)

  • My fiance and I currently reside in Cincinnati OH. We’re paying 450 a month for a small 1bd/1bth apartment and we just recently had our second child. I am a hair stylist and he has experience in just about everything haha. We want to just pick up and go but need to move somewhere cheap and safe of course! And by this blog, MI seems to be the place to go. Is it easy to find jobs out there and is it someplace good to start a new life?

    • I currently live in West Michigan (near the lake, which is awesome). Jobs aren’t super easy to find, but they are around. If I were you, I’d look in the Grand Rapids area. It’s a fairly big city with plenty of cheap real estate within driving distance. We’re about 30 minutes away from downtown and we found a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath, 1650 sq. ft house for only $75,000! Gotta love it.

  • scott

    well i live westland mi and ill tell you it ant cheap taxies 2800 hundy even thow my house is all most paid off its hard to get a good pay and food is not cheap bills are higher then then my house payment
    that just ant right creed is takeing over the planet

    • I agree that work is sometimes slim in Michigan, but that’s partially the reason for the inexpensive housing. Have you lived anywhere else I wonder? Because I moved to West Michigan after living in Boca Raton, Florida, and believe me, everything is much cheaper here. Food, clothing, housing….the list goes on and on.

  • VPrewett

    My husband and I are on a fixed income. We are interested in moving OUT of Missouri and Michigan sounds interesting. Our concerns are that…we want to live, a bit out of a city, rural, but not too far out, because we see doctors often. And we are interested in purchasing a house that is more of a ‘fixer-upper’ opportunity: in other words, not out of our price range. Nothing like $100,000 houses or anything. There are just two of us. We obviously don’t need jobs, so that isn’t a problem. We just want to be in our own little place, (we live in a small town where everyone knows your business, even if you don’t have any, lol), privacy and peace, but being able to to to ‘town’ or ‘city’ fairyly easy for groceries and doctors. Are there situations such as that available?

    • There are definitely plenty of areas like that in West Michigan. The cities aren’t too big, but of course have all of the medical centers you need. And, since the cities are “pocketed”, there are quite a few rural areas that are only a couple miles outside of town. Plus, since the houses are not in town, they are even cheaper! I bet you could find a fixer-upper with a little bit of property for about $70,000. If you want me to help you scout out some places, I’d be happy to! Just send me an email at derek [at] lifeandmyfinances [dot] com. Hope to hear from you soon!

  • Derek, Wow! Are you a realtor, or do you by any chance dabble in real estate? How long have you and your wife lived in Michigan? I’m just asking because I am very confused if we are talking about the same Michigan that I have spent all my life in? We obviously see it through very different glasses! First of all let’s talk about what we agree on., but let’s also look at both sides of the coin. It’s true that Michigan is a very beautiful state, especially the western side and northern parts. It’s also true that homes are very cheap here right now. Let me give you an example. We bought our home 8 years ago. It was only 5 years old at the time. It was neglected and though structuarlly sound, it was considered a real fixer upper. It is a 3 bedroom 2 bath ranch on 2 1/2 acres with a full unfinished basement. We paid $130,000 eight years ago and then that was considered a good deal. It appraised higher than what we paid. Since then we have done many improvements and get many compliments on what a nice home we have. Today they tell us it is only worth $88,000. We still owe around $110,00. It is true that there are many cheap homes in Mi. because of the state of our economy. Michigan is too dependent on the auto industry and like it or not almost every job in this state is somehow connected or affected by it. It’s a big domino effect. High unemployment has forced many good homeowners into foreclosure. Lack of jobs and high taxes have caused many families to leave and businesses to close. Certain hard hit areas are starting to look like ghost towns with businesses closing,one after another. For awhile those of us still left here had a saying…”Will the last one to leave Michigan turn out the lights”? Not all of us have Dream Jobs Derek like you and your wife. There are some jobs here,but most of them are minimum wage jobs that people can’t survive on. If a decent job does come up, be ready for some serious competition! Hundreds of people will be applying for the same job! Employers are taking advantage of the situation. They are looking for the people with the highest degree, with the most experience, that will work for the lowest wages. They are taking advantage of people’s desperation to survive! It is true that that western/northern parts of the state are beautiful areas to live in, but there are less jobs there thus the reason for cheaper homes and more open spaces. Most of the people where I live (eastern part lower thumb by lake Huron) have to travel to the Detroit area to find work. Not fun when the roads are snowy/icy and gas is over $4.00 a gallon. Certain areas in Michigan are very beautiful but don’t forget to mention that our summers are really only about 3 months long. This year felt more like 2 months with our temps in Sept. dropping down to 28 degrees at night with a couple of frosty mornings. Way too early! We got cheated! The seasons are beautiful but the winters are too long. Not enough sunshine! If you like variety , then Mi. is the place. The weather can and does change instantly. We have another saying in Michigan…..”If you don’t like the weather in Mi……wait 5 minutes….it will change”! Please don’t get me wrong, I love Mi. most of my friends and family are here ( a few years ago I could have said all, but now some had to leave for jobs) but Derek you are making it sound like The Land of Milk and Honey! You compared it to Boca Raton Fl. and Palm Beach Fl. , aren’t those some of the more expensive places to live in Florida? I have friends in Florida, they love it and I have heard its less expensive to leave there than Mi. I know that Florida doesn’t have State taxes. Michigan does! I understand that Florida residents probably pay quite a bit for air conditioning costs, but in Michigan we pay rediculous heating bills at least 7 months of the year. For our tiny 1200 sq ft ranch we can easily pay over $200 a month heating, and we are one of the lucky ones to have natural gas out in the country! If you have to heat with propane….good luck….there goes the paycheck! Every time I turn around one of my utility or cell phone bill or auto ins. is going up. When I call to question why, I have frequently been told…” I sorry Mrs………. it is because of the tax portion of your bill. The state you live in is one of the ones with the highest tax.” my Auto insurance just recently went up because of some new law passed in Mi. Blah blah blah. I don’t remember all the facts. After awhile you just start to tune them out, because what it comes down to is you just have to pay it. The last auto agent I tailked to told me it was because I lived in Mi. and that if I lived down south it would be cheaper. Ok, I,m done. I know this will probably never get posted, because it doesn’t agree with the rest, but I couldn’t sit back and read these comments and not share my own actual experiences. You are all welcome to come and join us in Michigan, but I would hate to think of people uprooting their lives to come here with such high expectations! If you come, come well informed. The lakes are beautiful, like oceans! The summers are way too short, but are a beautiful green, they can also be very hot and humid because we are surrounded by water. The houses are cheap( due to others hardships and misfortunes), the winters are way too long and good jobs are far and few between. Life can be good in Michigan but very very hard! With all that said….Michigan Welcomes You!

    • Hi Tess! Wow, I think you win the prize for the longest comment ever!! :) I’m sorry to hear that you are under water on your house. I’m sure that if you stick with it, the value will come back in the next few years. Also, you are right about state taxes. It was nice not having to pay them in Florida, but with my career path (and my connections in Michigan), it seemed much easier to find a good paying job in Michigan. Good luck to you Tess! I hope to hear from you again in the near future.

  • Everyone I know in Michigan who had a mortgage before the economy took a dive, has seen the value of their house/property plummet. This is the first time ever that our equity has not grown in our home. Of course that probably will not be the case for those who are buying a foreclosed home in today’s market. So sad that we are in a economy where the only way to get ahead in the real estate market is at the expense of someone else’s loss. I don’t think with the job market the way it is in Mi. right now that home values will go up as quickly as in the next few years, but I do appreciate your well wishes. Have a great day!

    • I was fortunate enough to find a foreclosure last year. Once I finish putting up some trim work, its value should be about $50,000 more than what we paid for it! I hope you don’t think less of me because of that….

  • No Derek, I don’t think less of you at all. Sorry if I my comment made you feel that way. With the market and the economy the way it is right now, it is almost impossible to not buy a foreclosed home. It’s just sad to see so many good people forced out of their homes because of hard times. Hopefully the future will bring better times for all of us. Have a great day!

  • nazih kreiker

    am happy to read all what you mentioned about michigan .. i was living there in detroit .. moved to kuwait to work in 2006 .

    i was hesitating to come back to michigan .. cos my duagther want to complete her MA & PHD there ..

    reading all those notes .. make me relax to go back soon and buy a small house .. it is only me and my duaghter.. thanks

  • I currently live in IL…I would highly suggest no one moving to the state…even though it claims to have two towns that are the cheapest places to live..the state however is broke and there aren’t a whole lot of good jobs that are hiring here. I am currently in college and after earning my degree plan to move to a different state to get away from IL. And from the sounds of it…it sounds like Texas would be a good move for me. Also Texas sounds great since most of Texas never recieve snow/ice/sleet which is another reason I’m really looking forward to moving to a different state. I’ve lived here my whole life and truthfully I’m sooo tired of the cold and the snow. If anyone else has a better suggestion than Texas or a certain town in Texas please let me know. I won’t be moving for at least another 1 1/2 years.(Another reason I’m wanting to move from Illinois…is I don’t think it’s always a good thing when your mom comes to you and tries to get you to leave the state and just keeps saying how bankrupt the state is now and how much worse it could be in the next few years) So please really think twice before moving to IL just because of two cheap towns.
    Aubree recently posted..Want to Pay off Your Debt Faster? Roll the Dice

  • sharon gari

    Hi, I am new to this site but just wanted to recommend Illinois. I live in Morris, IL and am retired. I have a very nice deluxe 1 bdrm. across the street from Morris Hospital for $500. It is all electric and the electric bills are very reasonable. For a town of 14,000 Morris has many apartments, ranging from low cost to $1000 a month condos. The low cost are according to your income. We have 3 senior retirement buildings here. We have “meals on wheels”, pace buses that will take you just about anywhere for $3.00 a trip and several parks. I love Morris. It’s like urban meets rural. We have many nice parks, including 2 state parks, bike and hiking trails, marinas and the Illinois river. Our northern border is I-80 and we also have Rt. 47 & Rt.6 that run thru the city. We have every imaginable fast food places to eat and several very nice restaurants to dine at, 7 gas stations all within a mile of the Interstate that have gas prices 20 cents cheaper than surrounding big cities like Aurora, Joliet or Ottawa. We have many specialists here and a very good therapy center. Morris is also a hub for trucking and we even have a hotel here to cater to them as well as a 2 yr. old Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn, Motel 8 for travelers. We have a country club, affordable housing and cheap taxes also! Morris is the county seat of Grundy county and has a historic courthouse downtown as well as many other historic buildings. We have 2 grade schools, a middle school and a high school. We have a Super Wal-Mart, huge Menards, and a Costco store here. We also have low crime rate. Our weather is central Ill. We are considered a far west suburb of Chicago, which is about 60 miles away. There is easy access to it via I-80 and I-80 but are far enough away that we don’t get “lake affect” snow and are generally 10 degrees warmer than northern Illinois. We have much farmland out here to, which gives Morris a rural feel but with urban amenities.

  • I think Dothan Al is the cheapest place to live.

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