Big Benefits of Living Simply: The 5 Cheapest Small Towns in America



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.   


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. 


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. 


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.  


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. 


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. 


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Sandra Murphy

Sandra Murphy

Holds a master's degree in professional writing and has more than 15 years of experience writing for national and international entities.

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