Let’s get one thing clear from the outset: These are not the least expensive places to live in America. There are places where you can buy a home for pocket change, and whole towns that cost less than a home in Palo Alto, Calif. But if you ask the question “Would you want to live there?”, the answer is likely “No.” Instead, this is a list of affordable cities you’d actually want to live in.
By affordable, we also don’t mean merely cheap. We take earning potential into account as well. So how do we choose the Top 10 Best Affordable Places to Live? We start with data. For this list we look at cost of living and how that compares to national averages for key components of the budget like housing, transportation, food and utilities. As you can imagine, we look for cheap places. But we also look for places with high incomes to make those cheap costs go even further. We look for places with high livability, as determined by our LivScore, and low income inequality.
Finally, once we have a short list in place, our editors factor in their own knowledge of these cities and look for a good balance of sizes, geographies and types of cities. How’d we do?