What U.S. City Has the Lowest Cost of Living in 2021?

If you're planning on moving somewhere more affordable in 2021, you're not alone.

Millions of Americans have been eagerly eyeing greener pastures after the shockwaves of COVID-19. Overpriced cities are suddenly looking a lot less appealing.

Without entertainment, fine dining, or other social staples, the thrill of paying outrageously high rents to live in cultural meccas like New York or San Francisco lost much of its popularity in 2020. Celebrities such as Joe Rogan and Elon Musk have amplified the trend, moving to Texas from their pricier abodes in California.

If you're contemplating a long-distance move, it will help to do your research. Make sure you're moving to safe cities and are doing the proper math while comparing the costs of living. Just because something looks affordable on paper doesn't mean it's a great choice!

So are you looking for the city with the lowest cost of living in 2021? Read on and learn where you can move to finally save some money and stretch your legs.

Our Methodology

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to personal economics. Some people eat most of their food in restaurants and like to crank up their AC. Others cook their meals and take the bus. These recommendations should only serve as a baseline.

Costs of living were calculated with the following expenses in mind:

  • Utilities
  • Average internet cost
  • Average gas prices
  • Average home value
  • Rent for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Groceries and occasional restaurant trips for one person

Though this won't speak precisely to your own specific needs, these expenses should give us a decent estimate.

Top Five Cities With the Lowest Cost of Living

According to our research, the most affordable towns were spread throughout the Midwest and southwest. Unsurprisingly, cities on the coast were much more expensive.

Our top five inexpensive cities are:

  • El Paso, Texas
  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Lexington, Kentucky

As you can see, the most affordable cities in America are spread evenly within its breadbasket. Are you ready for a cross-country road trip?

Before we go into each of our top choices in detail, let's check out some of the runners-up.

Other Great, Inexpensive Choices

The trends continue in the runner-up cities: areas in the Midwest and southwest are the most affordable. There are some great choices in the southeast as well, if you'd prefer to live closer to an ocean.

  • Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Mesa, Arizona
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Louisville, Kentucky

With these choices, we have a nice variety of cities to choose from. If you're ready to start cutting costs, learn more about these locations and take your pick.

A Breakdown Of The Best Choices

Now that we've got the results in, let's break them down one by one. Different cities may prove to be more affordable depending on your circumstances. Some cities are better for potential homeowners, while some are better for those making minimum wage.

One of the main draws of locations like New York City and San Francisco is the proximity to arts and culture. Can you move to a more affordable city and still find cultured entertainment? Absolutely! We've singled out some locations for their arts scenes as well.

El Paso, Texas

The lone star state stands alone in the most affordable cities of America, with El Paso coming in at the first spot. Many tech workers have chosen various Texan locales in their exodus from San Francisco-- usually, the much pricier Austin-- and that increased exposure is well-deserved.

El Paso's rent prices are what make it truly shine. In 2021, could you imagine paying $710 for a single-bedroom apartment? And yet, that is the average in El Paso! With all that extra money, you may have a bigger budget for delicious Tex-Mex meals.

Wichita, Kansas

In the Heart of the Country, Wichita is a safe, affordable city that's a great choice if you're looking to raise a family. If you're looking for excitement, you'll find it. There are casinos, zoos, rock climbing gyms... A glance at Visit Wichita shows the wide array of offerings.

With inexpensive gas prices and groceries, you can road trip and cook five-star meals while feeding your savings account like never before.

Lincoln, Nebraska

The capital of Nebraska, Lincoln is a city that feels as tight-knit as a small town. As the 68th largest city in the United States, Lincoln has all the resources of a metropolis with fewer of its pain points.

Lincoln is uniquely friendly to minimum wage earners, so if you're working with a low budget you will find a welcoming home in the Star City.

Additionally, Lincoln is designated as a refugee-friendly city, with resettled peoples from Vietnam, Sudan, and Burma. If you're looking for midwestern values with a greater amount of diversity, Lincoln is an excellent choice!

Tucson, Arizona

As the second-largest city in Arizona, Tucson is an absolute boomtown for anyone looking for more affordable city life. Home to the University of Arizona, Tucson offers nightlife and brain candy for a much more reasonable price.

If golfing, horseback riding, and hiking aren't enough, Tucson also has a rich past and museums that are sure to satisfy your inner history buff. Trip Advisor lays out its main attractions.

Lexington, Kentucky

Lace-up those boots! Known for its equestrian delights, Lexington is a dream location for a horse lover. It's home to the International Museum of the Horse, as well as a variety of race tracks and trails.

Live the life of a cowboy or cowgirl while keeping your wallet fat! Lexington is settled squarely in Kentucky's bluegrass region, which likely means you'll find some great tunes, too.

Our Runners-Up

We've also selected a few slightly more expensive options with other great qualities that more than make up for the higher cost.

These may be smaller regions with a bigger city feel. Or they may have great deals on groceries and infrastructure, but have a more competitive real estate market. Take a look and do your research! You may find your new home.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Our first coastal choice, Virginia Beach is a great pick for a beach lover on a budget. The Tidewater area is home to much of our nation's military, as well as a thriving tourist economy, so it won't be going broke any time soon.

V.B. offers ocean views with single bedroom rent averaging only slightly above $1,000. That's a deal you'll struggle to find at any other beach in America.

Boise, Idaho

Want a thriving arts scene at an incredible fraction of the price? Hurry up and check out Boise. The median cost of a one bedroom apartment was $712 in 2020, an absolute steal considering Boise's up-and-coming status as an arts hub.

In addition to cheap rents, Boise's location in an agricultural hub means food stays cheap. It's a great place to consider if you want a creative milieu for less. Check out the Boise Arts and Culture foundation to see what the scene's like.

Corpus Christi, Texas

Corpus Christi is another beachside town with a single bedroom median rent just shy of $1,000. Overlooking a gorgeous bay, Corpus Christi is a perfect choice for a heat lover in need of a good swim.

When it comes to cities with low costs of living, you can't mess with Texas!

Mesa, Arizona

A smart strategy for anyone with a car is to live close to an expensive city and commute there from a cheaper alternative. That's exactly the case with Mesa and Phoenix, which is only half an hour away.

Phoenix has a booming job market, but its median rent price is almost twice that of Mesa. If you'd like job security with the ability to save, Mesa is an undeniable choice.

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville is a much bigger city than the average on our list. If you're looking for a bustling, big city feeling, look no further. Louisville's housing market is particularly affordable. If you're hoping to grow some roots, think about a mortgage!

Louisville is home to the world-famous Churchill Downs racetrack, as well as a Muhammed Ali museum, and the Louisville Slugger factory. Plenty of fun sights to see!

Are You Ready For a Long-Distance Move?

Ready to move to El Paso, the U.S. city with the lowest cost of living? How about one of its many alternatives?

If you plan on leaving your pricey locale behind, consider how you'll move your stuff. Will you trust your possessions to a moving company? It could be pricey. Strain your lower back hauling furniture yourself? It could be painful!

What about your vehicles? If you're a family with more than one car, what will you do?

Split your family into pieces for the road trip? Try to coordinate stops at gas stations?

If you want to trust your vehicle with professionals, consider Nexus Auto Transport. We service multiple industries, including families and moving companies, and offer best-in-class service and safety.

Move to greener pastures today!

Cost
Calculator