Sure, you could find the absolute cheapest city in the country, pack up all your things and head out. But even if your money goes a long way, if there’s nothing around, you’ll have nowhere to spend it. What about the food? The drinks? The arts? The entertainment? For some, we want the best of both worlds. So, we cross-referenced data from the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index (for reference, the U.S. cost of living benchmark average is 100, so anything under that is good) with some qualitative analyses (like, is there anything to do in these towns?) to find the happy meeting place of the coolest and most affordable cities in the country. Here are our ten picks. OK, now you can pack your bags.
8. HUNTSVILLE, AL
Cost of Living Index: 90.3
If Huntsville sounds familiar, that might be because the city was home to the NASA team that designed the Saturn V—ya know, the rocket that sent astronauts to the moon. NBD. So it’s no surprise that today, with the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, the city has become a home to other defense and aerospace firms, and locals wear that nerd-badge proudly. Learn about space exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, or keep things down to earth at the Huntsville Botanic Garden. But it’s not all right brain here. The Alabama town has seen lots of growth in the cultural side of things, from a craft beer trail to the Lowe Mill District, a massive arts and entertainment facility. And though Huntsville may be one of the more expensive cities in Alabama, it’s still nearly a solid ten points below the national average.