Special Report

Cheapest Cities Where Everyone Wants to Live Right Now

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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

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

30. St. Louis, MO-IL
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +1,973 people (0.1% of population)
> Cost of living: 9.9% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Denver-Aurora, CO (12.1% of all searches)
> Median home value: $184,600
> Median household income: $66,417

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

29. Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +2,124 people (0.2% of population)
> Cost of living: 8.0% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, MI (41.6% of all searches)
> Median home value: $199,400
> Median household income: $65,739

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

28. Greenville-Anderson, SC
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +2,498 people (0.3% of population)
> Cost of living: 9.3% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA (15.1% of all searches)
> Median home value: $186,800
> Median household income: $58,621

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

27. Asheville, NC
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +2,983 people (0.6% of population)
> Cost of living: 6.5% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA (7.3% of all searches)
> Median home value: $248,500
> Median household income: $57,428

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Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

26. Knoxville, TN
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +2,984 people (0.3% of population)
> Cost of living: 11.6% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA (11.5% of all searches)
> Median home value: $186,900
> Median household income: $56,623

Source: f11photo / Getty Images

25. New Orleans-Metairie, LA
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +3,106 people (0.2% of population)
> Cost of living: 6.9% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA (8.2% of all searches)
> Median home value: $211,900
> Median household income: $55,710

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Source: TriggerPhoto / Getty Images

24. Kansas City, MO-KS
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +3,215 people (0.1% of population)
> Cost of living: 7.2% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Denver-Aurora, CO (28.5% of all searches)
> Median home value: $209,100
> Median household income: $70,215

Source: photoquest7 / Getty Images

23. Reno, NV
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +3,329 people (0.7% of population)
> Cost of living: 1.6% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA (43.8% of all searches)
> Median home value: $383,000
> Median household income: $72,132

Source: Asaavedra32 / Wikimedia Commons

22. Albuquerque, NM
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +3,385 people (0.4% of population)
> Cost of living: 6.4% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Denver-Aurora, CO (15.4% of all searches)
> Median home value: $206,000
> Median household income: $58,512

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Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

21. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +4,314 people (0.8% of population)
> Cost of living: 7.8% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA (19.9% of all searches)
> Median home value: $212,100
> Median household income: $56,977

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

20. Cleveland-Elyria, OH
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +4,457 people (0.2% of population)
> Cost of living: 10.1% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, MI (18.8% of all searches)
> Median home value: $161,400
> Median household income: $57,228

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19. Salt Lake City, UT
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +4,798 people (0.4% of population)
> Cost of living: 1.4% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA (20.8% of all searches)
> Median home value: $356,400
> Median household income: $80,196

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

18. Charleston-North Charleston, SC
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +4,964 people (0.6% of population)
> Cost of living: 2.9% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA (15.7% of all searches)
> Median home value: $266,600
> Median household income: $70,505

Source: Erhoman / Getty Images

17. Wenatchee, WA
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +5,080 people (4.2% of population)
> Cost of living: 0.5% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Seattle-Tacoma, WA (78.1% of all searches)
> Median home value: $327,500
> Median household income: $60,532

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Source: Oliver Kawwass / Getty Images

16. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +5,248 people (0.3% of population)
> Cost of living: 3.6% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA (50.7% of all searches)
> Median home value: $255,900
> Median household income: $69,329

Source: LPETTET / Getty Images

15. Bakersfield, CA
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +5,267 people (0.6% of population)
> Cost of living: 3.0% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA (72.5% of all searches)
> Median home value: $235,800
> Median household income: $53,067

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

14. Salisbury, MD-DE
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +5,548 people (1.3% of population)
> Cost of living: 10.0% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA (67.9% of all searches)
> Median home value: $244,400
> Median household income: $61,283

Source: Joecho-16 / Getty Images

13. Boise City, ID
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +6,424 people (0.8% of population)
> Cost of living: 6.4% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA (19.7% of all searches)
> Median home value: $293,700
> Median household income: $66,466

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

12. Jacksonville, FL
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +8,207 people (0.5% of population)
> Cost of living: 4.6% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA (10.9% of all searches)
> Median home value: $230,100
> Median household income: $65,880

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Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

11. Raleigh-Cary, NC
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +10,377 people (0.7% of population)
> Cost of living: 3.9% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA (19.2% of all searches)
> Median home value: $285,600
> Median household income: $80,096

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

10. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +11,086 people (0.4% of population)
> Cost of living: 6.7% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Houston-The Woodlands, TX (14.5% of all searches)
> Median home value: $197,600
> Median household income: $62,355

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Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

9. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +11,806 people (0.4% of population)
> Cost of living: 5.6% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA (22.9% of all searches)
> Median home value: $233,900
> Median household income: $66,399

Source: LUNAMARINA / Getty Images

8. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +15,499 people (0.6% of population)
> Cost of living: 1.0% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA (14.9% of all searches)
> Median home value: $255,500
> Median household income: $61,876

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

7. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +15,786 people (0.8% of population)
> Cost of living: 5.6% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA (19.1% of all searches)
> Median home value: $285,100
> Median household income: $70,262

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Source: derejeb / Getty Images

6. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +17,612 people (2.2% of population)
> Cost of living: 2.3% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Chicago-Naperville, IL-IN-WI (16.7% of all searches)
> Median home value: $244,700
> Median household income: $62,240

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

5. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +20,523 people (0.6% of population)
> Cost of living: 1.2% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Orlando-Lakeland-Deltona, FL (13.8% of all searches)
> Median home value: $224,300
> Median household income: $57,906

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Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

4. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +24,381 people (0.4% of population)
> Cost of living: 2.1% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA (27.1% of all searches)
> Median home value: $247,200
> Median household income: $71,742

Source: RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / Getty Images

3. Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +28,952 people (1.3% of population)
> Cost of living: 0.7% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA (19.7% of all searches)
> Median home value: $318,400
> Median household income: $80,954

Source: f11photo / Getty Images

2. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +31,326 people (1.4% of population)
> Cost of living: 3.1% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA (37.7% of all searches)
> Median home value: $313,100
> Median household income: $62,107

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Source: JacobH / Getty Images

1. Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ
> Net inflow, July 2020 – April 2021: +33,255 people (0.7% of population)
> Cost of living: 1.3% less than nat’l avg.
> Top area people are searching online from: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA (24.4% of all searches)
> Median home value: $283,500
> Median household income: $67,896

Methodology

To identify America’s cheapest cities where everyone wants to live, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed cost of living, housing search activity, and population growth for 112 U.S. metro areas. We ranked cities based on the net inflow of new residents from July 2020 to April 2021 based on data from Redfin.com, a national real estate brokerage. We also considered incoming searches relative to outgoing searches for homes in each metro area among prospective buyers on Redfin.

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 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 2019. Data on median household income and median home value came from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and are for 2019.

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