4 Affordable Cities That Won't Break the Bank

You don't need to go broke paying your rent every month. Once you leave expensive urban areas like Seattle, San Francisco, and New York, you will discover many lively cities that won't break the bank. Read on for four cool cities with a low cost of living.

Birmingham, AL

If you are looking for an affordable city to live in, you may want to consider moving to Alabama. The median family income of Birmingham is $61,000. Forbes reported that the median home price in the Alabama city is $130,000 as of 2014, which makes 81.5% of housing in Birmingham affordable at a median family income. Rent is also inexpensive. A two-bedroom apartment rents for $978 a month on average, and a three bedroom goes for around $1,046.

In addition to affordable housing prices, Birmingham residents spend 5.4% less on groceries than the national average, 3.5% less on utilities, and 13.2% less on transportation.

Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama, known for its pivotal role in the civil rights movement. Dating back to Reconstruction, Birmingham is dripping with southern charm. Alabamans have sweet personalities, and sweeter ice tea. If you choose to move down into the Heart of Dixie, prepare to be swept away by Southern hospitality. Something else to prepare for? The heat. Temperatures in Birmingham surpass 100 degrees about 55 days each year.


Knoxville, TN

The third biggest metro area in Tennessee, Knoxville is a small city with a whole lot of charm. Kick up your heels to some honky-tonk music, or settle back with a pint and watch a local bluegrass band perform in your neighborhood tavern. If country music isn't your speed, you'll be happy to know that the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra is the oldest orchestra in the southeast.

Besides its thriving cultural scene, Knoxville is geographically stunning. 30 miles outside of Great Smoky Mountains National park, outdoor enthusiasts love the hiking, camping and rock climbing options right outside the city.

For all that Knoxville has to offer, it has remained relatively affordable. We've found that the average cost of a two bedroom apartment is $874 per month, and the cost of a one bedroom is only $734 on average. Grocery costs in Knoxville are 11.2% below the national average, and utility bills are 7.7% less.

Knoxville offers not only a low cost of living, but a thriving local economy as well. The median family income in Knoxville is $60,500 a year. In addition, Knoxville has been called recession proof. In 2012, Knoxville was named one of the top three cities in America to have recovered from the financial crisis.

Detroit, MI

Detroit has fallen on hard times in recent years, but is slowly rebuilding. The upside of the economic turmoil the motor city is facing? The cost of living is dirt cheap.

In its heyday, Detroit was the heart of the US auto industry, and also the birthplace of Motown. Today you can revisit Detroit's rich history with the Motown Museum and the Detroit Historical Museum. But modern day Detroit is just as fascinating. Artists have been hard at work revitalizing the city, with pop up experimental art spaces and community organizing. Abandoned buildings have been given new life with colorful murals, and an art collective is transforming blighted homes into dream-like structures through the Heidelberg Project.

The cost of living in Detroit is incredibly low for a city of its size. The median home price in Detroit was only $90,000 in 2014, which is less than half of the median home price in America as a whole. Groceries, utilities and transportation costs in Detroit are all slightly below the national average as well.

The 2009 auto bailout helped revive the manufacturing jobs that built the Motor City, and city planners are hopeful that Detroit can expand its tech sector and become a US hub for high tech manufacturing. Just last year, the city emerged from bankruptcy. While Detroit is still getting its footing, it seems to be on the up and up. If you are excited about the idea of bringing together communities to rebuild a city, Detroit could be the perfect, affordable city for you.

Pittsburgh, PA

Another cool, affordable city flying under the radar is Pittsburgh. With cheap rent, a thriving cultural scene, and a growing tech sector, Pittsburgh is an awesome place to live.

The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Pittsburgh is $1103 per month, according to Rent Jungle, with the monthly rent for a one bedroom averaging $889.

Pittsburgh has come a long way from its steel town roots. Today, the city is home to numerous contemporary art museums, including The Mattress Factory, which exclusively exhibits installation art, and The Warhol Museum, dedicated to hometown hero and famous pop artist Andy Warhol.

Football fans will love the sports culture in Pittsburgh. Locals go nuts for the Steelers and the local hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Though they have a less impressive record, it is still fun to cheer on the Pirates, the city's baseball team.

Pittsburgh is being transformed by an influx of tech jobs. Drawn to the city by graduates from Carnegie Mellon University's prestigious computer science and engineering schools, tech companies like Uber and Disney Research have set up labs in Pittsburgh. While the growing tech sectors are causing rents to rise across the city, for the most part, Pittsburgh remains an incredibly affordable city to live in.

Whether you head to Tennessee or Michigan, you'll be surprised by the local charm and low cost of living in these cities off the beaten path. Skip the financial stress of expensive cities and check out one of these places instead.

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