Sometimes, the grass is actually greener on the other side (or rather, it’ll leave you with more green in your wallet). At least according to the Council for Community and Economic Research's Cost of Living Index. The name alone may sound complicated, but thankfully Christy Bieber, a personal finance and legal writer, broke down the data—in addition to information from both the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau—on The Ascent to pinpoint the single most affordable city in the country.
Now, heads up: “Affordable” does not necessarily mean “cheapest.” Per Bieber: “[T]he most affordable places to live aren't just cheap—they also provide residents the opportunity to earn enough money to live.” Therefore, the most “affordable” city was determined by the ratio of median income to the estimated cost of living (aka things like the cost of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare and miscellaneous goods and services).
So…what’s the verdict? (And where are we all moving to?)
Brimming with public space (including a city sculpture garden), a winery and an Ikea within 20 minutes of its city-center (very important), the number-one most affordable city in the U.S. is Cedar Park, Texas. Here’s everything you need to know about the city with a cost of living that might just put your current digs to shame.
Cedar Park, TX Cost of Living & Employment
Cedar Park’s estimated income-to-expense ratio is 1.384, with the cost-of-living estimate at $58,497 and the median household income at $80,954 (so, by these numbers, your paycheck is likely to exceed your bills). That puts its cost-of-living index at 92.8. That might not mean much at first glance, but compared to Manhattan, New York’s at 248.6—the highest in the country—and that 155.8-point difference looks pretty appetizing.
Part of “affordability” means that there’s opportunity for income. And per Bieber: “According to Data USA, there's a higher-than-average number of people employed in three industries in Cedar Park: computers and mathematics, architecture and engineering, and business and financial operations.” This makes sense considering how close Cedar Park is to Austin, since the state capital also happens to be home to University of Texas, Austin.
What else does Cedar Park have going for it?
Technically a suburb of Austin, Cedar Park not only has access to everything the major college town has going on (which is, to say, a lot), but it’s its own thriving city with a population close to 75,000 residents. With ample public green space, like the sprawling Brushy Creek Lake Park, which features hiking trails, volleyball courts, a playground, a water playscape and even a canoe launch, or the city’s Sculpture Garden, an exhibit of outdoor art on an annual rotating display, the central Texas city offers both the activities for families with children and adults who crave the outdoors.
There is also no shortage of great restaurants or food trucks with a diverse offering of anything from Middle Eastern to Tex-Mex, in addition to plenty of coffee shops, bars and wineries in town. Long story short, Cedar Park has culture covered, especially when comes to food, art, the outdoors and more.
Wanna Check Out Cedar Park for Yourself?
Here are some Airbnbs and hotels right-smack in the area, ya know, to test the waters before you move forever to Cedar Park.
- Entire Crisp & Clean Apartment with Pool Access: 3 guests; $75/night
- Home2 Suites by Hilton - Austin/Cedar Park: $88/night
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott Austin Cedar Park: $93/night