People in Kentucky are some of the happiest people in the country according to the Happiness Research Institute. They also have reason to smile because they have some of the most affordable places to live.
How did we determine the most affordable places to live in Kentucky for 2022? We consulted the latest Census data on cost of living.
Most people think that the Bluegrass State is filled with a bunch of horse ranches, silly hat wearing Kentucky Derby-ites, and 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. While many parts of Kentucky are above the national average for unemployment, there are places that are trying to keep the Bluegrass State in the black. Kentucky companies like Jif Peanut Butter and Post-it Notes provide good jobs for this flyover state’s residents. Coincidentally, we can thank Kentucky’s education institutions like the University of Louisville for producing smart, hard-working Kentuckians who want to make Kentucky available and affordable for all.
So, want to know where you can find a safe, affordable Kentucky home and a job that pays the bills? Keep reading.
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. This is a good thing because Kentucky has a lot to offer. They have hip millennial cities like Des Moines and cool college cities like Lexington.
What’s the cheapest place to live in Kentucky? Unfortunately there can be only one place that takes the mantle of the most affordable place in Kentucky for 2022, and that would be Princeton.
So, if you care about home values and affordability, take a look at the list below to see where your Kentucky dollar will go the furthest. And if you don’t find your favorite there, head to the bottom.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Kentucky and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Kentucky For 2022
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 $75,600. That’s the second lowest median home price in Kentucky. And with folks in Princeton earning a median income of $45,047, the city is the first easiest place to pay off your mortgage.
Not to mention that you’ll spend the 23rd 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.
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 $135,900, it does not detract from the city’s overall affordability. With residents earning a median income of $68,819, paying the mortgage or the rent in Bellevue is far easier than most places in Kentucky.
Yet another Cincinnati suburb, Dayton ranks as the third 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 fifth best in Kentucky. Homes in Dayton go for about $112,000 and residents earn a median income of $53,345.
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.
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 $96,500 and residents earning $52,773/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.
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 $123,800, the 27th cheapest price tag you’ll find in the state. And in terms of home price to income ratio, Central City is the 16th best statewide. Only a slightly less affordable market for renters keeps Central City from the #1 spot on this list.
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 fourth best home price to income ratio in Kentucky. Sounds like a no-lose scenario to me!
Erlanger is just 15 minutes southwest of Cincinnati.
Located in the eastern part of Kentucky near the borders of Ohio and West Virginia, Ashland comes in as the seventh 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 $659/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 $101,900, the city has the eighth cheapest homes in Kentucky.
Harrodsburg is an old community. In fact, it’s celebrated as the oldest city in Kentucky, as well as one of the first permanent settlements on the western side of the Appalachian mountains. In the modern age, Harrodsburg draws attention as the number 8 cheapest location in Kentucky.
The general cost of living in Harrodsburg stands about 15% below the national norm. This comes thanks to a great value in the housing market. The median home price ranks as the tenth lowest mark in the state, with a figure of $108,500. On the rental side, the median rent hovers at $607 per month.
Looking at the rest of the local economy, Harrodsburg has a median income of $41,901. The unemployment rate comes in at 4.58%.
Harrodsburg is located in the central part of Kentucky, about 45 minutes southwest of Lexington and an hour and a half southeast of Louisville. Want to get a taste of historical Harrodsburg? Check out Old Fort Harrod State Park in the middle of town.
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 fifth lowest in home values at $97,300 and rent is only $565 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.
Shepherdsville is a home rule-class city on the Salt River in Bullitt County, Kentucky, in the United States. It is the seat of its county, located just south of Louisville. The population was 11,222 during the 2010 U.S. Census.
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 2022
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2016-2020 around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Kentucky to figure out which is the least expensive.
What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 78 places in Kentucky that have more than 5,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in Kentucky according to the data is Princeton. You can download the data here.
Summary: There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Kentucky Cheapskate
If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Kentucky, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Kentucky for 2022.
Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in Kentucky according to the data:
For more Kentucky reading, check out:
- Best Places To Raise A Family In Kentucky
- Safest Places In Kentucky
- Worst Places To Live In Kentucky
The Most Affordable Places To Live In Kentucky