U.S. Markets closed

The 20 Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.

Devon Thorsby
The 20 Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.

These cities will leave more cash in your pocket.

Mind on your money, money on your mind? The cost of living where you're planning to move is an important factor to consider, because you want to live comfortably and still have money left over to enjoy the restaurants, attractions and shopping that make the U.S. News Best Places to Live in the U.S. truly top-notch. We broke down the rankings to find out which of the 100 Best Places to Live cost the least. Based on how much of the average individual's annual income is required to own a home or rent in the area, including the cost of utilities, we found the 20 best places to live with the lowest cost of living.

20. Charlotte, North Carolina

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 15

Metro Population: 2,298,915

Median Home Price: $184,600

Median Annual Salary: $48,290

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 29.04 percent

Charlotte rounds out the top 20, with a fairly low cost of living -- area residents spend less than 30 percent of their average income on housing. But while Charlotte has a fairly low cost of living now, it also has a high population growth by net migration. As more people move to Charlotte, housing prices will likely continue to inch toward the national median price of $218,867.

19. Kansas City, Missouri

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 49

Metro Population: 2,040,869

Median Home Price: 108,300

Median Annual Salary: $46,800

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 29.02 percent

Occupying two states, the Kansas City metro area achieves its highest score in the Best Places to Live ranking for keeping the greatest percentage of residents' income in their pockets. The most centrally located major metro area in the continental U.S., Kansas City keeps the percentage of income spent on living expenses at just over 29 percent and has an average rental rate of $831 as of February 2016, according to Rent Jungle. Kansas City ranks in the middle of the pack on the overall Best Places to Live list.

18. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 5

Metro Population: 669,070

Median Home Price: $221,725

Median Annual Salary: $46,520

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.99 percent

Scoring high in the 20 Most Desirable Places to Live and the overall Best Places to Live ranking, Colorado Springs also kills it when it comes to affordability. With median home sales prices coming in just over the national average at $221,725, the average individual spends less than 29 percent of his or her income on living expenses.

17. St. Louis

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 66

Metro Population: 2,797,737

Median Home Price: $162,438

Median Annual Salary: $46,290

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.88 percent

Set along the Mississippi River, St. Louis has consistently offered a cost of living well below the national average, with the median home price at just $162,438, according to real estate information company Zillow. Unlike most other major U.S. markets, St. Louis has a shrinking population, making it a buyer's market and helping to drive costs down for residents.

16. Cincinnati

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 37

Metro Population: 2,131,793

Median Home Price: $150,450

Median Annual Salary: $46,240

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.85 percent

This southern Ohio city abutting the Ohio River ranks No. 37 on the overall Best Places to Live list first and foremost for its low cost of living and second for its healthy job market. With companies like Fifth Third Bank, Procter & Gamble and AK Steel located throughout the metro area, Cincinnati is home to many corporations but still boasts a lower-than-average cost of living for its employees.

15. Omaha, Nebraska

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 18

Metro Population: 886,157

Median Home Price: $139,000

Median Annual Salary: $43,330

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.74 percent

Omaha's median home sale price is $139,000, nearly $80,000 less than the national average, according to Zillow. With many tech companies looking to Omaha, among other smaller metro regions in the U.S., as a more affordable, central location for bicoastal communication, the largest city in Nebraska has a job market that is growing steadily. But Omaha maintains a low cost of living, allowing residents to keep more than 71 percent of their income in their wallets.

14. Greenville, South Carolina

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 35

Metro Population: 842,817

Median Home Price: $139,700

Median Annual Salary: $40,570

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.73 percent

This northwestern South Carolina metro area may not be the most popular in South Carolina, but that's part of its charm. Situated farther from more visited South Carolina cities like coastal Charleston or state capital Columbia, Greenville offers small-town charm with lower rent and utility bills. Located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville also offers plenty of recreational activities that don't cost more than the price of a pair of hiking boots and a water bottle.

13. Minneapolis

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 12

Metro Population: 3,424,786

Median Home Price: $218,250

Median Annual Salary: $52,080

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.64 percent

Techies looking to live for less can find their next home in Minneapolis, with a hot job market and increasing tech startups setting up shop in the area. With nearly 3.5 million residents, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area is the largest in the 20 Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S. ranking. While Minneapolis homes are selling for just a few hundred dollars shy of the national median price of $218,867, according to Zillow, the average annual salary is more than most cities on the list.

12. Columbia, South Carolina

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 46

Metro Population: 784,698

Median Home Price: $131,025

Median Annual Salary: $41,020

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.56 percent

The state's capital and home to the University of South Carolina, Columbia offers a low cost of living that makes the city more affordable than many other large college towns, for students and residents of all ages alike. While the median annual salary is just $41,020, individuals are able to keep more than 28.5 percent of their income in their pockets after utility and rent or mortgage costs.

11. Pittsburgh

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 47

Metro Population: 2,358,793

Median Home Price: $133,450

Median Annual Salary: $45,420

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.43 percent

The Steel City gets its nickname from its industrial roots, and its blue collar history also keeps cost of living low, with median home prices at just $133,450, according to Zillow. While steel production in the area isn't as prominent today as it was in the past, U.S. Steel is still headquartered in Pittsburgh, and the job market is more diversified with retail companies like GNC, Dick's Sporting Goods and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center calling the Pittsburgh area home.

10. Oklahoma City

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 31

Metro Population: 1,297,998

Median Home Price: $144,525

Median Annual Salary: $43,270

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.42 percent

The largest city in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City is still relatively small compared to many other major metro areas in the country, with just under 1.3 million residents. Still, Oklahoma City's low cost of living, with a median home price at less than $145,000, according to Zillow, and solid job market are attracting new residents. Oklahoma City saw nearly 4 percent growth in population due to net migration between 2010 and 2014.

9. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 33

Metro Population: 954,055

Median Home Price: $145,900

Median Annual Salary: $42,710

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.41 percent

The second largest city in Oklahoma is more affordable than its larger counterpart by just .01 percent and guarantees a low cost of living, allowing residents to keep more income in their pockets. The one-time oil capital of the world, Tulsa has had a fairly steady real estate market over the years, dipping only slightly in home prices during the recession, though home prices remain well below the national average at $145,900, per Zillow data.

8. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 13

Metro Population: 1,007,329

Median Home Price: $149,475

Median Annual Salary: $41,350

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.33 percent

Coming in at No. 13 on the overall Best Places to Live list, Grand Rapids scores best for its low cost of living. Low utilities and rent or mortgage costs lead to residents spending only about 28 percent of their income on housing costs. As the northernmost metro area on the list, Grand Rapids' short commute times and low crime rates lend to the city's high scores in the Quality of Life category as well.

7. Wichita, Kansas

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 58

Metro Population: 636,095

Median Home Price: $106,400

Median Annual Salary: $41,800

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.13 percent

A city with deep agricultural roots and many farms still located within its city limits, Wichita is extremely affordable when it comes to housing, with a median home price of $106,400, according to Zillow. A shrinking population lends to high supply of homes and low cost of living, as many companies founded in Wichita, such as Rent-A-Center and White Castle, have since relocated.

6. Louisville, Kentucky

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 45

Metro Population: 1,253,305

Median Home Price: $131,750

Median Annual Salary: $42,330

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 27.99 percent

The home of the Kentucky Derby offers its residents even more freedom with their income, with less than 28 percent of the average individual's salary going toward living expenses. Located on the southern side of the Ohio River bordering Indiana, Louisville is recognized as a great place for families, with the ability to do so much for relatively little money being one of the main reasons.

5. Indianapolis

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 43

Metro Population: 1,931,182

Median Home Price: $130,200

Median Annual Salary: $45,580

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 27.31 percent

The capital of the Hoosier State rounds out the top five Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S., with a median home price of $130,200, according to Zillow. While Indianapolis residents keep more money in their pockets after paying living expenses, Indiana also has a 7 percent sales tax rate, one of the highest in the country.

4. Little Rock, Arkansas

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 32

Metro Population: 716,849

Median Home Price: $147,750

Median Annual Salary: $42,020

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 27.21 percent

Little Rock scores highest in the overall Best Places to Live ranking for value, but it also does fairly well in categories like Desirability, Job Market and Net Migration. Area residents pay only about 27 percent of their average annual income toward living expenses. The real estate market in the capital of Arkansas remains much lower than the national median home price of $218,867, and the gap continues to widen, with Little Rock's median home price at just $147,750.

3. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 63

Metro Population: 814,805

Median Home Price: $147,000

Median Annual Salary: $42,650

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 27.07 percent

The capital of Louisiana comes in at the No. 3 Best Affordable Place to Live, with residents spending over 27 percent of their income on living expenses. Home of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge residents are able to keep even more money in their pockets after housing costs, as Louisiana's sales tax rate is just 5 percent.

2. Des Moines, Iowa

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 11

Metro Population: 590,741

Median Home Price: $169,550

Median Annual Salary: $46,600

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.62 percent

Des Moines boasts a strong job market and growing population, and as an added bonus for residents, it doesn't cost much to live here. Des Moines residents pay just over 26.5 percent of their income toward living costs. While home values continue to increase due to growing demand, the median home price of $169,550, remains well below the national average, according to Zillow.

1. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Best Places to Live 2016 Ranking: 3

Metro Population: 483,396

Median Home Price: $177,200

Median Annual Salary: $42,410

Income Spent on Living Expenses: 23.86 percent

Like Des Moines, the most affordable place to live is also seeing a steady influx of new residents, as Fayetteville grew by 4.76 percent due to net migration between 2010 and 2014. As the fastest growing city in Arkansas, Fayetteville has a higher median home price than other metro areas on the list while still lower than the national average. But with low rent and cost of utilities, the average individual spends less than 24 percent of their income on housing costs.



More From US News & World Report