It is essential to factor in the cost of living in a place where your potential college is located. You may find an affordable college but the cost of things like supplies, housing, and grocery store may not be pocket-friendly.
How do you identify the right college to attend? Your needs and what you expect should come first. Make sure you consider your current location, your preferred location, or where you have the most friends. In some cases, students prefer attending institutions where they have a family member(s).
In general, it is advisable to go for an institution that won’t affect your budget. Picking a college is not just about picking a school, but also picking a home where you will be staying for the next 4 years.
The location of your school will determine many things, such as the amount of money you will spend. Looking for a college experience that would not break your budget is a difficult task, and that is why we have gone through the stress to get you in-depth research on college towns in the country and have figured out the ten most affordable options.
How were they Ranked? Our Ranking Criteria
Before we conclude our rankings, we had to factor in everything college students would like to include in their budgets as well as other additional expenses. We consider seven major factors that could affect the cost of living in each college city:
- The average rent of a 1-bedroom apartment in the middle of the city
- Minimum wage
- City population
- Annual tuition
- The average cost of utilities
- Transportation cost, using the cost of a 1-way train fare plus 1 gallon of fuel
- Cost of a movie ticket
- And much more.
Our List of Ten Most Affordable College Towns
These towns satisfy certain requirements to least reasonable expenses such as taxes, housing, health care, food, utilities and transportation based on the present data on the cost of living.
We also consider the room and board for students staying on and off-campus studying 4 years of college degrees. Quickly take a look at what each of the 10 most affordable college towns in the United States has to offer:
1. Springfield, Missouri
Springfield is the 3rd largest city in Missouri and Greene County. Living in this town is very much affordable compared to the national average.
Housing here is very lower compared to other towns, and the index for the cost of living is at 60.56. A 1-bedroom apartment here costs just $592/month.
This low rent cost makes this place a home for many colleges and also ranked first on our list.
The price for a room and board on campus is $8,755 at Missouri State University, and it includes meals. Students can save significantly from this affordable cost.
There are also many things those on a budget can enjoy in this town such as museums, concerts, drive-in movie theater, an old arcade as well as an observatory.
- The average monthly rent is $592.
- Other expenses are $4,119
- Missouri State University
- In-state tuition: $7,306
- Out-of-state tuition: $14,746
2. Mobile, Alabama
Living in a port city situated on the water is always costly, but the case is different on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. The cost of living in Alabama is lower compared to any other state.
Those seeking a great deal when it comes to lodging will find it easy here, especially in Mobile. A 1-bedroom apartment will cost an average of $776.83.
Although there are many historical buildings in this metro area, the interiors have been properly renovated and refinished. They all go for unexpectedly lower prices.
A room and board on campus at the University of Southern Alabama goes for just $7,490 for a session. This state is perfectly right for football lovers as no one in this state would miss college football.
Most colleges in Mobile offer room and board to students at less-than-average prices, as they have lots of things to engage students with downtown, such as a big Mardi Gras celebration which goes on for over 2 weeks.
- The average monthly rent: $776.83.
- Housing (Yearly): $3,980
- Meals (Yearly): $3,510
- Other Expenses (annually): $4,096
- University of South Alabama
- In-state tuition: $8,396
- Out-of-state tuition: $16,292
3. Toledo, Ohio
This is another place where college students will save some money by staying outside the campus. You will get a single bedroom apartment in the middle of Ohio City at $661/month, as stated by Numbeo.
The cost of living here is relatively low due to its affordable housing. The majority of the best schools in Ohio are located in Toledo and thus were ranked as one of the most livable places in the U.S.
The average apartment rate for a 1-bedroom in the city is just $642 and is the cheapest on the list. The price of room and board on the University of Toledo’s campus is $11,005 for one academic year.
Living off-campus is advisable for students so they can save much from the cheaper cost of living in this city.
There are many other benefits from this college town, such as downtown, where you will find minor league ballpark, restaurants, and nightclubs as well as brewpubs.
- The average monthly rent: $661
- Housing (Yearly): $7,108
- Meals (Yearly): $3,896
- Other Expenses (annually): $3,306
- University of Toledo
- In-state tuition: $10,293
- Out-of-state tuition: $19,653
4. Tucson, Arizona
The rich history of Tucson is one of its greatest turn on aside the beautiful sunsets, wide-open spaces, climber’s haven, and runner’s den. One of the treasures of this city is the University of Arizona.
It is one of the oldest and widely known institutions in the United States. Although the cost of living in this city is not the lowest, however, its cost of local housing is lower than the national average.
A 1-bedroom apartment on the average will cost $705 monthly. That implies that students staying off-campus will save a lot. The rate for room and board on campus is set at $6,200 per academic year and only for a maximum of two students.
4th Avenue is available for undergraduates as this place is closer to many bars, vintage shops, and restaurants, and the beauty of it, is that it is closer to the campus.
- The average monthly rent: $705.
- Housing (Annually): $ 7,700
- Meals (Annually): $ 4,600
- Other Living Expenses (Annually): $ 3,300
- University of Arizona
- In-state tuition: $12,467
- Out-of-state tuition: $36,366
5. Oklahoma City
Due to the cheaper rents and various free activities such as nature preserves on the widely known Route 66 and museums in OKC, which is the capital of Oklahoma, the cost of living here is unexpectedly affordable.
The housing cost in the city is one of the highest on our list even though the cost of living index here is very low at 61.72. The average cost of a 1-bedroom apartment is set at $857.06 per month.
Taking Oklahoma City University as an example, the rate for room and board on the campus is set at $8,624 per academic year.
However, there is a high job opportunity in the city as well as the low cost of living, which means you can get most of your money. There is no limit to what you will see in this great city.
You can try First Friday Gallery Walk in the city for a cheap date, as it is the time when the majority of the art galleries in the Paseo district offer free snacks and drinks to people.
- The average monthly rent: $705.
- Housing (Annually): $ 5,750
- Meals (Annually): $ 4,524
- Other Living Expenses (Annually): $ 4,558
- Oklahoma City University
- Tuition: $31,026
6. Lubbock, Texas
This city houses both public and private religious university with cheaper places where college students can live and study. Among the list of reputable colleges in Texas is Texas Tech University.
Campus room and board in this school are being offered at $3,675 for a maximum of three occupants, which is relatively low, aside from its good reputation. This city doubtlessly has cheaper housing costs in Texas.
In Lubbock, the average price for renting a 1-bedroom apartment is set at $671.88/month. The cost of living index there is 62.4, which is 37.6% less compared to New York.
The city also has one of the shortest transports in the country. In this city, you will spend less, experience less traffic, less stress, as well as fewer worries.
- The average monthly rent: $671.88.
- Housing (Annually): $5,187
- Meals (Annually): $3,895
- Other Living Expenses (Annually): $4,420
- Texas Tech University
- In-state tuition: $9,080
- Out-of-state tuition: $19,040
7. Huntsville, Alabama
Without argument, everyone knows that this city is affordable. Those moving to college in Huntsville will be able to save some money on housing as well as enjoy the much fun around the town.
Rocket City Brewfest is available for them to enjoy, as it is a yearly festival of craft beer done during spring. You will enjoy dining, grocery, and many other things in this city.
Huntsville has a lower cost of living index at 59.8. A 1-bedroom apartment in this city, according to Numbeo, is at an average of $860.82 monthly. The average tuition fee at Oakwood University is $16,720.
The room and board price on-campus goes for $9,700 annually and is below $10,800, which is the average rate for colleges.
- The average monthly rent: $860.82.
- Housing (Annually): $4,692
- Meals (Annually): $4,958
- Other Living Expenses (Annually): $7,890
- Oakwood University
- Tuition= $19,732
8. Little Rock, Arkansas
This city is home to the cheap housing stock. All the colleges in Little Rock offer housing and meal plans at an affordable rate. However, there are many cheaper options, off-campus.
The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment at little rock is $778.70 per month while the cost of living index in the town at 60.24.
The rate for room and board on the campus is set at $8,250, while tuition fee is set at $12,714 per academic year.
There are many amazing views in the town, as well as some delicious meals, many popular festivals in the country as well as good music.
You will also enjoy gardens and museums in the riverfront city which entertains you with its beautiful view. You are going to love it here.
- The average monthly rent: $778.70.
- Housing (Annually) $ 5,192
- Meals (Annually) $ 3,058
- Other Living Expenses: (Annually) $ 3,426
- Philander Smith College
- Tuition: $13,014
9. Fort Wayne, Indiana
Living in Fort Wayne is so much affordable to students, and this is so due to the lower housing cost in the city, which is over 25% lower to the national average.
Here in Fort Wayne, the cost of living index is 65.88, making it over 50% lower than most big cities in the country. You will spend just $700/month on a 1-bedroom apartment rental in the middle of the city.
The popular Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne is one of the institutions there, and their tuition fee is $20,005, while the room and board on the campus go for $9,345 per academic year.
The city also offers students a free public ride to the University. This comes of great help to those on a slim budget. This town is worth considering as there are peace and low cost of living here.
The city, in its quest to make everyone living in it comfortably, has introduced a comfortable sharing program, and it also organizes concerts at the end of each week.
- The average monthly rent: $700.
- Housing (Annually): $ 6,844
- Other Living Expenses (Annually): $ 2,726
- Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne
- In-state tuition: $9,465
- Out-of-state tuition: $29,821
10. Redding, California
Although the cost of living in most parts of California is high, however, the case in Redding is different. The average cost of renting a 1-bedroom apartment here is $840/month.
Simpson University in Redding also provides students with a great value at the best liberal arts college which cannot be compared with any private institutions in North California.
The tuition fee is set at $27,250, while the annual price for room and board on campus is set at $8,140. There are various recreational activities being offered by the town.
There are many things students can enjoy free of charge, such as multiple national parts. If this city is your choice, you will be glad you do.
- The median monthly rent: $700
- Housing (Annually): $ 4,570
- Meal (Annually): $ 3,780
- Other Expenses (Annually): $ 3,087
- Simpson University
- Tuition: $27,700
If you have made your choice as regards your college towns and institution, and you are left with moving yourself to the towns, you can make use of the best movers in our network. You can check our review of the best long-distance movers to see which of the moving companies we ranked top or use request moving quote tool to locate one that perfectly meets your moving needs. You can as well read our post on Guide to College Moving and Storage.