Cheapest Place to Build a home
Times have changed since Grams and Gramps were your age, looking to settle down and buy their first home. But today the house with the white picket fence—or that trendy loft in downtown—isn’t completely out of the question if you look in the right places. In no particular order, we rounded up a list of 17 cities with the lowest cost of living and affordable property.
To fuel our research, we used the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator.* We also used Data USA to gather the average property value in each city to help you get a better idea of the housing price tags.
If you’re thinking about your financial future, keep calm and check out our list of affordable cities where your dollar will go further:
Living affordably in Louisville is no gamble. Derby City’s median property value is $141, 900, and a budget of $26, 280 will see you through the year. Forbes recently scored the city’s cost of living 5.3 percent lower than the national average, so when you’re living here, you can splurge on that mint julep at the races—the kind in the fancy copper cup. And trust us, the excitement of the annual Kentucky Derby is reason enough to move to this southern city.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“Ooook-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain…” Secret’s out—we know you’ve memorized all the words to the Broadway hit, but did you know that Forbes named Oklahoma City the most recession-proof town in the nation? The cowboy-centric capital city, where the barbecue food is to die for, has an average property value of $136, 900, and you can live comfortably on $25, 304 a year. Just beyond the prairie, you can get a taste of the big city without selling the farm.
Columbus is a thriving cosmopolitan hub that has a real passion for the Buckeyes. In addition to its die-hard football fandom, the capital city has a resilient job market. A recent Gallup survey ranked Columbus the nation’s second strongest metro area for job creation, with research and technology institutions taking the lead. That’s great news for all you tech nerds out there. As for the numbers, you can get by on roughly , 193 a year, while the median property value comes in at 3, 700.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
You’re young, you’re hip, and you’ve heard Colorado is the place to be. So why not head south to Colorado Springs? You’ll wake up to a sweet view of the Rocky Mountains, but the median property value is much lower ($205, 600) than other Colorado cities, and you’ll only need to budget around $26, 899 a year. Better yet, it’s completely free for you to explore the city’s legendary Garden of the Gods, so you can venture around without leaving your wallet high and dry.
The name of this Montana city might have you sweatin’ your finances, but Billings is actually pretty easy on your wallet. The city’s economy is strong, and Forbes named it on its list of “The Best Small Places for Business and Careers.” On top of its viable job market, the budget calculator suggests that one year would only cost you around , 823. Looking to buy? The median property value averages 0, 900—not too shabby for a city where you have a view of seven different mountain ranges.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids may be known for its chilly winters, but that didn’t stop Lonely Planet from ranking it number one on its list of top U.S. travel destinations—all thanks to the city’s awesome beer scene and year-round festivals. AreaVibes’ Livability Score determined that Grand Rapids’ cost of living is 11 percent lower than the national average and its cost of housing is 31 percent lower than the nation’s. Top it off with median property value of $109, 400, and annual costs of just $26, 807, and you’ll know why this city is rapidly becoming a hot spot.
Beer lovers, head to Chico’s eco-friendly Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and hop on a free (yes, free!) sustainability tour of the brewery. And while you’re at it, forget what you’ve heard about California’s sunshine tax. Unlike its coastal neighbors, Chico is one of the cheapest places to live in California—AreaVibes notes that its cost of living is 4 percent lower than the California average. With just $26, 887, you can comfortably live in Chico for a year without blowing your retirement funds. As for property values, they are on the higher end, averaging $266, 500 (let’s be real, it’s still California price tags).
Brave the rapids at Salmon River Canyon or pitch a tent at Hells Gate State Park. This sweet spot in the Lewis Clark Valley is a mecca for the outdoorsy type, but don’t worry, you can swing something a little swankier than a camping tent. The average property value is $165, 700 and the annual cost of living is just $26, 183. And get this: The cost of housing here is a whole 13 percent lower than the national average, according to AreaVibe’s research.
You don’t have to sell your kidney on the black market to afford ocean breezes and sunsets. In Dunedin, just west of Tampa, you can actually afford a place by the sea. This coastal city was even ranked number one on Moving to Florida’s list of “The 5 Most Affordable Places to Live in Florida in 2015.” The property value averages $156, 500, and you only have to budget for roughly $28, 316 a year.