Great Cities in the South with the Lowest Cost of Living

In the U.S., the Midwest and South have the lowest cost of living, with the cost of living in the cheapest city of all, Kalamazoo, Michigan, nearly 23 percent below the national average. That's closely followed by Harlingen, Texas, which sits at the state's southernmost tip in the Brownsville-Harlingen metro area, where more than a quarter of residents are below the poverty level.


Housing makes the biggest difference in the cost of living. San Francisco is currently the most expensive city in the country to live in, and the median home price is over $1.5 million. 


Many people choose to move to the South to enjoy the lower cost of living, friendly people, and warmer weather. Typically everything from gas to groceries are less expensive too. Of course, you don't want to simply pack up and move to the cheapest city in the country. You'll want a low cost of living in a city that offers a decent quality of life too.

Charlotte, North Carolina

A commercial hub in the south-central portion of the state, Charlotte has a cost of living that's 5 percent lower than the national average while offering an idyllic mix of laid-back Southern charm and a cosmopolitan vibe. While it's cheaper than many cities, incomes are close to the U.S. average, leaving more cash in your pocket to enjoy going to pro sports games, NASCAR races, explore historic sites, shop, and dine, with a wide range of restaurants offering nearly every type of cuisine from across the globe.

Birmingham, Alabama

While Birmingham homes for sale have been increasing in price in this hot real estate market, Alabama's largest city is consistently ranked among the best places to earn a living while still offering a low cost of living. For now, homes can be found for under $100,000. In fact, its cheapest neighborhood has a median home price of less than $70,000. 


Job opportunities tend to be plentiful as Birmingham is home to many different industries, with the top including government, healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, and education. There are many ways to enjoy the great outdoors with lots of parks, trails, lakes, and waterfalls in and near the city. It has a nationally-renowned food scene and endless options for entertainment too.

Fort Smith, Arkansas 

Fort Smith has a significantly lower cost of living than the national average and the median home price is less than $131,000. While it has an urban feel, it's not too crowded as a medium-sized city that typically receives an above-average livability score based on the cost of living, crime, education, and happiness.


There are plenty of opportunities for shopping with independent shops and boutiques downtown and multiple retailers in the Central Mall, while restaurants include everything from trendy cafes and pizza parlors to fine dining steakhouses. There are lots of parks and open spaces for getting active, a picturesque riverfront to stroll along, and a lake for swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and boating. 

Memphis, Tennessee

While the many people moving to Nashville have led to a significant increase in home prices and the cost of living, in the western part of the state, Memphis has a cost of living. It's 17 percent lower than the national average, with the median home price under $170,000. 


The city's proximity to the Mississippi River makes it a hub for shipping and transportation, plus three Fortune 500 companies call it home: AutoZone, International Paper, and FedEx. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is headquartered here too. There's a thriving food scene with James Beard Award-nominated chefs and food trucks with cult-like followings, an unrivalled music scene, and plenty of ways to satisfy a craving for the arts.

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