5 Economical American Cities to Live In

Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the Consumer Price Index (CPI) saw an increase of 2.1 percent over a 12 month period (May 2013 to May 2014.) In May alone, the food index increased by half of a percentage point and over the past few months, the price of a gallon of milk rose from an average of $3.56 to around $3.74.

These days, it is expensive to live, anywhere you live. The average consumer unit spent a total of of over $51,000 in 2012, nearly $17,000 of which went to housing costs. In some areas of the country, however, average costs are much higher. San Francisco, for instance, is known for having expensive home prices. Trulia reports the median sale price for San Fran homes at $950,000. Such a price is unfeasible for a middle class family.

When searching for an economical place to live, finding a place with low housing prices is only the beginning. You can almost always find inexpensive places to live in areas where income is low and finding a job is near impossible. The challenge is finding a place to live that has a combination of benefits – a place where you can find a job, earn a living, a home at a reasonable price that can earn you some equity, and decent cost of living. Using a plethora of reports on prices and demographics, we have come up with a list of five economical cities to live in.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuseeger/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuseeger/

1. Cedar Park, Texas

This Austin neighbor has a high median income ($76,118 according to the most recent Census reports) relative to the national median of around $51,000. In addition to being able to earn high, cost of living is reasonable in this area, as well. The median home value in Cedar Park is $201,900, up around 3 percent from last year. Rent is a bit higher in Cedar park, with median rent prices at $1,395.

Education level is also high in this area — a report by Neighborhood Scout says that around 43 percent of adults over 25 hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Educated citizens may play a role in the success of the job market and Austin’s job market is expected to do pretty well during 2014. With unemployment currently at 3.8 percent in the Austin area, the large Texas city frequents ‘best job markets’ lists and ‘best places to find a job’ lists.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tshadow13/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tshadow13/

2. Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh, a primarily white collar city, is neighbor to the Research Triangle Park –  a prominent technology, research, and development center that houses more than 170 global businesses. In Raleigh, over 45 percent of citizens over the age of 25 are educated with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Therefore, Raleigh’s citizens are some of the more educated.

The median household income is right around the national median at $53,653. North Carolina’s Capital City reports having a median home value of $210,900 and a median rent of $881. A Publication by Realty Times predicts that housing prices in Raleigh will continue to rise during 2014 and this capital city may just be a good place to buy. Raleigh was also number 16 on Zip Recruiter’s list of the Best U.S. Job Markets of 2014, and unemployment in Raleigh is currently at around 4.8 percent.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/79788313@N07/7142680205/in/photolist-bTb6YH-bEgn8A-62z5qN-62uQ5F-5ZLNNk-bEgnk5-MLxYP-6Jh4Yp-78wQ4n-6Jh4xa-MLxYK-4FPGYz-6rgLxn-4vo8w6

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/79788313@N07/

3. Hendersonville, Tennessee

At $62,434, the median household income in Hendersonville is around $10,000 higher than the national median, according to Census reports. Food and utilities costs are said to be low and housing costs are also affordable relative to income. The median home value is $198,000, with homes listing at around $280,000.

Housing value have increased by about 102 percent since 1990 and are increasing at an average rate of 3 percent annually, according to one report. On the other hand, Zillow estimates are more conservative and the real estate network predicts Hendersonville home values will rise by 1.6 percent over the next year.

As for employment, Nashville’s job market certainly provides opportunities for job seekers. Unemployment is around 4.6 percent. This Nashville neighbor also made CNN’s 2012 list of the 100 best places to live.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

4. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City was named number one on the list as the best U.S. job market in 2014 by Zip Recruiter, with unemployment at only 3.1 percent. Salt Lake is another highly educated city, with over 40 percent of adults 25 and older having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Recent estimates indicate some housing values have seen nearly a 200 percent increase since 1990, and they appear to still be on the rise according to reports, with the median value $239,300. Zillow predicts housing values will rise by around 1 percent over the next year.

In Salt Lake City, the median income is just under $45,000 according to Census reports, a bit under the national median. Although the Salt Lake City job and housing markets are enticing, some areas of the city rank high in crime. Salt Lake City is Utah’s most populous and some of the city’s neighborhoods are sought after.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scubabix/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scubabix/

5. Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, a coastal city, is an ideal city for young career, starters. In Jacksonville, the median income is close to the national median at $48,143. The cost of living is reasonable and median housing values are $120,800, according to Zillow. Housing values are up nearly 16 percent from last year. Someone looking to rent will pay a median rent price of $1,030.

The job market in Jacksonville is among the top 30 best in the nation for 2014, with unemployment is at 5.6 percent.


Before deciding on a place to relocate, it’s always best to examine the city’s housing market, cost of living, and perhaps most importantly, the job market. Zip Recruiter found these cities to be the ten best job markets for 2014.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet: