Special Report

Cheapest Cities Where Everyone Wants to Live Right Now

Each year, tens of millions of Americans move to a new area. Historically, a new job or job transfer has accounted for about one in every 10 of those moves, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. However, as remote work becomes an option for a growing number of workers, more Americans are free to prioritize other factors when choosing a place to live — and one of them is cost of living. 

A recent survey from the Pew Research Center found that before the pandemic, only 20% of Americans who could work remotely did so. During the pandemic, that figure surged to over 70% — and many of those workers may not be required to return to the office. 

As fewer workers are tethered to a physical office, places like New York City and Silicon Valley — employment hubs with nation-leading costs of living — are reporting net population declines. Meanwhile, many cities where the cost of living is relatively low have grown considerably. Here is a look at where people from New York are moving to the most

Using data from Redfin, a national real estate brokerage, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, 24/7 Wall St. identified the cheapest cities where everyone wants to live. Rankings are based on net migration at the metro area level from July 2020 to April 2021. Only metro areas with a lower than average cost of living were considered. 

We also reviewed Redfin data on where the majority of online searches for real estate in the cities on this list originate from. Often, they are from a different metro area in the same state or a nearby state. However, New York and Los Angeles alone account for nearly half of all non-local searches.

It is important to note that while cost of living is an important factor in deciding where to live for many Americans, it is often only one of many. Indeed, just as some of the most expensive U.S. cities are reporting a net migration decline, so too are many of the least expensive metro areas — including McAllen, Texas, and Youngstown, Ohio. Here is a look at the least expensive metro area to buy a home in every state.

Click here to see the cheapest cities where everyone wants to live right now
Click here to read our detailed methodology