US Cities with the Lowest Cost of Living in 2022

Asha Kennedy
Researcher & Writer
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August 23, 2022
5 min read
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Between the turbulent economy and the ongoing effects of COVID-19, it’s safe to say that just about everyone’s life has changed dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. And for many people, this upheaval is financial, so finding more affordable places to live is a top priority. If this is your situation, then we can help you find and move to a new city where you can make rent more easily.

Move.org researched things like rent prices, utility costs, gas prices, and internet rates in the 75 most populous US metropolitan areas to learn which are the most affordable.

Keep reading to learn which US cities have the lowest and the highest costs of living.


Cities with the lowest and highest living costs

10 cities with the lowest cost of living

  1. McAllen, TX
  2. Tulsa, OK
  3. Knoxville, TN
  4. Oklahoma City, OK
  5. Buffalo, NY
  6. Albuquerque, NM
  7. Cincinnati, OH
  8. El Paso, TX
  9. Birmingham, AL
  10. Memphis, TN

10 cities with the highest cost of living

  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. New York City, NY
  3. Honolulu, HI
  4. Boston, MA
  5. Washington DC
  6. Los Angeles, CA
  7. Oakland-Berkeley, CA
  8. Seattle, WA
  9. San Diego, CA
  10. Frederick, MA

Interesting findings

  • 4 of the 10 metropolitan areas with the highest living costs are in California; rent is $100 higher in the San Francisco Metropolitan area than in New York’s.
  • Three states show up twice on the lowest cost of living list: Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas—while New York has cities that end up on both the lowest and highest cost of living list.
  • 4 of the 10 most expensive cities in the US are in California, while 20% of the total population of all 75 cities reside in California.
  • None of the metropolitan cities on the West Coast land on our lowest cost of living list, while alternatively, most of the cities on the most expensive list happen to be on the west coast.
Info Box
Curious about last year’s US city rankings?

If you want to see how this year’s rankings compare to last year’s, check out our report on the cities with the lowest costs of living in 2021. While many cities remained either affordable or expensive, there were a few interesting upsets to take note of if you follow affordability trends.


The 10 most affordable cities in the US

1.   McAllen, TX (H3)

  • Rent: $1,037
  • Transportation: $267
  • Food expenses: $531
  • Utilities: $379
  • Total expenses (our data): $2,214

We’re starting off our list of the most affordable cities with McAllen, one of two Texan cities that made it into our top 10. While some of McAllen’s monthly costs were about average compared to the other top 10, the city’s rent prices were the lowest of any we looked into, solidifying its spot as the most affordable city in the US.

2.   Tulsa, OK (H3)

  • Rent: $1,121
  • Transportation: $272
  • Food expenses: $577
  • Utilities: $355
  • Total expenses (our data): $2,325

At number two in our rankings, Tulsa is the first of two cities in Oklahoma to make it onto our list of the 10 most affordable cities. Although you’ll pay about the same in transportation costs and utilities, food and rent will cost you a bit more in Tulsa.

3.   Knoxville, TN (H3)

  • Rent: $1,290
  • Transportation: $248
  • Food expenses: $537
  • Utilities: $354
  • Total expenses (our data): $2,429

Third on our list is Knoxville, Tennessee. Knoxville’s housing expenses are well below the national average, and you’ll pay less for transportation and utilities in Knoxville than you will in Tulsa.

4.   Oklahoma City, OK (H3)

  • Rent: $1,349
  • Transportation: $269
  • Food expenses: $545
  • Utilities: $354
  • Total expenses (our data): $2,517

Though utilities are not much more in the city of cowboy culture than they are in the previous cities we’ve mentioned, food and rent in Oklahoma City will be a bit pricier. That said, the cost of living here is still below 15% of the national average. 

5.   Buffalo, NY (H3)

  • Rent: $1,466
  • Transportation: $286
  • Food expenses: $580
  • Utilities: $359
  • Total expenses (our data): $2,691

Although many shy away from Buffalo because of its reputation for crime and snowy weather, there are many benefits to choosing the City of Good Neighbors as your new home. Friendly folks and beautiful scenery aside, the cost of living in Buffalo is not bad considering it’s the only city in New York to make our “most affordable” list. (Looking at you, New York City.)

6.   Albuquerque, NM (H3)

  • Rent: $1,530
  • Transportation: $271
  • Food expenses: $587
  • Utilities: $349
  • Total expenses (our data): $2,737

While it’s probably best known as the place where Bugs Bunny constantly misses his left turn, Albuquerque is also one of the most affordable cities in the country. And although it will still cost you over $2500 to live here, the diverse culture, boundless nature, and warm weather will more than make up for it.

7.    Cincinnati, OH (H3)

  • Rent: $1,518
  • Transportation: $305
  • Food expenses: $600
  • Utilities: $328
  • Total expenses (our data): $2,751

If you’re an art buff looking for a reasonably-priced place to live, look no further than Cincinnati, Ohio. The city’s art museum is one of the most comprehensive in the nation—displaying artwork spanning more than 6,000 years. Plus, you’ll be paying less for utilities than any other metro on this list aside from Memphis, Tennessee.

8.   El Paso, TX (H3)

  • Rent: $1,502
  • Transportation: $297
  • Food expenses: $625
  • Utilities: $334
  • Total expenses (our data): $2,758

If you’re surprised to see Texas on the list twice, you probably shouldn’t be. Texas residents don’t have to pay income taxes, and home prices tend to be lower here than the national average. And El Paso is no different, combining low cost of living with low crime rates. In fact, El Paso’s been ranked as one of the safest cities in the US1.

9.   Birmingham, AL (H3)

  • Rent: $1,551
  • Transportation: $282
  • Food expenses: $566
  • Utilities: $370
  • Total expenses (our data): $2,769

Aside from being one of the only places in the entire world where all the ingredients needed to make iron are available (coal, iron-ore, and limestone) Birmingham is also one of the least-expensive cities in the US to live in. Despite slightly higher rent costs, this city is considered one of the South’s best kept secrets.

10.     Memphis, TN (H3)

  • Rent: $1,645
  • Transportation: $260
  • Food expenses: $556
  • Utilities: $328
  • Total expenses (our data): $2,789

Memphis doesn’t just have to be the home of Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion, especially considering how affordable it is to live there. It may not be the cheapest option on our list, but considering it’s the birthplace of blues and rock n’ roll, sorta seems like a steal.

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Thinking of moving?

If you’re serious about moving to a more affordable city, then there’s no time like the present to start researching moving companies and gathering price estimates. Check out our list of the best moving companies to find a mover that meets your needs and fits within your budget.


Complete data set

Metro
State
Urban Area and State
Population
Rent
Transportation
Food Costs
Utilities
Total Expenses (Our Data)
Total Expenses (COLI)
Median Income
Income compared to Total Expences
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City CA Metro Div.CaliforniaSan Francisco CA1,640,407$5,808$422$787$486$7,503$8,570$110,83781%
New York-Jersey City-White Plains NY-NJ Metro Div.New YorkNew York (Brooklyn) NY6,596,646$5,721$320$788$385$7,214$8,247$78,618110%
Urban Honolulu HI MetroHawaiiHonolulu HI979,682$5,208$385$947$611$7,151$8,248$87,72298%
Boston MA Metro Div.MassachusettsBoston MA2,023,499$5,305$323$708$453$6,789$7,855$90,06390%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Div.District of ColumbiaWashington DC3,023,704$4,819$304$678$406$6,207$7,239$90,84282%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale CA Metro Div.CaliforniaLos Angeles-Long Beach CA10,040,682$4,494$379$685$393$5,951$6,955$71,358100%
Oakland-Berkeley-Livermore CA Metro Div.CaliforniaOakland CA2,809,372$4,167$413$783$478$5,841$6,877$104,50467%
Seattle-Bellevue-Kent WA Metro Div.WashingtonSeattle WA3,036,636$4,233$381$775$396$5,785$6,928$96,14872%
San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad CA MetroCaliforniaSan Diego CA3,323,970$4,156$392$686$435$5,669$6,631$82,42683%
Frederick-Gaithersburg-Rockville MD Metro Div.MarylandBethesda-Gaithersburg-Frederick MD1,303,616$4,061$323$690$400$5,474$6,396$109,03460%
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk CT MetroConnecticutStamford CT944,306$3,930$339$669$482$5,420$6,469$97,53967%
Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine CA Metro Div.CaliforniaOrange County CA3,170,345$4,005$390$686$324$5,405$6,362$94,44169%
Chicago-Naperville-Evanston IL Metro Div.IllinoisChicago IL7,143,315$3,993$352$640$348$5,333$6,321$74,23686%
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro OR-WA MetroOregonPortland OR1,978,918$3,947$364$664$333$5,308$6,315$77,69282%
Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall FL Metro Div.FloridaMiami-Dade County FL2,705,528$3,701$307$737$372$5,117$6,012$53,975114%
Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom CA MetroCaliforniaSacramento CA2,338,866$3,336$388$648$392$4,764$5,737$75,53376%
Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Sunrise FL Metro Div.FloridaFort Lauderdale FL1,942,273$3,334$304$738$372$4,748$5,628$60,92294%
New Haven-Milford CT MetroConnecticutNew Haven CT855,733$3,250$315$644$495$4,704$5,712$71,37079%
Providence-Warwick RI-MA MetroRhode IslandProvidence RI1,057,798$3,007$308$645$461$4,421$5,425$70,30575%
Newark NJ-PA Metro Div.New JerseyNewark-Elizabeth NJ2,168,340$2,901$313$650$390$4,254$5,218$85,50460%
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton FL MetroFloridaSarasota FL821,613$2,824$304$655$359$4,142$5,036$62,43880%
Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler AZ MetroArizonaPhoenix AZ4,860,338$2,820$309$612$384$4,125$4,955$67,06874%
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson MD MetroMarylandBaltimore MD2,800,427$2,689$299$665$386$4,039$4,915$83,81158%
Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown CT MetroConnecticutHartford CT1,205,842$2,555$309$653$455$3,972$4,955$78,63161%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington PA-NJ-DE-MD Metro Div.PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia PA4,123,687$2,349$328$715$408$3,800$4,686$72,49863%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood CO MetroColoradoDenver CO2,928,437$2,596$322$576$305$3,799$4,742$83,28955%
New Orleans-Metairie LA MetroLouisianaNew Orleans LA1,271,651$2,614$282$601$285$3,782$4,704$54,38883%
Dallas-Plano-Irving TX Metro Div.TexasDallas TX4,997,015$2,441$267$599$403$3,710$4,658$72,88261%
Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown TX MetroTexasAustin TX2,173,804$2,544$260$552$347$3,703$4,588$80,85255%
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton PA-NJ MetroPennsylvaniaAllentown PA841,265$2,365$304$599$386$3,654$4,554$68,00464%
Rochester NY MetroNew YorkRochester NY1,071,784$2,311$309$611$350$3,581$4,487$61,74770%
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise NV MetroNevadaLas Vegas NV2,228,866$2,159$346$636$358$3,499$4,335$61,04869%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin IL-IN-WI Metro Div.IllinoisJoliet-Will County IL8,606,924$2,279$329$555$331$3,494$4,333$76,17555%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford FL MetroFloridaOrlando FL2,560,260$2,203$293$641$355$3,492$4,358$61,22968%
Bakersfield CA MetroCaliforniaBakersfield CA892,458$1,853$356$621$597$3,427$4,312$54,85175%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater FL MetroFloridaTampa FL3,152,928$2,151$282$627$367$3,427$4,252$57,09772%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta GA MetroGeorgiaAtlanta GA5,947,008$2,191$299$602$316$3,408$4,321$71,19357%
Milwaukee-Waukesha WI MetroWisconsinMilwaukee-Waukesha WI1,576,525$2,172$276$588$367$3,403$4,235$63,73964%
Raleigh-Cary NC MetroNorth CarolinaRaleigh NC1,362,997$2,215$274$546$363$3,398$4,233$78,70652%
Pittsburgh PA MetroPennsylvaniaPittsburgh PA2,324,447$1,941$318$654$450$3,363$4,209$61,96965%
Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia MI Metro Div.MichiganDetroit MI4,317,384$2,074$306$614$361$3,355$4,272$62,76864%
Albany-Schenectady-Troy NY MetroNew YorkAlbany NY880,766$2,000$296$681$365$3,342$4,293$72,81055%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia NC-SC MetroNorth CarolinaCharlotte NC2,193,502$2,122$277$588$343$3,330$4,236$65,78761%
Salt Lake City UT MetroUtahSalt Lake City UT1,215,955$2,042$328$621$337$3,328$4,219$77,10252%
Kansas City MO-KS MetroMissouriKansas City MO-KS1,256,182$2,123$260$556$362$3,301$4,117$62,85963%
San Antonio-New Braunfels TX MetroTexasSan Antonio TX2,510,211$2,128$278$543$327$3,276$4,138$61,43764%
Jacksonville FL MetroFloridaJacksonville FL1,533,796$2,020$250$628$366$3,264$4,080$63,06462%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI MetroMinnesotaMinneapolis MN3,473,412$1,953$305$617$359$3,234$4,152$82,93847%
St. Louis MO-IL MetroMissouriSt. Charles County MO2,120,446$1,877$307$699$336$3,219$4,058$66,96358%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News VA-NC MetroVirginiaHampton Roads-SE Virginia VA1,719,573$1,961$275$580$377$3,193$4,067$68,63856%
Fort Worth-Arlington-Grapevine TX Metro Div.TexasFort Worth TX2,454,843$1,923$268$582$401$3,174$4,063$70,49154%
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin TN MetroTennesseeNashville-Murfreesboro TN1,904,186$1,937$282$596$336$3,151$3,990$68,40655%
Richmond VA MetroVirginiaRichmond VA1,282,067$1,926$271$556$377$3,130$4,013$71,22353%
Louisville-Jefferson County KY-IN MetroKentuckyLouisville KY998,892$1,879$314$562$374$3,129$4,025$59,91563%
Omaha-Council Bluffs NE-IA MetroNebraskaOmaha NE817,619$1,867$302$596$352$3,117$3,940$70,70353%
Cleveland-Elyria OH MetroOhioCleveland OH2,053,137$1,828$281$626$353$3,088$3,934$57,26365%
Tucson AZ MetroArizonaTucson AZ1,038,476$1,799$297$620$368$3,084$3,995$55,02367%
Grand Rapids-Kentwood MI MetroMichiganGrand Rapids MI1,069,696$1,863$298$549$373$3,083$3,931$66,29756%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land TX MetroTexasHouston TX6,979,613$1,826$273$582$388$3,069$3,922$69,32853%
Columbus OH MetroOhioColumbus OH2,101,543$1,841$275$603$331$3,050$3,854$66,71555%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson IN MetroIndianaIndianapolis IN2,050,933$1,798$272$576$382$3,028$3,843$63,54557%
Baton Rouge LA MetroLouisianaBaton Rouge LA856,779$1,784$289$576$282$2,931$3,815$60,04359%
Columbia SC MetroSouth CarolinaColumbia SC832,925$1,550$245$633$471$2,899$3,742$56,68061%
Greenville-Anderson SC MetroSouth CarolinaGreenville SC908,680$1,633$282$593$347$2,855$3,729$57,43260%
Memphis TN-MS-AR MetroTennesseeMemphis TN1,038,785$1,645$260$556$328$2,789$3,553$52,94463%
Birmingham-Hoover AL MetroAlabamaBirmingham AL1,088,170$1,551$282$566$370$2,769$3,636$59,18556%
El Paso TX MetroTexasEl Paso TX841,602$1,502$297$625$334$2,758$3,621$48,19369%
Cincinnati OH-KY-IN MetroOhioCincinnati OH1,679,583$1,518$305$600$328$2,751$3,629$65,96050%
Albuquerque NM MetroNew MexicoAlbuquerque NM915,986$1,530$271$587$349$2,737$3,564$55,37059%
Buffalo-Cheektowaga NY MetroNew YorkBuffalo NY1,129,018$1,466$286$580$359$2,691$3,518$59,07955%
Oklahoma City OK MetroOklahomaOklahoma City OK1,397,040$1,349$269$545$354$2,517$3,310$60,47650%
Knoxville TN MetroTennesseeKnoxville TN861,872$1,290$248$537$354$2,429$3,182$56,85751%
Tulsa OK MetroOklahomaTulsa OK996,141$1,121$272$577$355$2,325$3,163$57,34149%
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission TX MetroTexasMcAllen TX861,137$1,037$267$531$379$2,214$2,870$41,84663%

Methodology

To get our rankings, we analyzed living costs in the 75 most populous metropolitan areas in the United States included in the Cost of Living Index.2 If a metropolitan area had more than one urban area-state associated with it, we picked the cost of living data for the most populous urban area. The data points that were added together to calculate the cost of living in each metropolitan area are rent, transportation, groceries, and utilities.

Residential monthly utilities that the Cost of Living Index used were cell phone, natural gas, and electricity bills. Transportation included cost of a gallon of gas and annual car maintenance.

Prices vary within metropolitan areas and cities, but these are the expected expenditures. The combined populations of the 75 cities account for 18% of the total US population.

We sourced population numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.3

We didn’t factor median household income into our rankings, but we included them in our report for easy comparison.

The average median household income in the 75 cities we analyzed was $70,127.

Sources

  1. KTSM.com, “Study: El Paso third safest city to live in; Texas least expensive state to run business,” Accessed August 11, 2022.
  2. Council for Community and Economic Research, “Cost of Living Index,” Accessed August 9, 2022.
  3. U.S. Census Bureau, “2020 American Community Survey.” Accessed August 9, 2022.
Asha Kennedy
Written by
Asha Kennedy
Asha Kennedy is a researcher and content writer who brings almost 5 years of experience working directly with multiple carriers as a Move Coordinator, including Mayflower, United, and Allied International. During her career, she has successfully partnered with diverse clientele to coordinate Military, International, Interstate and Corporate relocations—and uses this experience to create meaningful and educational content for future movers! Asha graduated from Hampton University with honors in English. Asha enjoys being in nature, reading books, and learning new things.