Claiming the distinction of being the first American personal finance magazine to deliver sound, unbiased advice — in clear, concise language — Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has offered guidance for making smart financial decisions since 1947.
Therefore, when Kiplinger’s publishes a list of the least expensive cities in which to live, you can bet they’ve taken all of the key expenses of modern life into consideration. Drawing from the Council for Community and Economic Research’s cost-of-living index, the publication compiled this list based upon prices for housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, health care, personal services and entertainment.
1. Harlingen, Texas
With a cost of living 24.2 percent below the national average, Harlingen has a population of 65,467 people who enjoy a median household income of $38,122. That might sound low, until you consider the median home value is $85,700, compared to the national figure of $193,500. Located alongside the Rio Grande River, Harlingen is about 30 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico.
2. McAllen, Texas
Situated 30 miles to the west of Harlingen, McAllen’s 142,696 people revel in a cost of living 22.6 percent below the national average. The median household income is $45,057 and the median home value is $120,000. This town is known to be somewhat of a retail hub for residents and visitors.
3. Kalamazoo, Michigan
Home to Western Michigan University, medical equipment manufacturer Stryker and a significantly sized satellite of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Kalamazoo’s population of 78,807 has a median household income of $37,438. The median home value is $99,300. A three-hour drive to Chicago gets you access to all of the perks of a major metropolis, without the expense of living there. Kalamazoo’s cost of living comes in at 20.4 percent below the national average.
If you’re looking for a more affordable place to live because of financial issues, these cities will definitely help you keep more of your money in your pocket. You can also seek the assistance of a company like Freedom Debt Relief to try to settle your overwhelming debts by negotiating with creditors. That way, you can enjoy the amenities wherever you reside.
4. Memphis, Tennessee
Home to the headquarters of FedEx, International Paper and AutoZone, Memphis requires little in the way to enjoy a cost of living 19.4 percent below the national average. Elvis Presley’s Graceland is located in a city of 652,236 people with a median household income of $38,320 and a median home value of $94,200. Rich in culture, Memphis is one of the most desirable places on this list of the least expensive cities in which to live.
5. Knoxville, Tennessee
The gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Knoxville holds the mighty Tennessee River in a loving embrace. The river literally runs right through its downtown. The cost of living there is 18.3 percent below the national average, which is balanced against a median household income of $36,331. The median home value is $124,500. The University of Tennessee’s Volunteers make their home in Knoxville, which is also noted for offering a nice mix of city living with country sensibilities for its population of 187,347.
6. Conway, Arkansas
If you love outdoor sports, Conway’s ample hunting, fishing and water sports opportunities will be a welcoming attraction. High-tech firms such as the digital marketing organization Acxiom have located there. You’ll hop in your car and drive to Little Rock in about 30 minutes, but you’ll return to Conway to enjoy a cost of living that is 18.1 percent below the national average. The median household income comes in at $46,741 to support a median home value of $163,500 for its population of 65,782.
As you can see, the least expensive cities in which to live have much to offer, in addition to lower prices on everything from food to rent and utilities. They’re also fairly diverse, with places for those who like a big city feel, as well as people who prefer the vibe of a smaller town.
We’ve only listed the top six here; you’ll find the entire list at Kiplinger.com.