The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Minnesota For 2021


We used data and science to determine which places in Minnesota 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 Minnesota.

Minnesota is The Land of 11,000 Lakes, some pretty nice people, and super great, super affordable cities.

Word on the street is that Minnesotans don't know what unemployment is. Minnesota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.They actually have over 20 Fortune 500 companies. They are the home to Target (yes folks, Target), and we can thank Edina, MN for Caribou Coffee.

And if you know anything about economics, good jobs increase median incomes which translates to most people being able to afford to live in most Minnesota cities. That's a good thing because Minnesota has a lot to offer. They have hip millennial cities like Minneapolis, cool college cities like Saint Paul, and cities where you can escape life like Big Falls.

More importantly, affordability in the North Star State means that you can spend the extra change in your pocket on the fun things that Minnesota offers: like Minnesota Vikings tickets, a cabin on Leech Lake, or a staycation in one of Minnesota's big cities.

And if you're into that outdoor, middle of nowhere, Minnesota vibe, you're in luck. Most of our top ten most affordable cities in Minnesota are just that -- based on Census data around cost of living.

So, crank some Purple Rain, grab some hot dish, and read on.

The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In Minnesota

  1. Hibbing
  2. New Ulm
  3. Montevideo
  4. Kasson
  5. Crookston
  6. Fairmont
  7. North Branch
  8. Litchfield
  9. International Falls
  10. Byron

It's simple economics, people. The less you have to spend on bills, the more you will have to spend on things that matter: like your home, good food, and just overall good fun.

This economic formula for affordability is no different for the good people of Minnesota.

What does the most affordable place to live in Minnesota 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, Hibbing is the cheapest.

So, if you care about home values, cost of living, and great jobs, take a look at the list below to find the most affordable places in Minnesota: safe, affordable cities where your salary will let you live like a Minnesota Twin.

The rest of the country could learn a lot from the Gopher State.

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

The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Minnesota For 2021

Hibbing, MN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 16,014
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.2x (5th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 93.5x (126th cheapest)
More On Hibbing: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

If you're trying to live the high life without breaking the bank, there's probably nowhere better in Minnesota than Hibbing, the most affordable city overall statewide. Renters can rejoice at Hibbing's super low median rent of $524/month, the lowest price you'll see on this list. But what really moves Hibbing to the top spot is the affordability of its houses. With residents earning a median income of $49,009 and paying a median home price of $109,800, Hibbing is firmly in the top ten in Minnesota for home price to income ratio.

To learn a little more about the root of the riches that helped make Hibbing the affordable city it is today, definitely check out the Hull Rust Mine, one of the largest open-pit mines in the world. Admission is free, in keeping with the cheap theme.

New Ulm, MN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 13,242
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.3x (6th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 95.8x (14th cheapest)
More On New Ulm: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Located about 90 miles southwest of Minneapolis, New Ulm comes in as the second least expensive city in Minnesota. New Ulm is heavily influenced by its German heritage, as evidenced by the "Hermann the German" tower/monument downtown and Schell's Brewery/Mansion. New Ulm doesn't stint on important amenities to earn it's uber-affordability status; in fact, we named it the third best place to raise a family in Minnesota for 2021.

The median income in New Ulm is $61,597 and the median home price is $141,300, putting New Ulm in a comfortable position in terms of home price to income ratio. The city is about equally affordable for renters as it is for buyers.

Montevideo, MN

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 5,108
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.9x (most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 77.1x (77th cheapest)
More On Montevideo: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

You'd have a tough time believing you're living in one of the most expensive states in America when you're in Montevideo. Homes in Montevideo are the cheapest in Minnesota, with a median price tag of $87,700. With residents earning a median income of $46,781, they pay the smallest proportion of their income toward homes of anywhere in the state. Rent is also quite cheap in Montevideo, but it's still more economical to buy.

Montevideo is located in the western part of the state, where the Minnesota and Chippewa Rivers converge.

Kasson, MN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 6,350
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.4x (10th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 120.0x (17th cheapest)
More On Kasson: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

With a median home price substantially higher than the preceding cities on this list, you may wonder why Kasson ranks as the fourth cheapest city in Minnesota. While home prices in Kasson are a bit steep at $180,300, residents are paid correspondingly higher salaries, with a city-wide median income of $76,231. Where Kasson really shines, though, is the affordability of rent. For such a well-off populace, a median rent of $635/month is absurdly low. In fact, it's less than half of the average rent in Minnesota. Not to mention Kasson got an almost-perfect 9.5/10 on our overall Snackability score, so you know it's a great place to call home.

Kasson is located about 20 minutes west of Rochester.

Crookston, MN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 7,756
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.3x (9th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 78.4x (72nd cheapest)
More On Crookston: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

You don't need to be a crook to have all the money you need in Crookston, the fifth most inexpensive city in Minnesota. The median home price in Crookston is $130,200 and the median income is $55,473, so paying off the mortgage in Crookston happens in no time flat. With a median rent of $708, Crookston isn't as affordable for renters, when looked at as a proportion of income.

Crookston is in the northwestern part of the state, a half hour southeast of Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Fairmont, MN

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,127
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.6x (25th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 77.1x (138th cheapest)
More On Fairmont: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Fairmont makes the cut as the sixth most affordable place in Minnesota by virtue of having the eighth cheapest homes in the state. The median home price in Fairmont is $123,700 and the median income is $47,876, so it's a piece of cake paying the mortgage off. Complete with seven parks and countless nature trails, you'll never go wanting for free entertainment in Fairmont either.

Fairmont is located in the south-central part of Minnesota, near the Iowa border.

North Branch, MN

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 10,454
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 7)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.4x (14th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 92.1x (93rd cheapest)
More On North Branch: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Saving a few bucks can lose its appeal when it means missing out on the action, which is one compromise the people of North Branch do not have to make.

Residents can easily make their way to Minneapolis, which is roughly a 45-minute drive away, and take in all it has to offer while inwardly basking in the low cost of living that comes with residing in North Branch. A home in this community of 10,454 is relatively cheaper than in other parts of the country, with the areas median value coming in at $191,400. At $867, the median rent rate is also quite affordable.

The cherry on top of those modest prices is a solid income, and North Branchs median household income of $79,826 is just that. With all that extra cash in your pocket, you may just want to drive a few towns over and try your luck at the Grand Casino Hinckley.

Litchfield, MN

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 6,631
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.4x (13th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 75.9x (7th cheapest)
More On Litchfield: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

You would be hard-pressed to find a community with waterfront access that has homes as affordable as those in Litchfield. Considering all this area has to offer, its hard to believe that the median home value here is just $136,200.

In fact, offering its residents a luxury lifestyle without the high price tag is something this city is quite good at. People here can enjoy activities like soaking up the views of Lake Ripley or playing a round at the Litchfield Golf Club while savoring the peace of mind that comes with a healthy bank account. A state of mind that is easy to slip into when your city has a 1.3% unemployment rate and a median household income of $56,941.

Even renters have it good in this city about 70 miles west of Minneapolis. The median rate here is just $750.

International Falls, MN

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 5,981
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.0x (2nd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 70.5x (145th cheapest)
More On International Falls: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Located on the border of Canada, International Falls goes by the nickname "Icebox of the Nation." But if you can withstand the bitter cold, International Falls has some sweet deals for you. The second least expensive homes in Minnesota are in International Falls, where the median home price is $88,200. With residents earning a median income of $45,208, International Falls has one of the best home price to income ratios in the state.

As a budgeting bonus, admission to Smokey Bear Park is totally free. Just don't get spooked by the 26-foot bear when you drive in.

Byron, MN

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 5,462
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.3x (7th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 98.4x (2nd cheapest)
More On Byron: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

West of Rochester, sits Byron, our tenth most affordable place to live in Minnesota.

This community provides residents a high quality of life with its 0.29% unemployment rate and proximity to attractions like the popular Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo, among other things.

A noteworthy unemployment rate does not mean much if jobs are not paying people well. Thankfully, that is not the case here. The median household income in this city is $94,153, a number that would serve you well in various places but makes life especially good in Byron. That kind of dough complements the median home value of $218,400 well and makes finding your dream house affordable. Covering the median rent of $957 is also reasonable if a down payment is not in the cards right now.

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

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Minnesota
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 Minnesota 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 146 places in Minnesota that have more than 5,000 people.

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

There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Minnesota Cheapskate

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

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

  1. Little Canada
  2. Minnetonka
  3. North Oaks

For more Minnesota reading, check out:

The Most Affordable Places To Live In Minnesota

Rank City CheapScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Hibbing 8.67 16,014 2.2x 93.5x
2 New Ulm 12.0 13,242 2.3x 95.8x
3 Montevideo 16.0 5,108 1.9x 77.1x
4 Kasson 18.0 6,350 2.4x 120.0x
5 Crookston 20.33 7,756 2.3x 78.4x
6 Fairmont 26.0 10,127 2.6x 77.1x
7 North Branch 26.67 10,454 2.4x 92.1x
8 Litchfield 27.0 6,631 2.4x 75.9x
9 International Falls 28.67 5,981 2.0x 70.5x
10 Byron 30.0 5,462 2.3x 98.4x
11 Albert Lea 31.0 17,773 2.0x 69.2x
12 Big Lake 32.0 10,856 2.4x 83.2x
13 Owatonna 32.67 25,685 2.7x 81.0x
14 Glencoe 39.67 5,495 2.8x 76.3x
15 Isanti 39.67 5,749 2.3x 71.8x
16 Austin 40.0 25,114 2.2x 65.2x
17 Delano 42.0 6,085 2.5x 119.6x
18 Cloquet 42.67 12,005 2.6x 71.0x
19 Belle Plaine 43.0 7,093 2.7x 94.7x
20 St. Michael 43.0 17,586 2.4x 105.8x
21 Thief River Falls 43.0 8,790 2.7x 71.8x
22 St. Francis 43.0 7,652 2.5x 78.6x
23 Hutchinson 45.0 13,914 2.6x 69.1x
24 Waseca 48.0 8,988 2.8x 69.5x
25 North Mankato 48.33 13,778 2.9x 82.2x
26 St. Paul Park 48.33 5,356 2.4x 70.6x
27 La Crescent 49.0 5,138 2.8x 76.5x
28 Sartell 49.33 18,005 2.7x 76.7x
29 Elk River 49.33 24,522 2.7x 86.5x
30 Farmington 49.83 22,869 2.7x 90.6x
31 Virginia 50.67 8,484 2.5x 59.4x
32 Stewartville 52.0 6,120 2.8x 74.0x
33 Worthington 52.67 13,105 2.7x 66.3x
34 Cottage Grove 53.0 36,602 2.4x 76.0x
35 Champlin 53.33 24,755 2.6x 75.7x
36 Rochester 53.33 115,557 2.7x 75.1x
37 Wyoming 53.67 7,914 2.7x 82.1x
38 Buffalo 54.0 16,210 2.8x 75.7x
39 St. Joseph 54.17 7,030 2.9x 74.4x
40 Rogers 54.33 12,971 2.6x 109.8x
41 Savage 55.33 31,254 2.6x 92.8x
42 Otsego 56.33 16,763 2.5x 77.3x
43 Winona 56.33 26,854 3.1x 72.4x
44 Lino Lakes 57.33 21,404 2.5x 84.6x
45 Rosemount 58.0 24,292 2.7x 86.0x
46 Zimmerman 59.0 5,657 2.4x 63.7x
47 Mound 59.33 9,480 2.8x 89.4x
48 Albertville 60.67 7,436 2.9x 88.0x
49 East Bethel 61.33 11,870 2.7x 75.2x
50 Grand Rapids 62.0 11,165 3.1x 72.1x
51 Willmar 62.33 19,712 2.8x 60.9x
52 Lake City 62.33 5,261 2.9x 68.5x
53 Oak Grove 63.33 8,682 2.7x 79.5x
54 Robbinsdale 63.67 14,468 2.9x 71.6x
55 Victoria 64.67 9,383 2.8x 118.4x
56 Fergus Falls 64.67 13,707 3.0x 66.7x
57 Marshall 65.33 13,651 3.1x 71.6x
58 East Grand Forks 66.67 8,604 3.3x 83.3x
59 Hastings 66.67 22,738 3.0x 75.0x
60 Monticello 67.33 13,583 2.8x 68.8x
61 Prior Lake 69.0 26,365 2.9x 95.9x
62 Ham Lake 69.0 16,434 3.0x 95.2x
63 Baxter 69.33 8,202 2.9x 71.4x
64 New Prague 70.0 7,899 3.2x 88.6x
65 Waconia 70.67 12,131 3.0x 103.5x
66 Blaine 71.0 64,114 2.7x 68.4x
67 Mounds View 71.33 13,094 3.1x 72.6x
68 Northfield 71.83 20,347 3.2x 85.0x
69 Alexandria 72.0 13,554 3.3x 74.4x
70 Lakeville 72.33 63,915 2.8x 81.0x
71 Faribault 73.33 23,800 3.0x 61.7x
72 Ramsey 73.67 26,638 2.7x 67.9x
73 Maple Grove 74.5 70,627 2.7x 72.4x
74 South St. Paul 75.0 20,194 3.0x 67.5x
75 St. Peter 76.17 11,854 3.1x 64.8x
76 Sauk Rapids 76.67 13,703 3.3x 69.8x
77 Shoreview 77.33 26,791 3.0x 76.5x
78 Duluth 77.67 85,915 3.1x 64.0x
79 Chisago City 78.33 5,090 3.1x 77.6x
80 Brooklyn Center 78.67 30,849 2.9x 55.0x
81 Coon Rapids 80.0 62,517 2.9x 62.7x
82 Crystal 80.33 22,975 2.9x 61.3x
83 Stillwater 80.33 19,341 3.2x 90.1x
84 Corcoran 80.67 5,911 2.7x 72.6x
85 Brooklyn Park 80.67 80,068 3.0x 68.3x
86 Chanhassen 81.0 25,657 3.1x 90.1x
87 Cambridge 81.67 8,774 3.0x 54.5x
88 St. Cloud 82.33 68,001 3.2x 61.3x
89 Shakopee 82.33 40,731 3.0x 72.4x
90 Morris 83.33 5,334 3.3x 66.8x
91 Andover 83.33 32,733 2.6x 66.4x
92 Moorhead 85.33 42,939 3.2x 68.2x
93 Mendota Heights 85.33 11,289 3.2x 107.6x
94 Fridley 85.33 27,668 3.1x 64.8x
95 Spring Lake Park 85.67 6,535 3.0x 58.9x
96 Little Falls 86.0 8,664 3.2x 50.1x
97 Columbia Heights 86.0 20,118 3.1x 58.3x
98 Red Wing 86.67 16,338 3.2x 60.9x
99 Vadnais Heights 87.17 13,444 3.1x 70.1x
100 Mahtomedi 87.33 8,164 3.2x 87.1x

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.