Affordable Places to Live

2021 Most Affordable Places to Live

Chances are, you live in your city because of your job. And that city may be extremely expensive. With housing prices skyrocketing across the country, relief is not on the horizon.

But there’s good news. With more companies transitioning to fully remote teams, people can now search for a new place to live without being tied to their place of work.

With this newfound freedom, affordability can take center stage in determining where to live.

On-the-move professionals, families, students and retirees are asking questions like: After paying my rent or mortgage, how far can my paycheck stretch for groceries, restaurants, tuition, hobbies and other expenses? Can I work less while still enjoying a high quality of life? Will I be able to afford the type and size of housing that my family wants and needs? Will I be able to save for retirement, a down payment, tuition or my new business venture?

First-time homebuyers, in particular, are on the hunt for cities and towns where they can afford to put down roots — that’s no surprise, given that the country’s already red-hot real estate market just keeps getting hotter and making it harder to find that affordable sweet spot. 

Many of these buyers are millennials who prioritize affordability over nearly everything else when it comes to relocating. In Livability’s national survey of millennials, 70 percent of participants said affordability was one of the top three factors they consider when deciding where to live. What’s more, some 60 percent of respondents in the Midwest, South and West listed a lack of affordable housing as a potential deal-breaker for moving somewhere new.

More broadly, cost of living is also an important factor in deciding where to move — and this is just one of several areas where small- to mid-size communities really outshine their metropolitan counterparts. Many of the cities on Livability’s Top 100 Best Places to Live lists offer a cost of living that’s at or below the national average — and often much lower than major cities. 

With the opportunity to live anywhere while working remotely, people are actively searching for affordable communities where they can make the most of their salary. Case in point: 78 percent of remote workers who participated in Livability’s national survey ranked affordability as a top-three factor in deciding where to relocate. Remote workers are also looking for cities that are offering cash incentives and down payment or rent assistance to help make their relocation as smooth — and financially savvy — as possible.

Bottom line: Affordable places to live have the upper hand these days, and that’s a trend that’s likely to become even more true in the future.

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