7 Best Southern Cities To Live on a Budget of About $4,000 a Month

Midland Texas downtown skyline
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Moving to a southern locale of the U.S. has its advantages. Not only is this area often more affordable than cities on the coasts or up north, but you’ll also likely find much milder winter weather.

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To find the best spots in the South to live on a budget of about $4,000 a month (or a little less), GOBankingRates selected cities with a livability score of at least 70 according to AreaVibes. Next, it used ApartmentList data to find average one-bedroom rents in these states.

We also considered the overall cost-of-living index for each selected city from Sperling’s Best, and used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 Consumer Expenditure Survey to determine how much a person might spend living in each city. With all that in mind, here are the seven best Southern cities to live if you have about $4,000 monthly to spend.

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College Station, Texas

  • One-bedroom rent: $846.60
  • Total monthly expenditures: $4,114.02

College Station — or Aggieland as it’s known across the state — is aptly named because it’s home to Texas A&M University. While the total monthly expenditures are a bit higher than $4,000, the livability score in the city is 79, which is considered exceptional.

One of the factors that influences the livability score is the crime rate, which is 11% lower than the U.S. average. Plus, the median rent price is 5% lower than the U.S. average.

Temple, Texas

  • One-bedroom rent: $1,007.60
  • Total monthly expenditures: $4,101.50

Located in Central Texas, Temple has a livability score of 75, which is considered excellent. So even though the total monthly expenditures here are approximately $4,100, it could be a worthwhile trade-off.

Two of the factors that most heavily influenced this score are the cost of living and housing. The median rent is 13% lower than the U.S. average, and the cost of living is 11% lower.

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Roanoke, Virginia

  • One-bedroom rent: $942.10
  • Total monthly expenditures: $4.024.92

Though total monthly expenditures for Roanoke come in about $25 above $4,000, the prospect of living in a valley surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains will likely make up for it.

This Southern city has an excellent livability score of 75 based mostly on its amenities and cost of living. As far as amenities, this city is overflowing with opportunities for outdoor recreation — from its parks system that features 70 parks covering over 14,000 acres to its proximity to the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. Additionally, you’ll find unique eateries and shops and a thriving art scene.

Baytown, Texas

  • One-bedroom rent: $871.90
  • Total monthly expenditures: $3,954.72

Located just east of Houston is the gulf coast city of Baytown. Opportunities for boating, fishing, birding and hiking are abundant, as is geocaching.

The city has an exceptional livability score of 75 due to factors such as cost of living and housing. Baytown’s cost of living is 11% less expensive than the U.S. average and the median rent price is 12% lower than the U.S. average.

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Abilene, Texas

  • One-bedroom rent: $763.80
  • Total monthly expenditures: $3,857.70

With an exceptional livability score of 75 and total monthly expenditures coming in below $3,900, Abilene might just be the perfect place to settle down.

The city is located in the plains area of the state about 150 miles west of Fort Worth. The cost of living in Abilene is 11% less than the U.S. average and median rent costs are 14% lower.

Lake Charles, Louisiana

  • One-bedroom rent: $693.50
  • Total monthly expenditures: $3,761.55

Dubbed “Louisiana’s playground,” Lake Charles is home to two well-known casinos — The Golden Nugget and L’Auberge. But there’s plenty of other things to do besides gamble. Water sports, golf, crabbing, shrimping, fishing and spending time on the beach are all local pastimes. You’ll also find Cajun French and Creole food in abundance.

The city has an excellent livability score of 70 — mostly due to its amenities and cost of living. The cost of living is 15% less than the U.S. average.

Midland, Texas

  • One-bedroom rent: $743.10
  • Total monthly expenditures: $3,711.47

Midland is on the southern edge of the High Plains and about three hours northeast of Big Bend National Park. Total monthly expenditures are lowest among the Southern cities on this list at just over $3,700.

The city has an excellent livability score of 72 largely due to its amenities. The city has 31 public parks open for activities such as swimming, biking, hiking and playing. It also boasts a dynamic downtown scene with unique shops and eateries, as well as museums and a performing arts center in close proximity.

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Methodology: To find the best Southern cities to live on less than $5,000 per month, GOBankingRates first used ApartmentList data to find (1) average 2022 one-bedroom rents in the Southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia). 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 70 or above, as sourced from AreaVibes. All data was collected on and up to date as of November 2, 2022.

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About the Author

Cynthia Measom is a personal finance writer and editor with over 15 years of collective experience. Her articles have been featured in MSN, AOL, Yahoo Finance, INSIDER, Houston Chronicle and The Seattle Times. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
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