Hidden Gems: America’s Most Affordable Cities (Infographic)
Big-city living isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not only will you find plenty of small-town charm if you live in a less populated town; you’ll also save money. Apartment Guide found America’s most affordable cities — the top 10 cities with the least expensive median rent prices — and we dug up a few cool facts about these hidden gems as well.
Median rent: $395
Named after the city in Italy, the northwestern Alabama town of Florence not only boasts the cheapest rent in the nation; it’s also the home of the University of North Alabama. Music lovers are in luck; artists from all over the country come to Florence each summer for the W.C. Handy Music Festival. It originally focused on blues and jazz, but now includes rock, gospel, country and more.
2. Decatur, AL
Median rent: $420
Just east of Florence is the riverside town of Decatur, AL. Nicknamed “A Grand City on a Charming Scale,” this town draws thousands of people each year for the Alabama Jubilee, one of the biggest hot-air balloon races in the country.
Median rent: $438
Home of Wal-Mart and Tyson Foods, this three-county area spanning northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri offers plenty of job opportunity. But it’s not all work and no play – the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks provides a great way to get outside and enjoy nature, while the University of Arkansas brings in many cultural and sporting events.
- Read more: Where Can I Afford to Live?
4. Fort Smith, AR/OK
Median rent: $460
Fort Smith is the second-largest city in Arkansas, but its reach extends into a couple of counties in Oklahoma as well. It’s best-known for its history as a western frontier military post, but today it’s home to the Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair, several annual rodeos, and the Western Arkansas Ballet.
- Read more: How Much Should You Budget for Rent?
Median rent: $468
What started as a small trading community to provide essentials to Georgia plantations has become a Southern center of education and commerce. Statesboro is home to Georgia Southern University and all the cultural offerings that go along with it, including the Georgia Southern Symphony and the Botanical Gardens at Bland Cottage.
Median rent: $475
With a population approaching 500,000, Springfield is best known as the Birthplace of Route 66 and the home of Missouri State University. There are 92 parks in the area, including several golf courses and a popular mountain biking trail, which makes it easy to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.
- Read more: Top Budgeting Resources for 20-Somethings
Median rent: $480
Huntsville is very proud of its history, most notably as the home of Sam Houston, a politician and soldier who helped bring Texas into the United States. You can visit his grave, a museum and a university named in his honor, as well as a downtown walking tour.
- Read more: Has a Move Changed Your Budget Plan?
Median rent: $485
There’s no shortage of job opportunity in Greenville – within the past few years, it’s been named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People and one of the Best Small Places for Business and Careers. It’s the home of East Carolina University and Vidant Medical Center, but there’s plenty of fun to be had as well, particularly in the restaurants and nightclubs in the old Five Points area.
Median rent: $490
Space aficionados know Huntsville as the home of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, but this northern Alabama city has much more to offer, including the Huntsville Museum of Art, the North Alabama Railroad Museum and 57 different parks within the city limits. The annual Big Spring Jam brings in all sorts of musicians for three days each September.
- Read more: Ask These Questions as You Budget to Move
Median rent: $495
Aside from the same median rent, these east Tennessee and south-central Kansas cities have more in common than you might think. Both provide employment opportunities – Johnson City recently was named one of Forbes’ Best Small Places for Business and Careers, while Wichita’s job market is similarly robust, offering many aircraft manufacturing jobs. Both cities are centers of higher learning as well – Johnson City is home to East Tennessee State University, while Wichita boasts Wichita State University.
- Check out all our Money Matters articles here.
Apartment Guide tracked the median of the lowest rent prices per Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA) for February 15, 2014, meaning it took the price of each apartment community’s cheapest floor plan on that day and found the median price for each area. CBSAs with fewer than 10 listings were omitted, as were listings that are not currently active. Any properties with a low rent price of zero dollars were also excluded.
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Mouse over the metro areas highlighted on the map below to find out the median rent prices in other areas of the country.