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The 10 Most Affordable Cities

Go ahead and guess which is the most affordable large city in the United States.

| BY Kent McDill

A number of factors go into deciding where you are going to live. The cost of living in any one place plays a huge role.

Forbes magazine considered numerous factors as it produced its latest Most Affordable Cities list. Starting with the nations’ top 100 metropolitan areas with populations of 600,000 or more, it also looked at housing affordability, cost of food, utilities, gas, transportation, medical expenses and other daily expenses in each area.

The sources for the information were the Housing Opportunity Index from the National Association of Home Builders, and the Best Places data from Sperling.

The top 20 Most Affordable Cities did seem to gather around certain geographical areas. The state of Ohio had three of the top 11 (there was a tie for 10th) while Tennessee had two. In fact, the top 11 all ranged east to west from Dayton, Ohio to Oklahoma City with the exception of Buffalo, N.Y., which came in third overall.

The second 10 centered in Texas (three cities) and Michigan (with two). In the top 20, Ohio led the nation with four cities (No. 5 Cincinnati, No. 8 Dayton, No. 10 Columbus and No. 15 Akron).

Here are the top 10, starting with the winner, which is:

No. 1 Birmingham, Ala. – Both health care and transportation are well below the national average (16.6 and 13.2 percent, respectively.   

No. 2 Knoxville, Tenn. – Transportation costs are 14.7 percent below the national average, and 79 percent of all housing is affordable for the median family income of $60,500.

No. 3 Buffalo - Health care is 11.8 percent below the national average in Buffalo, and 81.8 percent of the housing is within the range of the median family income of $63,900.

No. 4 Oklahoma City – Both groceries and utilities are much less expensive than the national average (10.1 percent below in both cases).

No. 5 Cincinnati – Covering the area where three stages (Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana) converge, 84 percent of the housing is affordable at the median family income of $68,500.

No. 6 Memphis – Utilities are almost 13 percent below the national average, and the median home sales price is just $140,000.

No. 7 St. Louis – Almost 86 percent of the housing is affordable to a family with the median income of $67,100. Like Memphis, the median home sales price is $140,000.

No. 8 Dayton, Ohio – The median sales price in 2014 for a home in the Dayton area was just $104,000. Health care costs in Dayton are 11.8 percent below the national average.

No. 9 Indianapolis – Although Indianapolis has a huge range in housing prices, the median is still only $134,000.

No. 10 (tie) Columbus, Ohio and Detroit.


About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.