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The 25 least expensive U.S. cities to live in

Aarthi Swaminathan
Finance Writer

Everything’s cheaper in two Texas cities, according to a new analysis.

According to a study by the Council for Community and Economic Research, two cities in the Lone Star State ranked as the cheapest places to live in America.

The research — which looked at 257 cities over the first quarter of this year and analyzed the cost of housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services — found that the Texas city of Harlingen was the cheapest place overall, followed by McAllen, Texas. (We previously looked at the most expensive.)

The South featured heavily on the least expensive list. And across the board, housing costs — as well as goods and services expenses — in these cities were much lower compared to the national average.

(Graphic: David Foster, Yahoo Finance)

Here’s a quick look at the top 10, with extra pricing context from RentCafe, Rent Jungle, Data USA:

Harlingen, Texas

Average rent: $717

Average meal: $12

Median household income: $38,122

McAllen, Texas

Average rent: $811

Average meal: $12

Median household income: $45,057

McAllen is the largest city in Hidalgo County, Texas, United States, and the twenty-second most populous city in Texas.

Kalamazoo, Michigan

Average rent: $952

Average meal: $13.50

Median household income: $37,438

Memphis, Tennesse

Average rent: $813

Average meal: $13

Median household income: $39,333

Photo of colorful cafe bars at the iconic Beale Street music and entertainment district of downtown Memphis, Tennessee, USA, illuminated at night.

Richmond, Indiana

Average rent: $1,432

Average meal: N/A

Median household income: $33,381

Joplin, Missouri

Average rent: $1,430

Average meal: $10

Median household income: $41,063

Levi Welde (L) walks with his friend Krystal Barnes in the FEMA trailer park that she lives in after her home was destroyed when a tornado hit Joplin, Missouri. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Tupelo, Mississippi

Average rent: $906

Average meal: $12

Median household income: $45,161

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Average rent: $1,432

Average meal: $12

Median household income: $41,158

Fayetteville is the third-largest city in Arkansas and county seat of Washington County. Fayetteville is on the outskirts of the Boston Mountains, deep within the Ozarks.

Conway, Arkansas

Average rent: $687

Average meal: $13

Median household income: $46,741

Pittsburg, Kansas

Average rent: $638

Average meal: N/A

Median household income: $31,948

Even the South is getting more expensive

While home prices in the South have been historically more affordable than other parts of the U.S., recent trends are heading the other direction.

According to a separate study by Clever Real Estate, the gap between national home prices and household income has increased since the 1960’s — a 121% increase in home prices was only matched by a 29% increase in median household income, adjusted for inflation.

The divide between prices and income in the South, on the other hand, hasn’t been widening as quickly (as seen below).

(Source: Clever Real Estate)

For example, the median price of homes purchased in 2018 was around $250,000 across the U.S. In the South, it was only $240,000, according to a report from the National Mortgage Professional.

But current trends project that the South will see home prices increase disproportionately relative to income levels, the report added.

Fro 2000 to 2017, the growth rate of income was “almost stable” at 2%, the report found. On the other hand, the growth rate of home prices almost doubled, at 75%.

Hence based on the current projections, the South too might become less affordable.

Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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