Rising inflation, cost-of-living hikes, and rapidly decreasing square footage have priced many people out of major urban areas in the United States. New York City and Los Angeles — once the two most expensive cities in the country — have been toppled by San Francisco, Seattle, and Miami. If you’re looking to move somewhere that allows flexibility of lifestyle, more room, and, of course, is affordable, consider these cities.
Hickory, North Carolina
Nestled between Asheville and Charlotte and known as the “furniture capital of the world,” Hickory has a population of around 40,000 people. This well-rounded community boasts several neighborhood staples, including scenic parks, rugged mountain biking trails for adventurous spirits, and events for individuals and families of all sizes. Hickory is among several cities in the Carolinas with great, affordable options, including Asheville and Durham in North Carolina, and Greenville and Spartanburg in South Carolina.
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Green Bay, situated about 120 miles north of Milwaukee, is a relatively temperate Midwestern city with a population of about 105,000 people. The cost of living is about 10% less than the national average, and it’s close to beautiful Lake Michigan, where you can enjoy summertime beach days or wintertime ice fishing. The city is also known for its vibrant sports scene and for preserving a sense of small-town charm despite having big touristy getaways.
Columbus is one of the bigger cities on this list, with a population of around 900,000 people. Notable locations in Ohio's capital include COSI, repeatedly selected as one of the best science museums in the nation, and experience trails, which offer opportunities to explore the city’s unique coffee shops and distilleries. With a median studio rent of about $849, Columbus is a highly affordable city with a vibrant art and food scene. It's also near Ohio’s other mid-sized cities: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, and the Midwestern favorite, Cedar Point.
Pittsburgh, a city of about 300,000 people, is Pennsylvania’s second-biggest city and a highly affordable option that allows you proximity to the eastern corridor of the United States. Its affordability is especially apparent in its housing market, where the average home costs around $222,000, compared to a nationwide average of $400,000. It’s a great city to explore starting a family, as there’s room to expand and plenty of access to cultural landmarks — including the Great Lakes on one side of the state and the Poconos Mountains on the other.
Not to worry, fairweather types: Not all optimal cities are located up north. Travel to Southeast Texas and you’ll find McAllen — an affordable, mid-sized city of around 800,000 people. With charming attractions like the World Birding Center for birdwatching enthusiasts, this city balances urban sprawl and easy access to natural spaces. The average rent is about $750 per month, though utilities are often slightly higher than the average due to the demands of a growing population. There is a surplus of homes and employment opportunities in the area, as well as relative proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Best of all, the Rio Grande Valley is dry and warm, offering mild temperatures year-round.
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