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Cheap Cities You’ll Love To Live In

Cameron Huddleston

Whether you’re just starting out or already in retirement, your financial well-being can be impacted greatly by your city’s cost of living. Even with a high income or plenty of retirement savings, it can be tough to get by where costs are high. More affordable cities, meanwhile, can make it easier to get ahead financially.

But living in a cheap city can come with trade-offs — such as a lack of amenities, struggling school districts or even higher crime rates. To identify affordable places where you can get ahead financially without sacrificing quality of life, GOBankingRates analyzed U.S. cities with populations of at least 100,000 along a number of factors.

To determine affordability, GOBankingRates used Zillow’s August 2019 home price index and identified cities where the median home listing price was lower than the U.S. median home listing price of $286,925. The study also considered other costs of living — including groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation — sourced from Sperling’s Best Places. Cost of living indices are based on a U.S. average of 100. So an index below 100 means that a cost is below the national average, and an index above 100 means the cost in that city is above the national average.

To determine quality of life, GOBankingRates looked at each city’s livability score from AreaVibes. The study also factored in school district quality using Niche.com’s alphabetical grading scheme of school districts. Finally, GOBankingRates looked at the violent crime and property crime rates per 1,000 residents. Each factor was scored then totaled for the final ranking.

Keep reading to find out where to live to enjoy a good quality of life and save money on your monthly expenses and bills.

Last updated: Oct. 8, 2019

Independence, Missouri

  • Median household income: $46,268
  • Median listing price: $129,900
  • Livability: 73
  • Violent crime rate: 5.51
  • Property crime rate: 57.14
  • Grocery cost of living: 92.9
  • Healthcare cost of living: 100.2
  • Utilities cost of living: 105.4
  • Transportation cost of living: 103.8

Learn: How to Create a Budget

Shreveport, Louisiana

  • Median household income: $37,390
  • Median listing price: $164,900
  • Livability: 66
  • Violent crime rate: 9.66
  • Property crime rate: 56.56
  • Grocery cost of living: 87.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 94.7
  • Utilities cost of living: 93.1
  • Transportation cost of living: 103.4

Find Out: What Is Zero-Based Budgeting?

Davenport, Iowa

  • Median household income: $49,335
  • Median listing price: $149,900
  • Livability: 68
  • Violent crime rate: 7.33
  • Property crime rate: 51.3
  • Grocery cost of living: 90.4
  • Healthcare cost of living: 118.3
  • Utilities cost of living: 90.8
  • Transportation cost of living: 90.8

Springfield, Illinois

  • Median household income: $51,789
  • Median listing price: $125,000
  • Livability: 63
  • Violent crime rate: 10.82
  • Property crime rate: 48.43
  • Grocery cost of living: 90.4
  • Healthcare cost of living: 105
  • Utilities cost of living: 97.9
  • Transportation cost of living: 81.3

 

San Antonio

  • Median household income: $49,711
  • Median listing price: $239,900
  • Livability: 80
  • Violent crime rate: 7.14
  • Property crime rate: 49.01
  • Grocery cost of living: 88.7
  • Healthcare cost of living: 91.2
  • Utilities cost of living: 94.9
  • Transportation cost of living: 116.9

Indianapolis

  • Median household income: $44,709
  • Median listing price: $177,400
  • Livability: 70
  • Violent crime rate: 13.52
  • Property crime rate: 45.15
  • Grocery cost of living: 90.7
  • Healthcare cost of living: 86.5
  • Utilities cost of living: 90.2
  • Transportation cost of living: 103.8

Norman, Oklahoma

  • Median household income: $53,733
  • Median listing price: $239,500
  • Livability: 81
  • Violent crime rate: 2.96
  • Property crime rate: 29.73
  • Grocery cost of living: 89.6
  • Healthcare cost of living: 117.5
  • Utilities cost of living: 98.7
  • Transportation cost of living: 110.2

Garland, Texas

  • Median household income: $55,637
  • Median listing price: $225,000
  • Livability: 79
  • Violent crime rate: 3.15
  • Property crime rate: 30.24
  • Grocery cost of living: 92.9
  • Healthcare cost of living: 94.5
  • Utilities cost of living: 100
  • Transportation cost of living: 141.1

Warren, Michigan

  • Median household income: $45,611
  • Median listing price: $129,700
  • Livability: 69
  • Violent crime rate: 5.12
  • Property crime rate: 21.73
  • Grocery cost of living: 90.7
  • Healthcare cost of living: 83.4
  • Utilities cost of living: 96.6
  • Transportation cost of living: 161.5

Grand Prairie, Texas

  • Median household income: $62,589
  • Median listing price: $254,900
  • Livability: 83
  • Violent crime rate: 2.96
  • Property crime rate: 24.39
  • Grocery cost of living: 92.9
  • Healthcare cost of living: 94.5
  • Utilities cost of living: 100.8
  • Transportation cost of living: 138.6

Athens, Georgia

  • Median household income: $34,258
  • Median listing price: $219,900
  • Livability: 67
  • Violent crime rate: 4.12
  • Property crime rate: 33.29
  • Grocery cost of living: 92.6
  • Healthcare cost of living: 86.6
  • Utilities cost of living: 102.5
  • Transportation cost of living: 92.3

Clarksville, Tennessee

  • Median household income: $51,164
  • Median listing price: $232,560
  • Livability: 70
  • Violent crime rate: 6.25
  • Property crime rate: 29.16
  • Grocery cost of living: 90.3
  • Healthcare cost of living: 108
  • Utilities cost of living: 100.3
  • Transportation cost of living: 93.4

Topeka, Kansas

  • Median household income: $46,087
  • Median listing price: $129,900
  • Livability: 63
  • Violent crime rate: 6.16
  • Property crime rate: 51.86
  • Grocery cost of living: 92.9
  • Healthcare cost of living: 99.6
  • Utilities cost of living: 103.1
  • Transportation cost of living: 81.3

Columbus, Georgia

  • Median household income: $43,239
  • Median listing price: $116,250
  • Livability: 62
  • Violent crime rate: 6.75
  • Property crime rate: 45.8
  • Grocery cost of living: 91.9
  • Healthcare cost of living: 92.5
  • Utilities cost of living: 104
  • Transportation cost of living: 91.2

Lincoln, Nebraska

  • Median household income: $53,089
  • Median listing price: $244,900
  • Livability: 80
  • Violent crime rate: 5.56
  • Property crime rate: 34.01
  • Grocery cost of living: 92.9
  • Healthcare cost of living: 119.8
  • Utilities cost of living: 92.3
  • Transportation cost of living: 86.5

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

  • Median household income: $56,714
  • Median listing price: $229,900
  • Livability: 73
  • Violent crime rate: 4.53
  • Property crime rate: 28.74
  • Grocery cost of living: 97.1
  • Healthcare cost of living: 93
  • Utilities cost of living: 96.4
  • Transportation cost of living: 85.2

Grand Rapids, Michigan

  • Median household income: $44,369
  • Median listing price: $189,000
  • Livability: 66
  • Violent crime rate: 7.12
  • Property crime rate: 21.01
  • Grocery cost of living: 90.7
  • Healthcare cost of living: 83
  • Utilities cost of living: 99.9
  • Transportation cost of living: 112.3

Columbia, Missouri

  • Median household income: $47,236
  • Median listing price: $229,900
  • Livability: 67
  • Violent crime rate: 5.06
  • Property crime rate: 31.62
  • Grocery cost of living: 90.4
  • Healthcare cost of living: 100.2
  • Utilities cost of living: 97.2
  • Transportation cost of living: 84.2

Tyler, Texas

  • Median household income: $46,463
  • Median listing price: $275,000
  • Livability: 77
  • Violent crime rate: 4.5
  • Property crime rate: 32.48
  • Grocery cost of living: 87.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 106.4
  • Utilities cost of living: 92.6
  • Transportation cost of living: 93

 

Evansville, Indiana

  • Median household income: $36,956
  • Median listing price: $140,000
  • Livability: 69
  • Violent crime rate: 6.94
  • Property crime rate: 50.36
  • Grocery cost of living: 88.7
  • Healthcare cost of living: 80.5
  • Utilities cost of living: 109
  • Transportation cost of living: 86.8

Palm Bay, Florida

  • Median household income: $45,811
  • Median listing price: $195,950
  • Livability: 76
  • Violent crime rate: 5.02
  • Property crime rate: 18.99
  • Grocery cost of living: 96.7
  • Healthcare cost of living: 96.8
  • Utilities cost of living: 97.7
  • Transportation cost of living: 103.5

Des Moines, Iowa

  • Median household income: $49,999
  • Median listing price: $149,900
  • Livability: 75
  • Violent crime rate: 6.69
  • Property crime rate: 44.08
  • Grocery cost of living: 92.9
  • Healthcare cost of living: 110.6
  • Utilities cost of living: 89.6
  • Transportation cost of living: 86.5

Amarillo, Texas

  • Median household income: $51,198
  • Median listing price: $193,052
  • Livability: 78
  • Violent crime rate: 7.6
  • Property crime rate: 44.04
  • Grocery cost of living: 87.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 106.1
  • Utilities cost of living: 93.7
  • Transportation cost of living: 86.6

Denton, Texas

  • Median household income: $52,164
  • Median listing price: $276,400
  • Livability: 84
  • Violent crime rate: 3.14
  • Property crime rate: 24.22
  • Grocery cost of living: 92.9
  • Healthcare cost of living: 97.5
  • Utilities cost of living: 98.8
  • Transportation cost of living: 104.1

Corpus Christi, Texas

  • Median household income: $53,626
  • Median listing price: $215,000
  • Livability: 80
  • Violent crime rate: 7.28
  • Property crime rate: 36.28
  • Grocery cost of living: 87.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 102.8
  • Utilities cost of living: 101.1
  • Transportation cost of living: 93.3

Columbus, Ohio

  • Median household income: $49,478
  • Median listing price: $189,900
  • Livability: 76
  • Violent crime rate: 5.14
  • Property crime rate: 40.15
  • Grocery cost of living: 93
  • Healthcare cost of living: 89.2
  • Utilities cost of living: 102.1
  • Transportation cost of living: 103.8

Joliet, Illinois

  • Median household income: $63,359
  • Median listing price: $173,524
  • Livability: 71
  • Violent crime rate: 3.64
  • Property crime rate: 17.77
  • Grocery cost of living: 93.9
  • Healthcare cost of living: 100.1
  • Utilities cost of living: 97.8
  • Transportation cost of living: 107.2

Green Bay, Wisconsin

  • Median household income: $45,473
  • Median listing price: $159,900
  • Livability: 68
  • Violent crime rate: 4.75
  • Property crime rate: 20.61
  • Grocery cost of living: 88.7
  • Healthcare cost of living: 128.4
  • Utilities cost of living: 94.3
  • Transportation cost of living: 86.3

Elgin, Illinois

  • Median household income: $63,655
  • Median listing price: $234,700
  • Livability: 71
  • Violent crime rate: 1.99
  • Property crime rate: 14.21
  • Grocery cost of living: 93.9
  • Healthcare cost of living: 97
  • Utilities cost of living: 98.8
  • Transportation cost of living: 102.1

Lansing, Michigan

  • Median household income: $38,642
  • Median listing price: $94,900
  • Livability: 63
  • Violent crime rate: 11.41
  • Property crime rate: 30.94
  • Grocery cost of living: 90.7
  • Healthcare cost of living: 82.1
  • Utilities cost of living: 97.6
  • Transportation cost of living: 110

Fargo, North Dakota

  • Median household income: $50,561
  • Median listing price: $250,000
  • Livability: 75
  • Violent crime rate: 4.08
  • Property crime rate: 32.58
  • Grocery cost of living: 99.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 76.8
  • Utilities cost of living: 92.3
  • Transportation cost of living: 88.2

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

  • Median household income: $56,828
  • Median listing price: $177,250
  • Livability: 76
  • Violent crime rate: 2.8
  • Property crime rate: 37.45
  • Grocery cost of living: 90.4
  • Healthcare cost of living: 116.8
  • Utilities cost of living: 101.4
  • Transportation cost of living: 78.5

Laredo, Texas

  • Median household income: $41,302
  • Median listing price: $190,000
  • Livability: 80
  • Violent crime rate: 3.26
  • Property crime rate: 25.01
  • Grocery cost of living: 96.2
  • Healthcare cost of living: 90.5
  • Utilities cost of living: 98.1
  • Transportation cost of living: 112.7

Toledo, Ohio

  • Median household income: $35,808
  • Median listing price: $89,270
  • Livability: 63
  • Violent crime rate: 10.54
  • Property crime rate: 40.8
  • Grocery cost of living: 90.7
  • Healthcare cost of living: 85.8
  • Utilities cost of living: 97.2
  • Transportation cost of living: 97.5

Pasadena, Texas

  • Median household income: $50,207
  • Median listing price: $179,900
  • Livability: 83
  • Violent crime rate: 4.66
  • Property crime rate: 25.18
  • Grocery cost of living: 92.9
  • Healthcare cost of living: 93.8
  • Utilities cost of living: 96.4
  • Transportation cost of living: 139.5

Lexington, Kentucky

  • Median household income: $53,013
  • Median listing price: $255,000
  • Livability: 75
  • Violent crime rate: 3.57
  • Property crime rate: 38.25
  • Grocery cost of living: 90.3
  • Healthcare cost of living: 89.5
  • Utilities cost of living: 90.9
  • Transportation cost of living: 101

Sterling Heights, Michigan

  • Median household income: $62,344
  • Median listing price: $219,900
  • Livability: 80
  • Violent crime rate: 1.91
  • Property crime rate: 11.4
  • Grocery cost of living: 90.7
  • Healthcare cost of living: 83.4
  • Utilities cost of living: 99.9
  • Transportation cost of living: 155.9

Wichita Falls, Texas

  • Median household income: $44,285
  • Median listing price: $137,950
  • Livability: 84
  • Violent crime rate: 3.66
  • Property crime rate: 31.7
  • Grocery cost of living: 87.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 123.4
  • Utilities cost of living: 110.1
  • Transportation cost of living: 74

Killeen, Texas

  • Median household income: $48,898
  • Median listing price: $161,400
  • Livability: 79
  • Violent crime rate: 7.72
  • Property crime rate: 28.7
  • Grocery cost of living: 87.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 93.4
  • Utilities cost of living: 100.4
  • Transportation cost of living: 90.6

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

  • Median household income: $70,788
  • Median listing price: $209,000
  • Livability: 83
  • Violent crime rate: 1.25
  • Property crime rate: 21.92
  • Grocery cost of living: 89.6
  • Healthcare cost of living: 110.7
  • Utilities cost of living: 98.2
  • Transportation cost of living: 106.7

Lubbock, Texas

  • Median household income: $47,326
  • Median listing price: $192,500
  • Livability: 78
  • Violent crime rate: 5.23
  • Property crime rate: 40.16
  • Grocery cost of living: 87.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 104.7
  • Utilities cost of living: 93.5
  • Transportation cost of living: 82.1

Akron, Ohio

  • Median household income: $36,223
  • Median listing price: $75,900
  • Livability: 69
  • Violent crime rate: 6.99
  • Property crime rate: 43.18
  • Grocery cost of living: 93
  • Healthcare cost of living: 84.1
  • Utilities cost of living: 92.3
  • Transportation cost of living: 91.8

Abilene, Texas

  • Median household income: $46,093
  • Median listing price: $195,000
  • Livability: 83
  • Violent crime rate: 5.3
  • Property crime rate: 30.62
  • Grocery cost of living: 87.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 104.8
  • Utilities cost of living: 105.5
  • Transportation cost of living: 75.7

Waco, Texas

  • Median household income: $36,004
  • Median listing price: $201,200
  • Livability: 74
  • Violent crime rate: 5.2
  • Property crime rate: 37.87
  • Grocery cost of living: 87.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 85
  • Utilities cost of living: 97.2
  • Transportation cost of living: 80.6

Rochester, Minnesota

  • Median household income: $68,574
  • Median listing price: $270,900
  • Livability: 82
  • Violent crime rate: 1.94
  • Property crime rate: 18.52
  • Grocery cost of living: 90.4
  • Healthcare cost of living: 84.2
  • Utilities cost of living: 99.7
  • Transportation cost of living: 84

College Station, Texas

  • Median household income: $39,430
  • Median listing price: $269,900
  • Livability: 83
  • Violent crime rate: 2.19
  • Property crime rate: 23.72
  • Grocery cost of living: 87.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 91.4
  • Utilities cost of living: 95.6
  • Transportation cost of living: 83

El Paso, Texas

  • Median household income: $44,431
  • Median listing price: $185,000
  • Livability: 79
  • Violent crime rate: 3.87
  • Property crime rate: 18.89
  • Grocery cost of living: 87.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 88.6
  • Utilities cost of living: 97.1
  • Transportation cost of living: 107.6

Brownsville, Texas

  • Median household income: $35,636
  • Median listing price: $154,950
  • Livability: 80
  • Violent crime rate: 3.52
  • Property crime rate: 29.93
  • Grocery cost of living: 87.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 89.8
  • Utilities cost of living: 91.4
  • Transportation cost of living: 99.5

McAllen, Texas

  • Median household income: $45,057
  • Median listing price: $217,000
  • Livability: 85
  • Violent crime rate: 1.46
  • Property crime rate: 28.08
  • Grocery cost of living: 87.5
  • Healthcare cost of living: 85
  • Utilities cost of living: 89.1
  • Transportation cost of living: 103.2

Fort Wayne, Indiana

  • Median household income: $45,853
  • Median listing price: $174,900
  • Livability: 76
  • Violent crime rate: 3.59
  • Property crime rate: 31.91
  • Grocery cost of living: 88.7
  • Healthcare cost of living: 80.5
  • Utilities cost of living: 90.7
  • Transportation cost of living: 93

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: For this study, GOBankingRates analyzed U.S. cities with at least 100,000 people along the following criteria: 1) school district quality, based on Niche.com’s alphabetical grading scheme of school districts, which was then converted to a numerical value to score; 2) median home listing price for 2019, based on taking the average median list price from the months of January 2019 through August 2019 from Zillow’s August 2019 home price index; this value had to be cheaper than the corresponding value for the U.S. overall ($286,925) to be considered for the study; 3) livability score, sourced from AreaVibes; 4) violent crime rate per 1,000 residents and 5) property crime rate per 1,000 residents, sourced from Neighborhood Scout; 6) itemized non-housing costs of living indices, including groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation, sourced from Sperling’s Best Places. Each factor was scored, then added up to produce a final ranking. Population numbers were sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey. All data was compiled and up to date as of Sept. 23, 2019.


This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Cheap Cities You’ll Love To Live In