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Cheapest Places to Live in the U.S.

As the tough economic times continue in the U.S., many people are looking to cut down on their expenses by moving to more affordable cities and towns. But where to go? The Council for Community and Economic Research, a nonprofit group that provides information on local economic trends, recently compared the cost of living in 306 urban areas in the U.S. Based on the price of housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services, here is a look at the least expensive cities around the country to live in.

Photo: PicasaHarlingen, Tex.

The town with the nation's lowest cost of living is Harlingen, Tex., located in the state's southernmost tip and with a population of 74,950. The after-tax cost to maintain a standard of living enjoyed by the average company manager or other professional is roughly 17 percent lower than the national average. A pound of ground beef in Harlingen costs $2.35, compared with $3.30 nationally as of January, while a night out at the movies will run you $9. The average price of a home is $229,558.

[Related: Apps for Cheaper Summer Travel]

Photo: ThinkstockMemphis, Tenn.

Boasting a rich musical heritage, Memphis, Tenn., has a month-long festival each year called "Memphis in May" that attracts visitors from around the world. The average cost of a home here is $180,375, while the average two-bedroom/two-bathroom apartment rents for $726 a month. While housing prices are less expensive than in Harlingen, groceries are pricier. A pound of ground beef costs $2.60, for example. The cost of living in Memphis is 14.3 percent lower than the national average.

Photo: McAllen Chamber of CommerceMcAllen, Tex.

The average cost of a home in McAllen, Tex., the third-least expensive community in the country, is $178,000, while a two-bedroom/two-bath apartment rents for $708. The cost of living in McAllen, population of 130,831, is 16.2 percent cheaper than the national average.


Photo: Fayetteville Chamber of CommerceFayetteville, Ark.

Forbes Magazine recently named Fayetteville, Ark., one of the best places in the U.S. for "businesses and careers." An added benefit? It's affordable. The average home price is $228,200, and a two-bedroom/two-bath apartment goes for $543 per month. When food shopping, ground beef costs $3.22, and the average cost of a loaf of bread is $1.25. A trip to the movies will set you back a modest $8.70, compared with more than $12 in New York City. Fayetteville's overall cost of living is 15.4 percent lower than the national average.

[Related: Most Affordable U.S. Cities to Buy a Home]

Photo: Ardmore Chamber of CommerceArdmore, Okla.

With a population of roughly 35,000, Ardmore, Okla., serves as the primary retail shopping area for a seven-county area in southern Oklahoma. The average rent for a two-bedroom/two-bath apartment is $550 per month, and the average home is priced at $235,000. The cost of living in Ardmore, which is located between Dallas and Oklahoma City, is 14.8 percent lower than the national average.

Click here to see the full list of cheapest places to live in the U.S.

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