Small Budget? Here Are America’s 10 Most Affordable Big Cities

Photo (cc) by David W. Siu

Memphis’ home values are 46 percent below the national median. Its poverty rate, however, is 21 percent above the national average.

These stats are part of why the Tennessee city made Kiplinger’s recent listing of the most affordable big cities in the U.S.:

Big cities offer more employment opportunities, more things to do and more people to meet than smaller towns. But they also have drawbacks, from congestion and crime to high costs. That’s why a big city with a small price tag is uniquely appealing …

Kiplinger chose the following cities based on their populations (more than 250,000 people) and costs of living (among the lowest in the country, based on the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index).

The top three cities are:

Memphis, Tennessee

  • Population: 653,450
  • Cost of living: 14.6 percent below national average
  • Median household income: $36,817 (compared to national median of $53,046)
  • Median home value: $98,300
  • Unemployment rate: 9.9 percent
  • Average commute to work: 21.5 minutes

Columbus, Ohio

  • Population: 822,553
  • Cost of living: 12.8 percent below national average
  • Median household income: $43,992
  • Median home value: $134,900
  • Unemployment rate: 4.4 percent
  • Average commute to work: 21.2 minutes

Omaha, Nebraska

  • Population: 434,353
  • Cost of living: 12.8 percent below national average
  • Median household income: $46,978
  • Median home value: $132,900
  • Unemployment rate: 3.9 percent
  • Average commute to work: 18 minutes

The cities that round out the top 10 are:

  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • San Antonio
  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Oklahoma City
  • Louisville, Kentucky

On the downside, half of the cities that made the most affordable list — Memphis, Columbus, Nashville, San Antonio and Louisville — also recently made the list of the “30 Cities With the Longest Workweeks.”

And five of the top 10 most affordable cities — Memphis, Nashville, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Louisville — also were named for the wrong reason among “The Most — and Least — Healthy Cities in the Nation.”

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