10 of America's Awesomest Cheap Cities
We all know that the land of the free isn't really "free" at all.
While opportunity may abound in America, bills tend to do the same, as we all need to put food on the table and keep personal finances well-attended to.
At the same time, some places are cheaper to live in than others, and certain cities that lend themselves well to frugal lifestyles and the agenda of the penny pincher. These cities are not only inexpensive, but the quality of life and opportunity there is still pretty good. (See also: Cheap Places to Live as an Expat)
I used CNN's cost of living calculator to compare each city to a smaller, more affordable rural area in the same state. Using that technique, I found places where you get the city life along with the country's low living expenses.
1. Charlotte, North Carolina
Comparable cost of living: Jacksonville, North Carolina
The largest city in the state of North Carolina is home to the Bank of America and Wells Fargo headquarters and is a major U.S. financial center. Housing prices here are comparable to a small college town at around $155,000, while median income is over $50,000 a year, spurred on by the strong financial and energy industry presence in the city.
This means good cash flow and a low mortgage are strong possibilities for those looking to move here. (See also: How to Refinance Your Mortgage)
2. Richmond, Virginia
Comparable cost of living: Hampton Roads, Virginia
The capital of Virginia feels quieter and less crowded than some oas the population is just a shade over 200,000 in the city. The town is rich in history and offers plenty to do, not to mention the unemployment rate is lower than the nation's average at 5.9%.
Cost of living hovers around the national average as well, while median income is over $54,000.
3. Ogden, Utah
Comparable cost of living: St. George, Utah
With a beautiful view of the mountains and less than 50 miles from Salt Lake City, Ogden is a great place to live cheaply with access to both rural and metropolitan communities. Median income is high for such a small area at over $60,000, due largely to a strong presence of federal government agencies and the healthcare industry.
Additionally, unemployment is under 5%, and cost of living dips nearly 8% below the national average.
Did we mention the median home price? It's just a shade over $135,000. As far as cheap cities go, this is one of the templates.
4. Idaho Falls, Idaho
Comparable cost of living: Pocatello, Idaho
Potatoes are cheap of course, but in Idaho Falls housing costs are fairly cheap as well, coming in almost 30% below the national average. Cost of living in general dips 12% below par, which means that with the Teton Mountain Range to the east, you can afford a beautiful view on a modest budget.
5. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Comparable cost of living: York County, Pennsylvania
By big city standards, Harrisburg is one of Pennsylvania's cheaper metropolitan locales. Nestled on the east bank of the Susquehanna River, the city itself is populated by around 50,000 people, leaving plenty of room for expansion.
Cost of living dips 5.5% below the national average, and the median home price is under $140,000.
6. Fort Collins, Colorado
Comparable cost of living: Pueblo, Colorado
Fort Collins is a college town that's home to Colorado State University. It also plays host to the New Belgium Brewing Company and is located only about an hour north of Denver on I-25. Cost of living is well below the national average and median home prices are well under $170,000.
7. Waco, Texas
Comparable cost of living: Brazoria County, Texas
The city itself is halfway between Dallas and Austin along I-35 and gives residents plenty of access to both rural and city life. Tourist attractions and historic locations, including the Dr. Pepper museum, help to increase the city's appeal as well. (See also: Free Things to Do in Any City)
Waco boasts incredibly low housing prices, with a median home price of only $93,000.
8. Green Bay, Wisconsin
Comparable cost of living: Janesville, Wisconsin
Home to historic Lambeau Field and the NFL's Green Bay Packers, the city of Green Bay is the smallest metropolitan area in the country that hosts a professional sports team, with a population of just over 100,000. (See also: Ways to Save on Live Sports)
Cost of living is 10% below the national average, and the city has a median household income of over $50,000. Although it's an industrial city right along the arm of Lake Michigan, the healthcare industry has a significant presence there that helps keep unemployment below the national average.
9. Little Rock, Arkansas
Comparable cost of living: Hot Springs, Arkansas
The capital and largest city of Arkansas is still small and manageable by big city standards. Home costs hover around $137,000 while the median household income is a shade over $47,000.
10. Springfield, Illinois
Comparable cost of living: Kankakee, Illinois
Springfield boasts a median home price around $120,000, cost of living at 12% below the national average, and historically rich culture with plenty of tourist attractions. It all makes the resting place of Abraham Lincoln one of the most optimal places to live in the state of Illinois.
Do you live in one of America's awesomest cheap cities? Let me know in the comments below.