FIVE OF AMERICA’S CHEAPEST SMALL TOWNS
Small town living. Big Benefits.
Who says the best things in life don’t come cheap? The following five towns disprove that theory by offering all the great benefits of small-town living — less congestion and traffic, slower pace of life, a strong sense of community, leisurely pursuits — as well as cheap living. Taking into account the Cost of Living Index developed by the Council for Community and Economic Research, prices were analyzed for housing, utilities, groceries, health care, transportation, and miscellaneous goods and services.
Here are the top five cheapest towns in America that just might inspire you to pack your bags and move to a place where you can pack more into life thanks to inexpensive living.
1. MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA
Cost of Living: 16.7% below U.S. average
City Population: 13,821
Median Household Income: $33,545
Median Home Value: $90,100
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
Just an hour’s drive south of Roanoke, this town is home to the Martinsville Speedway of NASCAR fame. Not surprisingly for a racing town, gasoline is about 9% cheaper here; also a plus: housings expenses come in at about 31% below the national average.
2. BURLINGTON, IOWA
Cost of Living: 17.0% below U.S. average
City Population: 25,663
Median Household Income: $42,907
Median Home Value: $90,100
Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
Here’s a window to what makes Burlington a great place to live: Housing-related costs are 37% cheaper compared to what average Americans pay; rents, on average, are 45% lower than the national figures; and median home prices are cheaper by more than $100,000.
3. PRYOR CREEK, OKLAHOMA
Cost of Living: 17.2% below U.S. average
City Population: 9,539
Median Household Income: $41,355
Median Home Value: $99,200
Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
Good things come in small packages: tiny Pryor Creek is the site of one of Oklahoma’s largest industrial parks, which is home to more than 60 businesses. The abundant job opportunities in manufacturing and other industries allow this town to lay claim to an unemployment rate that’s far below the U.S. average.
4. MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA
Cost of Living: 18.2% below U.S. average
City Population: 39,223
Median Household Income: $36,276
Median Home Value: $88,600
Unemployment Rate: 4.0%
Housing-related expenses here run a third less than the national average; health care and transportation are significantly cheaper as well. Major employers include the
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, a VA medical center, and paper giant Georgia-Pacific.
5. RICHMOND, INDIANA
Cost of Living: 20.4% below U.S. average
City Population: 36,812
Median Household Income: $33,381
Median Home Value: $85,300
Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
Richmond hits all the right notes: No city of its size can claim a lower cost of living, its vibrant history includes the early days of recorded jazz (think Duke Ellington and
Louis Armstrong), and it’s known for excellent colleges and seminaries. Add to those attributes inexpensive housing and affordable health care, and Richmond lives up to its name by offering an abundance of riches.