3 Best Cities To Live on a Budget of $4,000 a Month

Lake Charles the fifth-largest incorporated city in the U.
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Americans may not agree on much these days, but there’s one thing most of us can: the cost of living has gotten mighty expensive. Politicians throw around the word “inflation” as though it’s inevitable or can’t be helped, but all that translates to is more money being spent on the same essentials we’ve always paid for.

As of October 2021, the inflation rate was 6.2%. By June of 2022, it had reached an astonishing peak of 9.1% — and it’s still at 8.2%. Trying to find ways to cut back can be tough. While there are no immediate solutions to driving down the cost of living, one strategy, instead, is to find cities where you can live comfortably on a budget of $4,000 or less. Depending on where you live now, that might mean a geographical relocation, as some of the most affordable cities are in the South and Southwest.

To find the best cities to live on less than $4,000 per month, GOBankingRates gathered data from ApartmentList, Sperling’s Best, the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 Consumer Expenditure Survey and AreaVibes. Here are the top three.

Abilene, Texas

  • 2022 1-bedroom rent:  $759.78
  • Monthly expenditures: $3,853.67

The town of Abilene, Texas, founded in 1881, exists because of the T & M railroad, which needed a place for trains to stop along its route. Since then, this historic part of Texas, with a livability score of 75, has come a long way with arts, culture and entertainment.

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Not only can you afford to live in Abilene for less than $4,000 per month, you can enjoy such attractions as its Downtown Cultural District — a walkable procession of live music, museums, performing arts centers, shopping, dining and storybook sculptures, according to the visitors’ bureau. It’s also a great place for outdoor lovers, with trails for biking, walking, horseback riding, and gorgeous places to go bird watching, fishing and generally enjoy nature.

Midland, Texas

  •  2022 1-bedroom rent:  $736.89
  • Monthly expenditures: $3,705.26

Texas dominates this short list, with a second town, Midland, offering affordability and a lot more. The city sits conveniently off Interstate 20, between Fort Worth and El Paso, and has a livability score of 72 due to its decent amenities and attractions, parks, restaurants, arts and culture.

According to VisitMidland.com, you should check out Summer Mummers, a unique performing arts experience, go on a hunt for Midland’s unique murals all over town, or take a day trip to nearby Big Bend National Park.

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Lake Charles, Louisiana

  • 2022 1-bedroom rent:  $696.33
  • Monthly expenditures: $3,764.39

You’ll pay the least amount of rent in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which has a livability score of 70, and the lowest overall monthly expenditures, too. But don’t think that means there’s nothing to see or do here.

VisitLakeCharles.org describes the town as having “A Cajun personality with a Texas flair.” Being actually lakeside also lends itself to a lot of marine activities at the Bord du Lac Marina, Prien Lake Park, or scenic North Beach. Casinos, bars and restaurants, such as Panoramic Music House, feature lots of great live music. The town also hosts numerous festivals, such as the Smoke & Barrel, whiskey and BBQ events and the spooky Lost Hollows tour.

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Methodology: To find the best cities to live on less than $4,000 per month, GOBankingRates first used ApartmentList data to find (1) average 2022 one-bedroom rents. GOBanking Rates then used Sperling’s Best to find the (2) overall cost of living index for each selected city. Next, GOBankingRates used (3) data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 Consumer Expenditure Survey to find the annual expenditure amounts to determine how much a person might spend living in each city monthly. GOBankingRates then added monthly costs together. In order for a place to be qualified for the study, it had (4) to have a livability score of 75 or above, as sourced from AreaVibes. All data was collected on and up to date as of October 12, 2022.

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