Top 10 Affordable Cities in Tennessee: Budget-Friendly Living

If you're looking for a home on a budget, Tennessee is a great state to start your search. Check out these 10 affordable cities to find cheap homes for sale.

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Top 10 Affordable Cities in Tennessee: Budget-Friendly Living

Posted by Gary Ashton on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024 at 2:22pm.

Cheapest Cities in Tennessee

Savvy house hunters and budget-conscious residents, take note: Tennessee’s cost of living is a breath of fresh air, sitting comfortably below the national average. In fact, the state is home to some of the most affordable cities in the country. Discover towns where your budget stretches further, covering housing, food, and fun without breaking the bank. With low costs and high living standards, Tennessee’s affordable cities could be the financial relief you’ve been seeking. Here’s where you can save the most in the Volunteer State.

Key Points

  • Tennessee offers a cost of living below the national average, combining housing affordability with historical richness and outdoor recreation.
  • Cities like Rockwood, LaFollette, and Clarksville provide budget-friendly living with unique local charms, from small-town festivals to lakeside serenity and educational resources.
  • Urban centers such as Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga balance affordability with vibrant cultural scenes, proving that city life can be both economically accessible and culturally enriching.


Clarksville TN is a Cheap Place to Live

In the heart of Tennessee stands Clarksville, a military community with a cost of living that’s about 11% below the national average. The home prices and rent prices are as welcoming as the town’s community spirit; homes in Clarksville start as low as the mid $100,000s, and even the most expensive properties rarely exceed $800,000. 

Job seekers will find plenty here, with a local job market bolstered by capital investment and the support of educational institutions like the Tennessee College of Applied Technology.

New residents are drawn to Clarksville for its educational opportunities and a median household income that outpaces the state average. One thing is certain: the city makes smart living truly affordable.


Nestled within the grandeur of the Great Smoky Mountains lies Rockwood, a town where the cost of living is as gentle as the rolling hills. With low home prices that make homeownership more than just a dream, Rockwood’s real estate scene is a breath of fresh mountain air. 

There are also lots of great local activities, from the annual Thunder Road Festival to the beautiful Mt. Roosevelt Scenic Overlook. Rockwood is one of those affordable places where the heart feels at home and the wallet feels at ease.


LaFollette is Tennessee’s serene lakeside retreat, where the cost of living is 23.7% lower than the U.S. average. Home prices typically range from around $90,000 to the $400s. Imagine waking up to Norris Lake’s tranquil beauty every day, without the dread of draining your bank account.

The city also offers many great activities, including water adventures at Oasis Watersports, tastings at local wineries, and social evenings at the Tiki Hut. LaFollette is a haven where affordability meets leisure, and every sunset over the lake doesn’t cost you a penny more.


Murfreesboro TN is a Cheap Place to Live Near Nashville

Murfreesboro, with its rich historical heritage and thriving community life, offers an attractive cost of living without compromising on the amenities and quality of life desired by residents. Healthcare expenses are 16% lower than the national average, so a visit to the doctor, an eye exam, or a dental check-up won’t send you reeling from sticker shock.

The real estate in Murfreesboro is notably more accessible compared to other regions in Tennessee, making it a favored choice for those seeking budget-friendly housing options. Home prices start at around $200,000, with most properties coming in below $650,000.

Coupled with its robust economy, educational institutions like Middle Tennessee State University, and an array of recreational activities, Murfreesboro presents an ideal blend of affordability and lifestyle that makes it one of the best places to live in Tennessee.

Johnson City

Johnson City is the fifth most affordable city in Tennessee. This city is particularly attractive for outdoor enthusiasts, with housing costs that leave plenty of room in the budget for adventure gear. Hikers and bikers revel in the trails of Buffalo Mountain Park and the Tweetsie Trail, which offer both challenging inclines and leisurely paths.

The city’s rivers aren’t just for show—they’re the playground for rafters and kayakers seeking thrills or serenity. With a plethora of recreational facilities like Winged Deer Park, Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium, and the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Johnson City is where outdoor activities and affordability live in perfect harmony.


Welcome to Bartlett, where suburban life meets the call of the wild, all within the comfort of an affordable housing market. Home prices here typically range from the mid-$100s to the high $500s, offering a glimpse into a real estate environment where getting more for less is the norm.

Bartlett isn’t just about the numbers; it’s about a median household income that affords comfort and the communal joy of festivals and outdoor events like the 4th of July Fireworks Extravaganza and the BBQ Fest.

Bartlett is where nature lovers find their fiscal fit in a vibrant community setting.


Chattanooga TN is a Cheap City to Live In

Chattanooga, the ‘Scenic City,’ isn’t just a feast for the eyes. It’s also a great place for budget-conscious homebuyers. The rent and home prices here are comfortable, with neighborhoods that boast some of the most affordable living spaces in the state. Utility costs are also typically low in this city.

Yet, Chattanooga offers more than just economic ease. It’s a city pulsing with a growing job market and a median household income that speaks of prosperity. With outdoor splendor and cultural experiences just a stone’s throw away, the city is great for those who want affordability draped in natural beauty.


Portland is a Tennessee city that offers a ton for residents. The median household income stands above the state average, ensuring that the slightly higher home prices and property taxes are still within reach for many. Amenities include the Dogwood Hills Municipal Golf Course and the Robert Coleman Community Center.

Homes here typically range in price from the low $100s to the mid $500s, about the same as some of Nashville's most affordable neighborhoods. From the listing price per square foot to the average price for one and two-bedroom homes, Portland balances the scales of affordability with the quality of life.


Knoxville, a city located in the Appalachian Mountains, offers affordability without skimping on quality. Homes here typically range in price from the $200s to the $600s with some outliers on both sides.

This city is steeped in history and brimming with attractions. The historic homes and landmarks that punctuate the cityscape are not just relics but vibrant venues for events and gatherings, each with stories to tell and beauty to behold.

Amidst this historical charm, the cost of healthcare, transportation, clothing, entertainment, and personal services in Knoxville are priced for real life. Whether you’re catching a movie, freshening up your wardrobe, or taking care of life’s necessities, Knoxville’s affordability ensures that living well doesn’t mean spending more.


Memphis is the Cheapest City to Live in Tennessee

Memphis stands out as the crown jewel of housing affordability in Tennessee. Homes typically start in the $100,000s and often stay below $500,000.

The city’s allure extends beyond its cost of living. Memphis is a living museum where the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and soul music is not just preserved but celebrated every day. Some of the must-visit music attractions in Memphis include:

  • Graceland
  • Sun Studio
  • Stax Museum
  • Beale Street

Other places like the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and the Blues Hall of Fame offer immersive journeys through the sounds that shaped America. Even the Overton Park Shell, where Elvis once shook the world, continues to reverberate with free concerts, keeping the legacy of Memphis music alive for all.

Find Your Affordable Tennessee Home

From the small-town allure of Rockwood to the bustling beats of Memphis, those moving to Tennessee find many affordable cities that all have their own unique charm. Whether it’s the community feel of Clarksville, Murfreesboro’s educational options, or the historic richness of Knoxville, these cities prove that living well doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. Let the Volunteer State welcome you with open arms and a cost of living that will have you volunteering to stay.

Frequently Asked Questions

What city has the lowest cost of living in Tennessee?

Memphis has the lowest cost of living in Tennessee, making it an affordable option for those looking to relocate.

Why is Tennessee's cost of living so low?

Tennessee's low cost of living is due to factors such as no state income tax, low property taxes, and a growing economy. These have led to job growth and affordable housing and living costs.

What is the most affordable county in Tennessee?

Van Buren County is considered the most affordable county to live in Tennessee.

Ready to move to the great state of Tennessee? Call The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage with Nashville's MLS at (615) 603-3602 to talk with a real estate agent who can help you find your dream Tennessee home.


Gary Ashton

The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage

The #1 RE/MAX team in the World!

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