Best affordable places to live in every state
Homeownership in the United States is at one of its lowest points in half a century, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. After making a mild rebound in 2016 following a 50-year low, the homeownership rate is once again on the decline.
Traditionally, homeownership was a key component of the American Dream, along with getting a good job and being able to raise a successful family. However, the realities of a decline in social mobility, a lack of real wage growth, mounting debts, and inflating property prices have led many to rethink the modern American Dream. Per one survey from the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, the American Dream now represents the opportunity “to have freedom of choice in how to live” and to have “a good family life.”
A large factor in homeownership is affordability. Typically, affordability is dependent on demand. The more desirable a location is, the more expensive it will be to live there. However, this is not the only factor. The economic growth in the community, prevailing interest rates, the number of homes available, the number of homes being built, and the regional unemployment rate all determine how affordable homes will be in an area.
Stacker analyzed Niche data to discover the top cities, suburbs, or towns in each state that offer a high quality of life at a manageable cost of living. Working off the top-rated spots in Niche’s “Best Places to Live” rankings—which consider 15 quality of life categories, including weather, public schools, nightlife, and diversity grades—Stacker then identified places with an affordable cost of living, taking into account nine factors, including home values, monthly rent, grocery and gas prices, and area income.
From there, the list was narrowed further to focus on places that offered at least one form of relatively affordable housing for residents. This was calculated by only including locations where either median monthly rent or median home values fall within +25% or less of national or state averages. Additionally, places that qualified on a rent basis were required to have at least a 10% renter population as a representation of sufficient rental inventory. Lastly, areas with poverty rates of over 20% were excluded from this analysis.
For each location included, Stacker provides context on how home and rent prices compared to both national and state averages. Each slide also includes statistics on median household income, unemployment rates, and poverty rates.
Read on to find the best low-cost areas to live in each state.
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- Location: Town in Alabama (population: 47,079)
- Median household income: $92,197 (3.5% unemployment; 6.4% poverty rate)
- Median home value: $239,400 (29.6% above U.S. avg.; 69.4% above Alabama avg.)
- Median monthly rent: $879 (7.4% below U.S. avg.; 17.7% above Alabama avg.)
Madison is unique in the sense that it is a city within a city. Madison is wholly contained in the geographic boundaries of Huntsville. While the city’s business composition is mostly retail, the city is only a five-mile drive away from Cummings Research Park, nine miles from Redstone Arsenal, and close to several colleges and universities, drawing a highly-educated populace.
- Location: Town in Alaska (population: 14,362)
- Median household income: $77,341 (4.5% unemployment; 5.5% poverty rate)
- Median home value: $233,000 (26.2% above U.S. avg.; 14.7% below Alaska avg.)
- Median monthly rent: $1,198 (26.2% above U.S. avg.; 0.2% below Alaska avg.)
Adjacent to Fairbanks, College is the home of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Considered to be a part of Fairbanks and not its own entity, the town’s residents are largely the school’s students and faculty.
- Location: Town in Arizona (population: 3,638)
- Median household income: $58,684 (5.0% unemployment; 6.0% poverty rate)
- Median home value: $79,700 (56.8% below U.S. avg.; 64.3% below Arizona avg.)
- Median monthly rent: $418 (56.0% below U.S. avg.; 57.0% below Arizona avg.)
Clifton is a town in southeastern Arizona that is best known for its copper mines. In 1983, the town was involved in a three-year strike between copper mine operator Phelps Dodge and the miners’ unions over wages and healthcare benefits. The strike officially ended with the decertification of the striking unions, marking the start of a new era of union-busting and rollbacks in labor rights.
- Location: Town in Arkansas (population: 44,601)
- Median household income: $79,259 (1.7% unemployment; 7.3% poverty rate)
- Median home value: $203,800 (10.3% above U.S. avg.; 58.6% above Arkansas avg.)
- Median monthly rent: $883 (7.0% below U.S. avg.; 24.5% above Arkansas avg.)
The home of Walmart’s corporate headquarters, Bentonville is perhaps as removed from any major metropolitan area as one can be and still be in Arkansas. Located in the northwestern corner of the state, the presence of Walmart means that the area has become the home of the sales and regional offices of most of the companies the world’s largest retailer does business with. Despite this, the city has maintained its small Southern city vibe.
- Location: Town in California (population: 28,728)
- Median household income: $60,794 (5.3% unemployment; 15.9% poverty rate)
- Median home value: $169,500 (8.2% below U.S. avg.; 66.7% below California avg.)
- Median monthly rent: $865 (8.9% below U.S. avg.; 36.3% below California avg.)
Located on the eastern California shear zone, Ridgecrest has been the epicenter of several of California’s recent earthquakes, including the 1995 and 2019 earthquakes. Surrounded by four mountain ranges, the city is adjacent to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake—the U.S. Navy’s largest weapon-testing and development facility.
- Location: Town in Colorado (population: 4,931)
- Median household income: $75,265 (1.2% unemployment; 7.5% poverty rate)
- Median home value: $243,400 (31.8% above U.S. avg.; 30.2% below Colorado avg.)
- Median monthly rent: $909 (4.2% below U.S. avg.; 19.2% below Colorado avg.)
Eaton is an agricultural town situated in western Weld County and a suburb of Greeley, home of the University of Northern Colorado. Around 2,000 people are employed in Eaton, with others commuting nearby Fort Collins for work.
[Pictured: Weld County Courthouse near Eaton]
Connecticut: East Granby
- Location: Suburb of Hartford, CT (population: 5,220)
- Median household income: $93,385 (4.6% unemployment; 2.8% poverty rate)
- Median home value: $288,000 (55.9% above U.S. avg.; 5.5% above Connecticut avg.)
- Median monthly rent: $914 (3.7% below U.S. avg.; 18.6% below Connecticut avg.)
East Granby is a small town on the Massachusetts border, in the center-north of Hartford County. The town is best known for being the site of the 1995 American Airlines Flight 1572 crash, in which a regularly-scheduled flight from Chicago to Hartford approached too low, clipped trees along the Peak Mountain ridge, and crashed into a runway antenna. One passenger received minor injuries, while the other passengers—including actor James Woods—escaped without injury.
Delaware: Pike Creek Valley
- Location: Suburb in Delaware (population: 10,823)
- Median household income: $72,500 (3.6% unemployment; 8.3% poverty rate)
- Median home value: $254,800 (38.0% above U.S. avg.; 0.8% above Delaware avg.)
- Median monthly rent: $1,167 (23.0% above U.S. avg.; 8.5% above Delaware avg.)
Pike Creek Valley is a census-designated place in New Castle County. The town was featured in season five of the CW show "Supernatural." In the episode Sympathy for the Devil, the disembodied soul of Lucifer arrived in the town to find a man destined to be its vessel.
[Pictured: New Castle Court House Museum in New Castle County]
Florida: South Sarasota
- Location: Town in Florida (population: 5,265)
- Median household income: $70,179 (2.9% unemployment; 12.0% poverty rate)
- Median home value: $360,700 (95.3% above U.S. avg.; 68.6% above Florida avg.)
- Median monthly rent: $996 (5.0% above U.S. avg.; 7.5% below Florida avg.)
South Sarasota is another census-designated place, adjacent to the city of Sarasota. Census-designated places are simply a concentration of people that have been defined by the U.S. Census Bureau for classification purposes. These can include unincorporated communities—such as South Sarasota—and designated but formally unincorporated areas. South Sarasota is largely regarded as a resort town, primarily due to the Ringling brothers’ use of the area as the winter home for their circus.
Georgia: North Decatur
- Location: Suburb of Atlanta, GA (population: 16,944)
- Median household income: $67,491 (2.9% unemployment; 14.5% poverty rate)
- Median home value: $268,500 (100.0% above U.S. avg.; 54.6% above Georgia avg.)
- Median monthly rent: $1,099 (15.8% above U.S. avg.; 18.6% above Georgia avg.)
North Decatur is an exurb of Decatur and a suburb of Atlanta, located in Decatur’s northern border. Nearby Emory University, as well as proximity to Atlanta’s Midtown and Buckhead districts, make the area a popular destination for eastern Atlanta residents seeking affordable “in-town” housing options.2018 All rights reserved.