The Cheapest Cities in the U.S.

The Council of Community & Economic Research pulled together data on the 340+ urban areas in the U.S. and determined which are the most affordable to live in. Texas cities come out on top.

While incomes in Harlingen, Texas are some of the lowest in the country, the cost of housing, transportation and groceries are low enough to more than make up for it. CC&ER looked at data from the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Cities like Pueblo, Colorado and Pryor Creek, Oklahoma topped their "cheapest cities" list, while Manhattan was the most expensive.

Venessa Wong at Bloomberg BusinessWeek writes:

"Housing, grocery, and transport costs are exceptionally low in Harlingen: over the year, monthly principal and interest payments for homes averaged only $847, a loaf of bread about 90¢, and a gallon of gas $2.65, reports the Council for Community & Economic Research (C2ER). In Manhattan, the most expensive area, monthly house payments averaged $4,686 (more than five times as much), bread about $2.23 (about 150 percent more), and gas $3.148 (about 19 percent more)."

Full Story: Want to Live Cheaply? Head to Texas



Todd Litman's picture

Cheapest Cities for Wealthy Households

It is important that people who use this comparison understand that it is based on the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, which measures typical household costs for the wealthiest income quintile, and so does not reflect true "affordability," which refers to cost burdens on lower-income households.

Of particular interest to planners, this analysis tends to exaggerate the affordability of sprawled, automobile-dependent locations and undervalue the transportation cost savings to lower-income households that result from improved public transit services. For discussion see my critique of Wendell Cox's analysis based on ACCRA data in "The First Casualty in a Non-Exist War" ( ).

Todd Alexander Litman
Victoria Transport Policy Institute
"Efficiency - Equity - Clarity"

Maybe, but

Here's another thing people tend to forget when comparing housing prices: Who wants to live there? You'd have to be (a) a real dyed-in-the-wool Texan, or (b) too poor to move, or (c) too locked down by your job, to choose to live just about anywhere in that state.
A 15-year resident of Texas happily living in Washington State,
Mike Stanger

In case I'm not being clear

Not really out to slam Texas; just pointing out that quality of life and mobility tend to reduce demand for places in Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Ohio, ...
Mike Stanger

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

The Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs is the only comprehensive ranking and listing of graduate urban planning programs available.
Starting at $24.95

NEW! Get the "Green Bible"

Understand the complexities of planning at the local level while preparing for the AICP* exam. Find out why this edition is included in the APA's recommended reading list.
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $16.95 a month