We've seen a lot of changes in the past few years that have inspired us to reevaluate where we want to spend our time. Although many of us still appreciate the hustle and bustle of a big city, circumstances have led to more people appreciating the outdoors and a spacious home.
Opening your mind to cities with a lower cost of living may be worthwhile. Believe it or not, what you're looking for is out there if you tap into your peripheral vision. Here are seven affordable (and fun) cities to move to in the U.S. that you may want to put on your radar next time you’re shopping for a home. If you’re looking to have a budget in mind before diving into your search, our home affordability calculator can help you find an estimate that fits your needs, no matter what city you decide to move to next.
The United States is full of cities with good food, good people and a ton of fun activities — all worth exploring and investing in.
Our top seven cities
Our top seven most affordable and fun cities were decided based on a combination of home price, activities and cost of living. Take a look and see which city you may call home next:
1. Knoxville, Tennessee
- Median household income: $40,000
- Median home price: $280,000
- Activities: Located on the Tennessee river just a hop, skip and a jump from Great Smoky Mountains national park and other outdoor recreational activities like hiking and fishing. You’ll find cultural activities at museums like The Museum of East Tennessee and the Sunsphere, an iconic skyline structure built for the 1982 World’s Fair.
- Cost of living: About 18 percent lower than the national average
- Population: 186,173
2. Columbus, Ohio
- Median household income: $53,700
- Median home price: $245,000
- Activities: Home to Ohio State University, there is a bustling college town with great restaurants, bars and various cultural activities including museums, concerts, theatre and sports games.
- Cost of living: About 10 percent lower than the national average
- Population: 878,553
3. Charlotte, North Carolina
- Median household income: $62,817
- Median home price: $332,957
- Activities: Charlotte is a combination of old southern charm and the hustle and bustle of a modern cosmopolitan city. The city celebrates its history through a prominent museum culture, plenty of food options and a hot spot for breweries.
- Cost of living: About 1 percent lower than the national average
- Population: 857,425
4. St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Median household income: $65,869 in St. Paul and $62,583 in Minneapolis
- Median home price: $276,005 in St. Paul and $325,796 in Minneapolis
- Activities: Great scene for winter activities, like ice fishing and cross-country skiing. Home to festivals and sports games. Overall, there are many activities to choose from without being overwhelming. Charming, affordable midwestern cities.
- Cost of living: St. Paul is about .3 percent lower than the national average whereas Minneapolis is about 6.5 percent above the national average but compared to cities like New York or San Francisco that are almost 97 percent above the national average this is still a pretty good bang for your buck.
- Population: St. Paul has about 304,547 people and Minneapolis has about 420,324
5. Olympia, Washington
- Median household income: $59,878
- Median home price: $483,228
- Activities: Mount Rainier National Park is a little over an hour away. There’s endless opportunity for boating, fishing and swimming as well as an up-and-coming arts community. Don’t forget to check out local shops and some of the best seafood eats.
- Cost of living: About six percent above the national average
- Population: 51,534
6. Great Falls, Montana
- Median household income: $43,374
- Median home price: $259,900
- Activities: Home to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and the River's Edge Trail, the River’s Edge Trail is the main outdoor attraction for locals. It sits along both banks of the Missouri River connecting the cities’ best neighborhoods and historical sites. Along with various parks and museums, you can even get a view of the Great Falls in Missouri.
- Cost of living: About 10 percent below the national average.
- Population: 58,835
7. Des Moines, Iowa
- Median household income: $23,989
- Median home price: $176,136
- Activities: Quirky shops, local eats and cool new bars are all part of what’s attracting young new homeowners to Des Moines Iowa. You’ll find amazing historic and contemporary museums, a beautiful botanical garden, up and coming artists and local farmers markets with fresh produce and live music. With the Des Moines and Raccoon River flowing through the city, you’ll find beautiful parks and trails to get some movement and Vitamin D.
- Cost of living: About four percent below the national average.
- Population: 58,835
Things to consider before moving
In addition to our seven cities, here are things to consider before making your big move:
- Research and visit your new city for at least a long weekend before making any purchases.
- Compare the cost of living to where you live now.
- If you have or are planning on having children, find out what their school system looks like and if this will end up as an additional cost.
- Make sure to budget for moving costs, especially if you’re moving long distance.
- If you’re looking to keep your job, double check to see if your company allows permanent relocation.
- Find out what the taxes will look like in your new place of residence and how this might affect your salary. Remember to consult with a tax professional on any tax related questions.
- Make a list of where you’ll need to update your address.
- Consider whether this will be a long- or short-term move.
If you’re looking to take advantage of remote work or are looking to make your dream home a reality, investigating up and coming or even underrated U.S. cities may be worthwhile. There’s an abundance of affordable, fun cities to choose from with amazing wildlife, recreational and cultural activities to explore. We hope our list has inspired you to step outside of your comfort zone and set off on your next adventure!