You don’t get named the Tennessee ‘Tight’-ans if you’re not located in a state that’s affordable. And folks, there are plenty of affordable cities in The Volunteer State.
Yes, learning the value of the dollar is important, but you don’t want to stress about it daily when looking for an affordable Tennessee neighborhood, a job that will make your momma proud, the best bathtub Tennessee moonshine, and that good ‘ol fashioned hometown Tennessee appeal.
Most people think that Tennessee cities are only filled with a bunch of fancy Nashville country singers, people who walk, not run, in Memphis, and a bunch of Chattanooga Moon Pie fanatics. And if you ask any Tennessean, they will say that their corner of the country capital of the world is the best. Heck, there’s a reason people like Elvis and Dolly set up shop here.
While we think it has a little something’ to do with the great Tennessee people and good country Tennessee livin’, the economically savvy in Tennessee know that to be truly be the best, the state must have the nicest, most affordable places to call home.
Tennessee cities have a lot to offer to all income levels; and surprisingly, there are cities in this great state that won’t break your bank. So, grab yourself a slice of pecan pie and some Tennessee Whiskey, and read on.
The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In Tennessee
Tennessee’s strong economy, gold star housing prices, and average cost of living make its cities very desirable. So one can imagine how difficult it was for us to narrow down the cities in Tennessee that won’t break your bank; but also, don’t scream Dollar Store cheap.
Drum roll… .what is the most affordable city in Tennessee for 2022? Break out the whiskey and moonshine and give a warm, hearty ‘Bless Your Heart’ cheers to Milan, the cheapest place in Tennessee!
And if you care about home values, cost of living, and gold star quality of life, take a look at the list below to see where your Tennessee salary will let you live like a true country star.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Tennessee and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Tennessee For 2022
Our tour of Tennessee’s most affordable places takes us to Milan, a city of 7,642 located 25 miles north of Jackson. Milan is known for its innovations in farming, which are on full display at the West Tennessee Agricultural Museum.
These days, though, Milan has a much more diverse economy. Milan’s downtown is a mix of locally-owned boutiques and shops and national chains, and has received awards for its development and upkeep. There’s also the relatively new tradition of the Fall Festival, complete with food trucks, live entertainment, games, and shopping.
The overall cost of living in Milan is about 16% lower than the national average, but in terms of housing, it’s much cheaper. Homes in Milan have a median price of $101,600, up 5% from last year. Milan’s median household income is also up 5% from last year to $43,300.
If you want to give Milan a try before committing to a mortgage, the barrier to entry is incredibly low; the median rent here is just $656.
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.3x (3rd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 66.0x (7cheapest)
More On Milan: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living
Henderson is a city of 6,323 located a half-hour southeast of Jackson. Freed-Hartman University is an anchor of the Henderson community, with about 2,000 students in total.
The median rent in Henderson is $712, while a home will only set you back around $95,200. Not too shabby for a median household income of $42,722.
Nature-lovers don’t have to spend a dime to have a good time in Henderson because the gorgeous Chickasaw State Park is right in your backyard. Besides hiking and camping, you can also rent rowboats and pedal boats for the charming Lake Placid.
Henderson is also incredibly safe, with an overall crime rate 30% below the statewide average. Additionally, the cost of living in Henderson is cheap, with housing costs 21% lower than your typical Tennessee city.
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 5)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.2x (most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 60.0x (88th cheapest)
More On Henderson: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living
Church Hill is a city in Hawkins County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 5,916 at the 2000 census and 6,737 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Kingsport-Bristol -Bristol Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area – commonly known as the “Tri-Cities” region.
Rank Last Year: 21 (Up 18)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.5x (8th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 85.4x (90th cheapest)
More On Church Hill: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living
Mount Carmel is a town located in Hawkins County, Tennessee. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 5,429, an increase of 634 since the 2000 census. It is part of the Kingsport-Bristol -Bristol Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area – commonly known as the “Tri-Cities” region.
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 10)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.7x (17th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 83.7x (8cheapest)
More On Mount Carmel: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living
Harriman is a city located primarily in Roane County, Tennessee, with a small extension into Morgan County. The population of Harriman was 6,350 at the 2010 census.
Rank Last Year: 42 (Up 37)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.9x (32nd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 66.5x (38th cheapest)
More On Harriman: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living
LaFollette is a city in Campbell County, Tennessee, United States. Its population was 7,456 at the 2010 census, with an estimated population in 2014 of 7,131. It is the principal city of the LaFollette, Tennessee Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Campbell County, and is a component of the Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette Combined Statistical Area. While the city’s official spelling is one word -after its founders, Harvey Marion LaFollette and his younger brother Grant LaFollette-several federal agencies spell the city’s name with two words.
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 7)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.4x (4th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 54.4x (96th cheapest)
More On La Follette: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living
Pulaski is a city and county seat of Giles County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 7,870 at the 2010 census.It was named to honor the Polish-born American Revolutionary War hero Kazimierz Puaski. It is home to Martin Methodist College.
Rank Last Year: 61 (Up 54)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.7x (18th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 59.4x (80th cheapest)
More On Pulaski: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living
Brownsville is a city in Haywood County, Tennessee. It is the county seat of Haywood County, which is in the broad delta floodplain near the Mississippi River. Its population as of the 2010 census is 10,292.
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 8)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.6x (11th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 55.4x (6cheapest)
More On Brownsville: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living
If you’ve ever been to the Bonnaroo Music Festival, you know that there are many reasons to pack up a moving truck and move to Manchester in Coffee County.
However, we think that the main reason that you should move to Tennessee’s ninth least expensive city is that the median income here is $49,389 making it the 24th most affordable place to buy a home.
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 6)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.8x (24th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 66.5x (3rd cheapest)
More On Manchester: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living
Is there anything Atoka can’t do? We already named this charming little town one of the best Memphis suburbs, as well as one of the safest places in Tennessee.
The fact that Atoka is also mega-affordable is just icing on the cake as far as we’re concerned. While housing costs are slightly higher than other places listed here, Atoka makes up for it with a high median income of $86,935 and super-low rates of unemployment and poverty. Not to mention that Atoka has some of the best schools around, with GreatSchools awarding the town an 8/10 score.
Besides that, Atoka has five great parks, several seasonal events, and a young, rapidly growing population.
The cost of living in Atoka is 9% lower than the national average, with things like groceries, healthcare, and services standing out as extra-cheap. Homes in Atoka sell for a median price of $206,500, while rent goes for around $1,180.
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.4x (5th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 73.7x (37th cheapest)
More On Atoka: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living
Cheapest Places To Live In Tennessee FAQs
What county in Tennessee has the lowest cost of living?
The county in Tennessee with the lowest cost of living is Carroll County. The average living wage in Carroll County is $73,333 according to MIT data. Carroll County has the lowest cost of living because it has relatively less expensive childcare and housing costs compared to Tennessee as a whole. Childcare costs $10,572 a year in Carroll County for two children compared to the Tennessee average of $12,473. Housing costs, defined as a blend of the average rent and average mortgage payment, are $7,956 per year in Carroll County compared to $10,853 on average in Tennessee.
What is the cost of living in Tennessee?
The cost of living in Tennessee is 12.2% lower than the US average. According to MIT, the required living wage for a family of four with two working parents in Tennessee is $78,800 vs the national average for a family of four with two working parents of $89,744. The median income of a Tennessee household is $54,833.
What is the cheapest housing market in Tennessee?
The cheapest housing market in Tennessee is Humboldt. The average home value in Humboldt is $84,600, the lowest in the state. The average home value in Tennessee is $177,600, almost 2.1 times higher than Humboldt.
Methodology: How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Volunteer 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 Tennessee 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 97 places in Tennessee that have more than 5,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in Tennessee according to the data is Milan. You can download the data here.
Summary: There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Tennessee Cheapskate
If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Tennessee, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Tennessee for 2022.
Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in Tennessee according to the data:
- Thompson’s Station
For more Tennessee reading, check out:
- Best Places To Buy A House In Tennessee
- Best Places To Live In Tennessee
- Richest Cities In Tennessee
The Most Affordable Places To Live In Tennessee