The 10 Cheapest Places to Live in America

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Fort Wayne, Indiana
Travis Eckert / Shutterstock.com

It’s not news to anyone: Life in the United States can be expensive. But if you’re willing to forego the fancier coastal cities, you can find a place to live that’s easier on your budget.

Niche.com, a neighborhood data platform, publishes an annual list of the most affordable U.S. cities, based on the site’s own analysis of government data to determine cost-of-living. The analysis considered such factors as housing, food and fuel costs, median tax rates, and other elements that affect the overall affordability of an area.

Here’s a look at the cheapest places to live in America, according to Niche.

10. Akron, Ohio

Akron, Ohio
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Cost of living grade: A-

Akron, population 197,000, has been dubbed the “Rubber Capital of the World,” thanks to the 1898 founding of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. here. The city scored an A in both diversity and nightlife, and just look at local home prices: The Niche analysis lists the median home value here as just $83,500, with median rent at $795, both well below national averages.

9. Beaumont, Texas

Beaumont, Texas
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Cost of living grade: A-

Beaumont, population 117,000, sits on the Neches River, near the state’s border with Louisiana. The median home price is just $123,700, and the median rent comes in at $868. And it benefits from all the college-town cultural amenities thanks to Lamar University, whose 292-acre campus is part of the Texas State University System.

8. Buffalo, New York

Buffalo, New York
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Cost of living grade: A-

Buffalo, population 256,000, isn’t just famous for its chicken wings. The second-largest city in New York state (you know who’s No. 1) is home to two pro sports teams: the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. And it landed at No. 7 on a Smartest Dollar list of cities with the most innovative workers.

7. Evansville, Indiana

Evansville, Indiana
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Cost of living grade: A-

Evansville, population 118,000, is the third-largest city in the Hoosier State, following Indianapolis and Fort Wayne (which you’ll also find on this list). It’s home to the University of Evansville and the larger University of Southern Indiana. But if you’re looking for cool weather, you may want to look elsewhere: a Filterbuy analysis using government data declared Evansville the hottest city in Indiana, with 66 days a year topping 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Toledo, Ohio

Toledo, Ohio
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Cost of living grade: A-

Toledo, population 275,000, earned an A for both nightlife and diversity in the Niche analysis. And good news if you’re looking to buy: Toledo topped a recent Realtor.com list of markets where housing prices are falling.

5. Dayton, Ohio

Dayton Ohio
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Cost of living grade: A-

Americans are finding Dayton, population 140,000, to be an affordable place to put down roots. Researchers at Filterbuy named Dayton to their top 10 list of cities where homeownership has jumped the most over the past decade. There’s plenty to do and see, as the city is home to the Dayton Ballet, Dayton Philharmonic and Dayton Opera.

4. South Bend, Indiana

South Bend, Indiana
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Cost of living grade: A-

If you’re a fan of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football, you certainly have heard of South Bend, population of about 103,000. The University of Notre Dame was founded there in 1842, and it’s constantly ranked high among American universities. If football’s not your game, Notre Dame also boasts the Snite Museum of Art and hosts the annual Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival.

3. Brownsville, Texas

Brownsville, Texas
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Cost of living grade: A-

Third-ranked Brownsville sits on the U.S.-Mexico border and has a population of about 182,000. In 2020, Brownsville made the list of best cities for working parents, according to an analysis by SmartAsset. The website considered such factors as child-care costs, housing costs, crime rate and average commute time.

2. Wichita Falls, Texas

Wichita Falls, Texas
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Cost of living grade: A-

In Wichita Falls, the median home value comes in at $104,800, with the median rent at $828. There’s a military presence in town, as Sheppard Air Force Base is located just north of the central business district. The city’s namesake waterfall actually washed out in a flood in the 1800s, but the city built a new version in 1987 that’s a favorite backdrop for wedding photos.

1. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Fort Wayne Indiana
Travis Eckert / Shutterstock.com

Cost of living grade: A-

Fort Wayne is Indiana’s second-largest city, after state capital Indianapolis, with more than 268,000 residents. According to Niche’s analysis, the median home value is just $121,600, which is significantly lower than the national average of ​​$229,800. The median rent is $777, which compares with the national average of $1,096. It may be inexpensive to live here, but you can still enjoy plenty of cultural attractions as the city is home to the Fort Wayne Ballet, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory.