10 Best Affordable Southern Cities to Live for Millennials


As much negativity as the millennial generation gets, they do appreciate affordability. While certain trendy cities have grown exponentially from millennials moving there, those cities have also become increasingly expensive. With cities like Portland and Austin becoming hot-beds for millennials, here is a list of the 10 best affordable Southern cities to live for millennials.

This list comprises the statistics from US News Real Estate for Best Places to Live 2018 as well as Best Affordable Places to Live 2018 to offer the ultimate list of affordable Southern cities that are perfect for millennials.

Small Southern Cities

The south is flooded with excellent small cities that are extremely affordable and infiltrated with fun things to do. If you enjoy getting away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities, this list will suit your needs. If you prefer all the amenities a larger city has to offer, I suggest you consider some of these small southern cities because you might be surprised by their young and hip atmosphere.


Asheville, North Carolina

  • Population: 441,724
  • Average annual salary: $40,330
  • Median home price: $349,320
  • Median monthly rent: $815
  • Quality of life: 7.2
  • Value index: 6.3

If you’re a person that loves the cost of the South but worried it may be too conservative, the small city of Asheville may be the perfect place for you. Nestled high in the Appalachian Mountains, Asheville is a haven for not only outdoor lovers but beer lovers as well. Ranked 2nd in the US for most breweries per capita, Asheville shares their catch phrase, “Keep Asheville Weird,” with the notoriously hip cities of Portland and Austin, without the increasingly high population. If you like the snow but are worried the hot and humid South may not fit your climate needs, you’ll be happy to know Asheville gets all four seasons. A tourist hotspot, it is consistently ranked as one of, if not the most beautiful city in America.


Greenville, South Carolina

  • Population: 862,064
  • Average annual salary: $42,290
  • Median home price: $159,692
  • Median monthly rent: $762
  • Quality of life: 6.7
  • Value index: 7.2

If you are looking for an alternative to Asheville without the tourism, Greenville is another booming small Southern city along the Appalachian Mountains. Although not quite in the mountains, Greenville has a much more stable climate that is more common in the South and doesn’t get snow like their Asheville neighbors. If you enjoy snow activities however, Greenville is a relatively short drive to the ski resorts in North Carolina. Nestled roughly 2 hours in-between the large cities of Atlanta and Charlotte, this hilly destination was actually ranked 3rd for best food cities in the US and is becoming a trending spot for young couples.


Chattanooga, Tennessee

  • Population: 544,522
  • Average annual salary: $41,940
  • Median home price: $154,650
  • Median monthly rent: $747
  • Quality of life: 5.9
  • Value index: 7.2

Similar to Asheville, Chattanooga is known for their extensive outdoor activities and rightfully nicknamed, the Scenic City. Recognized by USA Cycling as one of the most cycling-friendly destinations, it is not uncommon to find alternative means of transportation. Nestled in the southern portion of the Appalachian Mountains along the Cumberland Plateau, Chattanooga sites at the corner of Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama and offers spectacular views from Lookout Mountain. With an extremely young and active population, Chattanooga is a great small Southern city for the outdoor lovers.


Huntsville, Alabama

  • Population: 440,230
  • Average annual salary: $52,960
  • Median home price: $245,000
  • Median monthly rent: $759
  • Quality of life: 7.0
  • Value index: 8.8

Huntsville has been a somewhat forgotten city by most outsiders but one that should be seriously considered of anyone looking for a great small Southern city to start a life. While there may be a negative stigma of Alabama for some, I assure you, Huntsville does not fit that image. Huntsville is a beautiful small Southern city that sits at the Appalachian foothills, filled with young couples jogging and white picket fences. From the NASA employment, Huntsville boasts an abnormally high average income, especially for the South.


Fayetteville, Arkansas

  • Population: 503,642
  • Average annual salary: $44,980
  • Median home price: $182,508
  • Median monthly rent: $752
  • Quality of life: 7.5
  • Value index: 7.9

This beautiful college town in the Ozark Mountains is much more than just that. With the help of Walmart, Fayetteville has become a booming small-city in Northwest Arkansas that is extremely affordable. Deriving from the Mountain culture and distinctively young population from the University, Fayetteville is a surprisingly fun and hip city that has previously been overlooked by many. Similar to the atmosphere found in Chattanooga or Asheville, Fayetteville is a cool mountain town that is flooded with good people, a great nightlife and plenty of outdoor activities.


Charleston, South Carolina

  • Population: 728,271
  • Average annual salary: $44,500
  • Median home price: $232,983
  • Median monthly rent: $1,009
  • Quality of life: 6.2
  • Value index: 6.2

Heavily entwined in history and beauty, Charleston is consistently a top place to visit along the east coast. Similar to Savannah or New Orleans, Charleston breaths rich American history from the beautiful architecture as well as fun nightlife. In an extremely walkable city, the people of Charleston are lucky enough to enjoy some of the best shopping in the South as well as the best dining in America, all in a short walk down cobble streets. Charleston was even ranked as the 10th best city in the world and best in America.

Large Southern Cities

If you enjoy the feeling and amenities of a larger city, these large souther cities should fit your needs. With populations that exceed 1 million, you will be able to find whatever you enjoy from a  big city as well as an abnormally low cost of living.


Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

  • Population: 1,786,119
  • Average annual salary: $52,669
  • Median home price: $227,814
  • Median monthly rent: $947
  • Quality of life: 6.7
  • Value index: 7.8

The Raleigh-Durham area has long been considered an international dot in the South. Just outside Raleigh, you will experience the true southern culture of Eastern North Carolina yet inside the city, you are likely to hear accents from all over the world. This is mostly due to the fact that Raleigh and Durham are in the heart of the Research Triangle; comprised of UNC in Chapel Hill, Duke in Durham and NC State in Raleigh. Roughly half the size of Charlotte, the Raleigh-Durham area is an affordable and young metro area that offers all the amnesties of a large city with the diverse and hip culture of a college town, all at an extremely affordable rate.


Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Population: 2,381,152
  • Average annual salary: $49,600
  • Median home price: $200,942
  • Median monthly rent: $893
  • Quality of life: 6.4
  • Value index: 7.5

Unlike Raleigh, Charlotte is a much larger metropolitan area that is more on the scale of Atlanta. From its old southern charm and large banking economy, Charlotte is a cosmopolitan city that has been growing at a rapid rate. With up-and-coming hip neighborhoods like South End, Uptown and NoDa, Charlotte is becoming an increasingly trendy city for young couples that are seeking great job opportunities and an affordable cost of living.


Birmingham, Alabama

  • Population: 1,141,309
  • Average annual salary: $46,440
  • Median home price: $158,108
  • Median monthly rent: $806
  • Quality of life: 5.9
  • Value index: 6.9

Birmingham is a city that has seen extreme highs and lows. The Steel City, as it is common known, was once considered the Pittsburgh of the South. Unfortunately, the steel industry in America is not what it once was and Birmingham has since had a bad reputation for crime. That seems to be changing however as the largest city in Alabama is currently experiencing mass rejuvenation with young, hip couples taking advantage of the low cost of living and outstanding food culture. If you are looking for an affordable yet larger Southern city that’s currently trending upward, Birmingham might be right up your alley.


Houston, Texas

  • Population: 6,482,592
  • Average annual salary: $52,870
  • Median home price: $216,575
  • Median monthly rent: $955
  • Quality of life: 6.9
  • Value index: 7.1

Just like the rest of Texas, Houston is growing at an extraordinarily fast rate with an economy that can support it. While most new Texans look to Austin for great food and cultural diversity, they are actually looking in the wrong place. A far cry from the Urban Cowboy image it once held, the largest city in Texas is not only the most racially diversity in America but also ranked as the best food city in Texas. With its blend of large Texan, Cajun, Middle Eastern and Asian communities, it’s no wonder Houston is known for their amazing food.


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