Cheapest places to live in America
by JULIETTE SMITH on FEBRUARY 2, 2014 - 2 Comments in LAND

mapcheapConsider this: a T-bone steak from a Manhattan grocer averages $15.52. In Harlingen, Texas, the cheapest place to live in America, the same steak goes for $8.34.

If you are going off the grid, or even if you are already off the grid and wanting to trade down to somewhere more affordable – this article is for you.

There are numerous dimensions to measure cost of living, and most places that score low on some measures score high on others. The most obvious is property; more sophisticated is the ratio of earnings to property. Then there is the cost of a basket of household products

We followed the AARP (association of retired people) whose magazine based their list on the price of property, and the taxes levied on state benefits such as pension and social security:

1. South Bend, Ind.
Population: 316,900
State tax on Social Security: No
State tax on pensions: Yes
The median home price is $82,500, the median mortgage payment is $315 and the median property tax is $846. There are no state taxes on Social Security; there are on pensions. South Bend is best known as the home of the University of Notre Dame, and free campus events abound.

2. Daytona/Deltona/Ormond Beach, Fla.
Population: 514,450
State tax on Social Security: No
State tax on pensions: No
The median home price is $108,900, the median mortgage payment is $416 and the median property tax is $1,161. There’s no state tax on Social Security or on pensions.

3. Pocatello, Idaho
Population: 88,500
State tax on Social Security: No
State tax on pensions: Yes (with some exemptions)
The median home price is $127,500, the median mortgage payment is $487 and the median property tax is $1,179. While there is a state tax on pensions (with some exemptions), there is none on Social Security, according to the AARP report. Lifelong learners can take some classes on the cheap: Idaho State University’s New Knowledge Adventures are open to those 50 and older and allow people to take unlimited classes for a modest fee.

4. Bangor, Maine
Population: 149,630
State tax on Social Security: No
State tax on pensions: Yes (with some exemptions)
The median home price is $110,400 in Bangor, the median mortgage payment is $421 and the median property tax is $1,303. There are no state taxes on Social Security; there are on pensions (with some exemptions). Nature lovers will appreciate the beauty of this part of the country, and so will music lovers; the annual three-day American Folk Festival in Bangor is free.

5. Greenville, S.C.
Population: 628,600
State tax on Social Security: No
State tax on pensions: Yes
The median home price is $127,600, the median mortgage payment is $487 and the median property tax is $753 in Greenville. There are no state taxes on Social Security; there are on pensions. Trolley rides and downtown Wi-Fi are free of charge in the city.

6. Grand Rapids, Mich.
Population: 782,100
State tax on Social Security: No
State tax on pensions: Yes (with some exemptions)
The median home price is $114,200, the median mortgage payment is $436 and the median property tax is $1,830. There are no state taxes on Social Security, but there are on pensions (with some exemptions).

7. Erie, Penn.
Population: 278,500
State tax on Social Security: No
State tax on pensions: No
The median home price is $106,600, the median mortgage payment is $407 and the median property tax is $1,899. There are no state taxes on Social Security or pensions. While Erie is known as a manufacturing town, one of Erie’s natural treasures is Presque Isle State Park, a seven-mile peninsula of beaches on Lake Erie, according to the AARP report.

8. Louisville, Ky.
Population: 1,250,000
State tax on Social Security: No
State tax on pensions: Partial
The median home price is $128,200, the median mortgage payment is $489 and the median property tax is $1,116. There’s no state tax on Social Security, and there’s a partial state tax on pensions, according to AARP. Attractions here include 18 parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (the designer of Central Park in New York), the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, and the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs racetrack.

9. Sherman/Denison, Texas
Population: 120,600
State tax on Social Security: No
State tax on pensions: No
The median home price is $79,400, the median mortgage payment is $303 and the median property tax is $1,158. There are no state taxes on Social Security or pensions. For free, you can visit the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, which has 338 species of birds, 36 species of mammals, 60 species of reptiles and amphibians and 61 species of fish, according to the AARP report.

10. Pueblo, Colo.
Population: 158,000
State tax on Social Security: Yes
State tax on pensions: Yes (with some exceptions)
The median home price is $102,600, the median mortgage payment is $392 and the median property tax is $765. There are taxes on Social Security and pensions (with some exceptions). One of the best freebies in Pueblo: The Pueblo Levee Mural Project, which spans three miles and is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the longest continuous painting, according to AARP.

2 comments

1 Ania { 03.19.14 at 11:42 am }

Tennessee also has the ‘Greenbelt law’ where landowners get a tax break if their property is used for agriculture, wildlife or open land. If you’re living off the grid, would that be a cheaper option too?

2 John { 04.29.14 at 10:26 am }

I know both South Bend, IN and Pueblo, CO. Cost of living is cheap in these area’s due to poor economy. Crime rates a high in both.

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