10 Affordable U.S. Small Towns With a Great Quality of Life

Think about it. Affordable, super cute, small town w a great quality of life? I don’t know about you, but this sounds amazing to me!

So when I saw this list by realtor.com, I thought it was worth exploring 

So, let’s dive right in

Realtor.com has identified the top 10 most affordable small towns in the U.S. where you can still enjoy a high quality of life. If you’re thinking about making the move, here are the best options based on population, total annual cost of living, livability index, the median home value and more.

We’ll start with #10 and work our way to 1-

10. Taos, NM

With a rich history and culture, Taos offers a great quality of life at a lower price point than most other towns in the country. Taos sits at almost 7,000 feet elevation, at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where residents and tourists can quickly access hiking and biking trails in the summer and snow sports in the winter. It has become one of the Southwest’s outdoor activity hot spots, year-round.

Realtor.com has the median list price at $559,000

9. New Ulm, MN

Sitting in the Minnesota River Valley, about 90 miles southwest of the Twin Cities, New Ulm is the smallest of any place on their list and one of the most distinct. New Ulm was founded by German immigrants in 1854, and the German heritage is unavoidable. New Ulm’s downtown gets full transformation for Christmas, and the town’s Oktoberfest is a destination for anyone looking for an authentic experience. There’s even a 45-foot glockenspiel, whose chimes can be heard throughout the town during the day, and which is adorned with a rotating stage with figurines depicting characters from the town’s history.

Realtor.com has the median list price at $267,400

8. Iron Mountain, MI

Founded in 1879, Iron Mountain is home to the one of the world’s greatest iron mines, Chapin Mine. Located on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and straddling the Wisconsin border, the town is a regional center for outdoor tourism, including hunting, fishing, and skiing. The Pine Mountain Ski & Golf Resort is located on the northern edge of Iron Mountain, as well as the Pine Mountain Ski Jump, which hosts International Ski Federation competitions.

Realtor.com has the median list price at $202,450

7. Rutland, VT

Home to the Green Mountain National Forest, Rutland offers a superb amount of outdoor recreational activities and events. It’s just 25 minutes from one of the largest ski resorts on the East Coast: Killington, known as the “Beast of the East.” But homes are about half of what they cost in Killington, VT, at the base of the resort. In the warmer months of the year, the Green Mountains to the east and the Taconic Mountains to the west offer an abundance of hiking and biking trails. The town has a quaint Main Street, dotted with shops and restaurants.

Realtor.com has the median list price at $280,000

6. Aberdeen, SD

In the northeast corner of South Dakota, Aberdeen is known for its prairie landscape, dotted with parks, lakes, and creeks. On the northern edge of Aberdeen is Wylie Park, which has “Storybook Land,” a theme park based on storybooks and fairy tales. There’s also Wylie Lake, a minigolf course, bumper boats, and go-karts.

Realtor.com has the median list price at $287,900

5. Galesburg, IL

Of all of the places on their list, Galesburg is the cheapest, with prices 70% below the national average. That’s after about a 25% appreciation compared with before the pandemic, without any real slump in prices over the past year of mortgage interest rate hikes. This small town is located in the western part of the state, about an hour south of Davenport, IA. The town has a rich history, having been established in 1837 by abolitionists from New York. It’s named after George Washington Gale, a Presbyterian minister who helped lead the local anti-slavery movement and aided in the escape of fugitive slaves, and it became a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Realtor.com has a median list price at $127,425

4. Sandusky, OH

Sandusky is another popular lake town. Perched on the edge of Lake Erie, about midway between Toledo to the west and Cleveland to the east, the town has plenty of restaurants and bars downtown and along the thriving waterfront. One of the most popular attractions is the iconic Cedar Point Amusement Park, with 16 world-class roller coasters. In fact, Cedar Point is known around these parts as “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World.”

Realtor.com has a median list price at $257,450

3. Branson, MO

Branson is a lake lover’s dream. It snagged one of the top spots of the Realtor.com annual list of the nation’s most affordable lake towns for four of the past five years. The town is located in the southern Ozarks, just a little north of the Arkansas border. Branson ranks the highest among all of their towns in the Census Bureau’s “amusement, gambling, and recreation” industries, as the town has become a hub for tourism and live music.

Realtor.com has a median list price at $320,000

2. Kearney, NE

Located in the heart of the Midwest, Kearney is about 2.5 hours west of Omaha and 2.5 hours east of the Colorado state line. Kearney (rhymes with “Barney”) began as a historic Army outpost, founded in 1848, along the Oregon Trail. It became an important stop for those wagons driving west during the expansion of the U.S. There are hiking and biking trails, parks, golf courses, and white water rafting on the Platte River bordering Kearney to the south. 

Realtor.com has a median list price at $384,450

1. Cortland, NY

And their No. 1 affordable small town with lots of big-city appeal is Cortland. The residents of the town in central New York have quick access to some larger cities, sitting about 35 minutes north of Ithaca and 45 minutes south of Syracuse. Cortland, which has a history dating to the late 18th century, is surrounded by tree-covered hills, which transform into a patchwork of orange, gold, and crimson in the fall, which sets the mood for the annual Great Cortland Pumpkin Festival.

Cortland, like any good small town, has a Main Street dotted with restaurants, bars, coffee shops, vintage boutiques, and tattoo parlors. For the more adventurous Cortlanders, Greek Peak Mountain Resort is where to go for downhill skiing and snowboarding, as well as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing—and it’s only 15 minutes outside of town.

Realtor.com has a median list price of $159,250

So there you have it! Some of these places look really nice! I’ll put a link to the article in the description because if you click on any of these towns, it will bring up current listings in the area so you can start your search!

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