Cheapest Place to Live: Top 10 Budget-Friendly Cities for Savvy Movers

South America

With the rising cost of living in many parts of the United States, it’s no surprise that many individuals and families are seeking more affordable living options. A low cost of living can bring a variety of benefits, such as reduced stress related to financial concerns, and the ability to allocate more funds to recreational activities or savings. This article delves into the cheapest places to live in the country, taking into consideration factors like housing costs, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and other everyday expenses.

These affordable locations provide residents with more than just financial benefits. Many offer a high quality of life, strong job markets, and vibrant communities, making them ideal choices for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of larger cities without sacrificing opportunities or amenities. By examining various cities across the nation, this article aims to help potential movers make informed decisions, taking into account their individual needs and preferences.

In order to provide a comprehensive overview of the cheapest places to live in the United States, we have analyzed multiple sources to compile a list of top contenders. From small towns to bustling metropolitan areas, the selections mentioned in this article cater to a wide range of preferences and lifestyles, ensuring there’s something for everyone in search of an affordable yet fulfilling place to call home.

Analyzing the Cost of Living

When assessing the cheapest places to live, it is essential to consider the cost of living. The cost of living is a measure of how much it costs for an individual to maintain a certain standard of living in a specific location. This calculation takes into account various factors such as housing, transportation, utilities, groceries, and healthcare.

One tool that aids in analyzing the cost of living is the cost of living index. This index allows individuals to directly compare the expenses of living in one area to another. By using this tool, people can determine how far their money will go in each location and make informed decisions about where to reside.

Several factors contribute to the cost of living in a particular region. Some key contributors are:

  • Housing: The cost of renting or purchasing property is a major component of the cost of living. Housing prices vary significantly across the country and can greatly impact an individual’s expenses.
  • Transportation: The expense of commuting and traveling within a city or town is an important factor. Cities with efficient and affordable public transportation systems have lower transportation costs, while cities with limited or pricey public transit may have higher costs.
  • Utilities: The costs of essentials services such as electricity, gas, and water can fluctuate depending on the location or season. Cities in warmer climates may have higher utility costs to account for air conditioning usage, while cities in colder climates might have higher heating costs.
  • Groceries: The price of food and other essential goods varies across the country. Access to local markets or lower taxes on consumer goods can lead to more affordable groceries in certain areas.
  • Healthcare: The accessibility and cost of medical services are additional factors in the cost of living calculation. Locations with easily accessible healthcare and reasonable costs will typically be more affordable.

In order to identify the cheapest places to live, one can use reliable sources such as the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) and U.S. News rankings. These sources provide valuable data on living expenses, rent, and other essential components of the cost of living. By taking these factors into account, one can more accurately determine the affordability of various locations and make well-informed decisions about where to reside.

Understanding the Currency Value

When considering moving to a cheaper place to live, it’s essential to understand the value of the local currency. In some cases, national currencies may not have the same purchasing power as others. This can significantly impact the affordability of living in a particular country.

When comparing currencies, one common method is to review exchange rates. The exchange rates express the value of one currency in terms of another. For example, if the exchange rate between the euro (EUR) and the US dollar (USD) is 1.2, it means that 1 euro is worth 1.2 US dollars. This information can help potential expats estimate their expenses when relocating to a more affordable destination.

While exchange rates help in understanding the relative value of currencies, it’s also crucial to consider the cost of living. The cost of living in a certain country or city refers to the average expenses required to maintain a particular standard of living. This includes factors such as housing, groceries, transportation, healthcare, and utilities.

Some affordable countries to consider moving to include Vietnam, Portugal, and Ecuador. In these countries, the cost of living is typically lower than in more developed countries. For example, the monthly budget for living in Portugal is estimated to be around $1,038. By considering both the local currency value and the cost of living in a specific destination, expats can make an informed decision about which countries offer excellent value for money.

In conclusion, understanding currency value plays a significant role in determining the affordability of a location. By keeping the exchange rate and the cost of living in mind, potential expats can find a place that suits their budget and lifestyle needs. However, it’s important to keep in mind that cost is just one factor, and other aspects, such as climate, culture, and local amenities, should also be considered when deciding where to move.

Geographical Factors

Cost of Living in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is known for its affordable living costs, as many countries in the region provide an excellent quality of life without breaking the bank. Countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia are some examples where expats and digital nomads flock to due to the low cost of living. The prices of housing, transportation, and food in these countries are remarkably affordable, especially when compared to Western countries. For instance, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Vietnam can cost as little as $2, while a one-bedroom apartment in the city center may cost around $400 per month.

Affordability in Eastern Europe

Eastern European countries also boast a relatively low cost of living. Nations like Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland attract many budget-conscious travelers and expats due to their affordable lifestyles and rich cultural experiences. These countries offer lower housing, food, and transportation costs compared to their Western European counterparts.

For example, in Romania:

  • A meal at an inexpensive restaurant might cost around $6
  • A one-bedroom apartment in the city center could be rented for about $300 per month
  • A monthly public transportation pass usually costs around $20

Budget Living in South America

South America is another region where affordable living is possible, making it a popular destination for budget travelers and expats. Countries like Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia provide lower living expenses compared to North America and Western Europe. Although the cost of living can vary within the region, affordability can still be found, especially in housing, food, and public transportation.

In Colombia, for instance:

  • A meal at an inexpensive restaurant may cost around $4
  • A one-bedroom apartment in the city center can be rented for approximately $250 per month
  • A single public transportation trip usually costs about $1

To sum up, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America offer attractive options for individuals seeking more affordable living conditions, with lower costs in food, housing, and transportation.

Economic Factors

Job Opportunities

A crucial aspect to consider while evaluating the affordability of a place to live is the availability of job opportunities. In cities with healthy job markets, there are typically more job openings and higher wage growth rates. For instance, some affordable places in the United States with strong job opportunities include Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah.

It is essential to consider the balance between job opportunities and cost-of-living expenses. While some cities may offer many job opportunities, the high cost of living can negate the benefits of a higher salary. Therefore, looking for places with both favorable job prospects and reasonable living costs is crucial for finding an economically affordable place to live.

Inflation Rate

Another significant economic factor that can impact the affordability of a location is the local inflation rate. A high inflation rate can erode consumers’ purchasing power, making it more challenging to maintain a certain standard of living over time.

To assess the affordability of a place, one must take into account both the local inflation rate and the cost-of-living indices. This combination will provide a clearer picture of the long-term economic stability and affordability of various locations. For example, if a city has a low inflation rate but a high cost of living, it might still be challenging for individuals to maintain their lifestyle in the long run.

In conclusion, evaluating economic factors such as job opportunities and inflation rates can provide valuable insights into the affordability of different cities and regions. By considering these factors alongside the cost-of-living indices, individuals can make better-informed decisions about where to live and establish a stable financial future.

Political Stability

The level of political stability in a region is an important aspect to consider when looking for affordable places to live. A stable political climate provides a solid foundation for economic growth, job opportunities, and overall quality of life. Here, we explore some locations with a thriving political environment that can be an affordable option for residence.

Firstly, it’s important to note that political stability is often independent of a state’s political leanings. Cities in the United States, for example, tend to be liberal regardless of the state’s overall political stance. Atlanta, Georgia and New Orleans, Louisiana are examples of such cities in traditionally conservative states.

When thinking about international relocation, various countries worldwide provide a politically stable and more affordable environment for expats. According to a report mentioned by Forbes, the United States ranks 36th in political stability, with 22% of expats having a negative view of the country’s political situation. However, there are numerous other countries that offer a more stable political landscape, making them attractive destinations for people looking to move abroad.

Several factors contribute to a location’s political stability, including robust democratic practices, low levels of corruption, and commitment to the rule of law. It’s always wise to research these aspects of potential places to reside, regardless of whether the city’s overall environment appears to be affordable on the surface.

In summary, political stability is a crucial aspect to consider when searching for an affordable place to live. It is important to explore various cities in different states and countries that offer a more stable political climate. This stability sets the stage for sound economic growth and improved quality of life, making these locations an attractive option for prospective residents seeking affordability and peace of mind.

Quality of Life

Healthcare Quality

The healthcare system in affordable cities plays a crucial role in maintaining the quality of life. In some regions, access to quality healthcare is supported by well-equipped hospitals and medical facilities that offer specialized treatment. Additionally, healthcare costs are generally lower in these areas compared to high-priced urban centers. Comprehensive insurance plans are often available, ensuring that residents receive adequate care without exorbitant costs.

Education System

A strong education system is essential to improving the quality of life in affordable cities. High-performing schools, access to advanced educational opportunities, and community engagement programs contribute to creating a nurturing learning environment for residents. These cities typically have public schools, private institutions, and colleges to cater to the diverse educational needs of their populations. The affordability of these areas allows families to allocate more resources to their children’s education, thereby improving academic performance and future prospects.

Safety and Security

Affordable cities with a high quality of life also prioritize safety and security for their residents. These areas tend to have low crime rates and an effective police presence, which contributes to the overall well-being of the community. Proper city planning and infrastructure, such as well-lit streets and secure public spaces, further enhance the sense of safety in these regions. Moreover, community-centered initiatives often emphasize building strong relationships between residents and law enforcement, fostering trust and collaboration in maintaining the safety of the area.

Social Factors

Cultural Compatibility

When considering the cheapest places to live, it’s essential to take into account cultural compatibility. Residents should feel comfortable with the community’s values, norms, and traditions. This can make the transition to a new location smoother and contribute to a higher quality of life. In places like Sioux Falls, SD, and Madison, WI, a mix of cultures and traditions is evident, often leading to increased community engagement and more opportunities for socializing.

In small cities with good cultural compatibility, people can find a sense of belonging, and the affordable living costs act as an additional benefit. It might be helpful to research the local events, festivals, and attractions in a destination city to gauge how well they align with your own values and interests.

Language Proficiency

Language proficiency is another key factor when selecting an affordable place to live. For individuals who speak English as their first language, moving to a location where English is predominantly spoken can ease the adjustment period and improve the overall experience. Most of the cheapest places to live in the US, such as Reno, NV, and Charleston, SC, are predominantly English-speaking cities. This can save costs and time related to language courses or translation services.

However, it’s also worth considering locations with diverse language communities. These places can provide unique cultural experiences and opportunities for learning new languages, which can be advantageous in personal and professional capacities. Provo, UT, for example, offers a bilingual environment where both English and Spanish are spoken, making it an attractive choice for some individuals seeking an affordable place to live.


In conclusion, finding an affordable place to live is paramount for many people. Several cities in the United States offer a lower cost of living without compromising on quality of life, amenities, and economic opportunities.

Cedar Park, Texas and Midland, Texas both stand out as some of the most affordable cities in the country, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living report. Southern states, including Brownsville, Texas and Fort Smith, Arkansas, are also known for their low living expenses, particularly in housing, utilities, and transportation.

Fort Wayne, Indiana consistently ranks among the top affordable cities in the U.S., according to Niche’s report, with a similar appeal in previous years. Remember to consider factors like job availability, climate, and personal preferences when making a decision on where to live.

Globally, some of the least expensive countries to live in include Mexico, Malaysia, South Africa, and Indonesia. Keep in mind that moving abroad comes with its own set of challenges, like cultural adjustments and obtaining visas.

In summary, various affordable cities and countries cater to the needs of budget-conscious residents. Researching and understanding the cost of living in these regions can lead to better decisions and the discovery of more satisfying living situations.