- U.S. News released its 2018 best places to live in America ranking.
- The list was based on factors like cost of living, salary, and job opportunities.
- We narrowed down the list to find the best places to live where home prices and rent are lower than the national median.
The best places to live are the cities where people are happy, job opportunities are abundant, pay is good, and housing is affordable.
So says U.S. News & World Report, which recently released its annual ranking of the best places to live in America. To rank the cities, U.S. News considered the job market, value, quality of life, desirability, and net migration of the 125 most populous cities (you can read the full methodology here).
Austin, Texas, came out on top for the second consecutive year, while Colorado Springs, Colorado, jumped from No. 11 to take the No. 2 spot, edging out the state’s capital, Denver, which rounded out the top three. But when it comes to housing prices, Colorado Springs is the winner.
Real-estate site Zillow reports the median price of homes currently on the market in the US is $US261,500, while the median monthly rent is $US1,600. We filtered U.S. News top-50 best places to live ranking to highlight the cities where home and rental prices fall below the median.
Below, check out 19 cities where housing is cheaper than half the country. We’ve also included the “value” score -a comparison of annual household income and cost of living – for each city, out of a possible 10. The cities are ranked in order of appearance on the best places to live ranking.
19. Fort Meyers, Florida
Median home price:$US210,133
Median monthly rent: $US984
Value index: 5.2
The charming streets of Fort Myers attract people of all ages, even if the southwestern Florida city is better known as a retirement destination. More than a third of the rapidly growing population is under 34 years old. Residents take advantage of Fort Myers’ vibrant downtown, and the city’s convenient location on Florida’s Gulf Coast lends itself to water activities like boating and fishing. People in Fort Myers tend to pay a little extra for real estate and transportation, but they save thanks to Florida’s lack of state income taxes.
18. Albany, New York
Median home price:$US196,075
Median monthly rent: $US923
Value index: 7.2
Despite the snowy winters, living in Albany comes with several advantages. Albany offers a cost of living lower than the national average and the cost of housing sits well below the rest of the US as a whole. In terms of jobs, the city’s tech and healthcare industries are on the rise.
Albany’s downtown is lined with art galleries, wine shops, and churches for visitors to peruse. In keeping with the city’s cold climate, hockey is the sport of choice for residents.
17. Charleston, South Carolina
Median home price:$US232,983
Median monthly rent: $US1,009
Value index: 6.2
Charleston’s charming, historic, and sophisticated ambiance is exemplary of southern culture. “Not only is the area overflowing with entertainment and good food, but this low country locale is also gorgeous,” said a local expert.
Tourism is booming in Charleston, creating plenty of jobs, especially in the summer months. Year-round, jobs in tech, sales, marketing, and advertising keep the city’s economy strong.
16. Columbus, Ohio
Median home price:$US171,075
Median monthly rent: $US855
Value index: 7.4
Ohio’s capital is a bustling city with a youthful flavour and a passion for sports, music, and entertainment. For many residents, life revolves around the Ohio State University football team – “the region lives and breathes football,” as one local expert put it. But it’s the business-friendly economy and affordability that contributes to its entry on this list. Between home prices, monthly rents, and the overall cost of living,Columbus is cheaper than most metros of its size.
15. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Median home price:$US179,408
Median monthly rent: $US932
Value index: 7.0
In Lancaster, residents can breeze through numerous environments in the course of a day, from rolling farmland to busy city streets to quiet suburbs. Though dairy farming rules the economy here, major companies, including Kellogg’s and Mars, also call the area home.
Lancaster might be famous for its Amish and Mennonite population, but the town is also bustling with a mix of college students and non-religious families.
14. Greenville, South Carolina
Median home price:$US159,692
Median monthly rent: $US762
Value index: 7.2
Once a sleepy small town, Greenville has witnessed a cultural revival in recent years, complete with an influx of new restaurants and businesses. Though the summers can get hot, the city’s typically mild weather make it possible to explore downtown on foot anytime of the year.
An influx of manufacturing jobs have also boosted Greenville’s economy, with brand-name companies, such as GE and Michelin, setting up shop in town.
13. Omaha, Nebraska
Median home price:$US165,667
Median monthly rent: $US833
Value index: 7.9
Due to a combination of Omaha’s history of cattle ranching and its current landscape of bustling tech startups, the city has earned the nickname “Silicon Prairie.” Plus, eight Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Omaha, including Berkshire Hathaway, Union Pacific Railroad, and Mutual of Omaha. Young professionals and families are attracted to the city primarily for its affordability, safety, and strong economy.
12. Houston, Texas
Median home price:$US216,575
Median monthly rent: $US955
Value index: 7.1
Houston is a major player in the oil and gas, manufacturing, aerospace, and healthcare industries – it’s also home to 26 Fortune 500 companies. According to one local expert, “a paycheck goes further in Houston than it does in other major cities, with affordable housing and free or cheap attractions.” Plus, the city has an affinity for food, counting some 11,000 restaurants within its boundaries.
11. Boise, Idaho
Median home price:$US221,475
Median monthly rent: $US842
Value index: 7.4
Idaho’s capital city is “a recreationalist’s paradise,” according to one local expert, who also said Boise sits “squarely on the boundary of urban and rural, civilized and wild, refined and raw.” The region is home to more than 22,000Boise State University students and provides jobs at government agencies as well as in tech and healthcare.
10. Charlotte, North Carolina
Median home price:$US200,942
Median monthly rent: $US893
Value index: 7.5
A “melting pot effect” draws all types of people to Charlotte, a place with “equal parts old-fashioned southern charm and high-energy cosmopolitan bustle,” touted one local expert. NASCAR and motorsports are a cultural cornerstone of Charlotte. The Queen City houses Bank of America’s headquarters and major offices for Wells Fargo, making it one of the largest financial hubs in the country.
9. Phoenix, Arizona
Median home price:$US235,333
Median monthly rent: $US989
Value index: 6.6
Come for the weather, stay for the city: Phoenix boasts more sunny days per year than any other city in the US, according to a local expert. But it’s the thriving job market, variety of shops and restaurants, and easy access to numerous outdoor activities – think everything from hiking to paddleboarding – that keep residents happy long-term.
8. Madison, Wisconsin
Median home price:$US238,375
Median monthly rent: $US919
Value index: 7.3
Wisconsin’s capital is a “hotbed of the healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing industries,” said a local expert. The area is also home to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, providing hundreds of jobs in education. Madison has a unique food culture that’s a blend of fine dining and farmer’s markets catering to the city’s college students, young professionals, and families.
7. San Antonio, Texas
Median home price:$US200,667
Median monthly rent: $US909
Value index: 7.0
At once a destination city and a down-home community,San Antonio offers up a variety of cuisines, music styles, and art for visitors and locals. The city hosts “more than 50 major events and festivals throughout the year,” a number of which honour the area’s Spanish heritage, said a local expert. San Antonio is home to four military and air force bases and camps, collectively known as Joint Base San Antonio.
6. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
Median home price:$US227,814
Median monthly rent: $US947
Value index: 7.8
Raleigh-Durham and Chapel Hill are collectively known as the Triangle, an area anchored by its foundation in research and tech. The Triangle employs nearly 40,000 residents at companies like IBM, SAS Institute Inc., and Cisco Systems as well as surrounding colleges Duke, North Carolina State, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A strong job market coupled with a burgeoning microbrewery and dining scene draws 80 new residents every day, said a local expert.
5. Grand Rapids, Michigan
Median home price:$US166,608
Median monthly rent: $US786
Value index: 8.1
Grand Rapids attracts “college students and young families with its healthy job market, affordable housing, and outdoor recreational activities,” said a local expert. The self-proclaimed “Beer City USA” has more than 40 breweries as well as dynamic public art and music scenes.
Once a hub for furniture production, Grand Rapids’ job market is now dominated by education and healthcare, with many opportunities for workers without a college degree.
4. Nashville, Tennessee
Median home price:$US236,267
Median monthly rent: $US899
Value index: 7.3
Honky-tonk culture and an entrepreneurial spirit define Nashville. “A blossoming job market and an exploding entertainment scene [are] fuelling an appetite (and thirst) for all things locally sourced and artisanal in craft,” a local expert said. Thousands of residents work in healthcare at the area’s large hospitals and research centres, small startups, and business accelerator programs.
3. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
Median home price:$US237,367
Median monthly rent: $US963
Value index: 7.9
The Twin Cities have “big-city amenities like museums and sports stadiums, but also have an approachable, Midwestern feel,” according to a local expert. Residents are accustomed to the area’s changing seasons, participating in ice fishing and cross-country skiing in the winter and music festivals and baseball games in the spring and summer.
Jobs are available in science-focused fields at companies like Xcel Energy and Medtronic as well as retail corporations like Best Buy and Target.
2. Des Moines, Iowa
Median home price:$US181,217
Median monthly rent: $US831
Value index: 8.5
Des Moines is drawing millennials and young families alike for its “one-of-a-kind shops, locally owned restaurants, and hip bars” as well as its historical residences in quiet neighbourhoods, said a local expert. Home to more than 80 insurance companies including giants Allied Insurance and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the job market is thriving.
1. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Median home price:$US255,233
Median monthly rent: $US1,013
Value index: 7.2
Colorado Springs is “booming, with new residences popping up alongside quality schools, parks, and cultural attractions,” touts a local expert. The city is just an hour drive from Denver and in close proximity to Aspen and Vail’s world-class ski resorts. Military jobs influence Colorado Springs’ culture and economy, but jobs are also available in medical innovation and tech.
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