Raising A Family In The U.S: 15 Of The Most Affordable Cities (And 5 That Are Too Expensive)

One of the greatest parts of America is that each state differs from the next. Each has their own laws, their own state animal, their own food that they're known for... America's differences make it the beautiful country that it is.

Pushing beauty aside, each state also has their financial differences. Everyone knows states like New York and California are super expensive to live in. But what are some of the more affordable states? It's one thing when we're living on our own, perhaps moving for a job. However, it's a completely different thing when we start our own families.

The options to buy or rent a home are always going to be in the back of a young parent's mind. But can they afford to buy a home? And what about the area, how safe is it for their little ones? And speaking of little ones, what's the local school district like? Money always matters, but when a couple has a family, it matters even more. This is why we have 15 of the most affordable cities to live in in the United States, along with five cities that are some of the most expensive in the country.

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20 Buffalo, NY

Buffalo, New York has just over 250,000 people calling it home. According to Data USA, the average household income is around $32,000, with the median property value being just around $80,000. Buffalo may be most known for their wings and cold winters, but the Western New York city could be your next family home. With a ton of job opportunities and a new harbor that's drawing a ton of attention, Buffalo has some great suburbs, a city that's not big enough to get lost in, and plenty of universities for your kids to apply to. It's also very close to Canada's border, making it a hotbed for culture!

19 Omaha, NE

Omaha, Nebraska is a rather large city with a population of almost 450,000 people. With a median age of 34 years old, this city is great for young families. Living in cozy suburbs with the average salaries being around $55,000-a-year, this makes life rather comfy in Omaha; especially since households sell for around $170,000.

One of the most exciting parts about the city is its university; the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Having such a large university nearby means there's plenty of things to do for young adults, a university to strive towards, and football games to watch in the fall!

18 Birmingham, AL

If you love the South, then perhaps Birmingham, Alabama should be on your radar. With a population of over 212,000 people, this quaint city has an increase of jobs and a median property value of $87,100. That's not too shabby!

With a deep history in the Civil Rights movement, Birmingham has turned itself around with their dedication to The University of Alabama Birmingham and re-developing their downtown. You could say it's a city on the rise. What's even cooler is that Birmingham is praised for their amazing food scene, which is great if you have any foodies in the family.

17 Way Too Expensive: San Francisco, CA

Now let's talk about the more expensive cities on our list; cities that are breathtaking but are just out of so many younger families' leagues (unless they were born there). The city has a more mature median age being around 35 years old and plenty of opportunities for kids in school. With over 120 public schools and a similar amount of private, your child's education is important. However, it's expensive, to say the least. While the poverty rate is amazingly under 10%, a household needs to have a median income of over $100,000 just to afford their million-dollar property. But does everyone own their own while living in this scenic backdrop? Eh, not quite; about 37% own their homes and commute about a half-hour to get to and from work every day.

16 St. Louis, MO

Known for their Gateway Arch and sport's teams, St. Louis, Missouri is, apparently, declining in population, which is making more space for another potential family. With a small growth in jobs, St. Louis is growing. And since all families rely on education, the city has many universities and colleges to look into. Another positive sign about this bustling city is there's also a rise in property ownership, proving that people are working and doing well financially to do so. But since not every family wants to raise their kids in the city, the average commute time for those traveling from the suburbs is around 23 minutes, which is shorter than many other states in the country.

15 Raleigh, NC

Chances are you've heard of Raleigh, North Carolina. The Carolinas get a ton of traffic in the summer months due to their amazing weather and fabulous beaches. And while the beach towns may be pricey in the warmer seasons, Raleigh is actually a fairly affordable place to live and grow a family. The population seems to continue growing, as do the job openings. In a year's time, the employment rate has grown almost 10%, which is fabulous if you're new to the area. Per Data USA, Raleigh's household income is almost reaching $65,000, which can help with higher property prices. With over 75 public schools and 36 private schools, Raleigh seems like the place to be for an amazing upbringing.

14 Cleveland, OH

Cleveland, Ohio gets a bad rep but they're on the rise in more ways than one. Most known for being on Lake Erie and for giving birth to NBA legend LeBron James, Cleveland should be getting more credit than they have been. Not only is the city growing, but so are the jobs. Not to mention it's incredibly affordable to live in and around the Cleveland area. With the area spread out on a lakefront, the median household income is just under $30,000 annually, and the property values are just under $70,000. Another great thing to know about the area is their dedication to health and food. There are health-related stores and studios popping up like hot cakes.

13 Way Too Expensive: Honolulu, Hawaii

If I could afford to live anywhere in the world, it would be Hawaii. Wouldn't everyone? Besides being a solid six hours from the rest of America, Hawaii is paradise. Its warm weather and gorgeous scenes make it an epic vacation year-round. However, visiting and living here are two completely different things. The island of Hawaii has over 100 islands in and of itself, making Honolulu one of the more expensive. The Honolulu County has almost a million people occupying its every corner. With so many people choosing Honolulu as their designated city, there's been a growth in jobs, which is needed to afford the average $658,000 home property price tag. Thankfully, the average home income is in the 80-thousands, but most of that money would go to living expenses in this vacation fueled area.

12 Jackson, MS

Jackson, Mississippi has a smaller population of around 170,000 people, but that makes for a tight-knit community. In terms of the entire state of Mississippi, Jackson was voted as the most affordable city! We all know how much price matters when you're looking for somewhere to raise a family, which is why it's great to know how affordable the area is. Jackson was also voted for one of the lowest crime rates in the state in 2018, making most parents rest easy at night. There are also over 50 public schools in the area for youngsters, along with three distinguished colleges and universities for those seeking higher education.

11 Milwaukee, WI

Believe it or not, Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a hotbed for young families. The average age is 31 years old, and there's a 35% growth in jobs with a low poverty rate. The fact that there are almost 600,000 people in the area is also a testament to their love for the city. Known for their museums (the Harley-Davidson and art museum), there's a deep appreciation for culture here. With over 50 public schools and a few large universities, the commitment to education is high. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette, and Milwaukee Technical Institute are all within the area, proving that the area is young, educated, and thriving.

10 Syracuse, NY

Just three hours away from another city on this list (Buffalo, NY), Syracuse is another city to keep in mind when thinking of an affordable place to move with a young family. Most locals in the area have a median age of 30, with an average income of a little over $30,o00 a year. Syracuse may be most known for their cold winters, but they're also applauded for their massive university, Syracuse University. However, if you have younger kids at home, the area has just under 60 public schools and  22 private. And while their test scores aren't the greatest in the state (45% lower than the state's average, per Area Vibes), it's most certainly affordable enough to live and grow with loved ones.

9 Way Too Expensive: Washington DC

Washington DC is home to so much history. Many feel empowered while perusing Washinton DC's streets, what with its amazing shopping and amenities for locals. Unlike the others on this list, Washington DC is its own sector, being surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. Within this prestigious area are over 680,000 people and a median age of 33.9 years old. Young families can set roots here to be in the heart of America. And while the District of Columbia is expensive, the prestigious universities in the area are enough for any child to stay and dream about. Georgetown University and American University are all right there.

8 Boise, ID


Idaho may be known for their potatoes, but their city of Boise is known for their arts. Being a hub for jazz music, there's also a love for art and history, making Boise a stellar place to grow a family. There's a 3% rise in jobs, which makes the median household income of around $50,000. When it comes to the cost of living, the average property value is around $190,000 with some great amenities. There are plenty of parks to wander through, museums to scope out, and was voted number one big city in Idaho for its education department.

7 Tulsa, OK

Tulsa, Oklahoma seems to far away from everything being in the middle area of the country. In fact, when most people think of Oklahoma, they're picturing tornadoes, not setting up a new home for a growing family. On the contrary, though, Tulsa, Oklahoma should not be ignored. Not far from Oklahoma City, Tulsa is right on the cusp of the state. It's nearby the border of Arkansas and Wichita, making it a great commute for a weekend getaway. Tulsa also has a large population with over 400,000 people occupying the area. And with a median age of 34.5, it seems like a mature area that knows how good they have it.

6 Mobile, AL

Mobile, Alabama has a ton of beautiful culture. Being right on the water, Mobile has gorgeous architecture and southern pride. Funny enough, the city of Mobile is at the edge of the end of the state, being much closer to Pensacola, Florida than the rest of the state! With a population of just over 190,000 people, Mobile seems like a great place for older families. The property levels are inexpensive and homeownership consists of more than half the city. However, jobs seem to be declining in Mobile, so the smart play would be to buy property to raise your family here, and then commute into larger cities for work.

5 Way Too Expensive: New York City, NY

It can't be a surprise that NYC is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. However, the general vibe and job opportunities in New York City is what makes this city more appealing to families. With a population over 8-million, it's one of the most populated cities in America. And while the people and tall buildings are lovely, the average property value is almost $600,000. This can be hard to achieve when the median income is just over $55,000. Nevertheless, New York City has over a thousand public schools and hundreds of private schools. Knowing how much money private schools are in a massive city who has poor test scores in the public education system, families need to be making a pretty penny to live here.

4 El Passo, TX


Considering Texas is such a massive state, let me be of assistance to you. El Paso is to the West of the sate. It's kind of in the middle between reaching New Mexico, Mexico, and Arizona. Nevertheless, El Passo seems to be a poppin' town. There are almost 700,000 people in the area, with a median household income of $43,000.

What's amazing about El Passo is how high their likeability factor is; people who stay here love it here. There are great schools for kids, the cost of living is affordable, and the crime rate is relatively low. More importantly, there's an airport nearby making travel easier when it comes to visiting family over the holidays.

3 Fort Wayne, IN

It appears to me that Fort Wayne, Indiana needs more love. Not only is this larger city reasonably populated (with over 260,000 locals), the property value is extremely affordable being just over $100,000.  With over 60% of locals owning the homes they live in, it would be great having your kids grow up with long-term neighbors who may have kids of their own. Located in the Northeast of Indiana, Fort Wayne has over 80 public schools and 38 private, making their dedication to getting the area educated a high one. The city is also smack dab in the middle between Chicago and the border of Ohio, so if you're looking for a weekend getaway, you can explore the Midwest as a family,

2 Sioux Falls, SD

It's not just Sioux Falls that deserves some much-needed love, it's the state of South Dakota. Why do the two Dakotas get zero attention from the rest of the country? Especially since Sioux Falls is such a beautiful place to raise a family. Not only is the population on the lower side (around 165,000 people), but their jobs are increasing and their poverty rate is one of the lowest on this list.

When looking at a map, Sioux Falls isn't far from the borders of Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska. So if you're hoping your kids stay close to home as they grow up, choosing Sioux Falls (where the median household income is almost $55,000) could be the way to go since it's easily reached by three borders.

1 Way Too Expensive: Miami, FL

Miami is known for their quick weekend getaways for people around the country. Knowing how crowded it is with tourists and party-goers, it makes the city quite expensive to live in. Not to mention a tad rowdy at times. With the average income being around $34,000, it can be hard to achieve owning a home when the rate is over $277,000. Not to mention the average age of the city is around 40 years old, so Miami might not be the best option as a place to place to be around other young and growing families. It should definitely be added to your summer vacation, though!

Resources: DataUSA, AreaVibes.

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