The Cheapest Way To Live: Best Tips For 2021

Woman counting money for the cheapest way to live

Are you looking for the cheapest way to live?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average individual income in 2019 was a little over $34k.  This means that most Americans have to find ways to keep expenses low if they want to stay out of debt and save for retirement.

If you’re feeling the pinch of living paycheck to paycheck, I have good news for you. There are steps you can take to maximize your savings and achieve your financial goals, even if you’re feeling overwhelmed with your current money situation.

In this post, I will explain some of the cheapest ways to live so you can get some breathing room with your finances. Some of these suggestions are a bit radical, so consider them temporary solutions. However, if you’re committed to getting out of a deep debt hole and building up savings so you can retire comfortably on time, you might be willing to take drastic measures.

Typically, housing takes the biggest bite out of a monthly budget. So, if you can find cheaper alternatives, then you could potentially save considerably more than you’re able to now.

If you just can’t bring yourself to uproot, then cutting your monthly expenses can help immensely. This will take some sacrifice on your part, but it’s worth it. Just know that if you’re not willing to find lower-cost housing, you’re probably losing money.

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Finding the cheapest way to live

Living on your own can be very expensive, as well as financially stressful. Sharing the bills with another income will save you a lot of money, but what if you don’t want a roommate?

If you’re single with no dependents, you’ll have more options. There are low-cost housing alternatives that will work for one person, but simply aren’t appropriate for children or elderly parents.

As a parent still supporting your kids, you can still find cheaper ways to live. However, your decisions will affect more than just yourself (e.g., moving will mean new schools and friends for the kiddos).

In either circumstance, whether single or not, there are three important decisions you can make to lower your housing costs and find the cheapest way to live.

#1:  Downsize

If you’re struggling to pay the mortgage for that 4-bedroom, 3-car garage, consider downsizing your home to lower your monthly expenses.  Moving into a smaller home could save you on housing costs as well as utility bills and homeowner’s insurance.

Of course, this means selling (or renting out) your current home, so this decision will depend a lot on the current state of the real estate market.  Check your home’s current market value and talk to a professional realtor to see if this would be a profitable move.

If the rates are low and you have significant equity in your home, you could slash your housing bill by hundreds every month!

#2:  Move to a lower cost of living area

This is a decision that many people don’t consider. But, moving to a lower-cost area could make a huge impact on your efforts to find cheaper ways to live. This is especially true if you currently live in an expensive neighborhood.

This strategy is very effective if you can keep your current salary, but your choices might be limited. If you can work remotely, you’ll be able to consider many more options.

If your only choice is to accept a lower income (which is typical if you’re moving somewhere with a lower cost of living), then the move might not be worth it.

And, keep in mind that a lower cost of living area isn’t only determined by housing costs. Do the research to determine expenses like income, property taxes, and common consumer goods. You don’t want to make a major move just to find out your taxes will be higher.

#3:  Find a cheaper housing option

Owning your own home might be the American way, but keep your mind open to other housing alternatives.  For example, living in an RV could be much more cost effective. You would drastically cut your utility bills, insurance premiums, and cut out lawn care altogether.

You’ll need to decide for yourself what you’re willing to accept for your living conditions. As you consider the various possibilities available to you, and the ones I list below, try to stay open-minded. Paying a mortgage isn’t your only option!

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Where are the cheapest ways to live: low-cost housing

As I mentioned before, one of the best ways to cut expenses is to lower your housing costs. This could mean downsizing, moving to another location, or finding lower-cost housing alternatives.

In this section, I’ll explain various options you have for each circumstance. Not every one of these will be suitable for you, and some you will likely disregard immediately.  It’s important to align any option you consider with your goals and priorities.

You may find a possibility you never even considered.  Keep in mind that whatever changes you decide to make, how long you keep them is up to you. You could choose to make some serious sacrifices for one year or five years, depending on your situation.

Specify your financial goals and write them down.  Keep them in front of you, so you’ll stay mindful of what you’re sacrificing for. Create a timeline so you can keep your focus on that light at the end of the tunnel. Remember that the sacrifices you make today will create a brighter and more secure future for you.

Now let’s get into finding the cheapest way to live with these 17 low-cost housing alternatives.

1. Live in a condo or apartment

If the majority of your income is covering a high mortgage payment, one of the most practical ways to downsize is by moving into a condominium or one-bedroom apartment.

Not only will the new mortgage or rental payment be considerably less, you will save a ton on utilities, maintenance, insurance, and taxes.

2. Live in a housing cooperative (“co-op”)

A co-op is a multi-resident housing property that is actually a corporation, where each tenant has a financial interest in the building as a whole, rather than just an individual unit. In other words, you are a shareholder of the co-op and don’t own your own unit.

Overall, co-ops can be less expensive to purchase than a traditional condo. However, there are additional restrictions and responsibilities placed on co-op shareholders that you may not be willing to take on.

Co-operative units are not as common as condos, and some may restrict you from selling your shares in the public market. But, if you can find the cash for the larger down payment, becoming a shareholder in a co-op can save you thousands on housing costs.

3. Live in a duplex

If you want to cut housing costs but still live in a house, consider a duplex. The inside of a duplex looks and feels like a standalone property, but is actually two homes connected (sharing a common wall) as one unit. Because you are living in only one half of the property, your mortgage or monthly rent is much lower.

With a duplex, you also have opportunities to generate extra income. If you buy a whole duplex, you can rent out one side while you live in the other. Buying under favorable conditions (buyer’s market, low rates, etc.) could potentially drive down your monthly housing expense even more after applying your tenant’s rent to your mortgage. Of course, you would need to be willing to take on the role as property manager as well.

This savvy financial move can also lower your annual income taxes, since you can deduct half the expenses of the property as a rental.

4. Live in a mobile home

You’ve probably seen mobile home parks as you drive around the neighborhoods in your area. Mobile homes – otherwise known as “manufactured” homes – are prefabricated housing units that are built in factories, and considerably less than buying a traditional house built on a foundation.

Today’s mobile homes have improved greatly in the past couple of decades. They’re much more customizable, with tons of options, floor plans, and deluxe upgrades.

They are smaller than a house, and are often found in communities created just for mobile homes. If you live in one of these communities, your yard will be very small (if anything!). Because of the smaller footprint, you can buy a mobile home for a fraction of the cost of a regular house.

In 2020, the average sale price of a new manufactured home was $88,200, while the median sale price of a new house was $325,500. That’s about one fourth of the cost!

5. Buy a Tiny Home

If you’re considering downsizing, building a Tiny Home could be a viable option for you.

As the name sounds, a Tiny Home is a very small house – generally under 600 square feet – that can be moved. Because of their small size, they can typically be purchased and built for much less than a regular-sized home on a foundation.

But, just like a regular home, you’ll need property to put your Tiny Home on. Not all residential property is zoned for these unique units, so your options will be limited.

If you cut your living space by 75%, keep in mind you will need to get rid of most of your stuff, just keeping the essentials.

The price of a Tiny Home is comparable to a mobile home (#4 above), and you can save thousands a year on housing costs if you decide to invest in one.

6. Buy a fixer-upper

If you’re handy with home improvements, buying a renovation project might be a good option for you to live cheaply. Depending on how much work needs to be done, you can buy a fixer-upper at a drastically reduced price. Then, after you’ve made some upgrades to it, sell it at a huge profit.

Your mortgage will be lower for as long as you need to fix up the home. Once you add substantial equity to the property, you can decide to live there permanently (and keep the low mortgage), or sell it and use your profits for your next home.

There are some who actually make this their livelihood. They’re called “house-flippers”, buying homes at a steep discount, fixing them up, then selling them at a profit.  It’s a lot of work, but it has the potential to keep your housing costs way down.

7. Rent an efficiency apartment

If you want to drastically cut housing costs but still want your own space, consider renting an efficiency apartment (also known as a “studio”). These housing units cost less than a traditional apartment because everything – except the bathroom – is in one room. So, your bed, couch, and kitchen area are all in one space.

One way to save even more is to keep your eyes peeled for move-in specials. Many complexes will occasionally offer one month’s free rent, or waive application fees. These deals will make your average rental cost even lower.

In addition, look for units that include access to a gym, pool, barbecue area, and other typical apartment amenities.

Of course, studio apartments don’t offer much space, so if you have a lot of stuff, you’ll need to get rid of it or store it somewhere else.

Another way to save housing costs with an efficiency apartment is by building one onto your current home. Many people will build one over their garage and then rent it out. Because of the small space, you could easily get a loan for the building costs, and the rent you charge would cover the payments as well as provide you with a nice profit!

8. Rent a guest house

Guest houses are typically detached spaces from the main house, and take up less than 1,000 square feet. If the homeowner rarely uses his guest house, he might be willing to rent it to you for a lower cost than a regular apartment.

You would have less room than a house all to yourself, but you would save hundreds on utility bills.

Browse sites like Craigslist or NextDoor to find guest house rentals in your area.

9. Rent a room

If you’re on your own, renting one room from a homeowner might be suitable for you. Many times your rent will include your own bathroom, and access to the kitchen and laundry facilities. If you’re lucky, you might even get your own private entrance.

Renting one room is much less costly than renting out a whole house or apartment. You could save thousands of dollars on rent and utilities over a one-year lease.

Keep in mind that your personal space would be very limited, so you’d need to put most of your things in storage.

10. Live in an RV

RVs are like tiny homes on wheels, and they don’t just have to be for vacations. “RV living” has been trending for the past few years, with many RV owners selling their brick-and-mortar home for the freedom of the highway.

The savings you could generate over the cost of a house is substantial. No mortgage, taxes, yard work, HOA fees, etc!  Of course, you’ll need to fill the tank and keep up with maintenance (tires, oil, etc), as well as pay a fee to park it. You will likely pay between $25 and $40 a night, which includes power and water hookup. This comes to about $1,000 a month – much less than typical housing costs.

If you don’t mind the restricted space and the mobility that goes with the lifestyle, RV living could be a viable option for you to cut housing costs. Selling a home with considerable equity could possibly enable you to buy an RV outright, so you wouldn’t need to take on a loan.

Of course, you’ll need to consider how you’ll generate income if you’re traveling. Securing a job that allows you to work remotely will allow you to cover your bills while still increasing your nest egg. 

Another income opportunity is becoming a campground host. The pay is minimal, but enough to cover the lower costs of RV living.

11. Live in a bus

An interesting – but not altogether uncommon – cheap housing alternative is a converted school bus (also known as a “skoolie”). You can typically find used school buses for a few thousand dollars, but you’ll need much more to transform it into a place you want to live in full time. 

It’s a lot like RV living, but more basic. You won’t have the luxurious options that RVs can offer, but it also won’t cost you as much as an RV.

Just like an RV, you’ll need to park it somewhere, which will cost you. But even with the gas, maintenance, and parking fees, you’ll be saving a lot of money on housing costs every month.

12. Living in a van

This is one of those housing options that would be tough if you have kids. Vans are considerably smaller than RVs and buses, and you won’t have the luxury of a built-in kitchen. However, you can customize a van to make it more livable and comfortable.

If you’re a single person or just traveling with a partner, and you think you’d enjoy the minimal lifestyle while traveling, you might consider this option.

13. Living in a box truck

A box truck (also known as a cube van) is used for transporting freight locally, such as moving furniture or delivering food. It has a separate cab for driving, and behind the driver’s seat is typically a sleeping area or storage space.

Similar to a van, a box truck could be one of those radical options when finding the cheapest way to live. Again, not really suitable if you have kids, but viable if you’re on your own or with a partner. You’d have enough space for some furniture, but you’d need to look externally for food, shower, and laundry services.

14. Live on a boat

Yes, there are actually people that choose to live on a boat full time! From sailboats to houseboats to yachts, a boat has the potential to house everything you’d need to live comfortably.

Just like an RV, you would have to pay to park – or “dock” – it somewhere. This is kind of like paying rent, but much cheaper.

If buying a boat is outside your realm of possibilities, there are many boat owners who will rent out. Before you look into this option, be sure you would enjoy living on the water all the time. 

15. Live in a shed

I know this probably sounds crazy, but people actually do it!

Converting a shed into a living space is possibly one of the cheapest ways to live. However, you’ll need to look into laws and permits, depending on where you put the shed.

If you own a home with a large yard, you could even consider building a shed in the back while renting out your home. Making arrangements with the tenants to still have access to the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room will make life much easier as a shed-dweller.

16. Live in a storage unit

This is one of those cheap housing alternatives that should only be considered in the most desperate situation. Most units will only set you back $100 or less a month, and it would provide you shelter if you were in a bind.

Perhaps you lost your job and couldn’t pay rent so you were evicted. Moving into a storage shed (with electricity) could be a possible temporary solution while you try to get back on your feet.

The biggest obstacle would be that it’s prohibited by law – so you’d need to have the favor and discretion of the storage unit managers to make it work.

17. Live in an unfinished space

There are many homeowners that don’t have the energy or finances to finish their basements, but wouldn’t mind making a few bucks a month by renting it out.

If you don’t mind living rough for a while, and just need the bare essentials, renting out an unfinished basement could be a very cheap way to live and allow you to save up for better housing.

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Change your living arrangements to find the cheapest ways to live

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to live, you don’t necessarily need to give up space or move to another neighborhood. You could even maintain your current housing conditions but still cut costs drastically. How do you do this?

By altering your living arrangements. In fact, as radical as some of those alternative housing options were, you could even find opportunities to live for *free*.

Read on to learn how you can find the cheapest way to live by adjusting who you live with, and the conditions of your living arrangements.

Live with roommates

This is the most obvious living arrangement you could try to cut your housing costs. If you’re on your own, you can easily find other singles who want to do the same thing.

On average, you’ll find that a two-bedroom apartment is only 15-25% more than a one-bedroom unit. This means instead of paying $1,500 for an apartment all to yourself, you’d pay half of $1,800 – which is about $600 less! And this doesn’t include the lower utilities you’d pay.

You’ll save even more with a 2nd roommate in a three-bedroom apartment.

And, if you’re a homeowner, bringing in a paid tenant could potentially pay most of your mortgage bill.

No, you won’t have the place to yourself. And, you’ll need to share common areas with other people. But, if you want a cheaper way to live, this is a great option.

Just be sure you like your roommates!

Live with family or friends

When my oldest brother went off to flight training after high school, he chose to move up to the Bay Area in northern California. We have a lot of relatives that live up there, and my aunt happened to have an apartment above her house.

Of course, his rent was super cheap because she was a generous person. But, he was also with family, which gave my parents some relief since he was out on his own.

Living with your relatives isn’t always a smart idea. But, if you get along and you can keep your own space, you might be able to cut your housing costs to a fraction of what you’d normally pay. And, if you ensure your relative it’s a temporary situation, you might even be able to live there for free.

Another idea is to offer services for reduced (or possibly free) rent. Maybe your grandma doesn’t want to move out of her big house, but can’t keep up with the yard work and maintenance. Offer to be her “in-house” handyman, and you might score a free room!

Living with friends is another option, for temporary situations. If you’re financially unstable or in between jobs, you might have someone in your close circle who’s willing to rent you a room for cheap or even stay for free.

In either situation, just remember – don’t wear out your welcome!

Move back in with your parents

When I was in my mid-twenties, I asked my parents if I could move back in with them. I was getting burned out with my full-time job and 6 college classes, and I just wanted a breather.

Graciously, they took me in and let me live there for free. And, that’s where I stayed for two years until I got married.

Depending on what kind of relationship you have with your parents, this could be a wonderful way to lower your housing costs (possibly to nothing!) while also spending quality time with mom and dad.

However, their house = their rules..

So, if you’re not willing to respect the rules they’ve set, move on to other options.

Be a live-in caregiver

My brother is 56 and lives with our mother. He’s been there for close to a decade, he’s single, and he doesn’t have a job.

Instead, he cleans for her, does all the grocery shopping and cooking, and drives her to all of her many doctor’s appointments. But, probably most importantly, he gives her some companionship in her old age.

Of course, you don’t have to move in with your mother to be a live-in caregiver. There are many elderly people who are seeking the same thing – someone who can help them with the day-to-day duties of running a household, as well as keep them company.

Being a live-in caregiver allows you to secure free housing while also generating an income. Double bonus!

Unless you personally know the person you’d be taking care of, you will probably need to provide some credentials that prove you’re qualified. However, my teenage daughter was able to work as an offsite caregiver through a local agency without any prior experience.

Before you pursue this opportunity, be sure you would enjoy the work that includes being around elderly people a lot.

Be a live-in nanny

On the other side of the spectrum, you could choose to care for young children as a live-in nanny (also known as an “au pair”). You would get paid to watch someone else’s kids full-time while staying in their home. Often, nannies are also responsible for other household duties, such as doing laundry, cooking meals, running errands, housecleaning, etc.

Typically, most people who employ a live-in nanny are financially well-off. Your living conditions would likely be better than you could afford on your own!

Keep in mind that you’ll probably need to get a background check and provide excellent references. Having certifications in CPR and First Aid will help you get the job.

Be a house sitter

This is a living arrangement that could last from a week to several months. If you can line up several house sitting jobs over the course of 6 to 12 months, you could live rent-free while making a nice income.

If you’re a single person and carefree, you could accept jobs in other cities, states, and even countries! The wider your scope, the more opportunities you’ll have to make it a long-term gig.

You may also need to take care of a pet, so make sure you know all the details before accepting a job.

Be an on-site property manager

If you’re looking for a way to live rent-free, try a job as an on-site property manager for an apartment complex. You’ll make a small income and get a rent-free apartment at the same time.

There will be maintenance duties that go with the job, so ask what qualifications are required before you apply. Many times, you won’t need prior experience, as long as you have an excellent work history and good references.

Live the nomad life

Living as a nomad means you have no place you call “home”. You travel from place to place, with your living arrangements changing on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

This lifestyle is truly for the free spirit who doesn’t want to be tied down!

Of course, you’ll need to find a way to make some money as you’re moving about. Many nomads pick up odd jobs to make a few extra bucks, or get a temporary position until they’re ready to move on. If you can secure a job that allows you to work remotely, you won’t need to be concerned about always finding a job.

From camping to couch surfing, you could potentially live on very little income if you stay thrifty. This is not a sustainable way to live, but some choose this lifestyle for a year or two. Obviously, it’s not appropriate if you have children. But, if you have a partner with an adventurous spirit, you could do it together.

It’s definitely one of the cheapest ways to live, while creating some very memorable experiences!

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Cheap living doesn’t have to mean low quality

When people hear the word “cheap”, they often think of low quality. But, just because you want to cut housing costs doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sacrifice safety or comfort. You can still live under pleasant conditions while minimizing your biggest expenses.

Your best bet to maintain (or improve) your quality of living while reducing costs is to find a job that offers a good income while providing reduced or free housing. This could even work if you have a family, such as taking a position as an on-site property manager.

By doing some diligent research and creating a strategy that supports your goals, you can find ideal opportunities that save you hundreds of dollars on monthly housing costs. Consider different locations, job markets, and how the cost of living index can vary depending on the area.

Then, write down a plan. Creating a long-term plan will help ensure you maximize your savings while not compromising your living standards.

The key to finding the cheapest way to live is to stay open-minded. As you’ve already read in this post, there are many options for low-cost and even no-cost housing.

In addition, consider how traditional 9-5 jobs have given way to side hustles and online positions that allow you to work remotely. With access to the internet, you can even create your own income with an online business.

The possibilities are endless!

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How to achieve the cheapest way to live without moving

What if you just don’t want to move or downsize? What if you can’t bring yourself to sell your home?

Well, you will likely be leaving money on the table. As I’ve outlined above, there are several affordable housing alternatives that are much cheaper than your typical mortgage.

But – there are still ways to live cheaply even without making a major living adjustment.

Here are five major ways you can live cheaply and keep your home.

1) Get on a tight budget

Following a budget means you’re in control of your money. You know where your money is going, how much you’re spending, and when it leaves your account.

A budget will help you identify those spending leaks that need to be fixed. It will help you cut those costs that are eating up your income. And, once you set up spending boundaries, saving money becomes so much easier.

To maximize your efforts, create a “bare-bones” monthly budget – one that reflects spending on only the essentials. This would be your mortgage or rent, utilities, food, insurance and transportation. This is a great exercise in separating your “needs” from your “wants”, and will give you an accurate picture of how much money you’re spending on things that are unnecessary.

If you have the discipline to live on a tight budget, you’ll be well on your way to living cheaply without moving.

2) Cut monthly living expenses

It’s quite possible you could reduce your costs in just about every category you spend money on.

From food to transportation to utilities, there’s almost ways to lower these expenses.

Here are just a few ideas to save money every month:

  • Cut out cable
  • Cancel subscriptions you don’t use
  • Reduce your cell phone plan
  • Find no-fee bank accounts
  • Reduce your energy usage (a/c, heat, lights, etc.)
  • Buy used; shop at thrift stores
  • Always look for free stuff first
  • Renegotiate your bills for lower rates
  • Stop eating out and avoid convenience foods; meal plan instead
  • Always use a shopping list so you don’t overspend
  • Sell your car; instead, bike, walk, or take public transportation
  • Bundle your insurance policies
  • Shop at the dollar store
  • Buy in bulk

3) Get out of debt

If you want to find the cheapest way to live, you’ll need to get rid of any consumer debt as soon as you can. Paying credit card balances with interest fees is just draining every opportunity for you to save money.

And, what should you do with all those credit cards?  Cut them up. Or lock them away. Do not carry them around with you. The temptation can be too great.

To make your own debt payoff plan, check out my post on how to escape debt with a DIY debt management plan.

4) Live minimally

A minimalist is a person who intentionally chooses to live only with the most important necessities. The objective is to simplify life and reduce distractions by removing excess possessions that don’t contribute to a meaningful life.

This could mean not owning 2 televisions, 3 cars, and a 4-bedroom house. Instead, adopting a minimal life may include living in a smaller space, riding a bike, and doing hobbies rather than watch TV.

Living minimally isn’t just a decision to spend less. It’s a mindset that rejects consumerism and embraces valued experiences. Not only will you save money, you’ll also create more space in your life to focus on what’s truly important to you.

Living a minimal life makes it easier to avoid overspending. You won’t be driven by comparison and keeping up with the neighbors. Although minimalists don’t consider themselves “cheap”, they have an appreciation for being frugal.

5) Refinance

One of the most effective ways to live cheaply without moving is to refinance your current mortgage. This will depend on a few things:

  • the current interest rates
  • your credit score
  • how long you plan to keep the house

If you can save at least one percentage point on your current loan, it might be worth it to refinance. Be sure to shop around for the best rates. Mortgage loans are financial products that generate profit for banks, so rates offered will differ between lenders.

Check your credit score to make sure it’s up to snuff (above 740). If it’s not where you need it to be, work on bringing your score up. The better your score, the lower your rate.

Also, if you know you’ll be moving within the next five years, you might want to pass on getting a lower rate. The fees you’ll pay will make it difficult for you to save money in the long run.

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What are the cheapest ways to live in retirement?

The majority of the tips I’ve shared above can apply to both pre- and post-retirement. In fact, it’s very common for those close to retirement age to downsize and move to a location with a lower cost of living index and less taxes.

If you’ve been building equity in your current home for several years, it’s possible you could buy a smaller house in a less costly area without a mortgage.

Since the 401(k) replaced the pension fund, most retirees have to live off their retirement savings and social security. Therefore, it’s critical that they minimize expenses and stick to a budget in order to make their savings last for 30+ years.

Reducing your largest expense – housing – will give you some peace of mind and additional financial security in retirement.

Here are a few more ways you can reduce living costs and live cheaply in the retirement years:

  • keep only one car
  • get rid of life insurance
  • move to a state with no state income tax
  • stay healthy (and minimize medical bills)
  • take advantage of senior discounts
  • keep low-cost hobbies & eliminate vices
  • do your traveling in the off-season

FAQs

What’s the cheapest way to live with a family?

If your family is not considered large (6+), and you can afford a bigger RV, than the RV life could allow you to live quite cheaply. This has actually become quite common, and a simple Google search will help you find many stories of families living in RVs.

What’s the cheapest way to live in a city?

Paying for a one-bedroom apartment by yourself in a big city can set you back close to $2,000 a month. The best way to cut costs is to get a roommate (or two) and share the expense.

Also, you’ll pay the most by living downtown. If you can commute, like with a subway, bus, or carpool, you’ll save hundreds by finding a cheaper place just outside of the center.

What’s the cheapest U.S. city to live in?

Based on 2021 data collected by the Council for Community and Economic Research, the top 10 cheapest U.S. cities to live in are:

  1. Kalamazoo, MI
  2. Harlingen, TX
  3. McAllen, TX
  4. Jackson, MS
  5. Amarillo, TX
  6. Anniston, AL
  7. Joplin, MO
  8. Kokomo, IN
  9. Knoxville, TN
  10. Hattiesburg, MS

These ten modern cities range from 16.3% to 22.9% below the cost of living national average at the time of this writing.

What’s the cheapest U.S. small town to live in?

What if you don’t want the hustle and bustle of a big city? You can cut your cost of housing even more by choosing a smaller location.

Based on 2021 data collected by the Council for Community and Economic Research, the top 10 cheapest U.S. small towns to live in are:

  1. Pittsburg, KS
  2. Muskogee, OK
  3. Richmond, IN
  4. Tupelo, MS
  5. Statesboro, GA
  6. Salina, KS
  7. Martinsville, VA
  8. Ponca City, OK
  9. Burlington, IA
  10. Meridian, MS

These ten cities have populations that range from 12,852 to 46,998, and a cost of living score between 14.1% and 19.4% below the national average at the time of this writing.

What are the cheapest and safest countries to live in?

According to the World Population Review, the United States makes the top 10 list of most expensive countries to live in. If you’re open to moving out of the good ol’ red-white-and-blue, you have many options to cut your living costs.

However, there are some areas in the world that aren’t so safe … or appealing. For example, Afghanistan makes the #1 cheapest country to live in, but I wouldn’t recommend living there. Because you don’t just want cheap – you want safe, too!

Here are 10 of the cheapest countries to live in (compared to the U.S.) where you’ll have a much lower cost of living score but won’t compromise on safety:

  1. Vietnam
  2. Ecuador
  3. Mexico
  4. Thailand
  5. Malaysia
  6. Indonesia
  7. Cambodia
  8. Costa Rica
  9. Bolivia
  10. Zimbabwe

You can choose any of these ten countries and live dirt cheap on less than $1,000 a month!

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Finding the cheapest way to live isn’t for everyone

Finding the cheapest way to live is not terribly difficult – there are so many cheap housing alternatives, as well as ways to cut your monthly expenses.

*However* – adopting the cheapest way to live is not for everyone.

Of course, it’s very appealing to think about saving hundreds (even thousands) a month with a few lifestyle adjustments. But, there are obviously sacrifices that would need to be made. At the end of the day, you’ll need to decide for yourself what you’re willing to give up for money.

A great way to help you decide how “cheap” you want to go is by writing down some short-term and long-term financial goals. Goals will give you a direction and a motivation to make some sacrifices now for future gain.

Know what your current financial situation is – how much debt you’re in, your total monthly income, your total savings, if you’re on track with retirement, etc.

Then, create a plan for the next 5 years. Where do you want to be? What income do you want to be making? Do you want to be out of debt? Do you want to save for your kids’ college tuition? When do you want to retire?

Once you have a roadmap from where you are now to your ideal destination, consider how cheap living could help you accomplish your goals. Determine what you’re willing to give up – at least temporarily – in order to be successful.

Whatever you decide, I hope this post has given you some insight into the cheapest ways of living. If you’re drowning in debt, overwhelmed with your finances, or way behind in retirement savings – just know you have options. You have the control to make a new decision and get your financial health back on track.

Other posts you may be interested in:

The Cheapest Way To Live: Best Tips For 2021

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