With a job in telemedicine, you too can become a digital nomad. And you don’t have to leave the country to enjoy a new environment with a low cost of living. Explore some of the best affordable places to live in the U.S., suited for any type of climate or set of interests.
With the increase in remote medical positions available, and telehealth becoming a growing industry, you may be thinking about moving somewhere else or becoming a digital nomad. While moving overseas is a tempting option for many, there are plenty of budget-friendly alternatives for telemedicine clinicians in the United States. Here are 12 of the best affordable places to live in the U.S., with varying climates and no shortage of things to do. Chances are, you’ll be able to find one on this list that feels like home. Well... for as long as you want it to.
(Note: All home value figures have come from Zillow and cost of living comparisons from NerdWallet unless otherwise linked.)
When Your Heart is in the Heartland
Median home value: $114,500
Median 2-bedroom apartment rent: $562
Gallon of gas: $2.83
Gallon of milk: $1.33
Movie ticket: $9.35
With a population of just under 80,000, Kalamazoo is a little city with big, beautiful views....and beer! Not only is the town home to well-loved Bell’s Brewery, residents also take part in the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, a stock market simulator that’s much more refreshing than the real thing (the more popular a beer is, the higher its price). Kalamazoo is a big food town, with diverse cuisine and a summer-long farmer’s market. If you’re also into art, live music, and distinct seasons, you may have found the perfect town to come home to.
Median home value: $121,600
Gallon of gas: $2.87
Gallon of milk: $1.68
Median 2-bedroom apartment rent: $1,082
Movie ticket: $10.85
Milwaukee, also built on beer, offers a little bit of everything a big city has to offer in a manageable size. The city houses both NBA and MLB teams (the Bucks and the Brewers), plus a minor-league hockey team (the Admirals), so you’re set for sporting events just about all year round. Milwaukee is known as the birthplace of a lot of notable beers, including Miller and Pabst, but more recently, the microbrewery and distillery scene has exploded. You can catch music every weekend, all summer long, right at the lakefront on the Summerfest grounds, and the park hosts its namesake festival featuring mega-acts each night for nearly two weeks in June and July. Plus, you’re a 90-minute train ride away from Chicago in case you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway.
For the Ones Made for the Mountains
Median home value $307,000
Gallon of gas: $3.04
Gallon of milk: $1.53
Median 2-bedroom apartment rent: $1,101
Movie ticket: $10.16
If you want to spend your spare time in the outdoors, Provo is built for you. It’s the third-largest city in Utah, with ample opportunities for hiking, fishing, skiing, and camping. Maybe you’re more of a movie buff than the outdoorsy type? Sundance Resort is about 13 miles from Provo, and is one of the hosts for the Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in the country. Can’t find what you need in Provo? You can get it in Salt Lake City, less than an hour’s drive away!
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Median home value: $292,000
Gallon of gas: $2.77
Gallon of milk: $1.34
Median 2-bedroom apartment rent: $1,283
Movie ticket: $8.76
Denver and Boulder may be two of the most popular cities in Colorado, but Colorado Springs has much more affordable housing costs, a 13% lower cost of living than Denver, and loads of things to do outside. In Colorado Springs, you’re never far from hiking, skiing, or sightseeing. A few of the biggest attractions? Garden of the Gods, a registered National Natural Landmark; the Royal Gorge, a famous suspension bridge with gondolas, zip lines, and more; and Pike’s Peak, also known as “America’s Mountain.”
If You Desire the Desert
Las Vegas, NV
Median home value: $275,100
Gallon of gas: $2.98
Gallon of milk: $2.49
Median 2-bedroom apartment rent: $1,120
Movie ticket: $12.12
Las Vegas is more than just casinos and nightlife. The headquarters of Zappos, Las Vegas offers a lower cost of living, no sales tax, and gems just off the beaten path like the Pinball Hall of Fame and the Neon Museum. Of course, if you’re ever willing to hit the strip, you’ll find no shortage of things to see and do. Quick weekends away can include trips to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. Are you feeling lucky?
Median home value: $242,300
Gallon of gas: $2.99
Gallon of milk: $1.39
Median 2-bedroom apartment rent: $1,125
Movie ticket: $8.38
If you’re one of those “summer-all-year” people, you can’t get much better than Phoenix. By February, the weather is in the 70s and sunny and you can be poolside almost all year round. Many of the best attractions in Phoenix take place outdoors: Roosevelt Row (the most creative part of downtown Phoenix), South Mountain Park and Preserve, and Papago Park, to name a few. Plus, there’s enough to do indoors to keep you occupied. Phoenix has museums, zoos, and aquariums to keep the whole family happy.
For Southern Sun Seekers
Median home value: $85,800
Gallon of gas: $2.53
Gallon of milk: $1.80
Median 2-bedroom apartment rent: $760
Movie ticket: $10.13
There’s so much more to Memphis than blues, barbecue, and Beale Street (but all those things are pretty great, too). Music fans will find no shortage of places to tour, like Sun Studio, Graceland, and the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. Memphis is also rich in civil rights history, and the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel is a can’t-miss. Day-to-day, you’ll find tons of great places to eat, drink, and catch live music. If fresh air is more your speed, visit the Greenline, a 7-mile rail-to-trail path that connects you to the city (or gets you away from it).
Median home value: $136,000
Gallon of gas: $2.57
Gallon of milk: $2.06
Median 2-bedroom apartment rent: $870
Movie ticket: $11.05
If you’re a fan of history, Victorian architecture, and warm weather, look to Savannah, a Georgia city with a cost of living that’s 15% lower than Atlanta. Much like other cities on this list, Savannah has a great craft beer and distillery scene. But one site, in particular, has been around since before Prohibition - The Ghost Coast Distillery. Visitors and residents alike can tour the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (the founder of the Girl Scouts), take trolley tours around old parts of the city, and visit historic River Street, among many, many other historical offerings. Savannah has also been coined the most haunted city in America, so if your tastes lean towards the macabre, locals and tour guides can direct you to some interesting spots.
For Digital Cowboys (and Girls)
Median home value: $130,600
Gallon of gas: $2.41
Gallon of milk: $1.83
Median 2-bedroom apartment rent: $839
Movie ticket: $9.80
You don’t have to just be into cowboys to enjoy Oklahoma City. With a cost of living 15.1% below the U.S. average, Oklahoma City is a big city with prices equal to that of a smaller town. Whether you’re into the arts or sports, you’re covered: the city has a philharmonic and an NBA team. City-wide events in a given week could include touring Broadway shows, big-name concert headliners, and specialty art exhibits. Oklahoma City could be your next dream home if you’re looking to save big money, but you’re unwilling to lose any big-city amenities.
Median home value: $214,900
Gallon of gas: $2.55
Gallon of milk: $2.63
Median 2-bedroom apartment rent: $1,491
Movie ticket: $10.89
Dallas is one of the largest cities on this list, with a population of about 1.3 million. Known for having a low cost of living with high-paying jobs, it’s not just one of the best places for digital nomads, but also for onsite working professionals. Being such a large city, Dallas has enough to do, no matter what it is you’re into. You could go to museums and shop during the day, and visit Dallas’ many clubs and restaurants at night. In fact, there’s so much to do that the city’s tourism site has set itineraries to follow based on your interests. It’s like a choose your own adventure story every weekend!
If the East is Your Eden
Median home value: $86,000
Gallon of gas: $2.95
Gallon of milk: $1.77
Median 2-bedroom apartment rent: $834
Movie ticket: $11.19
You might want to “shuffle off” to this city if you’re looking for beautiful scenery or a thriving arts scene. Birthplace of the buffalo wing (yep, that’s where they got the name), the city is also known for its Frank Lloyd Wright houses, sponge candy, and, of course, Niagara Falls. It’s also got hockey and football teams to satisfy avid sports fans. As a bonus, Buffalo smells like Cheerios all the time (thanks, General Mills!) Buffalo also has a lower cost of living than some of its other upstate cousins, like Albany and Rochester.
Median home value: $151,800
Gallon of gas: $3.12
Gallon of milk: $1.89
Median 2-bedroom apartment rent: $1,295
Movie ticket: $9.87
Sports, sightseeing, and so many history museums, Pittsburgh is often listed as a best place to visit, so why not live there? The cost of living in Pittsburgh is 11% lower than Philadelphia, but with all the exhibitions, restaurants, and artsy attractions, you won’t feel like you have any less to do. Pittsburgh is home to 3 major sports teams: The Steelers, the Penguins, and the Pirates. Plus, there’s lots of outdoor recreation and real seasons in which to enjoy them. So, whether you want to hike a trail or saunter to another shop, you can find your fun in Pittsburgh.
For the True Nomad
There’s no reason you have to stick to this list when you’re working remotely. If you bore easily and are looking for a little adventure, why not get an RV? You can travel the country with a reliable hotspot, and park for a while in cities that appeal to you. Or, you could buy a tiny home and rent some land in different cities to get a feel for the place without fully committing. Whatever you choose, a career in telemedicine gets you closer to being able to live that nomad lifestyle.