What is the worlds last affordable city?
10 Most Beautiful and Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.
From big cities to quaint towns, these are the most beautiful and affordable places to live in the U.S.
Giovanna Caravetta is a travel writer based in Southern California with a passion for embracing la dolce vita. She loves soaking up dreamy sunsets, wandering along new streets, and savoring delicious food and wine pairings.
Published on March 27, 2023
From its bustling cities to its quiet coastal towns, America is home to a plethora of enticing places with their own unique draws to prospective residents. When considering where to live in the U.S., it’s more important than ever to assess both the affordability and beauty of a location, especially with housing and living costs steadily rising.
The following list — compiled using data from U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 to 2023 rankings, including the most affordable places to live in the U.S. and the best places to live in the U.S. — offers a collection of some of the dreamiest places to live in America that won’t break the bank.
In its rankings, U.S. News & World Report evaluates the impact that cost of living, median monthly rent, median home price in relation to the national median, and quality of life have on a city, which generates a well-rounded figure for anyone looking to relocate.
Here are 10 of the most beautiful and affordable places to live in the U.S.
01 of 10
Hickory, North Carolina
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Hickory is a family-friendly destination known for its ample hiking trails and Southern charm. Currently ranked as the cheapest place to live in the U.S., Hickory has a median home price of $161,000. This affordable neighbor to the east of Asheville and north of Charlotte is popular with retirees, but it’s also becoming more attractive to young families; a steady stream of residents has been flocking here for its newfound fame as a technological hub for Google and Apple.
02 of 10
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Roughly an hour from the coast of Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids enjoys the benefits of a low cost of living with an approximate median home cost of $367,000. Home to a growing arts and culture scene, as well as scenic parks along Grand River, Grand Rapids is ideal for those seeking an inexpensive, family-centered environment. This underrated city shines, especially in the fall when the bright foliage adorns its trees.
03 of 10
Greenville, South Carolina
Greenville, situated at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina, is renowned for its lively downtown with exciting restaurants, unique boutiques, and picturesque views of Falls Park on the Reedy. With its newly revived downtown area, Greenville has seen a growth in its allure to prospective residents. The cost of living here is affordable; the median home price (about $320,000) still falls under the national median.
04 of 10
Famed for the Kentucky Derby, Louisville is a city rich in history and culture. Teeming with an expansive, verdant park system and walking trails, Louisville sits along the Ohio River and provides spectacular views from its Waterfront Park and Big Four Pedestrian Bridge. One of the city’s main draws is its low median housing cost (around $163,000) and low cost of living, along with its creative culinary scene and exclusive bourbon distillery experiences.
05 of 10
Knoxville, located in relative close proximity to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offers both the peace and beauty of the outdoors and the liveliness of its downtown area. Known predominantly as a college sports town, Knoxville is home to the University of Tennessee, which adds to its attractiveness to young families. At approximately $335,000, its median housing price is markedly lower than many other similar-sized metropolitan areas in the U.S.
06 of 10
St. Louis, Missouri
This mid-sized Midwestern city stretches along the banks of the Mississippi River and is famous for its landmark Gateway Arch National Park. St. Louis residents soak in the magnificence of the 1,300-acre Forest Park, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S., which enhances the already scenic landscape. At around $260,000, the median housing cost in St. Louis is significantly less than the national median and greatly appeals to those looking to relocate.
07 of 10
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
In the heart of North Texas, Dallas and Fort Worth combine to create the DFW metroplex. Dallas, with its energetic downtown and flourishing arts district, and Fort Worth, with its iconic cattle drive in the Stockyards and impressive cultural district, are distinctive cities that attract singles and young professionals to their continually expanding job markets and stunning skylines. DFW offers serene walking trails, vibrant nightlife, and innovative restaurants — while it maintains median housing costs (about $394,400) of good value for its median household incomes.
08 of 10
Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, and nearby Durham make up two-thirds of the Research Triangle — known locally as the Triangle — with roots in its three top-tier universities. Thanks to a growing job market and high-paying jobs in medicine, research, and technology, this area appeals to young individuals desiring an economical place to raise a family. This bustling technological and university metroplex boasts stunning green landscapes, inventive local eateries, and a thriving college sports rivalry. Here, the median housing price (about $436,700) keeps pace with the national median, while homeowners reap the benefit of lower property taxes.
09 of 10
South Bend, Indiana
Most notably a college town with an array of universities in its vicinity, South Bend is known for luring individuals interested in jobs in the higher education field. This also entices singles, young families, and empty nesters looking to relocate because it creates an environment with a low cost of living and an affordable median housing cost (around $142,000). For any nature seekers, South Bend’s dozens of hiking trails, extensive outdoor recreational opportunities, and convenient location to Lake Michigan equate to a stunning backdrop and place to live.
10 of 10
The sweeping Pittsburgh skyline views showcase a growing city with its roots in the steel industry and its sights set on continuing to diversify its job market. Additionally, Pittsburgh’s dynamic culinary scene and substantial cultural district create an environment that’s alluring to young families. Though the house prices here have begun rising alongside the job growth, the median housing cost sits at approximately $222,000, which is more affordable than other major cities in the U.S.
Buying a home? 8 popular cities that are still surprisingly affordable
Homebuyers have had a tough time, with home prices and mortgage rates rising relentlessly.
As buyers continue to reassess where they want to live and relocate at record rates amid the ongoing pandemic, affordable destinations can still be found, according to a report released Monday by Redfin.
Thirty-two percent of U.S. homebuyers searched for a home in a different metro area in April, falling just short of the all-time high of 32.3 percent set during the first quarter of 2022. Many of those homebuyers sought to relocate to Sun Belt markets, largely across Florida and Texas.
Redfin identified eight popular migration destinations in the U.S. that may still be affordable for buyers coming from other pricier markets, but the reality is that many local buyers are now getting priced out of those markets. In Tampa, for instance, which was ranked as the third most popular migration destination and sixth most affordable, homebuyers need to earn 47.8 percent more than they did at this time last year in order to afford a median-priced home, Redfin said.
“A lot of people are moving to Florida for the price point, beaches and quality of life, especially since the pandemic started,” Eric Auciello, a Redfin team manager in Tampa, said in a statement.
“For a buyer who sold their home in a place like New York for a million dollars, Tampa is affordable. They can get a nice home in a desirable neighborhood for around $550,000. But for locals looking in the $300,000 to $400,000 price point, there’s next to nothing for sale. Locals are turning to condos or moving to more affordable rural areas.”
Here are the eight most affordable and popular migration destinations today.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Median sale price: $315,000
Migration popularity ranking: 15
Credit: Daniel Halseth / Unsplash
The median sale price for homes in Virginia Beach in April was $315,000, more than $100,000 below the national median of $424,400.
The coastal market situated where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean is within driving distance of major cities like Washington, D.C.; Richmond, Virginia; and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
San Antonio, Texas
Median sale price: $330,000
Migration popularity ranking: 10
Credit: weston m / Unsplash
The Texan river city of San Antonio is the second-most affordable destination out of Redfin’s rankings, and is well-known as home to the 18th-century Spanish mission, The Alamo.
The city saw the most in-bound migration in April from Austin, Texas, where home prices have been climbing significantly in recent months.
Median sale price: $340,000
Migration popularity ranking: 9
Credit: Rome Wilkerson / Unsplash
Houston was a major migration destination in April for residents moving from Los Angeles.
Prices in the metro haven’t climbed nearly as precipitously as many other markets in the last year, with prices up just 15.7 percent year over year.
Median sale price: $357,000
Migration popularity ranking: 13
Credit: Lance Asper / Unsplash
Jacksonville may not land in the top 10 most popular migration destinations, but it’s still accessible to all of the amenities that have people moving to Florida — attractive weather, low taxes, and beaches — while still having affordable housing options.
Median sale price: $365,000
Migration popularity ranking: 20
Credit: LPETTET / Getty Images
California buyers who have been priced out of Los Angeles and want to remain within driving distance of the city will find an affordable alternative in Bakersfield, which is as close as a two-hour drive north.
The city of just under 400,000 people features a number of museums and has easy access to trails in Sequoia National Forest.
Median sale price: $370,000
Migration popularity ranking: 3
Credit: Jesse Adair / Unsplash
Tampa was the only metro area in the top five most popular migration destinations with a median sale price below the national level.
Most homebuyers migrated to the metro from Orlando, Florida, but the area out of state where the most buyers flocked from was New York, New York.
Median sale price: $383,000
Migration popularity ranking: 12
Credit: Ben Dutton / Unsplash
Like Tampa, home prices in Atlanta have risen so sharply in the last year that locals are also facing affordability issues.
In order to afford the median-priced home in the metro, buyers need to earn 40.6 percent more than they did one year ago.
Cape Coral, Florida
Median sale price: $419,000
Migration popularity ranking: 6
Credit: SARAH GRANGER / Unsplash
Residents of the windy city had Cape Coral top-of-mind in April, with the most buyers relocating to Cape Coral moving from Chicago.
Cape Coral’s median sale price was up a sizable 38.2 percent year over year, but the median price tag was still attractive to buyers coming from Chicago hoping to escape the cold.
The top migration destination overall during the month of April — which did not land on Redfin’s affordability list — was Miami, Florida, where the median sale price was $475,000. Most buyers relocating to the area were coming from New York, New York.
Hong Kong Is World’s Least Affordable Housing Market in the World in 2022
Home to 7.5 million people, Hong Kong city has always been a land of opportunity, but lately, it’s been besieged by challenges. Years ago, the city was beset by violent protests, foreign interference, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic that swept through the metropolis like wildfire.
And while the immediate task is to control this pandemic, the more massive challenge is to provide affordable housing for young people and low-income brackets.
According to a MoneyTransfers analysis, Hong Kong is the least affordable place globally. The city has a median multiple of 23.2, topping the global list of most expensive housing markets for 12 consecutive years.
MoneyTransfer’s CEO Jonathan Merry says, “The average housing affordability in 2022 is languishing, with a five times increase in markets with median multiples of 10 or more as just a decade ago. In addition, more than 200,000 people in Hongkong live in “cage homes” or subdivided flats. These living arrangements contribute to anxiety and depression among residents who don’t have enough space or privacy.”
Hong Kong Losing Step
The global pandemic has worsened the housing affordability crisis in many countries. However, that’s not the only reason people have trouble buying a home. It’s also because it’s been increasingly difficult for middle-class families to purchase a home over the last few years. As a result, the number of housing markets deemed “severely unaffordable” worldwide increased by 60% compared to 2019 (before the pandemic).
According to market analysts, it would take an ordinary family nearly 21 years to buy a home in Hong Kong, which doesn’t even consider spending on daily necessities.
Hongkong was followed by Sydney at 15.3, Vancouver at 13.3, San Jose at 12.6, and Melbourne at 12.1 as the most unaffordable markets in the world. Pittsburgh (2.7) is the most affordable market, followed by Oklahoma City and Rochester (3.3), with Edmonton and St Louis rounding out the top five at 3.6.
Will Hong Kong Fix Its Housing Crisis
While Hong Kong has a serious housing problem, the country has abundant land and very little residential zoning, with only 7% of zoned land dedicated to residential housing. In comparison, 75% of New York City is zoned for residential purposes.
For years, officials in Hong Kong have agreed that the city’s housing problem can be solved only by increasing the supply. Yet the shortage persists. In 2021, the central government made a rare public statement on the issue, with Vice Premier Han Zheng acknowledging the urgency of solving the problem during an annual gathering of national legislators in Beijing.
Hong Kong’s former security chief, John Lee has been sworn in as the city’s new chief executive promises to bring better resolutions. He has pledged that housing will be a major focus of his administration and has presented ideas of increasing the supply.
Elizabeth is a financial content specialist from Manchester. Her specialities include cryptocurrency, data analysis and financial regulation.