The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Virginia For 2021


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

Have you looked at your bank account recently and thought to yourself, "I really need to start saving more money," but don't know how? If you like beautiful mountains, weekend getaways in Washington, D.C, the beach, and historical sites, you may want to give living in Virginia a chance.

To make your feeble mid-20s cash supplies last longer, you have to think smarter. And what's a smarter way to lower monthly costs than living in a place that is super cheap? You can have great careers and social lives in smaller towns that won't take thousands away per month in rent alone.

"Virginia is for lovers" is a common phrase seen across the state. Perhaps you would enjoy drinking wine at one of Virginia's many vineyards, sipping hot chocolate after an afternoon skiing on the slopes of Wintergreen, or even have a picnic on Virginia Beach on a sunny day.

Virginia is a great place for you and any date and the best part of it is that these dates won't wreck your wallet. Have we caught your attention yet? We hope so because Virginia is a great state to live in for many reasons and it's low cost of living is one of the state's best attributes. Let's get ready to explore the cheapest places in Virginia.

The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In Virginia

  1. Covington
  2. Pulaski
  3. Big Stone Gap
  4. Vinton
  5. Galax
  6. Danville
  7. South Boston
  8. Wytheville
  9. Martinsville
  10. Bristol

What is the cheapest place to live in Virginia? According to the most recent data on cost of living, Covington is the cheapest place to live in Virginia.

Looking to live in a cute foothills town? Check out Big Stone Gap. Maybe the mountains aren't for you? No worries, because Martinsville and Danville are ready for you.

If you are looking for research hubs, there are many places surrounding UVA in Charlottesville and if you are seeking to make more religious roots, Liberty University near Lynchburg might be a great hub for you. Christiansburg is just outside of Virginia Tech.

No matter where you choose in Virginia, you will likely have more to save at the end of each month. Who doesn't like having extra cash?

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

The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Virginia For 2021

Covington, VA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,598
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.8x (most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 65.7x (6th cheapest)
More On Covington: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Located in Alleghany County, Covington is the cheapest city in Virginia.

While it's impressive that you can rent a place in Covington for under $600/month, that's not what lands Covington so high on this list. It's because Covington has the #1.0 cheapest homes in Virginia, at a median price of $72,900. And it's not like homes are cheap because the residents aren't paid well -- with a median income of $40,655, Covington residents enjoy the best ratio of home price to income in the state. Living in Covington, you'll notice your savings growing as fast as the waters of the local Falling Springs Waterfall.

Pulaski, VA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 8,799
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.4x (2nd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 66.4x (56th cheapest)
More On Pulaski: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

If you're looking for the second most affordable place to live in Virginia, look no further than Pulaski, a town about an hour southwest of Roanoke.

Housing in Pulaski is super cheap when taken as a proportion of income, whether you're renting or buying. The median home price in Pulaski is $117,600 and the median rent is $748. With Pulaski residents earning a median income of $49,665, the mortgage or rent payments are a barely noticeable dent in the budget. If you move to Pulaski, you won't know what people are talking about when they say that Virginia is one of the most expensive states in America.

Big Stone Gap, VA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,257
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.7x (5th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 68.1x (58th cheapest)
More On Big Stone Gap: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Big Stone Gap ranks as the third most affordable city in Virginia, thanks to cheap housing options for both buyers and renters. The median income in Big Stone Gap is $46,979, which is more than enough to cover the median cost of a home, $126,100, or the median rent $690. You'll be able to enjoy overlooking Powell Valley without stressing about the bills thanks to Big Stone Gap's affordable housing.

Big Stone Gap is located in the far western part of the state, near the Kentucky border.

Vinton, VA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 8,083
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.0x (10th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 68.4x (29th cheapest)
More On Vinton: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

A bedroom community of Roanoke, Vinton ranks as the fourth cheapest place in Virginia. Vinton has the highest median rent you'll see on this list at $725/month, but that's still less than half than the statewide average, and taken as a proportion of income, it's the eighth best place to rent in Virginia. Folks in Vinton earn a median income of $49,618 and pay a median home price of $148,000, putting Vinton in the top ten for most affordable places to buy in the state.

Galax, VA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 6,517
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.9x (8th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 58.5x (50th cheapest)
More On Galax: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Another southwestern VA city, Galax is the fifth cheapest place to call home in Virginia. The median rent in Galax is $574, the second lowest on this list. Homes in Galax go for a median price of $96,600 and residents earn a median income of $33,575, so it's quite affordable whether you're renting or buying here. And if you fancy fiddling or picking at the banjo, definitely check out the Blue Ridge Music Center.

Danville, VA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 41,070
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.4x (3rd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 54.5x (57th cheapest)
More On Danville: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

With a population of 41,070, Danville is the biggest city to make this list, proving you don't have to move to a small town to live economically. With a median rent of $682 and a median income of $37,203, renting in Danville won't take full advantage of the city's affordability. However, because home prices are cheap at a median price of $90,500, Danville has the third lowest ratio of home price to income in the state. If you stick to free hobbies like strolling down Danville's Riverwalk Trail, you'll have even more money in your pocket at the end of every week.

Danville is located in the south-central part of Virginia, on the border of North Carolina.

South Boston, VA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 7,762
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.1x (13th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 63.1x (47th cheapest)
More On South Boston: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Located in the south-central part of Virginia, South Boston is the seventh most affordable place in the state. At $132,300, the town's median home price is super affordable on a salary of $42,311, the median income in South Boston. In fact, it's the 13th most affordable place to buy a home in Virginia. The median rent in South Boston is $671, so it's also quite economical to be a renter here.

Wytheville, VA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,957
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 6)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.3x (24th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 74.7x (36th cheapest)
More On Wytheville: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Located along I-81 in the southwestern part of Virginia, Wytheville has a deep connection to history. It was named after George Wythe, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. It also served as the hometown to Edith Wilson, wife of President Woodrow Wilson.

The community offers something to its 7,957 current residents as well. It ranks as the number 8 top spot in Virginia in terms of affordability.

Home prices are reasonable in town. The median home value comes in at a level of $159,700. However, the real deals come when you enter the rental market. The median rent in the area stands at $640. That counts as the fourth lowest mark in the state.

The overall cost of living is about 10% below the national average. Along with the great housing prices, you'll also get a break on transportation and utilities.

Looking at the rest of Wytheville's economy, the median income sits at $47,820. The unemployment rate hovers at 5.98%. Crime is close to the national average, coming in just 3% above the U.S. norm.

Martinsville, VA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 12,852
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.6x (4th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 52.4x (37th cheapest)
More On Martinsville: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Located about 50 miles south of Roanoke, Martinsville ranks as the ninth most affordable place in Virginia. With a median income of $34,371 and a median rent of $656, Martinsville is the least economical place to rent on this list, which is why it isn't featured higher up. On the other hand, the median home price in Martinsville is $87,700, which makes the city the fourth most affordable place to buy a home in Virginia.

Living in Martinsville, you won't feel like you're in one of the most expensive states in the country.

Bristol, VA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 16,912
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.0x (9th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 54.6x (38th cheapest)
More On Bristol: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Located in the southwestern part of the state on the North Carolina border, Bristol ranks as the tenth most affordable city in Virginia and is known as the birthplace of country music. Bristol's median home price is $111,700 and median income is $37,500, giving the city the ninth best ratio of home price to income in Virginia. With a median rent of $687, it's one of the least impressive cities for renters on this list, but it's still way more affordable than most places in the state.

How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Old Dominion For 2021

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Virginia
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 Virginia 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 61 places in Virginia that have more than 5,000 people.

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

There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Virginia Cheapskate

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

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

  1. Blacksburg
  2. Williamsburg
  3. Fredericksburg

For more Virginia reading, check out:

The Most Affordable Places To Live In Virginia

Rank City CheapScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Covington 5.33 5,598 1.8x 65.7x
2 Pulaski 8.0 8,799 2.4x 66.4x
3 Big Stone Gap 9.0 5,257 2.7x 68.1x
4 Vinton 11.33 8,083 3.0x 68.4x
5 Galax 12.0 6,517 2.9x 58.5x
6 Danville 13.0 41,070 2.4x 54.5x
7 South Boston 14.33 7,762 3.1x 63.1x
8 Wytheville 15.0 7,957 3.3x 74.7x
9 Martinsville 15.67 12,852 2.6x 52.4x
10 Bristol 16.0 16,912 3.0x 54.6x
11 Christiansburg 17.33 22,163 3.1x 66.9x
12 Staunton 19.67 24,432 3.2x 61.1x
13 Roanoke 19.67 99,229 3.1x 54.3x
14 Salem 20.0 25,317 3.2x 62.6x
15 Richlands 20.67 5,368 2.8x 45.9x
16 Marion 21.67 5,706 3.2x 51.5x
17 Abingdon 22.0 7,960 3.7x 66.3x
18 Petersburg 23.67 31,362 2.8x 40.8x
19 Poquoson 25.0 12,090 3.3x 79.5x
20 Colonial Heights 25.67 17,428 3.1x 52.6x
21 Lynchburg 26.0 80,569 3.4x 54.2x
22 Bridgewater 26.33 6,032 3.7x 70.2x
23 Purcellville 27.0 9,897 3.3x 97.4x
24 Hopewell 27.33 22,456 3.1x 44.1x
25 Suffolk 28.33 90,093 3.4x 62.4x
26 Ashland 29.0 7,750 3.5x 55.4x
27 Portsmouth 30.33 95,097 3.3x 49.8x
28 Chesapeake 30.33 239,982 3.5x 61.5x
29 Waynesboro 30.67 22,140 3.9x 54.8x
30 Strasburg 31.33 6,609 3.8x 56.0x
31 Hampton 31.33 135,041 3.3x 50.3x
32 Smithfield 32.0 8,367 4.2x 73.1x
33 Leesburg 32.0 52,994 3.8x 70.5x
34 Virginia Beach 33.67 450,201 3.7x 56.0x
35 Culpeper 33.67 18,342 3.9x 59.2x
36 Newport News 35.67 179,673 3.6x 50.3x
37 Buena Vista 36.33 6,484 3.9x 40.8x
38 Vienna 37.0 16,489 4.6x 77.5x
39 Dumfries 37.0 5,373 3.2x 39.0x
40 Franklin 37.33 8,147 4.1x 47.0x
41 Winchester 37.67 27,897 4.2x 55.8x
42 Herndon 38.0 24,532 4.0x 61.6x
43 Emporia 38.67 5,442 4.3x 39.0x
44 Front Royal 38.67 15,077 4.1x 53.3x
45 Harrisonburg 39.0 53,273 4.4x 52.9x
46 Radford 39.67 17,691 4.7x 49.9x
47 Manassas Park 41.0 16,986 3.5x 50.8x
48 Fairfax 41.33 23,531 4.8x 63.8x
49 Norfolk 41.67 244,601 4.0x 48.7x
50 Manassas 42.67 41,174 4.0x 53.3x
51 Warrenton 43.0 9,913 4.7x 55.9x
52 Falls Church 43.33 14,128 6.2x 68.4x
53 Lexington 44.0 7,241 5.5x 54.1x
54 Farmville 44.67 8,117 5.2x 46.9x
55 Alexandria 47.33 157,613 5.7x 57.8x
56 Richmond 47.67 226,622 4.9x 46.1x
57 Charlottesville 48.0 47,096 5.0x 52.1x
58 Woodstock 48.33 5,210 5.0x 45.3x
59 Fredericksburg 51.0 28,622 5.6x 52.2x
60 Williamsburg 51.67 14,927 5.3x 48.2x
61 Blacksburg 56.0 44,303 6.9x 39.0x

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.