The cheapest, BEST places to live for young adults

It’s a dream for many to move out of their city to someplace exciting and new, especially as a young adult—but rising costs across the United States can stop you from making that dream a reality. Luckily, there are still plenty of cities across the United States that are perfect for young adults to enjoy freedom while staying within their budget.

Looking up the “top cheapest cities in the U.S.” is easy, but often, these lists don’t take into account what it’s like to live in the city as a whole. Thankfully, we’re here to help—the 10 cities that we’ve gathered here strike a balance between affordability, opportunity and fun!

Overview: Top 10 Cheapest Places to Live in the U.S. for Young Adults

Below, you’ll find the cheapest places to live for young adults in the United States—including each city’s median annual income, rent, and home price.

Note: Looking at a city’s average rent or income can present a skewed picture of what it’s like to live there, especially for young adults. Average numbers can be heavily influenced by outliers, such as exceptionally high earners. That’s why we utilized median figures for housing and income data—they present a more accurate representation of the typical experiences for individuals in these cities.

Additionally, this curated list of affordable places to live was selected not only for their cost-effectiveness but ranked for additional factors like a youthful demographic, social opportunities, and prospects for careers and entrepreneurship.

City, State% Cheaper than U.S. Average  Median Annual IncomeMedian Rent Price​​​Median Home Price
Columbus, Georgia9%$50,542$1,095$146,000
St. Louis, Missouri13%$48,751$1,200$153,200
Jacksonville, Florida 6%$58,263$1,550$203,400
Chattanooga, Tennessee 7%$50,437$1,500$189,500
Huntsville, Alabama 8%$60,959 $1,400$194,500
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma16%$59,679 $1,246$168,900
Green Bay, Wisconsin 10%$55,221$995$151,000

Top 10 Cheapest Places to Live in the U.S. for Young Adults

It’s time to dive right in to the cheapest and best places to live in the U.S. for young adults!

In addition to the median annual income and median home value statistics in the chart above, we’ve also consolidated information about each city’s population, walk score and living wage.

An area’s walk score is out of 100 and represents the walkability of an area (with a higher score correlating to better walkability). A living wage represents what a full-time worker needs to make per hour to comfortably support themselves and/or their family.

#1: Columbus, Georgia

  • Population: 202,616
  • Walk Score: 25/100
  • Living Wage per Hour, 1 Adult, 0 Children: $15.52

Columbus, Georgia tops our list as the best city for young adults in the United States. An up-and-coming city less than two hours southwest of Atlanta, Columbus is known for its natural beauty, city feel and cheap cost of living. Plus, the beautiful Chattahoochee River that runs through the city will make any outdoor lover happy. Providence Canyon State Park, nicknamed “Georgia’s little Grand Canyon” is less than an hour drive away, and if you’re in the mood for the beach – you can enjoy a day trip to Pensacola, Destin, or Panama City Beach, Florida!

Additionally, many large employers are making Columbus their headquarters, with Aflac, Synovus, and Fort Moore topping the list. The charming city is home to a wealth of interesting museums and arts and science centers. Younger residents of Columbus will enjoy the fun nightlife and top-notch restaurants.

Click here to learn what it’s really like to live in Columbus, Georgia

#2: St. Louis, Missouri

  • Population: 302,787
  • Walk Score: 66/100
  • Living Wage per Hour, 1 Adult, 0 Children: $15.98

St. Louis, Missouri is famous for the Gateway Arch, which is the world’s tallest arch. It’s also the place where the ice cream cone first debuted! Aside from its impressive architecture, the city is known for the third-ever modern Olympic games, the St. Louis Zoo, and The Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Young workers will rejoice at the seven Fortune 500 companies located in St. Louis, including Edward Jones and Emerson Electric, in addition to the Anheuser-Busch brewery. St. Louis is a hub for health sciences and services, with a historical tradition of transportation and logistics.

#3: Jacksonville, Florida

  • Population: 937,690
  • Walk Score: 26/100
  • Living Wage per Hour, 1 Adult, 0 Children: $16.36

Jacksonville, Florida is an amazing destination for people of all ages, and for good reason. The ocean-side city is just south of the Florida-Georgia border and contains plenty of stunning beaches and the largest urban park system in the country

In Jacksonville, you’ll quickly become a beach-lover, art-enjoyer, and maybe even a bit of a food snob. Imagine a warm summer night on a rooftop enjoying the night scene, or a relaxing day at the beach listening to the waves while reading a good book. Whatever you fancy, you’ll find a great home in Jacksonville.

#4: Chattanooga, Tennessee

  • Population: 180,353
  • Walk Score: 29/100
  • Living Wage per Hour, 1 Adult, 0 Children: $15.68

The charming southern town of Chattanooga, Tennessee is a great spot for young adults in the U.S. It’s surrounded by mountains, rivers and hiking trails, and has a great music scene—plus, it’s only a couple of hours from Nashville. You’ll love Chattanooga’s proximity to so many other destinations, including Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama.

There are plenty of fun activities in Chattanooga, like exploring Lookout Mountain, Rock City or the Riverwalk. The food scene is delicious, the nightlife is active, and the outdoor scene will entertain you forever.

#5: Huntsville, Alabama

  • Population: 210,081
  • Walk Score: 24/100
  • Living Wage per Hour, 1 Adult, 0 Children: $15.53

Made famous through space exploration, Huntsville, Alabama (or “Rocket City”) is now a hub for aerospace engineering and space-related activity. The city, which was briefly the capital of Alabama during its early days, is now an excellent place for young adults to live.

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center will keep anyone intrigued in astronomy and space. As a Huntsville resident, multiple farmers markets will keep your kitchen stocked, or you can check out the delicious restaurants in the area if you don’t feel like cooking. The growing population is great news for those looking to invest in a home.

#6: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

  • Population: 673,183
  • Walk Score: 34/100
  • Living Wage per Hour, 1 Adult, 0 Children: $15.86

The capital of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City (often shortened to OKC), was an important stop on Route 66 during the early 20th century. Today, it’s become a great, affordable option for younger residents.

Visit the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, the Oklahoma City Zoo, or the First Americans Museum to learn something new about your new place of residence. The Bricktown Water Taxi is also a great way to explore OKC, as it takes you down the Bricktown Canal while narrating the city’s history and culture.

#7: Green Bay, Wisconsin

  • Population: 187,083
  • Walk Score: 42/100
  • Living Wage per Hour, 1 Adult, 0 Children: $15.66

Yes, it’s the home of the appropriately named Green Bay Packers, who have the most wins of any NFL franchise. It’s also a great place for young adults, with an amazing sports culture, a rich history, and great job opportunities.

It’ll be hard not to become a Packers Fan if you choose to make Green Bay your home – you’ll love gamedays at Lambeau Field. If you’re less of a sports fan, you’ll enjoy views along the Fox River, the National Railroad Museum and multiple theaters and art galleries.

#8: Grand Rapids, Michigan

  • Population: 197,858
  • Walk Score: 56/100
  • Living Wage per Hour, 1 Adult, 0 Children: $16.73

As one of the fastest-growing cities in the Midwest, Grand Rapids, Michigan offers a plethora of opportunities for young adults. The city is home to many employers and has an interesting history as a trading post and furniture capital. Some of the most common employers in Grand Rapids include Meijer, Gordon Food Service and Spectrum Health.

If you’re a beer enthusiast, you’ll love “Beer City.” You can grab a Beer City Passport to explore all of the ale that Grand Rapids has to offer. Other attractions include Flights of Flavor, which are unique food and/or drink pairings, and winter activities including skiing and ice skating.

#9: Cleveland, Ohio

  • Population: 374,861
  • Walk Score: 57/100
  • Living Wage per Hour, 1 Adult, 0 Children: $15.33

Cleveland, Ohio is an incredibly affordable city that is also great for entrepreneurs.  Cleveland saw rapid growth during the Civil War as a top manufacturing city. Today, the city continues to be a hot spot for industry and business.

Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to get your rock on, or enjoy boating on Lake Erie, the fourth-biggest lake in the United States. You can have delicious food from the West Side Market and explore A Christmas Story House for a holiday-themed outing.

#10: Charleston, South Carolina

  • Population: 147,928
  • Walk Score: 40/100
  • Living Wage per Hour, 1 Adult, 0 Children: $19.22

Charleston, South Carolina has a rich history and was founded back in 1670. It is a charming town with a beautiful culture and delicious southern cuisine, well known for its picturesque cobblestone streets, palm trees and pastel houses.

Not only is Charleston minutes from the beach, but it also has seen extraordinary job growth in the past few years.

Why live in Columbus, Georgia?

If you’re looking for a more affordable place to live, you’re not alone. In fact, thousands of Americans are relocating so they can make their dollars stretch further—but the question is, how do you decide on which of these “cheapest places” to move to?

Ultimately, it comes down to what you’re looking for in your new home. If you’re looking for outdoor adventures or opportunities to elevate your career (without the long commutes that come with a bigger, more expensive city), Columbus, Georgia might be right for you.

Columbus is one of the cheapest places to live in the United States—and it’s the second biggest city in Georgia. That means you get the perks of living in a larger city, like a thriving job market, while enjoying a strong sense of community and a more affordable cost of living.

Connect with us

If you’re ready to learn more about living in Columbus, feel free to contact us here. Our team is here to help!