The following is a post by Anum Yoon of CurrentonCurrency.com. Enjoy!
Whether you want cloud-grazing skyscrapers, sun-soaked prairies or picket-fenced suburbs, you can find it all in the United States. That’s what makes it so hard to decide where you should settle down within our sprawling country.
Perhaps the biggest factor in choosing a place to live is whether or not it’s within your price range. We wanted to make your search for the perfect place to call home a bit easier by finding the nation’s top 15 most affordable cities in which you and your family could live out the Smile Lifestyle.
1. Chicago, Illinois
You might not think a bona fide city like Chicago is affordable, but think again: the average home price is around $230,000 in the Windy City. With that comes an endless array of cultural landmarks and events, including the Chicago Jazz Festival, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Lollapalooza, the yearly music festival.
2. Birmingham, Alabama
For somewhere a bit warmer, try Birmingham, where the median home price in 2014 was $130,000. You won’t just be saving money on your mortgage, either: groceries, healthcare and transportation costs are all lower here than the national average.
3. Buffalo, New York
Quite the opposite of the Deep South, Buffalo, New York, is known for its frigid winters. There’s more to love about Buffalo, though, including it’s low cost of housing: the median home price was $118,000 in 2014. Much like Birmingham, groceries and health care are cheap here, too.
4. Louisville, Kentucky
Three Fortune 500 companies call Louisville home, as does the Kentucky Derby. You’ll drive about 22 minutes on average to get to the office, but you’ll be rewarded a salary that can certainly help you purchase a home that will typically be priced about $50,000 less than the national average.
5. Lincoln, Nebraska
Let’s veer from the east coast to check out Lincoln, Nebraska. The unemployment rate in this Midwestern hub is a mere 2.9%, which means that employers — not hopeful employees — are fighting to fill positions. It’s extremely affordable and the median household income is high at $49,504.
6. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City has a lot going on in terms of industry. The local government provides plenty of jobs, as do the local universities and business that have taken root here. Perhaps that’s why 84 percent of the city’s residents verify that it’s a great place to live.
7. Cincinnati, Ohio
You’ll make good money in Cincinnati, where the median family income adds up to approximately $68,500. You can spend it on cheaper-than-average groceries and utilities. The latter will cost you almost 6 percent less than the national average.
8. Nashville, Tennessee
Locals and tourists alike love Nashville; it makes many must-see travel lists because of its buzzing music scene and buzzing barbecue joints. You might pay a bit more for your house — around $165,000 for the median abode — but you’ll get ample country-music culture in return. Grand Ole Opry, anyone?
9. Memphis, Tennessee
Residents of the Volunteer State know that there’s a competitive rivalry between Nashville and Memphis, but you won’t find any of that here. Instead, we acknowledge that both cities make great places for you to settle if you’re looking to save some green. In Memphis, you can find plenty of homes valued at less than $100K, and apartments carry monthly payments at about 20 percent less than the national average.
10. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Take a deep breath of the mountain air in Colorado Springs. You might not expect a place as picturesque as Colorado to make an affordable cities list, but 78 percent of the city’s housing is affordable at the median income of about $70,000. You’ll also enjoy cheaper groceries, utilities and transportation than the average American.
11. Greenville, South Carolina
Far from Colorado Springs is the quaint town of Greenville. If warmer weather isn’t enough to entice you, perhaps the fact that 80 percent of the city’s housing is affordable with just the median family income of $58,200 in your pocket.
12. Chapel Hill, North Carolina
You’ll find plenty of traditional charm in Chapel Hill, home of the prestigious University of North Carolina. The students keep the town buzzing year-round, as do the copious amounts of lucrative jobs available in nearby Research Triangle Park. You can spend your weeks here and your weekends exploring the gorgeous college campus and its well-manicured grounds.
13. Grand Rapids, Michigan
The median family income in Grand Rapids is enough to pay for almost half of the median home, which costs around $128,000. You’ll have your pick of places to live if you make this amount, considering 83.2 percent of places are affordable for those who rake in the median salary. You’ll get cheap groceries and healthcare, too.
14. Austin, Texas
Austin prides itself on being weird, so this might be the best destination if you want your hometown to be equal parts affordable and interesting. You can find live music almost every day of the year here, as well as to-die-for Southwestern fare. You can also find employment in the tech industry, which is flourishing in Austin.
15. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Finally, you can’t complete a list of affordable cities without one that’s on the beach. Virginia Beach will bring your entire family together as you spend your days playing, swimming, strolling… the possibilities are truly endless, especially if you consider how many businesses have relocated to the area lately. Time to cash in and celebrate in the sun.
So there you have it. These cities may not have the best airports and may have neighborhoods that are less than ideal, but the United States is a big country with an incredible amount of diverse opportunities. Read through and choose one, or close your eyes, point to the screen, and let fate find you your next — and maybe your last — new hometown.
By Anum Yoon – @CurrentOnCurrency