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Top 10 Most Affordable U.S. Cities in 2017

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When you are looking for a new city to live in, there are many factors to take into consideration. But one of the first things that most consumers want to know is how much will it cost to live there. That is a very good question and can help you to select a city that will offer you a lower cost of living and therefore offer you more disposable income, more of an ability to save for retirement or kids college funds or simple let you have a better standard of living. But before you get down to looking at the list of cities, it is important that you understand what criteria are used to determine the least expensive place to live in USA.

San Antonio

What are the Criteria Concerning Housing

When each city is evaluated one of the first criteria that is examined is the median household income. This helps to know what the average person is living on in the city and helps to gauge buying power. The median home listing price and sale price are also closely examined. Not only is this an indicator of what you can expect to pay for a home but the difference between the asking price and the sale price can provide additional information about the overall housing market. If the homes are selling consistently above the asking price then the market is hot and demand for homes is great. The final number pertaining to housing is the median rent per month. This is a good bit of information to someone who is new to the area and wants to preset a budget that will allow the appropriate amount for rent.

Commuting and Transit Costs

Commuting is another big question when people are considering moving to a city. The average commute time gives potential residents an idea of the norm for morning and evening rush hour traffic. It also helps a transplant to decide how important it is to live very near to their work or to public transportation if the commute sounds like too long to drive. That brings up the next number which is the cost of the monthly transit pass. This pass is normally very affordable in big cities and is much less expensive than driving each day. But if you do decide to drive you will want to know what the average cost is for a gallon of regular gas.Other

Monthly Expenses that are Considered

Other Monthly Expenses that are ConsideredOther important monthly costs for residents include the cost of insurance in the area. This can help to understand the crime rates in the area, any unusual weather patterns which pose a threat such as hurricanes or flooding or even fire threat. Local sales tax will also be a factor in how affordably you can shop in your new city and may affect your shopping habits if the tax is high. The state income tax might not affect your spending habits but it will play a role in how much you are bringing home and how much you will be able to afford compared to your current state income tax rate. And regardless of whether you rent or own a home, you will be paying utilities so the next factor is the utility index cost. This compares the local utilities to a national benchmark of 100. If the local number is below 100 then you can expect to pay less than the national average for utilities in the new city.

Other important monthly costs for residents include the cost of insurance in the area. This can help to understand the crime rates in the area, any unusual weather patterns which pose a threat such as hurricanes or flooding or even fire threat. Local sales tax will also be a factor in how affordably you can shop in your new city and may affect your shopping habits if the tax is high. The state income tax might not affect your spending habits but it will play a role in how much you are bringing home and how much you will be able to afford compared to your current state income tax rate. And regardless of whether you rent or own a home, you will be paying utilities so the next factor is the utility index cost. This compares the local utilities to a national benchmark of 100. If the local number is below 100 then you can expect to pay less than the national average for utilities in the new city.

Cost of Living Index

The final big factor in the affordability of a city or town is the cost of living index. This is also measured on a scale using the national average as the benchmark of 100. Cities with a cost of living index of greater than 100 have a higher overall cost of living than is the norm throughout the country. Just to give you a little bit of perspective, the national median household income is just over $51,000 per year and the median home sale price is $203,500. The national average for a month’s rent is $821 and a gallon of regular gas costs $3.31.

The Least Expensive Place to Live in the USA

Memphis Tennessee gets the award for the least expensive place to live in the USA. A big reason for that is the lower cost of housing being that the average house sells for about $110,000 in the city. In addition the state has no state income tax and the property taxes are quite low. The cost of living index is at 78 so living in this city will give you a little more than a 20% buffer from the national average. The second most affordable city is Indianapolis Indiana with a median home price of only slightly more at $112,000 and a cost of living index of 89 so still well below the national benchmark.

The Rest of the Top 5

At number three on the list is Omaha Nebraska with a cost of living index of 82 and number four on the list is Columbus Ohio with a cost of living index of 86. Both of those are well below the national average and afford more buying power for your dollar in those cities. Housing and fuel are also both below the national average and these cities offer a shorter commute as well. The last spot in the top five might be a little bit surprising but it is Las Vegas Nevada. Home prices are about 17% lower than the national average and again, the state has no state income tax. The cost of living index is just over the national average at 101.The Rest of the Top 10

The Rest of the Top 10

Rounding out the rest of the best 10 places for affordable cost of living include Salt Lake City Utah, San Antonio Texas, Birmingham Alabama, Des Moines Iowa and Buffalo New York. Finding the least expensive place to live in the USA might be a great way to make your dollar stretch further and to allow you to save more, enjoy life more and maybe even travel or retire early. But along with finding an affordable city, it is important to find a city that you like and a place that is safe and enjoyable.

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