1. El Paso, Texas
You can live comfortably for well below $50,000 — almost $10,000 less — in El Paso, which makes it the cheapest place to live on our list. It has the second-lowest median rent at $555, the third-lowest cost of groceries and sixth-lowest cost of utilities. In fact, El Paso is a city where rent prices have been falling.
Not only does this city on the U.S.-Mexico border offer a low cost of living, but it has the amenities of a major metropolitan area — including state-of-the art medical facilities, several higher education institutions and ample cultural and entertainment options. Its desert location makes it hot and dry, but it has more than 300 days of sunshine for exploring the nearby canyons, cliffs, caverns and state and national parks.
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Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed monthly living expenses in the 270 most populous U.S. cities, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. This cost-of-living comparison included the following factors for a single person: 1) housing, using the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in each city, sourced from Zillow's June 2017 rental index; 2) groceries, using the recommended amount reported by cost-of-living database Numbeo.com for each city; 3) utilities for a 915-square-foot apartment in each city, according to cost estimates from Numbeo.com; 4) transportation costs according to the Economic Policy Institute's Family Budget Calculator for each city or its nearest metropolitan area; and 5) health insurance premiums as estimated at the state level for 2017 by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Monthly costs were totaled and multiplied by 12 to get the annual dollar cost of necessities in each city. This dollar amount for necessities was then doubled to find the actual annual income needed to live comfortably in the city, assuming a person is following the 50-30-20 budgeting guideline, which requires an income double the cost of necessities. The amount of money specified for savings is equal to 20 percent of the total income needed, and the amount specified for discretionary spending is equal to 30 percent of the total income needed.