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Columbus, Ohio, USA skyline on the Scioto River.
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The cheapest places to live in the U.S.

The cheapest places to live in the U.S. in 2023 offer ways to elevate your lifestyle without depleting your bank account

Scott Snowden
Edited by
Scott Snowden
Written by
Alexa Harrison

Even now, after the pandemic, many Americans have continued with the life choices that were made during that difficult time, reevaluating what matters most to them: a work-life balance, ample outdoor space after being confined indoors during quarantine, a community—the list goes on. A recent report from RentHop shares the cheapest places to live as of the end of 2022/beginning of 2023. Unsurprisingly, they’re all cities away from the coasts, but what they do have in common are incredible art scenes, good nightlife, a variety of ways to enjoy the outdoors, and high quality of life. At least five also happen to have the cheapest drinks in the country. Bonus! When considering the next place to move to, these cities will be waiting to welcome you. 

Cheapest places to live in the U.S.

At $700 median rent per month, and a rent cost 15.3 percent of one's income, Albuquerque is the cheapest place to live in America. One of the best things about New Mexico is the sunsets, and this city is no exception. Residents enjoy around 300 days of sunshine and blue skies every year, and the Sandias Mountains to the east turn watermelon pink at dusk. The city sits 5,000ft above sea level, and one of the best ways to take in the scenery is via the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. Round trip adult tickets are $29 for the  15-minute journey as riders ascend to the mountains’ 10,378ft crest, and five dormant volcanoes on the west side round out the magical nature. Albuquerque’s near-perfect weather conditions make it a prime location for hot-air ballooning, and it even holds an international festival each year.

As for free and cheap things to do closer to the ground, the KiMo Theatre has a rich history, with architecture steeped in Pueblo Deco styling, and the programming includes everything from ballets and movie screenings to artist discussions and concerts. Historic Route 66 is also nearby, and on a particular stretch of the old highway, the road sings. Referred to as The Musical Highway and installed in 2014 as part of a partnership between the New Mexico Department of Transportation and the National Geographic Channel, it encourages drivers to go the speed limit. 

Wichita, KS
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Wichita, KS

The denizens here breathe easier just by living here. The air pollution here is 95 percent better than in the rest of the country, hence its "Air Capital of the World" moniker. There are several ways to get active or enjoy the outdoors, including biking one of the more than 100 paths, visiting one of the almost 200 parks, or even stopping by the vibrant food truck scene for cheap eats.

Speaking of food, Wichita gifted the world with White Castle and Pizza Hut, and the latter is immortalized with a free museum. Head over to Wichita State University, and you will find the original hut filled with memorabilia from the brand’s early days. The Keeper of the Plains is one of Wichita's best features, loved by locals and visitors alike, a 44ft tall steel sculpture of an American Indigenous man situated where the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers converge downtown. Created by Wichitan and Native American artist Blackbear Bosin, this artwork is free to enjoy, and several come every evening when a ring of fire surrounds the statue for 15 minutes.


Minneapolis is the most populous city in the state of Minnesota and has its origins as the 19th-century lumber milling and flour milling capital of the world. It forms "Twin Cities" with the neighboring state capital of St. Paul and it's the birthplace of Prince and Bob Dylan and offers an endless slew of local breweries and oh-so-delicious restaurants with several big-name chefs bringing star talent to the Twin Cities. Bisected by the Mississippi River, it's known for its parks and lakes. Minneapolis is also home to many cultural landmarks like the Walker Art Center, a contemporary art museum, and the adjacent Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, famed for Claes Oldenburg's "Spoonbridge and Cherry" sculpture.

According to the RentHop report, the 2022/23 median rent for a studio apartment was $990, a year-on-year rise of just 3.3 percent compared to 2021/22, with a rent cost percentage of income of 16.4 percent. 

The Emerald City is not an entry you'd typically expect to see on a list like this, given it's a hub to so many tech giants that are responsible for ruining the economy. But unlike that other West Coast tech hub, Palo Alto, you don't need to win the Megamillions lottery to afford a one-bedroom apartment. A median rent studio pad here is $1,479 pcm and the rent cost as a percentage of income is 16.7 percent. (For the sake of comparison, in NYC it's 43.9 percent.)

Seattle has it all; museums, iconic buildings, a revolutionary musical history, fantastic restaurants, and some of the best coffee shops in the country. Yes, it rains more often than an English summer, but that's just a handy excuse to nip inside for a shot of culture, caffeine or both. Plus, when the weather is good, those parks are a real thing of beauty.


While Denver seems to get most of the limelight, Colorado Springs is quietly winning. While its median studio rental is at $925, this place has plenty going for it: a strong sense of community, it’s pet-friendly, and staying fit is a priority for many. With endless trails, falls, and near-perfect weather year-round, it’s easy to do. Pikes Peak is the most famous landmark in the area, with the option to summit the 14,000ft by car and make a day of it or take the Broadmoor’s Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway for a slower ride through nature. The only downside is that you only get 40 minutes at the summit before returning to the bottom. A man-made marvel is the Royal Gorge Bridge Park featuring the country’s highest suspension bridge, constructed in 1929. Access to the park is $30, and getting across the bridge can take 5-15 minutes if walking without stopping. Keep your sneakers on and head west of the city to Manitou Cliff Dwellings, comprising ancestral Puebloan ruins dating back to 800 to 1000 years old that first opened to the public in 1907. Guests can explore the ruins for $12 per adult. The museums contain pottery, jewelry, tools, weapons, and other ancient artifacts.

Afterward, while walking around Manitou Springs, taste the water the city is named after. The Native Americans that settled this area believed the healing spirit, Manitou, was in the springs. Today, public water fountains tap into all eight natural springs. Last year, free music returned to the region in the form of Classic Tuesdays with music by members of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the First & Main Concert Series, Jazz in the Garden, Pikes Peak Jazz, and Swing Society’s Jazz in the parks. 

In case you missed it, word got out about how cool Ohio is. At a median studio rent of $849 per month, you’ll have some extra cash to explore what Columbus has to offer. For starters, the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens has the biggest private collection of Chihuly glass in a botanical garden. From January to October, Chihuly Nights takes over. This after-dark programming is included in the $22 admission and allows guests to wander through the gardens to view the glass lit up among the Conservatory’s biomes and plant collection.

Topiary Park is a quirky outdoor downtown excursion that blends art and nature, where you can feel like you’re picnicking in a painting—specifically within Georges Seurat’s iconic A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Be sure to stop by the popular German Village, a historic neighborhood that dates back to the 1800s when German immigrants settled here. There are several German restaurants to check out and follow that up by grabbing a scoop at Jeni’s Ice Cream, a Columbus original.


It’s widely known that Kansas City, Missouri has some of the best barbecue in the country (there are more than 100 barbecue restaurants to choose from) and several great craft breweries, but the midwestern town also has great art. Sometimes referred to as KCMO or KC, Kansas City is home to the world-renowned Nelson Atkins Museum. The almost 90-year-old institution houses 35,000 works, all available to the public for free viewing. Its front and back lawns also happen to be adorned with the world’s largest shuttlecocks. Designed and created by Swedish-born artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, the aluminum and fiberglass pieces were installed in 1994.

Head north to the free Hallmark Visitors Center to see interactive displays and exhibits celebrating the greeting card company’s more than 100 years of history. Keep an eye out for designs on display by Spanish artist Salvador Dalí from collaborations in the late 1940s and 1950s. 

Like many cities on this list, Milwaukee has a great work-life balance, ample access to nature, and great food. Nicknamed "Brew City," you can count on good beer, those famous Wisconsin cheese curds, and festivals. The world’s largest selection of Wisconsin cheese awaits at the Wisconsin Cheese Mart. While the Milwaukee Art Museum has impressive works to gaze upon, the architecture itself is a work of art. Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, famous for the Oculus in New York and City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, built the Quadracci Pavilion on site that includes a pedestrian suspension bridge, a 90ft-high vaulted ceiling, and a moveable sunscreen with a 217ft wingspan that unfolds and folds twice daily.

Another architectural must-visit is the Pabst Museum. The former home of the Pabst Brewery founder Captain Frederick Pabst was completed in 1892 and is a great example of Gilded Age construction. Milwaukee is also known as the city of festivals. The world’s largest musical festival, Summerfest, takes place over two weeks in September. 


El Paso is a top three cheap city to live in and is one of the safest and sunniest in the US. Maybe that's because of all the ghosts? El Paso is also reportedly haunted, which isn't too shocking for a city founded in 1680. Concordia Cemetery holds 60,000 people, and within it lies the Buffalo Soldier Memorial, where at least 40 African-American soldiers from the late 1800s were laid to rest having fought on the frontier. Make a day of it and try the 9-mile Historic Mission Trail named for three missions—Ysleta Mission, Socorro Mission, and San Elizario Chapel—that date back to the 1600s.

El Paso also has an up-and-coming culinary scene, with a fabulous vineyard at its heart. Zin Valle Vineyards opened in the early aughts, 500 years after the first Spanish missionaries established the first vineyard in North America nearby. 

If you're not from California, chances are that Fresno is that place that definitely heard of, but can't remember exactly where it is. And it's very much in the middle of everything, with San Francisco and San Jose just a few hours' drive to the north-west, Modesto and Sacramento a few hours further to the north, Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite National Park a few hours to the north-east and Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea due west. So, you know, it's in a pretty good spot.

It's the fifth-most populous city in California, the most populous inland city in California the third-largest majority-Hispanic city in the United States. A new entry into the top 10, moving up an impressive 15 places since last year, the median rent for a studio apartment in Fresno is $900 and the rent as a percentage of income is 18.6%

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