Top 10 Cheapest Cities to Live In for 2018


While the top 10 cheapest cities to live in offer a low cost of living, not all aspects of living are affordable. We’ve looked at housing, groceries, transportation, and other costs to see the full picture.

Austin, Texas, Jan. 16, 2018 — The top 10 cheapest cities to live in offer some of the lowest costs in the nation for groceries, housing, health care, and more. Knowing how much it costs to live where you live can help you adjust your budget accordingly.

“Where one expense category might have rock-bottom prices, others might be on par with the national average,” said Ben Luthi, lead researcher on the study. “So, it’s important to know how the cost of living in your area affects you and your budget accordingly.”

Key Findings

Based on data from the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) analyzed by Student Loan Hero, the following are the cheapest cities to live in based on cost of living:

  1. McAllen, Texas: 24 percent below the the national average
  2. Conway, Arkansas: 22.2 percent below the national average
  3. Harlingen, Texas: 21.5 percent below the national average
  4. Richmond, Indiana: 21.3 percent below the national average
  5. Tupelo, Mississippi: 20.8 percent below the national average
  6. Wichita Falls, Texas: 19.5 percent below the national average
  7. Kalamazoo, Michigan: 19.5 percent below the national average
  8. Knoxville, Tennessee: 17.8 percent below the national average
  9. Martinsville-Henry County, Virginia: 17.6 percent below the national average
  10. Memphis, Tennessee: 17.2 percent below the national average


The most shocking statistic we found was that poverty levels in the cheapest cities to live in are mostly higher than the poverty rates in the most expensive cities. For example, while 31.3 percent of Harlingen residents live in poverty, the poverty rate in Honolulu is just 12.1 percent.

The study also looked at specific categories related to cost of living for city residents, such as groceries, housing, and health care, and highlighted the cheapest and most expensive cities to live in for each. The results show that you don’t have to live in one of the nation’s cheapest cities to see rock-bottom prices.

Study Methodology

These rankings are based on data from the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) for 253 urban areas across the United States, including Puerto Rico.

For added context, we also included population, income, and poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau; housing cost data tabulated from C2ER in the second quarter of 2017; November 2017 unemployment rate data for available cities and December 2017 unemployment rate data for the national average from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; unemployment rate data from various sources for other cities; November 2017 median home listing prices for cities; national median home listing prices from Zillow; and median monthly rent costs from Trulia.

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Student Loan Hero offers both current and former students free loan calculators as well as unbiased, personalized advice and repayment plans through an easy-to-use online dashboard.

Founded in 2012 by CEO Andrew Josuweit, who himself had over $100,000 in student loans, Student Loan Hero operates on the belief that all loan help and recommendations should come with honesty and no hidden agenda.

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