The cheapest places to live in Kentucky provide the perfect combination of affordable living and high quality of life. The latest Kentucky Census data confirms that Kentucky cities and towns offer numerous options for affordable living costs, low home prices, and favorable real estate conditions.
Most people think that the Bluegrass State is filled with places with horse ranches, silly hat-wearing Kentucky Derby-ites and the University of Kentucky Wildcat super fans. And while all this might be true for most places in Kentucky, the trick is to find all of this goodness in the most affordable places to live in Kentucky.
Kentucky companies like Jif Peanut Butter and Post-it Notes provide good jobs for people living in affordable Kentucky cities. Coincidentally, we can thank Kentucky’s educational institutions, like the University of Louisville, for producing intelligent, hard-working Kentuckians who want to make Kentucky affordable.
So, want to know where you can find a safe, affordable Kentucky home and a job that pays the bills? Keep reading.
The 10 most affordable places to live in Kentucky
What’s the cheapest place to live in Kentucky? The most affordable place in Kentucky for 2023 is Central City.
It’s simple economics, folks. Good jobs increase median incomes, which translates to most people being able to live in our most affordable Kentucky places. Even hip millennial cities like Des Moines and fantastic college cities like Lexington are affordable in Kentucky.
So, if you care about home values and affordability, look at the list below to find a cheap place to live in Kentucky. And if you are still looking for your favorite there, head to the bottom for a full table of affordability for Kentucky cities.
Check out some more reading about Kentucky and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 cheapest places to live in Kentucky for 2023
You won’t be sacrificing safety for affordability if you choose to live in Central City, because it’s among the safest places in Kentucky. Homes in Central City go for about $111,300, the ninth cheapest price tag you’ll find in the state. And in terms of home price to income ratio, Central City is the third best statewide. Only a slightly less affordable market for renters keeps Central City from the #1 spot on this list.
Ever hear of the Dukes of Hazzard? Well, this isn’t that place. However, Hazard did play host to its sort-of namesake TV show, during the 1981 Black Gold Festival. The rest of the time, Hazard stands as the number 2 easiest place to afford in Kentucky.
Times can be hard in this one-time booming coal town. The median income stands at $55,543 and the unemployment rate hovers at 12.43%. This has contributed to a high crime rate, which sits about 30% above the national average.
Luckily, the 5,236 residents of Hazard are able to stretch a dollar. The overall cost of living stands about 15% below the U.S. standard. This comes mostly thanks to cheap housing. The median home value in Hazard is $117,600, while the area’s median rent comes in at $666 per month.
You won’t find anywhere cheaper to live in Kentucky than Princeton, a small city in western Kentucky. Homes here are nearly as cheap as a year’s tuition at the Ivy League version of Princeton, with a median price tag of $75,000. That’s the second lowest median home price in Kentucky. And with folks in Princeton earning a median income of $41,506, the city is the first easiest place to pay off your mortgage.
Not to mention that you’ll spend the 29th lowest proportion of your salary on an apartment statewide if you choose to rent instead of buy. With all that money you’re saving on housing, you’ll have plenty to splurge when the summertime Black Patch Heritage Festival rolls around.
Flatwoods already scored an 8/10 on our overall Snackability scale, so we already knew it was a great place to call home. Safety, short commutes, solid amenities, and, of course, uber-affordability are all a guarantee when you’re in Flatwoods. The city has the second lowest home price to income ratio in Kentucky, with homes going for $100,200 and residents earning $54,673/year. In other words, it’s quite easy to believe that you’re living in one of the cheapest states to live in America when you’re in Flatwoods.
Flatwoods is located in the eastern part of Kentucky, near the borders of Ohio and West Virginia.
Yet another Cincinnati suburb, Dayton ranks as the fifth most affordable place in Kentucky. While Dayton is one of the least economical places to rent on this list, the city is saved by it’s exceptional home price to income ratio; the fourth best in Kentucky. Homes in Dayton go for about $112,800 and residents earn a median income of $55,130.
Since the mortgage isn’t breaking the bank, you’ll have plenty of cash to ball out on a Riverboat Tour of the Ohio River. Heck, you may even be able to afford the yacht option with how much you’re saving on housing.
Located in the eastern part of Kentucky near the borders of Ohio and West Virginia, Ashland comes in as the sixth least expensive city in Kentucky. Living nearby Ashland’s gorgeous Central Park is astronomically cheaper than doing so in the NYC version. In fact, with a median rent of $693/month, renting in Ashland is cheaper than the average rent in Kentucky by a huge margin.
But what really lands Ashland on this list is the fact that, at $106,400, the city has the sixth cheapest homes in Kentucky.
A suburb of Cincinnati, Bellevue is a favorite weekend destination for people from the big city thanks to having countless things to do. People who commute to Cincy from Bellevue appreciate that they get all the convenience of big city life with few of the attendant costs. While homes in Bellevue are the second most expensive on this list at $148,900, it does not detract from the city’s overall affordability. With residents earning a median income of $69,135, paying the mortgage or the rent in Bellevue is far easier than most places in Kentucky.
Bardstown may have the market cornered on raising a family on a budget in Kentucky, but if you’re trying to find that special guy or gal on a budget, Erlanger is the place to be. That’s because Erlanger is one of the best cities for singles in Kentucky. Seeing as singles are more prone to rent than buy, Erlanger’s affordable renting market is extra attractive. And if you do decide to settle down with a mortgage, know that Erlanger has the seventh best home price to income ratio in Kentucky. Sounds like a no-lose scenario to me!
Erlanger is just 15 minutes southwest of Cincinnati.
If you’re looking for an affordable place to call home in Kentucky, Walton should be at the top of your list. With a population of just over 5,333, Walton offers a low cost of living that’s perfect for anyone on a budget.
One reason Walton is so affordable is its low median home value, which comes in at $174,200. This means that buying a house or apartment here won’t break the bank. Additionally, the median rent is only $928, making it a great option for renters as well.
Rank Last Year: –
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.2x (10th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 85.6x (22nd cheapest)
More On Walton: Real Estate
Monticello is located in central Kentucky about a three hour drive from each of Louisville, Nashville, and Knoxville in Wayne County. The town claims to be the “Houseboat Capital of the World” because of the various houseboat manufacturers with headquarters in town. People come to visit for local attractions around hiking, parks, and fishing in nearby Cumberland River.
In terms of affordability, the city ranks tenth lowest in home values at $112,800 and rent is only $616 per month. The overall cost of living in Monticello is about 20% lower than the Kentucky average and 30% lower than the national average. While real estate is considerably less expensive, basically every facet of live costs a little less in Monticello.
Cheapest places to live in Kentucky FAQs
The county in Kentucky with the lowest cost of living is Bell County. The average living wage in Bell County is $74,521 according to MIT data. Bell County has the lowest cost of living because it has relatively less expensive childcare and housing costs compared to Kentucky as a whole. Childcare costs $8,510 a year in Bell County for two children compared to the Kentucky average of $14,955. Housing costs, defined as a blend of the average rent and average mortgage payment, are $7,956 per year in Bell County compared to $9,708 on average in Kentucky.
The cost of living in Kentucky is 6.6% lower than the US average. According to MIT, the required living wage for a family of four with two working parents in Kentucky is $83,862 vs the national average for a family of four with two working parents of $89,744. The median income of a Kentucky household is $52,238.
The cheapest housing market in Kentucky is Middlesborough. The average home value in Middlesborough is $72,400, the lowest in the state. The average home value in Kentucky is $147,100, almost 2.0 times higher than Middlesborough.
Methodology: How we determined the most affordable places to live in the Bluegrass State for 2023
Determining affordability for places in Kentucky boils down to two factors:
- How much money do I make?
- How much does it cost to live here?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make to determine affordability. For example, imagine a place in Kentucky where median incomes are $100,000 and housing costs $200,000 to buy. That’s more affordable than living in a place with a median income of $50,000 where houses cost $101,000. The ratio of income to home prices is higher in the first example.
With that logic in mind, we derived several cost of living statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2017-2021 for Kentucky. The cost of living statistics are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (higher is better)
- Median Home Price
You can include median home price as a stand alone variable because high home prices generally correlate with higher costs for all goods and services (heating, electricity, food, etc). You then compare these cost of living metrics for each place in Kentucky to figure out which is the least expensive.
We aggregate those rankings into a “Cost of Living Index” for each city in Kentucky. The “Cost of Living Index” allows you to rank all of the 80 places in Kentucky that have more than 5,000 people from least expensive to most expensive.
The place in Kentucky with the lowest cost of living according to the data is Central City. You can download the entre cost of living data set for Kentucky here.
Kentucky affordabilility summary
This is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Kentucky for 2023, if you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Kentucky.
Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in Kentucky according to the data:
- Bowling Green
For more Kentucky reading, check out:
The cheapest places to live in Kentucky
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