Updated June 18, 2019
Real estate prices are soaring in many parts of the country. While this is great for current homeowners trying to build equity or sell their home, many potential home buyers are completely priced out of the areas they once called home.
Luckily, there are cities and states that are affordable and would welcome you as a new resident. After a little research on the cost of living across the country, you'll find a home that fits your needs and budget.
By working with a full-service realtor, you’ll have an adviser in your corner to help you weigh your options and negotiate for the best price.
Clever partners with experienced real estate agents across the United States. Our Partner Agents also offer Home Buyer Rebates (in the 40 states that allow them) to help make the home buying process a little more affordable.
Got questions? Get in touch to learn more about Clever and connect with a top-rated, local agent for a no-obligation consultation.
In the meantime, here’s a list of the 20 most affordable places to live in the U.S. — along with some other key insights and considerations — to help you make a more informed decision about your next move.
What Impacts a State’s Cost of Living?
Cost of living is the amount of money an individual needs to earn to cover expenses in a state or city. Everything from housing costs to the price of gas will impact how expensive it is to live in a state.
Often, an area’s population will also affect the cost of living. If you live in a densely populated city, like New York, rent and real estate prices will be higher because of increased demand.
A state’s location and infrastructure will also influence the cost of living. States like Hawaii and Alaska, which have higher transportation costs for certain goods, have higher priced staples, like milk, which can be twice as expensive in Hawaii and contribute to why it’s one of the most expensive states to live in.
What’s the Average Cost of Living in the U.S.?
To understand the affordability of these states, you’ll need a cost of living index, or a comparison point for the individual states.
Based on June 2019 data from Zillow, the median home value in the U.S. is $226,800, and the median monthly rent is $1,486. According to the U.S. Census, in 2017, the median income of American households was $57,652.
When comparing the cost of living, how far a dollar goes in an area also matters. This is where price parity comes in. Built from data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, price parities allows us to compare amounts of money across the country.
The U.S.’s price parity is set at 100. States with lower price parities are cheaper to live in, while those over 100 are more expensive.
*Rebates offered in the 40 U.S. states that allow them
The Cheapest States to Live in 2019
Median Home Value: $96,300
Average Annual Salary: $42,019
Price Parity: 88.9
Adjusted Income: $47,265
If you are looking for country roads to take you home, then West Virginia is the place for you. The state’s rolling mountains aren’t all it offers. It is also a hub for biotech industries, chemical development, and is a national leader in energy.
West Virginia has some of the lowest property taxes in the country, as well. With an effective property tax rate of 0.53%, you'd pay just $510 annually for a home worth the state median value.
Learn more: West Virginia Real Estate Market Trends in 2019
Median Home Value: $196,700
Average Annual Salary: $55,653
Price Parity: 96.8
Adjusted Income: $57,493
High salaries. Low housing prices. Friendly folks. The Lone Star State is one of the cheapest places to buy a house because of how much money there is to be made in the state. The capital city of Austin is experiencing a tech boom, while the coastal city of Houston is currently home to 19 Fortune 500 company headquarters.
Plus, Texas is the only state on our list with no state income tax so not only does your money go farther in this affordable state, but you get to keep more of it come tax season.
Capital: Little Rock
Median Home Value: $126,800
Average Annual Salary: $41,995
Price Parity: 87.4
Adjusted Income: $48,049
Arkansas's Ozark Mountains aren't the only beautiful thing about the state. Often a forgotten Southern state, Arkansas has a rich history, is full of natural resources, and boasts a steadily improving economy. No matter where you settle down in Arkansas, you're sure to be close to some stellar views and impressive career opportunities.
Learn more: Arkansas Real Estate Market Trends in 2019
Capital: Jefferson City
Median Home Value: $161,500
Average Annual Salary: $50,238
Price Parity: 89.3
Adjusted Income: $56,258
Smack dab in the middle of the country is a state that's got more depth than you might think. Bookended by St. Louis (home of Clever HQ!) and Kansas City, Missouri has plenty of things to do and places to see.
The state also offers consistent employment opportunities. According to June 2019 data from The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, the state's unemployment rate is 3.3%, lower than the national average. And in metro areas like St. Louis and Kansas City, unemployment drops to 2.8% and 3% respectively.
Learn more: The 5 Most Affordable Places to Live in Missouri
Median Home Value: $140,800
Average Annual Salary: $53,906
Price Parity: 90.4
Adjusted Income: $59,631
After moving to Kansas, you’ll be as homesick for it as Dorothy and Toto if you ever leave. The prairies of Kansas boast some of the most productive agricultural lands in the country with a low cost of living to boot.
Average home prices are also thriving. The home values have increased by 6.2% last year and are predicted to grow by another 2.8% in 2019, meaning buying a house in Kansas is a great investment right now.
Learn more: Kansas Real Estate Market Trends in 2019
Capital: Oklahoma City
Median Home Value: $123,500
Average Annual Salary: $48,568
Price Parity: 89.9
Adjusted Income: $54,024
Not many states can say they’ve got a musical named after them. If you move to Oklahoma, you will soon understand what all the hype is about. Due to its low overall cost of living, the Sooner State is currently one of the best states to buy a house in.
While most people envision endless fields when they think about Oklahoma, the state also has bustling cities. Tulsa and Oklahoma City are both thriving communities with unique vibes for urbanites.
Learn more: Oklahoma Real Estate Market Trends in 2019
Median Home Value: $130,600
Average Annual Salary: $44,765
Price Parity: 86.8
Adjusted Income: $51,573
From beautiful beaches to diverse wetlands, there’s more to Alabama than you realize. And with large cities like Birmingham and Mobile, you can also enjoy the arts and culture of a metropolitan area.
If you want an out-of-this-world experience, a NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center is in Huntsville. Visitors can learn about the space program and see NASA rockets and space shuttles.
Learn more: Alabama Real Estate Market Trends in 2019
Median Home Value: $151,700
Average Annual Salary: $51,084
Price Parity: 93.5
Adjusted Income: $54,635
Michigan is a state in transition. Internationally known for the automotive hub of Detroit, the state’s current economy might hold a few surprises for those who haven’t been following the state’s revitalization. Even in larger cities like Detroit, the cost of living and the average price of homes is extremely affordable.
Learn more: The 5 Most Affordable Places to Live in Michigan
Median Home Value: $164,900
Average Annual Salary: $54,996
Price Parity: 90.6
Adjusted Income: $60,702
Nebraska is more than just farmland! Yes, Nebraska is one of the top agricultural producers in the country, but it also is brimming with jobs in the shipping and manufacturing industries. In fact, Nebraska consistently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.
Learn more: Nebraska Real Estate Market Trends in 2019
Capital: Baton Rouge
Median Home Value: $145,900
Average Annual Salary: $45,727
Price Parity: 90.6
Adjusted Income: $50,471
New Orleans is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Louisiana, and for good reason. It's one of the most exciting cities in the US and is home to celebrities like Beyonce, Sandra Bullock, and Lil Wayne.
There's more to Louisiana than NOLA though, as you'll quickly find out if you move there. Whether you settle down in the capital of Baton Rouge or a quaint Cajun town in the bayou, you'll have affordable housing options.
Capital: Des Moines
Median Home Value: $142,800
Average Annual Salary: $54,736
Price Parity: 90.3
Adjusted Income: $60,616
When you buy a home in Iowa, you buy a bit of America’s heartland. Unemployment in Iowa is at an all-time low and the economy is booming — making it one of the cheapest places to buy a house.
Iowa City is also incredibly popular with younger people. According to the Census, the median age of the city is 25.8 years old.
Learn more: Iowa Real Estate Market Trends in 2019
Median Home Value: $144,500
Average Annual Salary: $50,532
Price Parity: 90.7
Adjusted Income: $55,713
Having a job in the big city doesn’t mean you have to pay big city housing prices. Indiana is a great place to live because many places in the northern area of the Hoosier State are within commuting distance to Chicago, but are much more affordable. Not to mention, Indianapolis has a charm all its own.
Learn more: Buying a House in Indiana: An In-Depth Guide
Median Home Value: $139,100
Average Annual Salary: $51,075
Price Parity: 89.2
Adjusted Income: $57,259
Ohio is one of the cheapest states to buy a house in, and, based on 2019 real estate market trends, one of the hottest states to move to in 2019. Home values throughout the state improved by 6.1% since June 2018.
Ohio has also produced more presidents than any other state, so if you're on a budget and have political aspirations, it's the state for you.
Learn more: The 5 Most Affordable Places to Live in Ohio
Median Home Value: $144,800
Average Annual Salary: $45,215
Price Parity: 88.6
Adjusted Income: $51,033
There is more than just fried chicken to the Bluegrass State. Often overlooked by home buyers looking to relocate, Kentucky has some of the best landscapes in the country. Combine that with a strong jobs sector covering transportation logistics, automotive manufacturing, and healthcare, and you’ve got a nearly perfect place to move.
*Clever offers home buyer rebates in the 40 U.S. states that allow them.
Median Home Value: $166,900
Average Annual Salary: $47,275
Price Parity: 89.9
Adjusted Income: $52,586
Nashville is quickly becoming a city popular with everyone. From millennials to musicians to tourists, people are flocking to the city. Yet it's still within most people's budgets. As for the rest of the state, Tennessee offers beautiful landscapes from National Parks to the Smoky Mountains.
Median Home Value: $128,400
Average Annual Salary: $40,593
Price Parity: 86.2
Adjusted Income: $47,092
If you're looking for a quieter life, Mississippi could be the state you're looking for. The entire state has fewer than 3 million people. Being in the South, the state also enjoys warm weather most of the year.
Median Home Value: $188,300
Average Annual Salary: $51,244
Price Parity: 92.6
Adjusted Income: $55,339
While Atlanta might be the first thing you think of when you think of Georgia (and we don't blame you; Hotlanta is an awesome city), there's a lot more to this southern state than meets the eye.
According to the 2019 Georgia Economic Outlook, all major metro areas in Georgia will see an increased number of jobs across industries.
Median Home Value: $180,900
Average Annual Salary: $59,588
Price Parity: 99.7
Adjusted Income: $59,767
The Land of Lincoln is more than just Chicago and farm fields. From visiting Abraham Lincoln's boyhood home to walking the streets of Chicago's Loop, Illinois is a delightful place to call home.
And while this Illinois might seem more expensive compared to the rest of the states on this list, remember that Chicago throws off the averages. The median home value in Chicago is $229,400, while homes in Springfield are almost $100,000 less.
Learn more: Illinois Real Estate Market Trends in 2019
Median Home Value: $232,600
Average Annual Salary: $51,494
Price Parity: 98
Adjusted Income: $52,545
The northernmost state in the lower 48, Maine's reputation for great ocean views and amazing seafood isn't overstated. While parts of the state can definitely be classified as remote, there's no doubt that Maine is one of our most beautiful — and affordable — states.
Median Home Value: $166,300
Average Annual Salary: $47,238
Price Parity: 90.3
Adjusted Income: $52,312
Want to live that beach life? South Carolina is a more affordable choice than Florida or California with all the benefits. There are beautiful views, friendly people, and history like you wouldn't believe. Walk the charming streets of Charleston before heading out to the beach on Hilton Head Island; you'll quickly want to call South Carolina home.
How to Find a Great Realtor and Save on Home Buying Costs
Once you've decided which affordable state is right for you, connect with Clever to find an experienced, local realtor.
Clever Partner Agents offer on-demand showings so you can put in an offer ahead of other home buyers.
Plus in most of these states, you could be a Home Buyer Rebate. That puts $1,000 (with homes over $150,000) or back in your pocket to cover closing costs or to buy mortgage points.