Whether you’re a single young professional or just starting a family, conserving funds for the future is always going to be your highest priority. One of the best ways to free up income is to make sure you’re in an area where the cost of living is reasonable. To help you avoid budget-busting relocations, we’ve rounded up some of the most affordable cities in the country. Check out 11 areas where housing, living expenses, and entertainment will be kind to your bank account.
1. BUFFALO, NEW YORK
Buffalo offers low median housing costs without succumbing to some of the cultural deprivations common in “affordable” cities. Buffalo has major sports teams, a large map of museums and attractions, and a geography that means you can find a place to call home without having to compromise with a long commute: Professionals tend to drive an average of just 20 minutes to their job sites. For families with children, the Buffalo school districts have been cited as being among some of the best in the country.
2. KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
Inexpensive rental properties averaging $850 a month: check. Low-cost food and entertainment options: check. Mortgage amounts that would take up only a fraction of your monthly income: check. Despite being the hub for several federal government jobs, Kansas City has kept its cost of living at reasonable levels for decades. Gamers might also get a kick out of the city’s rise of arcade bars, which mix retro amusements with refreshments.
3. DAYTON, OHIO
Expect to pay just over $10 for a T-bone steak and roughly $70,000 for a quality home in Dayton, which frequently makes appearances in several best cost-of-living reports. Residents are always close to major highway crossings and a variety of diversions, including several fine arts programs. Small business owners can also get a boost from the city’s aggressive economic development resources. And if health care is a priority, Dayton’s hospitals tend to be on the forefront of burgeoning diagnostic and treatment advances.
4. OMAHA, NEBRASKA
Omaha has an impressive balance sheet: Residents tend to make more and pay out less than national averages. And if you’re looking to mingle with a younger crowd, the city has an attractive statistic—roughly a third of its residents are 24 years old or younger. Job prospects for white collar workers are also bright: With five of the largest corporations in the country within city limits, opportunities are always within driving distance.
5. BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA
Known as the Magic City, Birmingham boasts a low cost of living and moderate temperatures; foodies are unlikely to tire of the city’s 500-plus restaurants. The area also has a wide cross-section of housing, from a burgeoning loft community to quiet, family-friendly neighborhoods. The city’s natural and architectural summits provide some of the most spectacular views you’ll find in any metropolis.
6. LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
Anyone looking to save as much as they can will appreciate Louisville’s reduced food and health care costs, which can offer double-digit decreases from the national average. The same holds true for their utilities, which is an often-overlooked (and money-eating) expense for anyone looking to spare funds. For job seekers, Louisville has been able to resist economic downturns and keep employment high.
7. MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
Great food and music makes Memphis a no-brainer in terms of quality recreation; a cost of living 14 percent lower than the national average is just icing. Residents are able to save in some unexpected ways, with Tennessee among the lowest-taxed states in the country. For first-time homebuyers, a typical mortgage payment in the city may only eat up an average of 10 percent of monthly earnings.
8. GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA
You won’t experience any wide weather or housing fluctuations in Greenville, which has some of the most consistent numbers for both. An afternoon car ride will get you to major hubs like Atlanta or Myrtle Beach, but you might be inclined to stay put: The city is famous for its food, museums, downtown district, and strong job market.
9. COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO
In addition to modest housing costs, Colorado Springs cuts health care costs by harboring some of the country’s fittest residents. Outdoor activities and pet-friendly areas keep people moving, and the city is a quick commute to ski towns that you can enjoy on weekends.
10. SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
San Antonio tends to attract devotees who wear their citizenship proudly. That’s because the city’s economic appeal is balanced by a thriving arts community and a lot of beautiful scenery. For the health-conscious, the city’s medical infrastructure is so strong that it can attract out-of-area patients. And despite being the seventh-largest city in the country, San Antonio’s housing prices are often just a tenth of the cost of other major hubs.
11. LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Providing you can tolerate both the heat and the temptation to gamble your disposable income away, Las Vegas ranks as a surprisingly affordable destination. Groceries, utilities, and transportation are well below the national averages. Couple that with some of the best entertainment in the country, and Vegas just might be the most fun and most affordable hometown on the map.