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Which places in the US have the lowest cost of living?

Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to North America. For those looking to relocate within the US or Canada, discuss your experiences and pros/cons of each domestic region.

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Which places in the US have the lowest cost of living?

Postby Winston » January 5th, 2013, 7:15 pm

I have a question. Suppose someone wanted to relocate within America. Which areas or states would have the lowest cost of living, along with a decent environment (not city slums) for someone on a budget or wants to live frugally?

As far as I know, the lowest cost of living is in Oregon, New Mexico, and maybe other inland states. Those states have a lot of open land and nature too, for peace and quiet without crowds.

Any other suggestions?

My parents want to sell their home in Bellingham, WA. They are wondering where to buy another home in the US, if at all. They are considering Las Vegas, California, Arizona, or New Mexico. Which one do you suggest? Is California still too expensive to move back to? Or have real estate prices there fallen too?

I love the desert, so I'd pick somewhere in the Southwest. As far as I know, one can live cheaply in Las Vegas, but it is not a spiritual place and the traffic is nasty there. New Mexico is a cheap place to live too, but the land is pretty bland, not as scenic as Arizona.

But the Southwest USA would be great as a launching point for visiting Mexico right? And it would have lots of great Mexican food too of course.

What do you think?
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Postby momopi » January 5th, 2013, 8:07 pm

I can only speak for areas where I live and have invested in RE for over 10 years. If your parents would like to know more about RE in Southern California area, have them get in touch with me.
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Postby ladislav » January 6th, 2013, 3:27 am

Palm Springs, CA is a safe place and houses are not that expensive if you know where to look.
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Postby gsjackson » January 6th, 2013, 3:51 am

Tucson, Arizona has incredible real estate vaues right now -- best in the country by far, IMO, when you take quality of life into consideration. You can buy 2-Br condos in a solid complex for 35-40K, 20-25K if you go to the courthouse auction and are prepared to pay cash.
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Postby Winston » January 15th, 2013, 1:59 pm

My parents were looking online and saw that houses in Las Vegas are now 1/3 of what they were before. Wow. They are selling the house in Washington now and looking into buying one there. They found medium sized homes in Las Vegas for $36,000 even. Wow.

What do you all think? Where in Las Vegas would be the best place to live that's safe and clean? MarkLambo, what do you think?

Las Vegas might be very hot and commercial, but it's a great location near the Southwest desert, my favorite part of America. The desert around there in Arizona and Utah is very rejuvenating and spiritual to me.
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Postby Winston » January 15th, 2013, 2:04 pm

gsjackson wrote:Tucson, Arizona has incredible real estate vaues right now -- best in the country by far, IMO, when you take quality of life into consideration. You can buy 2-Br condos in a solid complex for 35-40K, 20-25K if you go to the courthouse auction and are prepared to pay cash.


Courthouse auction? Do you mean foreclosed homes? I heard those can be really dirt cheap.

What are the pros and cons of buying a foreclosed home vs. a normal one? Why doesn't everyone buy a foreclosed home?

Maybe foreclosed homes have bad vibes because the occupants left unwillingly and thus left bad energy? lol
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Postby eurobrat » January 15th, 2013, 2:09 pm

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Last edited by eurobrat on May 30th, 2013, 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby gsjackson » January 15th, 2013, 8:24 pm

Some foreclosed places go to auction, some are put on the regular market. You need a source of information about which ones will be auctioned, and you need cash in hand -- $10,000 at the auction, the rest shortly after.

There's no difference between foreclosed places and places sold by the owner, except the foreclosed places typically will have been abused more by deadbeat owners and tenants and will require more money for renovation, which needs to be cash in hand. Also, you have to be careful about buying, say, a condo, in a complex that has had a lot of foreclosures. This may reflect an HOA that is in bad financial health. There are an awful lot of such places in states where the housing bubble burst badly, such as Arizona and Nevada.

So you have to be careful, and not get sucked in simply by a price that is 20 percent of what it was at the peak of the bubble. And prices have been going up generally in Arizona because the banks have keep a lot of foreclosures off the market and suppressed inventory. But with due diligence you can find some very good values in Arizona and Nevada.
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Re: Which places in the US have the lowest cost of living?

Postby marklambo » January 16th, 2013, 3:01 am

Winston wrote:I have a question. Suppose someone wanted to relocate within America. Which areas or states would have the lowest cost of living, along with a decent environment (not city slums) for someone on a budget or wants to live frugally?

As far as I know, the lowest cost of living is in Oregon, New Mexico, and maybe other inland states. Those states have a lot of open land and nature too, for peace and quiet without crowds.

Any other suggestions?

My parents want to sell their home in Bellingham, WA. They are wondering where to buy another home in the US, if at all. They are considering Las Vegas, California, Arizona, or New Mexico. Which one do you suggest? Is California still too expensive to move back to? Or have real estate prices there fallen too?

I love the desert, so I'd pick somewhere in the Southwest. As far as I know, one can live cheaply in Las Vegas, but it is not a spiritual place and the traffic is nasty there. New Mexico is a cheap place to live too, but the land is pretty bland, not as scenic as Arizona.

But the Southwest USA would be great as a launching point for visiting Mexico right? And it would have lots of great Mexican food too of course.

What do you think?


California is always overpriced and the cost of living will always be higher than the rest of the states mentioned. Places like Las Vegas, New Mexico, AZ, etc are definitely cheaper but overall I think Las Vegas might be a good option. Las Vegas is not that far from driving to places such as AZ, CA, etc. There is no state income tax levied here. California has one of the highest state income tax rates in the country. I used to live in Orange County and everything was expensive for nothing.

Traffic in Vegas is not that bad. California is the absolute worst for traffic, of course it depends on which part. I agree that Las Vegas is not a spiritual place but there is life outside of the strip. Just like any other state, there are schools, churches, great shopping, suburban areas, etc. When you tell people about living in Las Vegas, the first thing they think of is the strip and think that people live on it. The preferred areas would be Summerlin or the South West area. Avoid North Vegas because it is very old and ghetto. Some parts of Henderson are also nice.

I don't have much experience with AZ and NM but if somebody wants a lifestyle that has a good blend of living cheap, living in a good area, and the option to have fun, Vegas would be the place. In Vegas, you can also eat good food at a very cheap price. A lot of the casinos offer crazy deals on meals and if you're smart enough to just eat and not gamble, you can do pretty good. People that are addicted to gambling should not live here. But the truth is that many people that do live here, don't always gamble much. People perceive that if you live in Vegas, you gamble all the time. It's far from the truth. Tourists are ones who do most of the gambling.

For me personally, I love living here. If I want to go to California, it's a 3-4 hour drive. If I want to eat at a restaurant at midnight, I can easily find a place. There's always something to do. But Vegas is not for everyone. If you're weak minded and can't control gambling and drug habits, it's not a recommended place.
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Postby Ghost » January 16th, 2013, 4:56 am

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Re: Which places in the US have the lowest cost of living?

Postby Teal Lantern » January 16th, 2013, 7:45 am

Winston wrote:I have a question. Suppose someone wanted to relocate within America. Which areas or states would have the lowest cost of living, along with a decent environment (not city slums) for someone on a budget or wants to live frugally?

As far as I know, the lowest cost of living is in Oregon, New Mexico, and maybe other inland states. Those states have a lot of open land and nature too, for peace and quiet without crowds.

Any other suggestions? ... What do you think?


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Postby Winston » January 16th, 2013, 5:06 pm

Thanks for your take MarkLambo.

So do you think Las Vegas is good as a real estate investment opportunity?

Are the good areas in Vegas in gated communities? My aunt lives in a gated community. Is that better?

The horrible traffic in Las Vegas is on the strip, which is jam packed 24/7 with dangerous aggressive drivers. Outside of that, the traffic is ok.

How do you meet people there? Is there a way to meet the foreign girls visiting there? What about the locals?

Is Couchsurfing.com and Meetup.org the best way?

I have no gambling addiction. But sometimes I go to strip clubs. Which ones do you recommend there?
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Postby MrPeabody » January 16th, 2013, 5:17 pm

Go to North Dakota. The housing in inexpensive and, unlike a third world country, the people there are highly honest. I actually think that it would be as possible to live as cheaply in North Dakota as it would be to live in a third world country. Remember that in a third world country, to get housing at US standards it will in many cases cost more than the US and you still won't have the infrastructure you have in the US. For example, I am living in Mexico now, and it is very cold, but the houses don't have central heating here. The only reason to go to another country is to improve your social situation. Most people are better off staying in the US. The retire abroad propaganda is generated by US real estate agents who buy up cheap land and then sell it to suckers at a highly inflated price for the area.
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Postby Winston » January 16th, 2013, 5:36 pm

Ok I looked up North Dakota in Google Images. Looks very nice. Lots of open plains and low mountains. Looks like a scene from the Oregon Trail game. lol South Dakota looks nice too. Is South Dakota just as good?

Are the people there like The Waltons family? lol

Are women approachable there? Would they find an Asian guy exotic? lol
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Postby Disillusioned_American » January 16th, 2013, 6:24 pm

I think Oklahoma has the lowest cost of living, but honestly, I don't think you would like it there. I think you have to find a compromise between lower cost of living, and a tolerable environment.
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