Looking to Relocate? The 20 Most Affordable US Cities for Working Adults

Summer Aerial View of Sioux Falls, The largest City in the State of South Dakota
Jacob Boomsma/ iStock

If you’ve been on the hunt for a more affordable place to live, you’re in good company: Two-thirds of Americans say it’s difficult to find affordable housing in their area. And as of October, home affordability was “at its worst level since at least 1989,” CNBC reported. Still, some cities are managing to check the boxes when it comes to more accessible price points. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look. 

To help working adults navigate rising costs, Empower — a financial services company — released a list of the 20 most affordable U.S. cities for working adults (and also the most affordable cities for retirees). The rankings, released in the fall, were based on home prices, average income, cost of living, and employment rates across 113 cities.

Of the cities highlighted, some are college towns, others are state capitals, but nearly all of them are communities within the South and the Midwest. So whether you’re looking for a change of scenery or a reminder that not wildly expensive options are out there, here’s Empower’s list of the 20 most affordable cities for working adults in the U.S

10. McAllen, Texas
Population: 144,579

McAllen, Texas, is a bustling city at the southernmost tip of Texas. With plenty of parks, restaurants, and local attractions — including the largest single-story library in the country and the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge — there’s a lot to explore. McAllen-area residents also spend less than the national median sale price on home purchases, along with expenses like food, transportation, and health care, according to U.S. News

9. Omaha, Nebraska
Population: 485,153

An increasingly popular city, Omaha, Nebraska, stands out for its affordability, strong job market, and natural beauty, according to Redfin. Located about an hour northeast of capital city Lincoln, Omaha is also home to a world-renowned zoo, a vibrant Old Market district, and many art-centered attractions

8. Anchorage, Alaska
Population: 287,145

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Anchorage, Alaska, is known for being a haven for adventure and natural beauty. From the trails and wildlife to the glaciers and majestic mountains, there’s no shortage of awe-inspiring places to admire. Though it’s not part of the contiguous U.S., Anchorage offers the urban amenities you’d expect in any city, like a range of breweries, restaurants, and charming boutiques for shopping small. Best of both worlds! 

7.  Lincoln, Nebraska
Population: 292,627

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Another affordable city in Nebraska, Lincoln is the state’s capital and a steadily growing college town. Although Omaha has more people and may be more well known, Lincoln has its own distinct personality and charm. There are plenty of attractions, restaurants, shops, hotels, and parks for residents to get out and about — and just outside of the city, you’ll find seemingly endless (and very serene) cornfields

6. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 
Population: 694,800

Sean Pavone/ iStock

With a thriving arts scene, range of restaurants, and tons of trails, it’s easy to see how residents stay active and busy in Oklahoma City. The city is also known for its affordable housing options and low cost of living, rounding out the many reasons the area is consistently growing

5. Des Moines, Iowa
Population: 211,034

If you’re looking for an affordable city with a beautiful downtown area, a famous state fair, arts scene, and vibrant farmers market, Des Moines may be just the spot for you. Nestled in the middle of Iowa, the city is giving people many reasons to not just visit but stay. According to 2020 population estimates, Des Moines is growing faster than any other major Midwest metro, including Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis. 

4. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Population: 455,618

With a 3-mile-long boardwalk and nearly half a million residents, Virginia Beach is the largest city by population in the state, so it’s no surprise it’s filled with fun (and budget-friendly) activities. You can spend time enjoying the 38 miles of beaches or exploring the many community parks, all the while admiring the many public murals and scoping out the many local ice cream shops

3. Wichita, Kansas
Population: 396,192

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For those interested in a mix of quirky, affordable, and family-friendly activities, Wichita has a lot to offer. In addition to lower housing and rental rates, residents can enjoy dozens of parks and museums (we especially love Frank Lloyd Wright’s Allen House) and the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas River, which features the 44-foot sculpture Keeper of the Plains. 

2. Springfield, Illinois
Population: 113,273

In second place, Springfield is known as being a dense, suburban area with a good mix of things to do, top-rated public schools, and shorter commutes. As far as affordability, the median home value is nearly half the national average. The area is also filled with museums and historical sites — notably, the longtime home of President Abraham Lincoln

1. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Population: 202,078

Jacob Boomsma/ iStock

Earning the top spot on Empower’s list, Sioux Falls is South Dakota’s largest city by population and described as a place where “small town spirit meets big city benefits.” There’s affordable housing and a thriving job market, along with plenty of walking paths, hikes, and bike trails. Added bonus: The city was also recently named one of the happiest cities in the U.S. Nice work, Sioux Falls! 

Curious to see which other cities made the list? Below are the spots ranked 11-20: 

11. Indianapolis, Indiana
12. Lexington, Kentucky
13. Lubbock, Texas
14. Columbia, Missouri
15. Clarksville, Tennessee
16. Peoria, Illinois 
17. Charlotte, North Carolina
18. Kansas City, Missouri
19. Fayetteville, Arkansas
20. Huntsville, Alabama

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