16 Cities in the U.S. That Have a High Quality of Life and Won’t Break the Bank

Danny Newman

Louisville, KY

In a world where 70% of Americans feel stressed about their financial situation, it’s no surprise that affordability is a major factor when choosing where to live. Yet money isn’t everything. Whether you’re moving as a family, a couple, or an individual, the quality of life there is also paramount. 

So where can you settle that strikes a balance between budget and desirability? Where the cost of living won’t break the bank, and you can feel safe and happy at home? Today, we’re revealing 16 cities in the United States that offer the best of both worlds. 

1. Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky
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Louisville is a city of 624,000 people on the Ohio River in northern Kentucky, right along the Indiana border. It's famous for bourbon, the Kentucky Derby horse race every May, and an extensive park system that's a real treasure trove for outdoor lovers.

Louisville also appeals from a financial standpoint. Its cost of living is lower than the national average, and the price of a typical home is under $240,000.

2. Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston, West Virginia
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West Virginia’s largest city is one of the cheapest places to live in the country. The cost of living is 14% less than the national average, and a typical home sells for under $150,000.

Regarding liveability, Charleston boasts historic landmarks, such as the Capitol Building, many cultural attractions, including the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and easy access to nature.

3. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City
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Southern hospitality meets budget-friendliness in Oklahoma City. The cost of living is 15% less than the national average, which is impressive for such a big place. Likewise, with typical homes costing approximately $200,000, getting on the property ladder should feel more feasible.

While underfunded public schools and high taxes take the shine off, Oklahoma City remains an excellent choice for anyone seeking big city amenities without breaking the bank.

4. Rockford, Illinois

Rockford, Illinois
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Nicknamed “Forest City” or the “City of Gardens,” this metropolis of 146,000 people in Winnebago County has 7,000 acres of parkland, a riverside trail, and beautiful public gardens. There’s culture, too, with top museums like the Burpee Museum of Natural History.

The best part? According to Zillow, the average cost of a home is under $150,000. To set that in perspective, Rockford’s 90 minutes away from Chicago, where you’d pay over $140,000 extra.

5. Hickory, North Carolina

Located roughly an hour’s drive east of Asheville in the foothills of the famed Blue Ridge Mountains, Hickory offers a beautiful balance between outdoor pursuits and modern city life.

As for affordability, the average home costs just over $280,000, which is significantly cheaper than the national average. All the signs suggest Hickory’s set for growth, so now would be a good time to move. 

6. Knoxville, Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee
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Knoxville will be ideal if you like hot weather as much as affordable living. Although its summers are scorching, the city has charm and history, a thriving cultural scene, and beautiful scenery in the Great Smoky Mountains.

There are no income, estate, or inheritance taxes to pay in Tennessee, and property taxes rank among the lowest in America. An average Knoxville home currently sets you back $350,000.

7. Dayton, Ohio

Dayton, Ohio
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Dayton is located on the Great Miami River and is a city of 136,000 people in Montgomery County. As the hometown of the Wright brothers, there’s a strong connection to aviation and first-rate museums that celebrate it, including the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

As do the budget-friendly homes, parks, over 340 miles of paved trails, and endless river-based activities add to the city’s appeal. Right now, typical properties cost $143,000

8. Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas
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Located on the banks of the Arkansas River, Little Rock is Arkansas’ state capital and biggest city. The birthplace of cheese dip (yes, you read that correctly!) is a historic, vibrant, and welcoming place close to the magical Ozark Mountains.

Its highlights include the bustling River Market District, the Clinton Presidential Center, and the local brewery scene. With average prices sitting at $209,000, Little Rock’s also notoriously affordable.

9. Huntsville, Alabama

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Over 40,000 people moved to Huntsville since 2010, which is a clear sign of the city’s appeal. Thankfully, typical properties remain reasonably priced at $282,000, and the cost of living is 8% below average.

Huntsville has close connections to NASA, which has its Marshall Space Flight Center based here. The city itself is thriving. Expect new developments, breweries, restaurants, museums, and the vibrant Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment center.

10. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
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Steel City fell on hard times when deindustrialization struck, and the steel mills shut in the late 20th century. Thankfully, Pittsburgh has undergone a renaissance, turning it into a cultural powerhouse with history, green spaces, a lively downtown area, and ample jobs for young professionals.

Combine those urban perks with an average home value of $227,000, and there’s a lot to celebrate about Pittsburgh.

11. Spartanburg, South Carolina

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Spartanburg’s 38,000 residents enjoy abundant outdoor opportunities thanks to the city’s location in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The downtown area is relaxed, pet and pedestrian-friendly, and has plenty of restaurants and breweries to enjoy.

A typical home sets you back less than $220,000, and the cost of living is 8% lower than the national average.

12. Amarillo, Texas

Palo Duro Canyon State Park
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Fancy yourself a cowboy? You’ll love Amarillo. This Lone Star State city is famous for cattle production, ranching, and the Big Texan Steak Ranch. There’s much more to it, though. A vibrant downtown area, the Palo Duro Canyon State Park and its location on Route 66 help make Amarillo somewhere everyone can enjoy.

Prices are appealing here. Amarillo’s cost of living is 15% lower than the U.S. average, and a home costs less than $200,000

13. Kokomo, Indiana

Kokomo, Indiana
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Welcome to Howard County's county seat, where approximately 60,000 residents enjoy a cost of living 23% lower than the U.S. average and 8.2% lower than Indiana’s average.

A typical home is $157,000, making Kokomo considerably more affordable than most other places in America. Museums, parks, historic landmarks, and the Kokomo Speedway add to the city’s appeal.

14. Youngstown, Ohio

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Located midway between New York and Chicago, Youngstown is another historic Rust Belt city that’s made a comeback. Expect a bustling downtown area full of bars, restaurants, shops, and museums, all of which are surrounded by scenic farmland.

In terms of affordability, Youngstown has been voted America’s cheapest place to retire. The value of an average Youngstown home on Zillow right now is a remarkably low $55,818.

15. Huntington, West Virginia

Huntington, West Virginia
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Its population might be declining, but Huntington’s a city on the rise. Located on the Ohio River, expect a close-knit community with exciting plans for the future and abundant outdoor activities nearby.

Huntington’s highlights include one of West Virginia’s oldest amusement parks (Camden Amusement Park), green spaces, museums, and the Pullman Square shopping and entertainment center. The icing on Jewel City’s cake? A typical home costs $120,000.

16. Brownsville, Texas

Brownsville, Texas
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Here’s another Texan city that blends attractive prices with a high quality of life. Located right on the Mexican border on the western Gulf Coast, Brownsville is known for its subtropical climate and Hispanic roots.

The food, wildlife, nearby beaches, outdoor opportunities, history, and endless festivities make Brownsville a great place to live. The current average home value in Brownsville is $184,000.

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South Beach, Miami
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Cape Hatteras
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