How to Find Safe, Inexpensive Places to Live

Wichita, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas is one of the top cities with affordable rent. gnagel / Getty Images

Moving to a more affordable place often makes a lot of sense, but before you make the big move to a new city or other area, how do you figure out which places are both cheap and are right for you? Not surprisingly, the Internet is the best place to start. There are many free online resources that can help you identify specific towns (in both the U.S. and abroad), analyzing house values, cost of living, job markets, and other criteria. Some rescources can also help you look for a job in your new city.

Salary Calculators

For many people, the first step in the quest to find the most affordable and suitable place to live is to calculate how far their current salary would take them in the new city. While salaries may change, it's good to know approximately how much you might earn in the new location and how much you might need to cover expenses.

  • Salary.com provides the salary range for specific careers in any U.S. location, along with other hiring considerations, like education levels and benefits. It can even estimate your paycheck.
  • Salary Expert: Salary Expert is a great tool for anyone considering a move to another country. Among other features, it can tell you what your profession is worth in a foreign country as well as in the U.S. With a wide range of cities, this tool provides information for most of the world.

Cost of Living

Cost of living calculators use your current salary to determine how much you would need to earn in the new city or town in order to maintain your current lifestyle.

  • BestPlaces has a helpful cost of living comparison calculator that looks at necessities such as food, housing, transportation, and health.
  • CNN Money has a similar tool to BestPlaces but without the same level of detail. Also, this tool is limited to a few cities in each state. It is worth a peek just to compare its results to those of the BestPlaces tool.

Finding the Most Affordable Places to Live

Kiplinger, NBC News, and other publishers typically provide articles on the most affordable housing markets in the U.S., factoring in the median household income relative to costs for essentials like housing, utilities, transportation, and food. These annully updated reports can give you some background information for starting your search using tother online sources.

Livability lists its top 10 most affordable cities in the U.S. each year, providing some great information for families who are looking for a cheaper yet very livable place to move to. The focus is on small-to-medium sized cities chosen for criteria such as community, amenities, growth, diversity, education, health care, resident engagement, transportation, housing, and economy.

U.S. News and World Report's Real Estate section publishes an updated report on the best affordable places to live in the U.S. The most current report is based on reponses from over 2,000 U.S. residents and what they consider the most important criteria for what makes a city affordable. Each area is ranked in part by the portion of income that goes to housing, utilities, and taxes.