2020 has been a crazy year for sure. There’s been a whole lot of turmoil, and it’s been an emotional roller coaster for many. For most Americans, life as we know it has changed for the foreseeable future, and we’re all adjusting to new ways of living.
No matter where you live in the country, you’ve likely seen massive changes in how we do simple things like buy groceries, exercise, work, and even interact with other people. It’s been rough, but we are getting through it.
One bright spot in all of the chaos is that the new normal has forced businesses and other organizations to change the way we work.
Remote work, which was largely the realm of small businesses and tech companies, spread to the masses. People suddenly found themselves behind a laptop in their living room, and things kept moving forward.
It’s opened new doors for all of us in terms of mobility. More and more organizations are allowing their employees to choose where they live and aren’t requiring them to log significant in-office hours anymore.
If you had the choice to live wherever you could, where would you go?
For many, the thought of stretching their dollars further by living somewhere with a lower cost of living is an attractive proposal.
Here, we’ve compiled 21 of the cheapest places to live in the U.S. in 2021.
1. Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh doesn’t get as much attention as its bigger counterpart Philadelphia, but the city is getting more attention for its quality of living and affordable prices.
Forever, Pittsburgh was known for the Steelers football team and the steel industry. The Steelers are still there, but the Steel City has changed significantly.
It’s clean and full of artistic energy. There is plenty of green space and an increasing number of jobs.
The national aviary is also located in Pittsburgh. It’s a day of fun for bird lovers and families with small children.
For a small fee, you can get up and close with the animals and then walk around the grounds before you head to a popular nearby Thai restaurant for a meal.
2. Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis houses some of the best children’s museums and plenty of recreational activities to keep you busy. It’s got a great walkable downtown that offers the excitement of big city living without some of the negatives that come along with that. You get urban living on a budget.
There are great restaurants and world-famous sports franchises. You can have a good meal at all hours of the day and grab tickets to an exciting game during the week or on the weekend.
There’s a wholesome feel to living in Indianapolis that locals love and newcomers come to adore.
3. Grand Rapids, MI
According to the US News, Grand Rapids is one of the cheapest places to live over the next year and delivers incredible value when it comes to life quality.
Grand Rapids is a craft brewery haven. There is also a good deal of public art around the city that adds to the scenery.
4. Durham, NC
North Carolina isn’t the secret destination it once was. People from the higher cost of living states have been flocking there for years, but it’s still got most of the charm and affordability that many people seek.
Average rent in Durham is below $1000 a month, and most homeowners spend less than 30% of their income on their mortgage.
Get in while you still can before prices rise to the point NC gets kicked off this list!
5. Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati has long been associated with the Proctor & Gamble headquarters, but more people are taking notice because of what it has to offer in terms of prices and good living.
There are several professional sports teams, fantastic restaurants, and schools with good reputations. When you balance living, work, and price, Cincinnati is a great choice.
6. Lincoln, NE
Continuing on the Midwest theme, take a look at Lincoln, NE for your next move.
Lincoln is probably most famous for housing one of the most popular college football teams in the country.
It’s a massive hub for students that keep the local community and economy thriving. There is also a budding tech sector.
7. Greenville, SC
Take a trip a bit further south and check out Greenville, SC in 2021. What was once a relatively minor textile center has moved into higher-end manufacturing with employers like Michelin and General Electric in the area.
There’s a great food scene and plenty of parks to help you relax after working from home all day.
8. Buffalo, NY
Buffalo’s a terrific choice for people who want a good winter and love some history in the places they live in.
Local investors have been putting tons of money into Buffalo’s waterfront, and it’s home to one of the most advanced medical industries in the country.
Even though Buffalo’s growing again, it’s got a great community feel to it and still has good prices, especially compared to other parts of the state.
9. Louisville, KY
Louisville is settled nicely along the Ohio River. There are annual festivals like the Kentucky Derby that draw in thousands of visitors from around the country.
It’s got a great historical feel and low housing prices. There is a lot of emphasis on locally-owned businesses, and you can find a lot of independent coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, and other retail outlets in the area.
10. Omaha, NE
If you look at a map, Omaha is found in the center of the country. It’s a physical center as well as a symbolic one.
People who live in Omaha often joke about how they hope the area stays a secret. It’s a family-friendly town that focuses on family and community.
There is decent growth. Where you used to only have limited options in terms of food and entertainment, now plenty of choices are springing up for all types of people.
11. Kansas City, MO
Kansas City is about more than just amazing BBQ and family fun. Residents and visitors can enjoy some friendly gambling on one of the riverboat casinos and enjoy drinks at any one of the several great pubs around town.
You will probably have to wait in line at the most popular locations, but talking with other locals is part of the fun.
Kansas City also has a thriving job market that’s attracting new blood into the area.
12. St. Louis, MO
St. Louis is a fantastic town that’s still affordable but may not be for long.
Home to the famous arch, St. Louis boasts incredible museums for families, riverfront activities, green spaces, and fantastic restaurants. It’s got a great vibe and several professional sports teams to keep you entertained.
People who visit St. Louis often comment that the city is just big enough to offer everything you want but small enough not to feel overwhelming.
The Children’s Museum is a nice walk away from the Arch, and it’s home to amazing tunnels that weave in and out of the building.
13. Baton Rouge, LA
Nestled along the Mississippi River, Baton Rouge has been a popular tourist location for decades. However, its reputation for only being a vacation spot is changing due to budding healthcare and engineering industries.
There is also a maniacal college sports fan base and plenty of retail shopping available. At night, you can choose from a wide variety of restaurants and take in some live jazz music before heading to bed.
Housing prices are low in Baton Rouge and many historical homes take you back to another era.
14. Spartansburg, SC
One trip to Spartansburg will have you hooked and wanting to live there long-term. It’s got great historical housing at affordable prices and plenty of new building going on. It’s a city that’s rich in history and predates the Revolutionary War.
15. Kalamazoo, MI
The mood in Kalamazoo matches its funky name. It’s a music festival, theater, and artist hotspot.
The town hosts plenty of fairs and events to bring the community together and there is always something fun to do in the area.
Housing prices are low and you can find something way bigger than what you’ve got now if you’re living in a big city on one of the coasts.
16. Youngstown, OH
This is another ex-steel town that’s seeing a resurgence. There is an economic upswing going on in the area as young people move in and open restaurants and other small businesses. It’s still got a bit of a farm feel, so if you love the outdoors this will be perfect for you.
17. Green Bay, WI
Home to one of the most storied football teams in U.S. history, Green Bay is a growing city with a small-town feel. The downtown area is getting a lot of investment and is a family-friendly spot with lots to do.
Things are still affordable in this midwestern city and there is a good job market.
18. Hickory, NC
For good weather, think about moving to Hickory, NC. There is a lot of spillover from the saturating Asheville real estate market into Hickory, so you’ll get a lot of the benefits at cheaper prices.
North Carolina has been on so many lists in the past decade that it’s no longer the secret it once was. Every year, thousands of people find their way to North Carolina from places like New York and Washington D.C.
As a result, you’ll find a diverse population that’s full of life and welcoming to newcomers.
19. Peoria, IL
Peoria is a rustic river town that is home to the massive industrial company Caterpillar. It’s quintessential Midwest living at a bargain.
The city is situated along the river, and you can easily find a place to live that looks out over the river with great views. Not only are housing and rent prices lower than the national average, but you also get deals on transportation and utilities.
Peoria hosts a lot of festivals on the weekends during the summers and locals love to get outside and play in the many parks sprinkled around town.
20. Florence, AL
If you’re going for the absolute cheapest place in the U.S., then Florence, AL is your town. It boasts the lowest apartment prices for renters on average. It’s known locally as a well-kept secret because it’s a great place to live, too.
Florence is the kind of place for people who want to get away from it all. Living in Florence you’ll find a tight-knit community and affordable homes.
However, you may have to get in the car and drive a few hours if you can only live with certain brands of groceries or electronics.
21. Siloam Springs, AR
Siloam Springs is found on the border with Oklahoma and along the edge of the Ozark mountain range. Rents and median house prices are some of the lowest in the country.
Siloam Springs provides residents a lot of outdoor activities and distance from any urban stresses. You can take long walks in the evenings and see more of nature. The weather is nice, though hot, most of the year and the locals will be happy you’ve come.
Wherever you decide to move, there are still plenty of options where you can save money without sacrificing your quality of life. There is something for everyone in the U.S. You can find something remote or something in a city that doesn’t crush you with high rents and pricey groceries.
In 2021, when more companies are letting people choose where they want to live and work remotely, giving a thought to life in a new, affordable spot is worth considering.
Take some time and do your research on what makes you happy and where you can find that for less money. With more savings, you’ll be able to enjoy more activities, save for retirement, and accomplish goals you’ve never had the time or financial freedom to pursue.