Finance

Which Cities Have the Lowest Cost of Living in 2022?

Kendra Bean
Kendra Bean23 Sep 2022

The cities with the lowest cost of living in 2022 include Fort Wayne, IN, Wichita Falls, TX, Brownsville, TX, South Bend, IN, and Dayton, OH. This list is based on the respective city’s average rent, cost of health insurance, average income, monthly grocery expenses, gas prices, and basic major medical plans. Living in a city with a low cost can allow for much more flexible budgets and savings for other expenses. 

Which Cities Have the Lowest Cost of Living?

Niche compiled a list ranking the cities in 2022 with the lowest and highest costs of living. Many factors contributed to the company’s ranking of cities, and we broke down five significant categories in the table below.

Average Cost of Living by Category for 5 Cities

City

Median Household Income

Median Rent for 1 Bedroom Per Month

Basic Major Medical Plan

Grocery Price Percentage Compared to National Average

Cost of Regular Gas Per Gallon

Fort Wayne, IN

$51,454

$775

$188

-13%

$3.718

Wichita Falls, TX

$47,335

$700

$153

-9%

$3.252

Brownsville, TX

$40,924

$850

$153

-15%

$2.993

South Bend, IN

$42,657

$1,125

$188

-9%

$3.672

Dayton, OH

$34,457

$650

$161


 

-3%

$3.383

*The Basic Major Medical Plan was based on eHealth’s health insurance quote listed for the cheapest health insurance in the state. Plan prices may vary based on specific zip codes. 

Median Hosehold Income in Cities with the Lowest Cost of Living

The median household income across those five cities ranged from $34,457 to $51,454. The national median household income in 2022 was $67,521, which is well above the median incomes listed for cities with the lowest cost of living. However, it is essential to note that you should compare incomes to the cost of living in that respective city as a higher cost necessitates a higher income.

Rent for a One-Bedroom Apartment

In June of 2022, the median rent cost for a one-bedroom apartment was $1,876, a 23.9% increase from June 2020. The average rent for each of the five cities with the lowest cost of living is significantly lower than the national average.

There are many ways to make your monthly rent more affordable and budget-friendly. Some methods include having clarity in knowing what you want, learning when the right time to negotiate is, and making your offer mutually beneficial for both you and your landlord.

Basic Major Medical Plans

Your health insurance cost can range from $221 to $839 per month, depending on multiple factors. Your insurance plan varies by metal tier and plan type - bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. However, platinum plans are pretty rare in the marketplace. This table lists the average cost of each metal-tier plan with the lowest premium for a 40-year-old in 2022. The 2022 state-specific average costs for bronze, silver, and gold premiums are as follows.

State

2022 Average Lowest-Cost Bronze Premium

2022 Average Lowest-Cost Silver Premium

2022 Average Lowest-Cost Gold Premium

Indiana$316$394$527
Ohio$307$371$441
Texas$306$415$403

Source: Mira

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Monthly Grocery Cost

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that in 2020 Americans spent an average of $4,099 on food from households in the lowest income group. On the other hand, an average of $12,245 was spent on food from households within the highest income grouping. 

Mint, a budget tracker and planner, states that the average cost of food per month for one person ranges from $150 to $300. This range is an average, and your specific monthly expenses will depend upon numerous factors, including your zip code, grocery stores, and the quality of your food purchases. Below is a table outlining Mint’s suggested monthly grocery budget based on your family size.

Suggested Monthly Grocery Budget By Family Size

Family Size

Suggested Monthly Budget

1 person

$251

2 people

$553

3 people

$722

4 people

$892

5 people

$1,060

6 people

$1,230

Source: Mint

Transportation

This category focused primarily on the price of regular gas per gallon, as reported by AAA. However, knowing the walkability score of each city with a low cost of living is essential. 

Walkability scores are based on many factors, including the distance to nearby places and pedestrian friendliness (e.g., crosswalk accessibility). The higher (90-100) the walkability score, the more likely it is that daily errands will not necessitate a car. A lower score (0-24) indicates that you will likely need a car to run errands.

Walkability Scores for Five Cities With a Low-Cost of Living

City

Walkability Score

Fort Wayne, IN

32

Wichita Falls, TX

29

Brownsville, TX

35

South Bend, IN

42

Dayton, OH

45

Cities With The Lowest Cost Of Living Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Consider this additional information when it comes to cities with a low cost of living.

Are People Happier Living in Cities With a Low Cost of Living?

It is important to note that a lower cost of living does not always mean a higher quality of life. There is no correct answer to this question, as some may be happy and others not. Cities with a lower cost of living are usually smaller; others may compromise with a higher cost of living to live in a busier larger city. People choose to live in certain cities over others for personal and financial reasons. You can be happy living in a town with a low cost of living and living in one with a high cost of living.

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How Can I Save More Money in Cities With a Low Cost of Living?

One important first step is to assess how much you are spending monthly and what you spend your money on. Understanding this is crucial to making adjustments and lessening or even cutting unnecessary expenses. Then, you can update your budget and adhere to it. Outlined in this article are some other cost-saving techniques.

What Are the Safest Cities to Live In?

Rocket Mortgage studied the safest cities to live in in 2022. The top five cities were: 1) Glens Falls, NY, 2) Midland, MI, 3) State College, PA, 4) The Villages, FL, and 5) Logan, UT. This study was conducted by factoring in many factors, such as population size, violent crime rate, and property crime rate. Safety is certainly not black and white. Crime rates do not necessarily reflect how safe a city is or how secure you might feel living there. 

Bottom Line

We closely compared the five cities with the lowest cost of living in five categories associated with daily life: household income, rent, and transportation costs. Although a lower cost of living does not always mean a higher quality of life, it does lessen the chance of living paycheck to paycheck. Also, it can allow for more significant savings and budget flexibility for other expenses. 

Whether you live in a city with a low cost or high cost of living, healthcare coverage should always be a top priority. Although many traditional plans are expensive and don't provide high-quality care, there are other options like Mira. For just $45 per month, Mira members get access to low-cost urgent care, discount prescription medications, telehealth, and low-cost lab testing. Sign up today! 

Kendra Bean

Kendra Bean is from Maui, Hawaiʻi. She is currently enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, specializing in Epidemiology. She is passionate about improving health literacy and access to care, specifically in rural areas.

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