Four Most Affordable Cities to Move To

Jon Fesmire |

Most U.S. cities are fairly expensive to live in, especially compared to rural towns. Many of us prefer living in cities, though. We enjoy having plenty to do, including many choices in restaurants and entertainment. Fortunately, there are inexpensive cities in the U.S. with a lot of character.

Keep in mind that there are downsides to living in highly affordable cities. Crime may be slightly elevated. The weather may be too hot or too cold for many. The city may be shrinking in population. However, depending on exactly where you live in one of these cities, the downsides may not be much of a problem at all.

Here are four U.S. cities that are quite affordable.

Buffalo, NY

This is a great city both for sports fans and for academics. It’s home to two major sports teams. The Buffalo Sabers is the city’s hockey team, and the Buffalo Bills its NFL team. It’s also home to the University of Buffalo and Buffalo State College, among others. You’ll find plenty of museums, including the Buffalo History Museum and the Buffalo Museum of Science.

While Buffalo itself has a population of 258,000 (down from 328,000 in 1990), the greater metro area has a population of 1.13 million. In fact, it’s the second largest metropolitan area in the state, second only to the New York City metro area. Oh yes, and it snows here—a lot. If you’re okay with that, you may love it, especially when you learn commute times are generally 20 minutes or shorter.

The median household income here is about $32,000, but the price of a home is only about $86,000, and the median rent around $950.

Omaha, NE

Omaha is a pretty big city, with a population of 467,000. The entire metro area has a population a little over twice that, at 975,000. It’s known for its steaks for a reason. The area has lots of farming and agriculture. So yes, if you live here, expect there to be plenty of farm-fresh food year round, Omaha steaks included.

You’ll be happy with your income here, too. The median household income is $56,000, and home prices average $175,000. As for rent, look to pay about $900 a month or so. Farming isn’t the only industry here. It also has major telecommunications, healthcare, insurance, and education opportunities.

Birmingham, AL

Alas, Birmingham is another American city with a declining population. The city proper was home to 256,000 in 1990, and is now home to about 210,000. However, the metro area is still pretty large, with 1.15 million people.

Don’t let the shrinking population dissuade you, though. Birmingham still has a lot to offer. This city is known for its culinary excellence. You’ll find more than 500 restaurants. These include Italian food at Gianmarco’s Restaurant, French-inspired dishes at Highlands Bar & Grill, and Southern cooking at Satterfield’s Restaurant.

The median household income here is $32,000, the average home price $146,000, and the average rent is only $800 a month. An individual or family could do very well here. Just make sure you have air conditioning at home and in your car. Summers get hot.

Memphis, TN

Think of Memphis, with its population of 252,000 and 1.15 million in the greater metro area, as a sister city to Nashville. Both are major music industry hubs. If you love music, you owe it to yourself to consider moving here. You’ll find large concerts, and also music in smaller venues like Minglewood Hall, Lafayette’s  Music Room, and Levitt Shell.

Want to experience some Memphis history? Then you have to check out Graceland, former home of Elvis Presley, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.

The median household income in Memphis is $37,000, while the average home price is a low $86,000. The average apartment rents for $900 a month.

Of course, there are many other affordable cities in the U.S. if none of these is quite what you’re looking for. Areas tend to be more affordable when there’s less demand to live there, but just because more people would rather live in New York City of San Francisco, that doesn’t mean that a cheaper city isn’t right for you.