The Council for Community and Economic Research just released their annual ranking of the cheapest cities in the United States, as ranked by cost of living. Just like last year, the far southern town of Harlingen, Texas came in first, with a cost of living that's just almost a fifth cheaper than the national average. While it's not exactly a cultural hub, bird watchers flock here to watch the annual migrations, so that's something. Plus, a haircut will run you under $8. This house, built "like a fortress" to conserve energy, will cost considerably more up front: $425K. Considering it's got 5,000 square feet, five bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and overlooks the Arroyo Colorado, that's not such a bad deal either.
? #2: Memphis, Tenn. With all the relatively small cities on this list, it was a bit of a shock to find Memphis, the legendary music town, at number two. According to CCER's numbers, the city has the lowest average cost of housing, but we've spotted a view listings around town that seem to hike the average up. There are parts of town where $1.7M doesn't even buy a completed house. Instead, it gets the buyer 14,000 unfinished square feet on 3.8 acres.
? #3: Ardmore, Okla. Texas appears three times in the top five cheapest, so this Oklahoma town, even if it's just to the north, is a welcome respite. Home to the cheapest average apartment rental, at $500 per month, Ardmore also has its fair share of large historic homes. This columned manse was built in 1932, spans 4,750 square feet, and has a renovated kitchen to complement the historic details. Listed for $350K, the white house sits on 0.79 acres with a charming two-bedroom garage apartment.
? #4: McAllen, Texas Like Harlingen, this city is also located on Texas' southern arm, close to the border with Mexico. Sugar, jeans, and wine are at their cheapest prices here, with the latter averaging $5 per bottle. With a nice wine buzz on, it's time to go house hunting. This gated estate costs a pretty penny by any city's standards, $1.75M, but includes six acres, a 5,900-square-foot mansion, and a vaguely Spanish style.
? #5: Waco, Texas Infamous as the site of a showdown between an armed cult and allegedly overzealous government agents, Waco should, today, be better known as the place where parmesan cheese is the cheapest. The town is located halfway between Dallas and Austin and is the birthplace of Dr. Pepper soda. Historic homes are plentiful here, like this 1885 mansion built by one of the founders of the now wildly-successful soft drink. The 7,100-square-foot white manse has four beds, four baths, and some remarkably well preserved historic detail, and is available for $895K.