The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Michigan For 2021


We used data and science to determine which places in Michigan go easy on your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the cheapest places to live in Michigan.

You don't have to win the Michigan lottery or make money by shoveling snow from a million rooftops to live in most cities in Michigan: it's extremely affordable.

Yes, learning the value of the dollar is important, but you don't want to stress about it daily when looking for a great place to live, good food, and low cost of living.

Well, you don't have to look any further if you choose a spot on the Michigan mitten to plant your roots. Pure Michigan is one of the most affordable in the country, and you can find ways to save money with every season.For example, Michigan's yearly snow apocalypse lets you save money by providing snow for ice cream, ice for ice fishing, and eco-friendly snowmobile trails. Snow for snowball fights and snow angels is just an added bonus.

While all this might be true for some Michigan cities, the Yoopers, the trolls under the bridge, and the city folk of this state would beg to differ. Michigan cities have a lot to offer to all income levels; and surprisingly, there are cities in the Wolverine State that won't break your bank.

But, to the economically savvy, to truly be the best, the state must have the nicest, most affordable places to call home.

So if you want to live where you can point to a spot on your hand to give people directions, read on.

The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In Michigan

  1. Ishpeming
  2. Iron Mountain
  3. Alpena
  4. Flushing
  5. Bay City
  6. Menominee
  7. Owosso
  8. Wayne
  9. Springfield
  10. Center Line

This economic formula for affordability is no different for the good people of Michigan. Michigan takes pride in its automotive industry, forestry, agriculture, and tourism. Michigan cities have solid jobs that offer competitive salaries to offset their cost of living.

So, what does the most affordable place to live in Michigan look like? Well, after crunching data from the US Census in terms of median housing costs, median income, and overall cost of living for cities with over 5,000 residents, Ishpeming takes the cake.

If you care about home values, cost of living, and high quality of life, take a look at the list below to find the most affordable places in Michigan where your salary will let you live like royalty.

And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Michigan and the cheapest places in the country:

The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Michigan For 2021

Ishpeming, MI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 6,464
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.9x (2most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 90.4x (120th cheapest)
More On Ishpeming: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Ishpeming is the Great Lakes State's most affordable city for 2021. This little city in Marquette County crushed our HomeSnack's snackabiliy scale by earning a 9/10 for affordability. This first place could not have been accomplished without great jobs and a strong economy.

Word on the street is Ishpeming is popular with kayakers, hikers, and skiers. 'Old Ish' is home to the National Ski Hall of Fame. We think those activities are a great way to wind down after a long day of working to pay for Ishpeming's low cost of living.

Iron Mountain, MI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 7,369
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.7x (13th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 73.7x (8cheapest)
More On Iron Mountain: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Just around the bend from Ishpeming, on the Upper Peninsula/Wisconsin border, is our second most affordable city in Michigan: Iron Mountain. The median income, here, is close to $46,000 with average home prices up around $49,364. So it's no surprise that Ishpeming scored off our charts in terms of snackability. They are the 13th most affordable city when we looked at home price to income ratio.

While Iron Mountain is known for it's pasties, Bocce Ball Tournaments, World Cup Ski Jumps, and Italian Cuisine, major employers in manufacturing, retail, and education have been keeping the economy in this Dickinson County city moving in the right direction.

Alpena, MI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 10,034
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 6)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.9x (19th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 64.5x (118th cheapest)
More On Alpena: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Alpena ranks as the third cheapest city in Michigan, thanks in no small part to the uber-affordability of rent. The median rent in Alpena is a measly $620. Unfortunately, the median income in Alpena is a bit lower than the statewide average, so the city only ranks #66.0 in terms of income to rent ratio. If you're outdoorsy, though, you'll hardly need cash to have a good time in Alpena. Your options include a wildlife sanctuary, a marine sanctuary, and a state park, so your entertainment budget could be close to zilch in Alpena.

Alpena is located in the Lower Peninsula area of northeastern Michigan.

Flushing, MI

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 7,968
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 11)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.9x (27th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 84.2x (17th cheapest)
More On Flushing: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Flushing is a suburb of Flint, and it's hard to find a more affordable spot in Michigan. Note that you won't have to sacrifice your security for savings either, because Flushing's overall crime rate is 60% below the national average.

The cost of living in Flushing is about 10% lower than the national average, but in terms of housing, it's much cheaper. Homes in Flushing go for a median price of $120,300, a 5% increase from last year. Even better, the median household income in Flushing is up 10% to $62,197, making the city that much more affordable.

Another great thing about Flushing is that you can fill your schedule without spending a dime. There are loads of parks, but chief among them is Riverview Park, which hosts events like concerts, movies, and art in the park, as well as a slew of other festivals.

If you want to give Flushing a try, the median rent is an inexpensive $739.

Bay City, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 33,167
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.8x (14th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 59.8x (129th cheapest)
More On Bay City: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Where the thumb meets the hand on 'The Mitten,' is our fifth most affordable city in Michigan for 2021, Bay City.

You don't have to live on ramen noodles or the McDonald's dollar menu to be able to afford this little city in Bay County. Bay city is the 14th most affordable city in terms of home price to income ratio. Bay City's jobs in healthcare, manufacturing, and education are keeping the real estate agents, here, very happy. They are also keeping the city's median household income close to $37,893/year.

Kudos to to the affordable Bay City for keeping their residents employed and their economy strong.

Menominee, MI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 8,150
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.0x (36th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 67.3x (82nd cheapest)
More On Menominee: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Where the UP meets Wisconsin on the Green Bay is our sixth most affordable city in The Wolverine State: Menominee.

This Yooper city is home to the greatest percentage of young folks concentrated into one city on our list. And if we've learned anything about Millenials, they know a good deal.

So what's drawing the 'youngins'? Probably outdoor recreation opportunities and fishing. In terms of what's bringing all the cheddar to make this Northern Michigan city so affordable, they can thank jobs in ship building, auto part and airplane manufacturing, and healthcare.

Owosso, MI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 14,536
Rank Last Year: 25 (Up 18)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.9x (20th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 61.8x (9cheapest)
More On Owosso: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Next up on our list of Michigan's least expensive places to live is Owosso, a city of 14,536 located about 35 miles northeast of Lansing.

The median home price in Owosso is a shockingly low $84,300, especially when you consider it relative to the median household income here, $45,203. If you just want to get a taste of Owosso to see how you like it, rent is also quite affordable at around $731.

It's not just a low cost of living in Owosso, either. The city also has incredibly safe streets and plenty of fun stuff to do.

Downtown Owosso has a range of dining options that includes the #1 tea room in Michigan, tasty fried chicken joints, and everything in between. Small, locally-owned shops dot the downtown area, so you have somewhere to spend all that money you'll save living here!

Wayne, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 16,976
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.8x (16th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 61.8x (93rd cheapest)
More On Wayne: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

And last but not least, our eighth most affordable city in Michigan for 2021 is Wayne.

Wayne is a super cool, super affordable Detroit-burb. Wayne is so cool and affordable, that it's cheaper to buy a home, here, than rent. That's because Wayne's residents want you to call their city home.

Wayne's median household income is close to $46,875/year. We're pretty sure this has something to do with Ford Motor company, Wayne Stamping and Assembly, and the Michigan Assembly Plant in this city's backyard.

Springfield, MI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,193
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.9x (22nd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 59.9x (106th cheapest)
More On Springfield: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

Where South Bedford Road meets Avenue A is our ninth most affordable city in Michigan for 2021, Springfield. This city in Calhoun County iis an ideal destination when you're trying find that affordable big town feel. And while you're deciding what home to buy, Springfield has great deals. They are the 22nd cheapest place to buy based on home price to income ratio.

It's also a great city when you're looking for those affordable staycations to keep your budget in check. Springfield currently has four major parks within their city limits, and they are only a short drive from Fort Custer State Recreation Area.

Center Line, MI

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 8,260
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 6)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.9x (28th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 66.4x (108th cheapest)
More On Center Line: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Right smack dab in the center of Warren, Michigan is our tenth most affordable city in 'The Mitten': Center Line. This little Michigan gem is 28th when it comes to home price to income ratio. Once a sinking swamp, Center Line's economy is now supported by jobs in manufacturing, retail, and education.

Michigan's 'other' cities could learn a lot from Center Line. This city in Macomb County is working hard to bring their city "Out of the Past and Into the Future."

How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Wolverine State For 2021

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Michigan
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. 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 2015-2019 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 Michigan 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 148 places in Michigan that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the lowest cost of living in Michigan according to the data is Ishpeming. You can download the data here.

There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Michigan Cheapskate

If you're looking at the cost of living numbers in Michigan, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Michigan for 2021.

Here's a look at the most expensive cities in Michigan according to the data:

  1. East Lansing
  2. Ann Arbor
  3. Houghton

For more Michigan reading, check out:

The Most Affordable Places To Live In Michigan

Rank City CheapScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Ishpeming 23.83 6,464 1.9x 90.4x
2 Iron Mountain 28.67 7,369 1.7x 73.7x
3 Alpena 35.33 10,034 1.9x 64.5x
4 Flushing 36.33 7,968 1.9x 84.2x
5 Bay City 38.33 33,167 1.8x 59.8x
6 Menominee 40.33 8,150 2.0x 67.3x
7 Owosso 41.33 14,536 1.9x 61.8x
8 Wayne 41.67 16,976 1.8x 61.8x
9 Springfield 43.17 5,193 1.9x 59.9x
10 Center Line 44.0 8,260 1.9x 66.4x
11 St. Louis 45.67 7,189 2.0x 61.2x
12 Albion 45.67 8,336 1.6x 50.7x
13 River Rouge 46.33 7,502 1.4x 43.6x
14 Three Rivers 46.67 7,659 2.0x 62.4x
15 Burton 46.67 28,654 1.8x 60.7x
16 Flint 47.0 96,559 1.0x 40.3x
17 Wyandotte 47.33 25,044 2.0x 71.4x
18 Lincoln Park 47.5 36,697 1.7x 52.9x
19 Saginaw 47.67 48,650 1.4x 40.3x
20 Muskegon Heights 48.0 10,748 1.4x 43.3x
21 Melvindale 48.0 10,348 1.5x 48.6x
22 Allen Park 48.67 27,216 1.8x 68.5x
23 Charlotte 49.67 9,082 2.1x 69.2x
24 Ecorse 51.33 9,432 1.5x 35.3x
25 Dowagiac 51.67 5,743 2.1x 57.9x
26 St. Clair 51.67 5,327 2.2x 97.2x
27 Southgate 51.67 29,165 2.0x 65.2x
28 Inkster 52.33 24,520 1.5x 36.1x
29 Cadillac 53.0 10,419 2.1x 58.2x
30 Marysville 53.0 9,693 2.1x 74.9x
31 Detroit 53.0 674,841 1.6x 37.5x
32 St. Johns 53.33 7,898 2.2x 72.9x
33 Trenton 53.5 18,295 2.2x 87.3x
34 Eastpointe 54.33 32,443 1.5x 45.5x
35 Holly 54.67 6,174 2.3x 74.1x
36 Sturgis 55.67 10,905 2.0x 57.3x
37 Jackson 55.67 32,673 1.9x 48.0x
38 Ionia 56.33 11,147 2.0x 60.2x
39 Taylor 57.0 61,379 1.9x 56.9x
40 Harper Woods 57.67 13,895 1.7x 44.5x
41 Coldwater 58.0 12,241 2.0x 58.4x
42 Hastings 58.33 7,311 2.0x 60.5x
43 Tecumseh 58.33 8,356 2.3x 75.7x
44 Romulus 58.67 23,527 1.9x 55.2x
45 Roseville 59.17 47,400 1.8x 48.7x
46 Escanaba 59.33 12,251 2.4x 63.6x
47 Swartz Creek 59.67 5,535 2.2x 66.8x
48 Midland 60.0 41,920 2.4x 81.0x
49 Belding 60.0 5,718 2.2x 60.4x
50 Battle Creek 60.0 51,316 2.0x 56.1x
51 Lansing 60.33 117,159 2.0x 50.9x
52 Hazel Park 60.67 16,525 1.9x 39.8x
53 Pontiac 61.67 59,955 2.0x 41.2x
54 Grand Ledge 62.67 7,842 2.4x 75.0x
55 Adrian 63.33 20,572 2.1x 48.8x
56 Norton Shores 63.33 24,467 2.2x 67.4x
57 Garden City 64.33 26,683 2.0x 54.6x
58 Manistee 65.33 6,083 2.4x 65.7x
59 Alma 65.33 8,976 2.3x 55.6x
60 Milan 67.33 6,107 2.4x 77.5x
61 Muskegon 68.0 37,633 2.3x 45.9x
62 Hillsdale 68.0 8,097 2.4x 60.0x
63 Fraser 68.17 14,580 2.5x 76.2x
64 Marshall 68.33 6,998 2.5x 69.6x
65 Berkley 69.0 15,372 2.3x 77.9x
66 St. Clair Shores 69.0 59,528 2.2x 61.8x
67 Mason 71.33 8,487 2.3x 61.7x
68 Port Huron 71.33 29,025 2.2x 49.8x
69 Ferndale 71.67 20,137 2.3x 69.6x
70 Woodhaven 72.33 12,518 2.5x 76.4x
71 Wyoming 72.33 75,702 2.4x 62.4x
72 Riverview 72.67 12,137 2.6x 73.3x
73 Mount Clemens 73.67 16,315 2.4x 57.7x
74 Grandville 74.0 15,942 2.6x 76.8x
75 Grand Blanc 74.5 7,905 2.7x 90.7x
76 Niles 75.0 11,211 2.5x 54.3x
77 Sault Ste. Marie 75.33 13,591 2.4x 54.9x
78 Hudsonville 75.33 7,366 2.4x 69.2x
79 Fenton 75.67 11,375 2.3x 61.2x
80 Livonia 76.0 94,249 2.4x 74.4x
81 Grosse Pointe Farms 76.33 9,168 2.5x 101.3x
82 Portage 77.67 48,774 2.6x 75.0x
83 Ludington 78.0 8,069 2.7x 68.1x
84 Westland 78.67 81,938 2.4x 56.7x
85 Monroe 78.83 19,775 2.6x 62.8x
86 Highland Park 79.0 10,867 2.5x 31.0x
87 Grosse Pointe Woods 79.33 15,498 2.3x 72.9x
88 Madison Heights 79.67 30,120 2.3x 55.3x
89 Walker 80.0 24,816 2.7x 76.7x
90 Grand Haven 81.0 10,994 2.8x 75.1x
91 Flat Rock 81.17 9,967 2.6x 68.9x
92 Oak Park 81.33 29,726 2.2x 47.0x
93 East Grand Rapids 81.67 11,759 2.6x 95.9x
94 Hamtramck 82.33 21,822 2.6x 37.3x
95 New Baltimore 82.67 12,358 2.9x 104.9x
96 Dearborn Heights 83.0 55,857 2.3x 47.5x
97 Clawson 83.67 11,971 2.6x 72.6x
98 Frankenmuth 84.0 5,274 3.1x 92.9x
99 Kalamazoo 85.0 76,019 2.6x 52.5x
100 Holland 85.17 33,402 2.7x 65.3x

How Is The Area In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.