Safest/cheapest places to live in the US?

You’d want to avoid the northeast. Sure, New England states always rank amongst the safest statesin the US, but we have very high costs of living to match. 2012 2013

My wife comes from a part of Missouri (the southeast part, in the Ozarks plateau) that is staggeringly beautiful and dirt poor. In her home town of Viburnum (pop. 1100ish) you could rent a nice, 1400sf house for probably $500 per month, if not less. Good luck finding a job there, but if you’re retired finding a job isn’t really a concern.

It’s “safe” as long as you are not in any way involved with producing, transporting, buying or selling methamphetamine. Or do you mean safe from natural disasters? Viburnum gets all the Midwestern weather systems, and forest fires are a concern, although truth be told there has been neither a tornado nor a wildfire in the Quad Counties in probably thirty years.

You’ll probably be bored, but as far as I’m concerned if you have satellite TV (available in Viburnum), high-speed internet access (also available in Viburnum, if you get it from your satellite provider), a World of Warcraft account (also available in Viburnum), and a bag of weed (hard to come by in Viburnum, but if you know where to look…), what more do you need? If you’re jonesing hard for a big city experience, Saint Louis is a great city and is an hour and a half away.

Also, if you’re into outdoor sports (hunting, canoeing, fishing), you will think you’ve died and gone to heaven in Viburnum.


Exactly right, there are hundreds of small cities with a single hospital, a walmart or a few other stores, and median housing prices <150k. In many of those cities moving just a few miles from the center of the city makes you quite safe in terms of crime rate. As for high speed internet/cable you just have to pay attention when buying, some areas will have it and some won’t.

High speed internet is not available by satellite, and rarely by wireless (truly highspeed wireless is occasionally available in rural areas through fixed point wireless antennas). Anything with a bandwidth cap of 5gb or less or the latency of satellite might as well be dialup for anyone who actually uses the internet for anything more than they could have done over dialup anyway.

You can get a small house in a safe, small midwest town for 40k or so if you shop around. A trailer is even cheaper.

Edited: **GreasyJack **pretty much nailed it. If you don’t mind living in a farm town where there is nothing to do, and most people who are talented have moved to larger cities where there are more job opportunities (few people with graduate degrees in anything other than healthcare or management stay in small towns, in my experience), it is a cheap way to live.

Also define cheap. I’ve lived in large and medium sized cities in the midwest (a college town with 200k people, a metro city with a million) and both had rent of $500/month in safe areas if you know where to look.

I live in Richmond, KY (near Lexington). My house was only $80k, and I live in a relatively safe neighborhood. Statistically, there’s probably meth and/or prescription drug use near me, but I’ve never had any issues with anything other than punk kids being loud when wandering the neighborhood.

Johnson City, TN is a university town (ETSU) with a very good medical center. Cost of living is reasonable to low.

Crime rate of the city as a whole is below the state average, though slightly above national average. Pick the right part of town and it is very safe.

The mountains are quite nearby offering outdoor recreation. Weather is reasonable with some snow most winters.

Downsides: weather (colder than most retirees seem to want), and driving into and out of NYC and finding parking there is a bigger hassle than many realize. There are trains but not every town is within walking distance of the LIRR. I lived for several months in Great Neck, which is not even particularly far from NYC proper, and I still found it a pain in the ass to get in and out of NYC whenever I wanted. One of my friends lives in Lake Ronkonkoma and she’s forever bitching about how none of her NYCer friends wants to make the trip to visit her at home (most of us don’t have cars or fare for the LIRR) and about the local government trying to nickel and dime her to death on every little thing.

Where in LI is cheap? I had a choice from Staten Island between LI or NJ. I went with NJ in part because I couldn’t find a house with property taxes under 5k. I suppose you might go out to Suffolk county but that’s not exactly near anywhere. You’re looking at least an hour into NYC and that’s after you get to the train platform. Plus I honestly wouldn’t want to be old and there when another Sandy shows up. My friends in Lindenhurst didn’t have power for over a week. The beaches are nice, though. Fire Island is gorgeous.

Boise, ID. Small city with a fun downtown scene. Tech based economy so all the bandwidth and shopping you could want. If you are willing to live in a small town within driving distance, housing prices can go as low as half the Boise prices.

Long Island real estate only seems cheap to people who are used to New York City prices.

Yeah, I was really thinking of Suffolk County on the eastern half of Long Island. You can get a nice 3-bedroom there for $200K or less and I’d say you’re in a very safe place surrounded by every kind of amenity under the sun (why go to NYC if you’ve got the Hamptons nearby!) The hurricane risk isn’t any greater there than it is anywhere else from Florida to Newfoundland.

To each their own, but I’d hardly ever feel like going to NYC if I lived on eastern Long Island - that area is an awesome playground unto itself in my humble opinion. Sure it can get cold, but seeing the four distinct seasons is nice too.

Likewise, for some reason it annoys me when people criticize what you ask for on a forum instead of offering helpful advice. Remember, the person asking the question is seeking the information for themselves, not for you. I believe there is a way to ignore or block users if you don’t like my postings.

I have lived in warm and cold places. To be perfectly honest, weather isn’t a concern at all. I’m not into outdoors stuff and provided the roads are clear enough to go grocery shopping that’s fine. Having lived in cold places I prefer the winter because it’s quiet outside and less noise in the neighborhoods. I understand there are people who don’t feel they couldn’t exist outside of places like Florida, AZ or parts of CA because of the weather and I’m not one of them. It has never limited my selection of places to live and because of it I’ve been able to advance my career by moving.

However, the way the economy has been and with corporations treating everyone like they are temporary workers, I think retiring early and focusing on hobbies sounds more interesting. It isn’t that I don’t like working, it’s that I don’t like the uncertainty of employment these days. Constant layoffs, mergers, the second you get hired by a good boss he/she gets a job elsewhere and now you are stuck with some idiot. You relocate to take a job, and then the job has a layoff, or the job changes and now you are working on justify your existence than doing actual work. As I mentioned, I don’t mind the work, I just getting sick of the BS. It use to be, you get excited about starting a new job or project, but now I can’t help from thinking “I wonder how long this is going to last until it turns into crap”, because I don’t trust the work situations any longer. So if I could find some places worthy of serious consideration, I could research it online and put the numbers into a spreadsheet and see if it’s possible to retire early.

I have considered getting just an apartment, but we have lived in apartments and don’t like it. The noise of people around you really ruins it. So I guess a single family home with enough property so I can’t hear the neighbors barking dog or kids playing in the yard would be ideal. I also fear the increase in any sort of maintenance fees from condominiums. I’ve see the costs on some of them, and it’s like paying a second mortgage.

The idea of access to medical is important and I realize when we get older, like in our 70s, that it would be more critical to have easy access, so we could move to a retirement community at that time sounds like a plan. I’m thinking about something to bridge the gap between now and before we are old enough for social security which is years away. Getting all the information and crunching the numbers would certainly help make informed choices.

The places I have looked which are rural have broadband now. I was using that as an example of services. It isn’t a total deal breaker, cause after broadband continues to spread and there are also wireless data plan options too.

I was trying to make the point that no matter where you live in the US, you do have access to pretty much the same things in 2014. Unless I’m leaving something out, which I can’t imagine what that would be.

Things which don’t matter at all to me are things like sports, you couldn’t pay me to attend a sporting event so that’s of no concern.

What city in the US is it that someone has to wait 3 days for a plow?

I can recommend the Fayetteville/Bentonville/Springfield area of Arkansas. A couple of branches of my family moved there after pondering this question and that was the best that they could come up with. That is Northwestern Arkansas and it probably doesn’t look or act like anything you have pictured when someone mentions ‘Arkansas’. It is in the Ozarks and very pretty (Arkansas is called the Natural State for a reason). You have all the mountains, hiking, fishing and other natural resources you could ask for. Fayetteville is also a college town and home to the University of Arkansas.

You may still be sneering at the idea but there is more. Wal-Mart and Tyson chicken are headquartered there so there are actual jobs yet the cost of living is unusually low. The Walton family just built one of the most impressive art museums in the world right there but most people don’t know much about it (they share collections with the Louvre in Paris). They have a large, newly built regional airport (because of Wal-Mart) that can get you anywhere fast plus excellent hospitals and everything else you could want.

If you want cultural attractions, Eureka Springs, AR and Branson, Missouri are just a rather short ride away. The former is a Victorian town in the mountains that isn’t quite like anywhere else. The latter is basically Vegas for retired Midwesterners that don’t believe in gambling but like live shows.

The only downsides that I know of are that it gets brutally hot in the summer and can get really cold in the winter even though it is moderate most of the year. Even though I live in New England, the temperature extremes at both the high and low end are much greater there than they are in the Boston area.

I live in Australia but have visited the Napa Valley a couple of times and thought it would be a nice place to live, with SFO only an hours drive away. Are my brief observations on the ball or is there a dark side?

kunilou specifically DIDN’T say “city.” And she’s right that in remote rural areas snowplow services can be leisurely. People who live in the very rural parts of my state (Nebraska) don’t drive big pickup trucks just for show.