Top Cities for Cheapskates: 10 Places You Can Live Well for Less

River WalkBy Caitlin Dewey,

In some circles, "cheapskate" is a derogatory term. But in a world where everyday expenses seem to be rising, well, every day, thriftiness isn't shameful. In fact, it's just good common sense.

The best cities for cheapskates are places where a dollar stretches further -- a lot further. To come up with our list, we looked for metropolitan areas with low living costs and high incomes relative to those costs. The cities that made the cut have cost-of-living scores well below the national average of 100, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research.

We also selected places that offer plenty of free (or nearly free) things to do. Like most people, cheapskates enjoy getting out. They just don't want to pay a lot for the privilege. All the picks on our list boast large numbers of public libraries and museums per capita, ensuring affordable access to culture. And to guarantee frugal shopping options, we tallied the number of Dollar General stores -- a cheapskate favorite -- in a 30-mile radius of each city.

Check out our list of the 10 best cities for cheapskates.

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If you live where its cold a nice Vermont Castings wood stove works well for heat, and of course an Electric Blanket,, and a tight well insulated house is a must. All these places sound O.K. but theres just something about haveing the 4 seasons that some people like myself cannot seem to live without.

June 12 2012 at 1:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, I live in Jonesboro and the cheapest living cost we have are electric and water. We have some of the highest real estate prices in the state. I paid more for my house here than a friend of mine did in a suburb of Dallas. I have more yard, he has more square feet. We have income tax, two types of property tax and a high sales tax. The "free" options are all parks and a couple of museums. Why are there so many Dollar Generals? Because people here can't afford anything else.

May 13 2012 at 11:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lifer in Kalamazoo. Yeah, we've got a funny name but love our city. If you like arts of any kind, we've got it. Affordable restaurants. We're an industrial city with everything from paper to pharmaceuticals. More than likely you've got something in your home right now that came from here.
Not too big, not too small.
The Kalamazoo Promise. If your children attend Kalamazoo schools and graduate they are guaranteed a free college tuition.
We have everything that big cities have, just on a smaller scale.
Two of the best hospitals in the nation.

I don't know if I like the word cheap associated with our city but there are plenty of things to do that are free or inexpensive. You can find something to do every weekend in the summer, so many things that you won't have time to do them all.

May 04 2012 at 10:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Gary, San Antonio is the 7th largest city in the US - way larger than St. Louis. My Dad retired from the AF in San Antonio, I went to St. Marys U - it is my home of preference. Great city, great people - just a great place to live. The cost of living in San Antonio is very low compaired to a lot of other cities in the US that have less to offer. Sort of more bang for your bucks!

May 04 2012 at 10:14 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Gary H Mayer

I have been to all of the cities except Jonesboro, Arkansas. I could live very comfortably in Eau Claire, WI, El Paso or San Antonio, TX. My dad retired to San Antonio from Milwaukee and loved it there. I always chose San Antonio for my firm's business trips because I was the boss; also took the family to visit dad; had a second honeymoon in Laredo, donning a cowboy outfit, complete with hat, boots, gun belt, holster and firearm and....'I Walked Out in the Streets of Laredo.' My wife and I stayed at the La Posada, overlooking the Rio Grande. I like the song 'El Paso' as much as the city; and, Eau Claire reminds me of a custard-filled chocolate sweet treat. La Crosse, however, is the prettiest sizable city in Wisconsin and Appleton the most cultured for a smaller town.

Cities like Dallas, Tampa, San francisco, San Diego, Madison, WI are too big and hard to get around in and don't make the list because of cost but if I had the money divide my time bewtween San Francisco, San Diego or Madison depending upon the season. Call me a liberal if you wish but they are 'Top Gun.'

The ultimate U.S. city is Hanalei, Kauai, HI where I could afford a cardboard box and love it.

It's hard to imagine living in St. Louis on the cheap since it is such a large city. San Antonio is large but Texas has the best business climate in the U.S. and I don't bleieve they have a state income tax. Am I right or wrong?

May 04 2012 at 9:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Gary H Mayer's comment

Yes, Gary we do not have state income tax here in Texas. We pay federal taxes. Keep in mind though that the summers are hot and sometimes can be very humid here in San Antonio. The fall and winter are nicer seasons to be outdoors. It is only May and we have seen 96 already, 100 won't be far behind.

May 04 2012 at 10:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Would someone please explain the dollar general connections, and then explain please what is a dollar tree...

May 04 2012 at 5:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ohslimgoody's comment
Gary H Mayer

It's a chain that sells everything for a dollar. Go to to find locations. They have some great stuff for one 'buck.'

May 04 2012 at 9:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I knew a guy who was so cheap...When he sneezed he wanted his germs back...

May 04 2012 at 5:35 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

You'd have to pay ME to live in most of those places; most too darn cold.

May 04 2012 at 5:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mikersales's comment
Gary H Mayer

mikersales: San Antonio cold? Eau Claire is cold but so beautiful, it's worth it - still not the most beautiful city in Wisconsin.

I'm surprised Charleston, SC or Savannah, GA aren't on the list - they are reasonable. So is Bradenten, FL where housing is dirt cheap.

El Paso has sunshine 90% of the year and it's a great city.....'Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso' where we shoot drug dealers down; same for Laredo. Every state has a concealed gun law now, except Illinois.

I'll take a little grass shack in Kauai; that's all most people could afford there.

May 04 2012 at 9:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

One thing that comes to mind, many of these locations have harsh winters, so heating costs are a factor. Just a thought.

May 04 2012 at 4:10 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to RMS's comment
Gary H Mayer

Ray: You are a WIMP! people up north have fireplaces and blankets. You can become accustomed to the cold. I'm a Vivaldi fan; I'll take 'The Four Seasons.'

May 04 2012 at 9:58 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

The cheapest man in America, Jeff Yeager, would love living in one of these cities:

May 04 2012 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply