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Top 10 Most Affordable U.S. Cities to Live In

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

City living is wonderful, but the cost of living in some of the big U.S. cities—looking at you New York and Los Angeles—is a big deterrent for living there. Luckily this country has multiple wonderful cities throughout it where the cost of living is more affordable. Here are 10 of the most affordable cities you’ll find in the U.S.

1. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh is a great place to get the hustle and bustle of the city without feeling overwhelmed. It’s also cheap, especially when compared to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s other main city. One of the best benefits here is the low cost of housing and utilities.

Built around where three rivers meet, it’s also in a unique and gorgeous location. Even when you live there, the view of the city from Mount Washington doesn’t get old. Three major sports teams have stadiums there, and the energy in Pittsburgh on game day is something that’s hard to find anywhere else.

2. Fayetteville, AR

Another city with a very low cost of housing, Fayetteville comes in under the national average in every major expense. If that doesn’t sell you, the city has also been in the top five in the best places to live ranking two years running now. Factoring into that ranking was the low commute times, low unemployment rate and a lower crime rate compared to cities similar in size.

There are multiple parks in the city, as well as Lake Fayetteville, a sizeable lake great for fishing and kayaking. If you’re into history, the Clinton House Museum is here, as well as one of the most intact Civil War battlegrounds in the country, Prairie Grove.

3. Omaha, NE

omaha nebraska

Image via Flickr by vwCampin 

Omaha is also under the national average in all the major expenses, with housing and utilities being the farthest under. The city is located right in the heart of the country, giving you equal distance to all sorts of destinations.

Omaha itself offers a strong arts and culture scene with many museums and cultural events. The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is outstanding and takes at least a full day for you to see it all. Sports fans looking for something out of the box can enjoy the AKSARBEN Stock Show & Rodeo.

4. Des Moines, IA

Des Moines has a solid 10% lower cost of living than the rest of the country—housing and groceries being the lowest amenities. It tops the list as the most affordable city in the country due to less than 25% of income being spent on living expenses. It’s the only city that’s under 25% in that category.

If you’re a political junkie, the Iowa caucus is one of the biggest factors in a presidential election, meaning campaigns are sure to stop here. Downtown has been revitalized recently and is home to festivals, restaurants and other hot spots.

5. Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis is becoming more affordable, with its housing prices going down a bit this past year. Indy boasts both the Indy 500 and the Indianapolis Colts, so it’s another city that’s heaven for sports fans. It has a great arts and antiques scene, as well as live music. And if you need a break from the city, it’s surrounded by state parks.

6. Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids MichiganImage via Flickr by amtrack_russ 

While the transportation costs are a bit above average, Grand Rapids makes up for that with low housing and health care costs. If you love public art and craft beer, Grand Rapids is a great choice. The city gives off a small-town feeling, with people always waving hello as you walk by. There are 1200 acres of parks within the city, and if you’re looking for more water than the river offers, Lake Michigan is less than an hour away.

7. Knoxville, TN

Knoxville’s housing costs come in at a whopping 23% below the national average. Knoxville is known as the most dog friendly city, which is probably the best selling point a city could have. The Knoxville Museum of Art has fun classes so you can continue to learn and hone skills throughout your lifetime. Turkey Creek offers 300 acres of shopping if you’re craving some retail therapy.

8. Buffalo, NY

New York City may not be affordable, but Buffalo definitely is. It’s also one of the most beautiful cities to live in with all the waterfront views—it’s right on Lake Erie and the Niagara River. You’ll also have one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders, Niagara Falls, a short drive away. Winter is king here, with great skiing and ice-skating areas.

Whether you are looking to move, or just visit, check out this guide to Buffalo for where to stay, where to eat, what to do & what to see!

9 + 10 Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN

They don’t call them the twin cities for nothing. Both of these have a low cost of living and residents only pay a little under 26% of their income towards housing and utilities. The cities offer a high quality of life and the job market there is in its prime. You can be right in the thick of two cities and reap the benefits from both. It means more things to do and explore, and more job opportunities that are close to you.

Living in an amazing city doesn’t have to break the bank. While they might not be the biggest cities the country must offer, they still have that city feel and their own unique charms—not to mention being affordable.



Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.

Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!

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Bike Trails That Will Leave You Speechless In Scottsdale, Arizona

By Denise Nelson

Just recently I found myself in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s a beautiful city with a lot to do, enjoy and see, so of course I had to see the landscapes and what the city had to offer a cyclist like myself. I took to the roads early in the morning to ride through the old-town Scottsdale, looking at the architecture of the buildings and the unique feeling this side of town could offer. It’s not only what the city has to offer in views but also the benefits of cycling that are always a good reason to get out and on that bike!

>Scottsdale has been recognized for its biker friendliness and recognized by the League of American Bicyclists at the gold level. It’s a clean way to get around and, in a bicycle-safe community, it provides safe transportation and accommodation to bikers. If you like to cycle with a canine, Scottsdale is the place to do it. They allow pets to come along on your travels… just as long as you pick up after them!

There are many options to choose from between paved or unpaved trails and even mountain trails. They range in distance, but they also offer a variety of views as you travel through different parts of Scottsdale and experience something new.

 The Stunning Views On Scottsdale’s Bike Trails

Echo Canyon Trail head at Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona

As the sun rose higher in the sky, the weather was warming up and I decided to ride down the Scottsdale Greenbelt, which takes you down through Scottsdale to Tempe Town Lake. In total, this trip is 14.5 miles (23 km) and worth it for every bit of scenery you see along the way (especially if you stop for a small detour to see Marguerite Lake.).

There are also two paved bike trail sets to choose from, or do both: the McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails and the DC Ranch Paved Trails. I chose to do the McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails since there were more of them and offered more visual stimulation.

McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails

There are many options for mountain bikers as well. We took to Tom’s Thumb, which is part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and allows for beautiful mountain rock formations, desert landscape, plenty of desert wildlife on the trail and the vast blue sky above you.

On the mountain trail through McDowell Mountain Regional Park, you can see a variety of mountains, hills, rocks, cacti, desert plants, desert landscape, wildlife and hikers. This trail is beautiful and leaves a lasting impression on you, especially when seen at sunset. The sunset in Scottsdale is this beautiful purple-red-orange scene that paints the desert beautiful colors. The picture you see while riding your bike through this desert at sunset is absolutely gorgeous and is something that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Other Bike Trails in Scottsdale, Arizona to Cycle

Arizona desert landscape, Phoenix,Scottsdale area.

Another trail to ride on would be the Indian Bend Wash Path. It is a beautiful, lush and green 22 mile (35.5 km) expanse with parks, waterways and greenery. What is great about this trail is the fact that there are tunnels and bridges that go over and under the roadways so you don’t have to take a break from the beautiful view while you ride.

I also recommend the South Mountain Trail. It’s a 16,000-acre park and offers tough, but interesting trails for multiple levels of bikers. I went on the Desert Classic trail, which is 9 miles (14.5km) with a beautiful view of the rich greenery and mountainous landscape offered only by the desert. Here you’ll find one-of-a-kind views of the rock formations and steep cliffs.

Following South Mountain, I would also recommend the Browns Ranch Trails. It’s roughly 13 miles (21km) long. The wildlife you’ll see range from rabbits and squirrels to desert tortoises and snakes. Rock formations, natural landscaping and relaxed trails provide for an easy ride to enjoy a desert scene with a gorgeous view.

If you are more advanced in your riding you’ll want to check out Sunrise Trail. It’s a fairly new trail that is 10 miles (16km) long and very rugged and steep. The trail is very narrow so you need to watch for hikers and for your own safety as cacti grow close to the trails. It is also a single-track and has a steep elevation of 1,700 ft (518m).

Lastly for mountain biking, I would say to finish with the Whiskey Bottle Trail. It’s a short 3 mile (5km) trail that is for intermediate-advanced bike riders. The trail starts off easy but you gain a steep increase of 800 ft (244m) into a more rocky trail. There are tight curves and dangerous turns and terrain. Overall, this trail is a short, but rewarding, trail to bike on as it provides a beautiful view at the end, overlooking the vast desert with it’s beautiful rocks, scenery, and animals.

The Many Colours Of Cycling in Scottsdale

Serene iconic Arizona desert morning sunrise with enormous powerful sun on horizon line framed by Saguaro cactus - gorgeous lens flare.

Taking to the roads, there are plenty of street lanes for you to get to any place of business you’d like. Taking this route allows you to see the art on the above route of the Indian Bend Wash Path, get to bookstores, grocery stores and more, all while taking in the view of homes and the architecture styles of old and new homes built in Scottsdale.

If you don’t want to go alone, then you have the options of group rides! They welcome any type of rider, at any level, and they offer multiple time frames to fit your schedule. Each day of the week, they’ll take you on different trails, paths, and parks. This allows for a memorable experience while meeting new people with similar interests. Riding together allows for a deeper experience in a new place with the added personal connection while talking with other riders.

The amount of trails and scenery available in Scottsdale is amazing. There are so many trails and paths to explore that you could have a fantastic weeklong experience. A wonderful bonus to the trails and paths are the lakes, mountains, and parks that are available to bike riders.

If you ride early in the morning, you can see the sunrise cast its beautiful rays over colour across the vast desert. At night, the painting-like sunset casts that colour over the desert leaving it bathed in a beautiful nighttime glow.

Tips Before You Head Out On A Scottsdale Bike Trail

Overall, if you want to take on any of these trails, whether you are a beginner or an advanced biker, you need to make sure you are prepared and in shape for the trail you are planning to ride. Make sure your bike is comfortable and you have enough water and snacks to keep you safe on your ride. Always wear your helmet and dress appropriately for the weather and the trail type. Make sure to map your trail so you always stay on track and don’t get lost and make sure to take everything into consideration so you can have a great ride!


denise nelson profile picABOUT THE AUTHOR

Denise is a mountain biker who enjoys cross-country biking around the world. She worked as a trainer for 6 years before becoming a co-founder of a private biking lessons school to teach people how to properly train & ride bikes to prepare them for cross-country & any activities they want to indulge in. She’s also a founder of MountainBikeEZ where you can learn about mountain bikes & mountain biking.

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