The 20 Cheapest Places To Live In The U.S.

With the cost of living on the rise, many Americans are on the hunt for cheap places to live that still offer a high quality of life. To help in the quest for the perfect place to call home, Empower—a financial services company—has issued a new report with the 20 most affordable cities in the United States.

To come up with the list, Empower conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans and also analyzed data from a number of sources, looking at home affordability (based on median home prices from and median rent prices from Zumper), cost of living (AdvisorSmith), tax friendliness (SmartAsset), percentage of days per year with sunshine (CurrentResults) and more.

Most Affordable U.S. Cities for Working Adults

Topping the list as the cheapest (and best) place to live in the U.S. is Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Set along the banks of the Big Sioux River, this Midwestern city ranks first, thanks to a winning combination of low home prices (according to Zillow, the average home in Sioux Falls is $313,630), reasonable cost of living and a healthy employment rate. It also offers a mix of urban amenities and natural beauty, including a network of scenic walking, hiking and biking trails.

Next up on the list is Abraham Lincoln’s former home: Springfield, Illinois, which has a mix of affordability and culture, thanks to numerous museums and historical sites. According to Zillow, the average home in Sioux Falls is $146,404. Wichita secures the third spot on the list, thanks to its low cost of living, family-friendly atmosphere and an average home cost of $187,171.

Beyond the top three, the list of most affordable cities for working adults includes a range of options. Virginia Beach, Virginia offers a coastal lifestyle with top-notch healthcare and cultural activities. Des Moines combines affordability with a thriving job market and a vibrant cultural scene. Oklahoma City welcomes with affordable housing and a lower cost of living. And Nebraska had two cities on the top 10 list—Lincoln and Omaha—thanks to their affordable living conditions.

Most Affordable U.S. Cities for Retirees

Empower’s report also identifies the most affordable U.S. cities for retirees. Topping the list is Las Vegas, renowned for its entertainment, sunshine and tax-friendly policies. It offers top-quality healthcare, a thriving senior community and a wide range of entertainment options. According to Zillow, the average home in Las Vegas is $399,512.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, secures the second position for retirees, thanks to a strong focus on healthcare quality and accessibility. Home to renowned medical institutions, Pittsburgh offers healthcare access for general care and specialized health concerns. (A caveat: Retirees should consider Pennsylvania’s death taxes when planning an inheritance.) According to Zillow, the average home in Pittsburgh is $225,479.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, once again makes the list, coming in at number three, thanks to its affordability for both working adults and retirees. It offers no state income tax, relatively low property taxes and no estate or inheritance tax. The city also has excellent air quality and a picturesque natural environment.

Dream Destinations: Where Americans Want to Live

Beyond affordability, the report also delves into the places where Americans dream of living. When it comes to choosing a place to call home, cost of living tops the priority list for working adults. A low cost of living can help individuals save more and build their nest egg. Additionally, being close to family, safety and employment opportunities were essential factors for this group.

As for dream living locations, Denver is the most desired place to live (17%), followed by San Diego (16%) and New York City (15%).

Interestingly, these locations didn’t fare well in the list of most affordable places to live: Denver earned its popularity due to its strong employment rates and income levels but fell behind in cost of living and home prices, landing at number 66 on the list of most affordable cities. San Diego came in at number 105. And New York City didn’t make the affordable list at all—due to a steep cost of living, soaring rent costs and home prices and overall high expenses.

Read on for the lists of the cheapest cities to live in the U.S., the most affordable places to live for retirees and the places that Americans dream about living.

Ranked: The 20 Cheapest U.S. Cities

  1. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  2. Springfield, Illinois
  3. Wichita, Kansas
  4. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  5. Des Moines
  6. Oklahoma City
  7. Lincoln, Nebraska
  8. Anchorage, Alaska
  9. Omaha
  10. McAllen, Texas
  11. Indianapolis
  12. Lexington, Kentucky
  13. Lubbock, Texas
  14. Columbia, Missouri
  15. Clarksville, Tennessee
  16. Peoria, Illinois
  17. Charlotte, North Carolina
  18. Kansas City, Missouri
  19. Fayetteville, Arkansas
  20. Huntsville, Alabama

Ranked: Cheapest U.S. Cities for Retirees

  1. Las Vegas
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  4. Detroit
  5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  6. Tallahassee, Florida
  7. Reno, Nevada
  8. Gainesville, Florida
  9. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  10. Columbus, Georgia
  11. Augusta, Georgia
  12. Spokane, Washington
  13. Jacksonville, Florida
  14. Port St. Lucie, Florida
  15. Colorado Springs
  16. Memphis
  17. Richmond, Virginia
  18. Tampa
  19. Orlando, Florida
  20. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Ranked: 15 Dream Destinations

  1. Denver
  2. San Diego
  3. New York City
  4. Charlotte, North Carolina
  5. Seattle
  6. Raleigh, North Carolina
  7. Austin, Texas
  8. Tampa
  9. Los Angeles
  10. Portland, Oregon
  11. Nashville
  12. Miami
  13. Colorado Springs
  14. Chicago
  15. Boston

Read More:

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