Cheapest Big Cities to Live In: Top 10 Affordable Options

June 26, 2024

Craving spacious living without skyrocketing costs? Look no further than these affordable big cities! Here are the top 10 cheapest big cities to live in, based on a thorough analysis of housing values, living expenses, and median rents. Check them out and discover affordable city life today!

1. Austin, TX

Known for its thriving music scene and vibrant cultural events, Austin is not just a hip place to live, but also an affordable one. The city’s thriving job market and affordable housing options make it a haven for young professionals and families alike. Median home prices hover around $350,000 with median rents at $1,450. Interestingly, Austin hosts some of the largest tech companies in the US, making it a burgeoning tech hub.

The Texas State Capitol in Austin

2. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex offers a unique blend of metropolitan amenities and suburban comfort. Housing is notably affordable here, with median home prices around $300,000 and rents averaging $1,300. The quality of life is enriched with varied amenities, job opportunities, and a strong community vibe. Fun fact: Dallas is also notable for its impressive culinary scene, offering everything from high-end dining to food truck delicacies.

Rooftop view over Dallas, Texas
Rooftop view over Dallas, Texas

3. San Antonio, TX

San Antonio is celebrated for its rich cultural history and stunning Spanish colonial architecture. One of the more affordable big cities, San Antonio boasts a median home price of $250,000 and median rent at $1,150. The city's low cost of living is complemented by abundant job opportunities, especially in healthcare and tourism. Did you know? The iconic Alamo is a top historical destination here.

Along the Riverwalk
Along the Riverwalk

4. Charlotte, NC

Charlotte is fast becoming a go-to city for young professionals and families alike, thanks to its growing job market and affordable living spaces. Median home prices are around $320,000, while median rents sit at $1,200. The city boasts a lower cost of living index at 97.5. Fun fact: Charlotte is often called the "Queen City" named in honor of Charlotte of Mecklenburg, who was the wife of King George III.

Charlotte NC skyline at sunset
Charlotte NC skyline at sunset

5. Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis, fondly known as Indy, is a vibrant city with low housing costs and a strong job market in healthcare and manufacturing. Median home prices come in at a very affordable $200,000, with rents averaging $950. Interestingly, the city is also home to the famous Indianapolis 500, one of the most renowned car races in the world.

Giants
Downtown Indianapolis

6. Columbus, OH

Columbus offers an affordable cost of living, a growing tech industry, and a vibrant arts scene. Median home prices here are about $220,000, with median rents at an affordable $1,000. The city's blend of historic and modern attractions, along with numerous parks, make it a dynamic place to live. Fun fact: Columbus is home to one of the largest universities in the US, The Ohio State University.

Graffiti in El Paso
Downtown Columbus

7. Nashville, TN

Famous for its music and cultural events, Nashville is more than just the heart of country music. With a growing job market and affordable housing, this city appeals to a wide demographic. Median home prices stand at $340,000, while median rents are about $1,400. An interesting tidbit: Nashville is often referred to as "Music City" and boasts numerous live music venues and recording studios.

Jumps
Nashville skyline

8. Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix is known for its sunny weather and outdoor activities, making it an attractive place to live. The city offers affordable housing options with median home prices around $280,000 and rents at $1,250. Phoenix's cost of living index is 93.0, making it an appealing choice for budget-conscious residents. Notably, Phoenix also operates one of the largest networks of parks and preserves in the country.

Sunny Phoenix
Sunny Phoenix

9. Houston, TX

Renowned for its diverse population and large job market, Houston is also a cultural hub with median home prices around $230,000 and median rents at $1,100. The cost of living index in Houston is relatively low, making it an attractive option for those seeking affordability alongside a rich cultural tapestry. Fun fact: Houston is home to the NASA Johnson Space Center, where mission control for America's manned space flights is headquartered.

Downtown Houston
Downtown Houston

10. El Paso, TX

With its beautiful desert landscapes and friendly community, El Paso offers a compelling mix of affordability and quality of life. The city boasts the lowest median home price at $150,000 and a median rent of $850. The cost of living index stands at 87.2, making it the most affordable big city on our list. Interestingly, El Paso is home to one of the largest military complexes in the U.S., Fort Bliss.

Graffiti in El Paso
Graffiti in El Paso

Affordable Big Cities to Live In

City State Key Features Median Home Price Median Rent Cost of Living Index
Austin TX Thriving job market, cultural events, affordable housing options $350,000 $1,450 95
Dallas-Fort Worth TX Affordable housing, various amenities, and quality of life $300,000 $1,300 94.1
San Antonio TX Low cost of living, great cultural and historical sites $250,000 $1,150 91.2
Charlotte NC Growing job market, affordable living spaces, family-friendly $320,000 $1,200 97.5
Indianapolis IN Low housing costs, strong job market in healthcare and manufacturing $200,000 $950 90.3
Columbus OH Affordable cost of living, growing tech industry, vibrant arts scene $220,000 $1,000 93.8
Nashville TN Famous for music and culture, growing job market $340,000 $1,400 96.3
Phoenix AZ Sunny weather, affordable housing options, outdoor activities $280,000 $1,250 93.0
Houston TX Diverse population, large job market, cultural hub $230,000 $1,100 89.5
El Paso TX Low cost of living, beautiful desert landscapes, friendly community $150,000 $850 87.2
FAQs About Cheapest Big Cities to Live In

What large city has the lowest cost of living?

Among the largest cities, El Paso, TX has the lowest cost of living. The city boasts a cost of living index of 87.2, with a median home price of $150,000 and median rent of $850, making it a highly affordable option for those seeking urban amenities without high costs.

What are the ten cheapest big cities to live in the U.S.?

The ten cheapest big cities to live in the U.S. are Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Columbus, Nashville, Phoenix, Houston, and El Paso. These cities offer a blend of low costs and high quality of life, making them attractive options for budget-conscious residents.

Are there cheap big cities to live in near Wisconsin?

While Wisconsin itself has affordable cities, nearby Indianapolis, IN, and Columbus, OH, are relatively close and offer affordable living with a lower cost of living index compared to many other large cities. Both cities feature robust job markets and affordable housing options.

Why is San Antonio considered an affordable big city?

San Antonio is considered an affordable big city due to its low cost of living index of 91.2. The city has a median home price of $250,000 and median rent of $1,150, making it one of the most budget-friendly large cities. It also offers numerous cultural and historical attractions, enhancing its appeal without adding to living costs.

What makes Austin, TX a good place to live despite being a big city?

Austin is known for its vibrant cultural scene, thriving job market, and relatively affordable housing. The city's cost of living index is 95, with a median home price of $350,000 and median rent of $1,450. These factors make Austin an attractive and affordable place to live.

How affordable is living in Phoenix, AZ?

Phoenix, AZ offers a cost of living index of 93.0, making it an affordable large city. The median home price is $280,000, and the median rent is $1,250. Its sunny weather, outdoor activities, and affordable housing options make it a desirable place to live without high costs.

What are the key features of living in Houston, TX?

Houston, TX is known for its diverse population, large job market, and cultural amenities. It has a low cost of living index of 89.5, with a median home price of $230,000 and median rent of $1,100. These factors make Houston an attractive and budget-friendly large city to live in.

What jobs are abundant in Indianapolis, IN?

Indianapolis has a strong job market, particularly in healthcare and manufacturing sectors. The city's affordable housing costs, with a median home price of $200,000 and median rent of $950, combined with its robust economy, make it an appealing place for job seekers.

How does Columbus, OH attract new residents?

Columbus attracts new residents with its affordable cost of living, growing tech industry, and vibrant arts scene. With a cost of living index of 93.8, a median home price of $220,000, and a median rent of $1,000, it offers a dynamic lifestyle that's also budget-friendly.

What makes Nashville, TN a good choice for affordability and culture?

Nashville combines its famous music scene with a growing job market and affordable living. The city has a cost of living index of 96.3, with a median home price of $340,000 and median rent of $1,400. Its rich cultural heritage and economic opportunities make it an excellent choice for those balancing affordability with quality living.

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JJ Sterling
As the co-founder of Urban Splatter and an architecture graduate from Chicago, I thrive on crafting a digital nexus where architectural innovation intersects with boundless digital opportunity. My academic roots in the Windy City's rich architectural tapestry inspire a unique vision for Urban Splatter's journey into the ever-evolving digital frontier of design. Join us as we navigate the exciting confluence of structure, style, and technology.

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