These days everything costs money and it pays to make every dollar count. Where are the cities in the U.S. where you can get more for your dollar?
According to Council for Community and Economic Research, the following are the cheapest cities to live in in the U.S. While the national city price index average is 100 (with anything over that being expensive), these cities have managed to keep their living index at an affordable low.
10 Ashland, Ohio – Cost of living index 87.6
Its name might sound like a settlement in a post-apocalyptic movie, but there is nothing apocalyptic about this place which has the sign “The World Headquarters of Nice People” right next to its welcome sign. This city in upper central Ohio has a total of 11.23 square miles. In all it has 85.6 miles of roads, a hospital, a fire station, a police station, five parks, a public library and a university. It is home to 20,320 people. Just how cheap is it here? A home costs $222,558; rent is an average $538; gas is $3.504 per gallon and movie tickets are $8.69.
9 Pueblo, Colorado – Cost of living index 87.1
Calling itself “A Home of Heroes”, Pueblo City in Colorado prides itself in having four recipients of the Medal of Honor among its natives; Vietnam War veteran Drew Dix, Korean War heroes Raymond Murphy and Carl Sitter and World War II soldier William Crawford. The city is also a favorite stopover for U.S. presidents and politicians on the campaign trail. The likes of Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Al Gore have dropped by. A good part of the 45.4-square-mile city is arid desert land, but 106,595 people still call it home. What are the prices there? The average home costs $202,539; monthly rent costs $708; gas is $3.373 per gallon and movie tickets are $8.50
8 Muskogee, Oklahoma – Cost of living index 86.9
Named after a tribe of Native Americans, the city as it is known today was believed to have grown from a temporary village erected by fur traders in 1806. Now it is a sprawling city of 38.8 square miles and home to 39,223 people. Steeped in history the city also has a number of museums, and has a World War II submarine exhibited in the middle of a field. The city also has the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and hosts the annual Azalea Festival. How cheap is it here? A home costs $211,667; rent is an average $533 monthly; gas is $3.326 per gallon and movie tickets are $9.50.
7 Wichita Falls, Texas – Cost of living index 86.4
Originally settled in by Choctaw Indians in the early 18th century, white settlers soon arrived and renamed the settlement Wichita Falls in 1872. A train depot was built ten years later and the city grew from there, later becoming the county seat of Wichita County in Texas. The city area is only 70 square miles but this already covers locations like Sheppard Air Force Base, the American National Bank and the Wichita Tower Office Building built in 1920. An estimated 103,931 people call it home. The average prices in Wichita Falls are $267,667 for a home, $565 for monthly rent; $3.256 for a gallon of gas and $9.21 for movie tickets.
6 Fayetteville, Arkansas – Cost of living index 86
The only city in Arkansas in the list, this city was named one of the “Best Cities to Live, Work and Play” in 2008 and also one of the best places to retire. Although based in another nearby city in Bentonville, the huge retailer Walmart has played an important part in developing Fayetteville, which hosts its annual shareholder’s meeting. It is also home to the Arkansas University which has hosted many football, baseball and basketball games. The school’s track and field program itself has won over 40 national championships and the city itself is one of the best college sports towns in the country. Fayetteville has an area of 53.8 square miles and a population of 75,102. The average prices in Fayetteville are $237,533 for a home; $574 for monthly rent; $3.263 for a gallon of gas and $8.80 for movie tickets.
5 Memphis, Tennessee – Cost of living index 86
Named after the old capital of the Egypt, Memphis was founded in 1819 to be a transportation hub in the region. Unlike its counterpart along the Nile the Tennessee city does not flood and quickly developed. The building of a railway in 1847 also helped to spur progress. Today 672,567 people call the 340-square-mile city their home. It’s currently the twentieth city with the largest population in the U.S. and the one with the most people in this list. Memphis is known for its history of music. It is the birthplace of many music genres including rock and roll, blues, soul, gospel and country music. It was also where many musicians like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King and Johnny Cash had their start. In Memphis you can have a home at $193,834; pay rent at $711; get a gallon of gas at $3.401 and movie tickets at $8.93 each.
4 Ardmore, Oklahoma – Cost of living index 85.9
It started out as a trading outpost, then cotton became its main product. After cotton fields were stripped bare, settlers found oil. In fact, they found one of the biggest oil reserves in the U.S. and the boom started. Ardmore City is built from the fortunes of these oil drilling pioneers. The 50-square-mile city is still a center for trade, this time for a ten-county region in central Oklahoma. It is also home to 24,283 people, many of whom work in the city’s major employers like Michelin North America, Best Buy, Dollar Tee and Dollar General Store. The average prices there are $231,667 for a home; $588 for monthly rent; $3.344 for a gallon of gas and $9.50 for movie tickets.
3 Norman, Oklahoma – Cost of living index 85.6
Originally Indian territory, this city was named after surveyor Abner Norman who first took notes of the land. Now the 189.5-square-mile city is home to an estimated 110,925 people and institutions like the National Weather Center and the University of Oklahoma. The weather center was set up for a reason, the Oklahoma City Metropolitan area of which Norman is also part lies within the country’s Tornado Alley. Despite frequent tornado activity the city was named the sixth best small city in the U.S. to live in 2008. No other city in that state has that honor. A home for $225,458, monthly rent for $647; a gallon of gas for $3.305 and movie tickets for $9.17.
2 McAllen, Texas - Cost of living index 85.6
Formerly an agricultural town, McAllen owes a lot of its growth to international trade and cross-border commerce with Mexico. All this is due to its strategic location on the southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. It is currently the seventh fastest growing city in America and home to 129,876 people living in its 46.3-square-mile area. While the call center industry has largely been shipped overseas, McAllen is still home to several call center industries like Convergys, T-Mobile, Merkafon, Hotel.com and Ticketmaster. The average prices in McAllen are $202,994 for a home; $740 for monthly rent; $3.288 for a gallon of gas and $9.08 for movie tickets.
1 Harlingen, Texas – COLI 81.8
Harlingen has been named as cheapest city to live in the U.S. for three years now. Named after a city in the Netherlands, it first opened in 1904 and was largely agriculture-based before venturing into light industry. An estimated 64,849 people live within its 34.3-square-mile area. It is also home to schools like the Texas State Technical College and institutions like the Marine Military Academy and Harlingen Air Force Base, the predecessor of which is credited with increasing the population of the city in World War II when a lot bombers were based there. It is also home to the Valley Race Park, a racetrack for greyhounds, and the World Birding Center for bird-watching fans. In Harlingen you can get a home for $218,554; pay monthly rent at $640; have a gallon of gas at $3.293 and get movie tickets for $9.17 each.
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