To identify America’s cheapest cities where everyone wants to live, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed cost of living, housing affordability, and population growth from migration for 110 U.S. metro areas. We ranked cities based on the net incoming searches relative to outgoing searches for homes in each metro area among prospective buyers on Redfin.com, a national real estate brokerage, during the first three quarters of 2020 (January through September) as a percentage of the 2019 population. Population data came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population and Housing Unit Estimates program. Redfin’s net population inflow data is based on search activity among the site’s over 2 million users.
We only considered cities where the housing affordability ratio — the ratio of median home value to median household income — is less than the average across all metro areas of 4.25, and where the regional price parity — or cost of living — is below the national figure. Data on regional price parity is from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and is for 2018. Data on median household income and median home value came from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and are for 2019.