Finding the perfect place to settle down takes a lot of thought and planning, especially since cost of living plays a bigger role than ever these days. With prices skyrocketing on home purchases, rent and utilities, careful consideration of a location’s overall affordability usually takes precedence.
U.S. News & World Report compiled a list of 25 of the most affordable places to live in the U.S. to help people decide on a new hometown. To calculate their rankings, analysts used data such as median gross rent prices and annual housing costs for mortgage-paying customers.
The eastern and southern portions of the country dominated the top 25 list, and the Midwest seems to be the sweet spot for people looking to cut back on their cost of living overall.
Despite the differences in each of the featured locations, one common thread holds them together beyond low living costs. Each city is working to embrace a diverse variety of businesses and cultural experiences in order to provide a better living experience for all.
Here are the top five most affordable places to live as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
Fort Wayne, Indiana — No. 5
Fort Wayne is a quintessential Midwestern city on the rise. Local leaders and community members have worked hard to bring Fort Wayne back from the brink after many of the manufacturing businesses shut down about 40 years ago. The result is a growing enclave with many new businesses, including restaurants, and 80 parks and more than 100 trails, making it an ideal home base for active families.
Quad Cities: Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa and Moline and Rock Island in Illinois — No. 4
Many may refer to Iowa and Illinois as corn country, but parts of the states are outgrowing the stereotype. Four cities make up the Quad Cities area, which spans the Mississippi River and encompasses the five cities of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa and Rock Island, Moline and East Moline in Illinois.
Cities in the region are known for their friendly residents and a growing number of business and cultural districts. The report calls out the region’s “bustling brewery scene, casinos, and river cruises” and Rock Island’s popular pedestrian mall.
Huntsville, Alabama — No. 3
In addition to its third-place ranking on U.S. News & World Report’s most affordable cities list, Huntsville also earned the No. 1 spot on its list of best places to live in the U.S.
Back in the 1960s, NASA based a lot of its work in Huntsville and has remained a part of the city’s culture and history. But Huntsville continues to evolve with the times. That includes converting old buildings into new business ventures and expanding its roster of entertainment options.
Green Bay, Wisconsin — No. 2
It may be best known for its NFL team, the Green Bay Packers, but there is much more to this city. Not only is it ranked the No. 2 most affordable place to live — U.S. News & World Report also ranked it No. 3 on its list of best places to live in the country. That’s partially because the northern Wisconsin city has something for everyone.
“Green Bay has the perfect mix of big-city amenities complemented with a Midwestern, small-town feel,” the report said, citing its revitalized downtown area, plentiful arts and entertainment offerings and the youthful energy the colleges bring to the city.
Hickory, North Carolina — No. 1
This North Carolina city has a lot to offer: stunning mountains, a flourishing art community and businesses that range from furniture manufacturing to high-tech giants such as Apple and Google. The growing population of 365,000 embraces small town, community-centric living.
“With its moderate climate and sweeping mountain views, the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton area, sometimes known as the Catawba Valley, is a home for retirees and families and is becoming a destination for young professionals as well.” the report said.
Rounding out the top 10 are Pittsburgh (No. 6); Beaumont, Texas (No. 7); Fayetteville, Arkansas (No. 8); Peoria, Illinois (No. 9); and Youngstown, Ohio (No. 10).
Review the full report here to find out more about the top-ranked most affordable cities.