Where Is the Cheapest and Easiest Place to Live in the US? Top Cities on the West Coast
When determining whether to move to a new city or state, cost is an important factor to take into account. Do you know where is the cheapest and easiest place to live in the US? You might be shocked to learn that a few of the states and cities along the state’s West Coast are among the most affordable places to call home.
If you want to relocate to a city on the West Coast but don’t want to spend a fortune, have a look at these best regions for low housing costs.
Sacramento is one of the most low-cost places to live in on the West Coast, with a cost of living that requires 28.06% of the median annual household income.
Its average annual salary of $62,820 is more than $6,000 above the national average of $54,132.
Moreover, Sacramento’s metro area is seeing modest population growth due to net migration; between 2016 and 2021, its population increased by 2.46%, making it one of the easiest locations to find a place to live in.
San Bernardino, California
For those seeking a less expensive, yet still pleasurable and handy, spot to reside in on the West Coast, the San Bernardino area is fairly suitable.
The city provides easy access to LA and the escape of the adjacent desert because it is located about one hour east of Los Angeles and one hour northwest of the Coachella Valley.
Moreover, the San Bernardino region has a rich history and a fairly low cost of living; you only need 27.14% of the median yearly household income to cover living expenses. It’s also the ideal location for those who enjoy the great outdoors thanks to the San Bernardino Mountains and National Forest nearby.
Spokane, Washington, is another great option for those looking to save some money while living on the West Coast. Living expenses in Spokane require just 24.10% of the median income — making it one of the most affordable cities in the area. Additionally, there’s no state income tax, which adds up to additional savings.
Just a few hours from Seattle and boasting its own lively downtown district, Spokane offers a perfect blend of city and nature. Its motto, “Near Nature, Near Perfect,” is apt — the city has a vibrant recreational scene with plenty of community activities year-round.
For individuals who want to cut costs while still having access to a ton of cultural and recreational opportunities, Fresno is a fantastic choice.
A mere 19.12% of the typical annual household income is required to maintain standards of living in the city, which has the lowest cost of living on the West Coast. Its central California location and abundance of scenic attractions make it a desirable choice for anyone who wishes to be close to Yosemite National Park and the Forestiere Underground Gardens.
The city is home to a variety of cultural activities, including a zoo, museums, and art galleries. The city’s hot, dry summers are ideal for anyone wishing to invest in recreational properties.
Located just north of Portland, Vancouver boasts a similar climate and geography. With the breathtaking landscape of the Cascade Range, its wilderness is perfect for hikers.
The workforce of freelancers and remote workers has grown significantly in recent years, driving the local economy. It is just a 15-minute drive over the border from Portland and its nightlife, as well as Oregon’s sales tax-free shopping.
Vancouver is also one of the best cities to live in. It requires just 23.87% of the median annual household income — making it one of the most affordable places to live in on the West Coast while still having access to abundant activities and amenities.
Salem is the capital of Oregon and one of the more affordable places to live in on the West Coast. Where many cities in Oregon require 40% or more of the median annual household income, Salem requires just 28.26%, making it a truly budget-friendly place to call home.
The city has plenty of outdoor opportunities — including nearby hiking trails and bike paths — plus a variety of cultural offerings.
One of the bigger cities with a poor score on the living index is Portland. People are attracted to the city because of its robust job market and $61,860 average annual wage.
Portland just demands slightly more than a quarter of the median yearly household income, compared to other Oregon communities that demand 40% or more. It makes sense that families and individuals who are concerned about their finances choose it as one of the most desirable locations to live in on the West Coast.
Eugene is your destination if you’re looking for all the classic features of a Pacific Northwest city without the Portland premium. Science and art museums abound, and the city is home to the renowned University of Oregon.
In addition to plentiful nature, its mild Mediterranean climate, and a slew of craft breweries, Eugene is crisscrossed by runners all hours of the day. Wherever you decide to settle, Eugene is the cheapest place in Oregon and requires just 25.70% of the median annual household income.
Brentwood is a great option for those looking for a more affordable option in the Bay Area. The cost of living here is still significantly lower than in places like San Francisco and San Jose — but it’s geographically close enough to take advantage of all of their amenities.
The city features many parks, easy access to nearby Marsh Creek State Historic Park and Round Valley Regional Preserve, and offers great views of Mount Diablo.
And with salaries from top Contra Costa County employers like Chevron and Bio-Rad Laboratories (plus other companies in the broader Bay Area region), Brentwood has plenty of job opportunities. It is well worth a look for those on a budget — requiring just 27.86% of the median annual household income.
The Bakersfield metro area suffers from a struggling economy compared to many other parts of the US, with an average annual salary below the national average of $54,130. This is why Bakersfield sees low housing costs compared to other parts of California, requiring just 27.9% of the median household income.
Where Bakersfield really shines is its convenient access to outdoor activities — located right in the middle of some of the best hiking trails in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains and Sequoia National Park, you can get your nature fix without the sticker shock of California’s pricier cities.
Modesto is one of the cheapest places to live in California and a city where you can easily find cheap land for sale. The typical resident must spend 27.47% of the median household income to cover housing expenses, which is considered affordable compared to other, more expensive parts of California, such as Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Visalia.
The area’s average annual salary is also more than $3,000 below the national average of $51,962. While it may not be the ideal place to live for those seeking a high average salary, Modesto offers its residents numerous amenities, including plenty of outdoor activities and parks.
San Jose, California
San Jose has the highest median home price out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. at over $1.4 million. Yet, like San Francisco, its high-income levels help to offset the higher overall cost of living.
The typical resident earns an average annual salary of $93,450 — making it more affordable for those who live there — and the cost of living in the metro area requires 26.5% of the median annual household income.
With a booming tech industry, beautiful scenery, and plenty of access to outdoor activities, San Jose is an ideal place to live for those who can afford it.
Medford is a great place to live for those looking for an affordable West Coast city. With major regional employers like Harry & David and Asante Health System, it’s ideal for young professionals, growing families, retirees, and everyone in between.
Located just north of the California border on I-5, Medford has a wonderfully drier and sunnier climate than other parts of the Pacific Northwest, making it an attractive city to settle down in. Plus, with only requiring 26.51% of the median annual household income, it’s easy on the wallet too!
The Concord metro area is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and offers a more affordable option for those living near the city. With median home prices below $700,000 and an average annual salary of just over $72,000, it’s one of the most affordable places to live in California.
Plus, with its proximity to San Francisco and outdoor activities like hiking, Concord is a great place for those who want to experience city life and nature without breaking the bank on traveling. It requires 27.6% of the median annual household income — making it one of the more affordable places to live in on the West Coast.
Stockton is one of the most affordable and safest places to live in on the West Coast. With median home prices at just over $300,000 and an average annual salary of $50,266, it falls within the top 50 cities in terms of affordability.
Residents benefit from its proximity to California’s major attractions while living in a much more affordable environment.
Moreover, Stockton’s northern and western parts are safe and full of young families waiting to welcome you and yours. With plenty of trails around town and dining and shopping centers, there is no shortage of things to do in this bustling city.
With the lowest median home price in the 150 most populous metro areas in the US, it’s no wonder why this Southern California town is a great place to live and visit without breaking the bank.
Located just an hour’s drive east of Los Angeles, Colton offers easy access to the beach and other attractions without the high cost of living.
With a beautiful climate, plenty of state parks, amusement rides, and golf courses to enjoy, it’s easy to see why Colton is an ideal option for those looking for a West Coast city that’s still within an average person’s budget.
Often overshadowed by its big brother, San Francisco, Oakland is quietly becoming one of the most attractive and low-cost places to live in on the West Coast.
With plenty of jobs in tech, logistics, and transportation industries (not to mention quick access to San Francisco), it’s no wonder why so many people love living in Oakland. And with only requiring 27.29% of the median annual household income to cover housing costs, it’s an affordable place to live in, too!
Everett is one of the larger six-figure-population cities on our list and is home to 110,629 residents. With the cost of living 18.8% higher than the national average, it’s fairly cheap by the standards of the West Coast, making it an attractive option for cost-conscious families and individuals looking to settle down in a larger city.
Everett boasts access to some of the best seafood restaurants in the Pacific Northwest, as well as plenty of activities for those who want to explore beyond the city limits. With its strong job market, manageable cost of living, and plenty of things to do, Everett is an excellent choice for those looking for an affordable city on the West Coast.
If you’re looking for the cheapest and easiest location to find a place to live in on the West Coast, look no further than Anchorage.
Requiring just 24.4% of the median annual household income, this Alaska metro area city is a great fit for those looking to stretch their dollars. It helps that the average annual salary in Anchorage is more than $6,000 above the national average.
Also, Alaska is known for its breathtaking nature, offering a variety of outdoor activities year-round.
Citrus Heights, California
Just outside the state capital, Citrus Heights’ 87,583 residents pay the highest median rent of any on this list — but $1,538 for a one-bedroom is hardly excruciating by California standards. Neither is its 120.1 cost-of-living index — in the Golden State, 20% higher than the national average still puts you 5% below the regional average.
Second to last is Bend, Oregon. Residents will find a low cost of living that requires just 25.7% of the median annual household income to cover housing costs — making it one of the most affordable cities on our list.
What’s more, Bend is arguably one of the coolest cities on this side of the USA, and with miles of trails, biking paths, and outdoor recreation sites, it’s a great place for those looking to take advantage of the natural beauty of the West Coast.
Fishing, rock climbing, rafting, skiing, mountain biking, hiking, cycling, golf and other outdoorsy adventures are big here — so if these types of activities are up your alley, put Bend on your shortlist.
Rounding out our list is Hayward, California. Located in the sunny East Bay region of the Bay Area, this city offers a relatively affordable cost of living and easy access to public transportation (Bay Area Rapid Transit and AC Transit buses) where residents can pay just 27.29% of their median annual household income on housing costs.
In addition to its lower cost of living, Hayward offers plenty to do, with beautiful shoreline areas and gardens at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve and an array of parks, restaurants, and entertainment options.
Where Is the Cheapest and Easiest Place to Live in the US? Final Thoughts
Wherever you decide to settle on the West Coast, it’s important to consider all the factors — including affordability and quality of life — to find out where is the cheapest and easiest place to live. With careful planning and smart money management, you can make any place your home.
If you’re looking to save money while still getting the amenities and quality of life you need, Discount Lots can help. We offer reliable, affordable land for sale across much of the western part of the United States, including California, Oregon, and Washington. And because we negotiate directly with landowners over our listings, we’re able to bring you great prices on lots of all sizes and in various locations!
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