We’ve all had the experience of staring at a grocery bill and wondering why fewer than a dozen items costs $50, and whether there’s a better place to shop—or live. It’s a matter of affordability, and location plays a large factor in whether a place is affordable. That’s where we come in.
Today, Movoto Real Estate has expanded our types of city rankings from looking at the best places to live in a state to analyzing the most affordable places in a state. This is part of our ongoing effort to help both residents and non-residents of each state learn about cities, towns, and villages across the country. Our first stop is Georgia.
The most affordable place in Georgia, according to our analysis, is Warner Robins. The top 10 are:
1. City of Warner Robins
2. City of Hinesville
3. City of Grovetown
4. City of Canton (tie)
4. City of Perry (tie)
6. City of Woodstock
7. City of Johns Creek (tie)
7. City of Thomasville (tie)
9. City of Milton (tie)
9. Cusseta-Chattahoochee County (tie)
How did Warner Robins take the No. 1 spot? Why are there so many ties? Keep reading to take a stroll through these 10 places that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to live in. First, however, here are some details on how we created our ranking.
How We Found The Most Affordable Places In Georgia
To create our ranking, we looked at the largest places in Georgia with a population of more than 10,000 people, according to the Census Bureau; this included cities and Census Designated Places, which is why Cusseta-Chattahoochee County is included. Armed with a list of 78 places, we ranked each one based on a set of six criteria, with the lowest number being the best. We then took the average of all these ranks to create our Big Deal Score. The place with the lowest average rank across our criteria–Warner Robins–was crowned the most affordable.
Here are the criteria we used to judge each place:
- Food costs
- Utility costs
- Miscellaneous costs
- Median home price
- Unemployment rank
- Adjusted median income
We collected our data from Sperling’s Best Places as well as the most recent U.S. Census (2010). The adjusted median income takes a location’s median household income and divides it by its cost of living. We then multiplied this number by 100 to create an adjusted income we believe reflected how far people in the area can stretch their hard earned dollars.
Other information you should note is that our miscellaneous rank included the cost of clothing, restaurants, repairs, and entertainment.
If you don’t live in one of the places on our top 10 ranking, jump to the bottom of the story for a list of the most affordable places in Georgia, complete with how all the locales ranked in each separate category.
What makes Warner Robins the most affordable place in Georgia? This city of more than 66,000 has the third-best unemployment rate across the places we studied. Our analysis marked the unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, lower than Georgia’s 8.1 percent unemployment rate. Other criteria Warner Robins excelled in were its utility costs as well as its median home value. The city took the 15th and 16th spots for these criteria, respectively.
While second place is nothing to laugh at, Hinesville was a distant second. This city in Liberty County with a population of more than 33,000 is seated high on our ranking thanks to its low cost of utilities (No. 10) and for miscellaneous items (No. 13). Hinesville’s utilities scored a 95; for comparison, 100 is the national average. As for the cost of miscellaneous items, the city scored a 99, just one point lower than than the national average.
What kept Hinesville from ranking higher? Food costs. The cost of groceries in Hinesville is 2 points higher than the national average (100), meaning the city took the No. 40 spot for this criterion. For the curious, Pooler and Savannah have the lowest costs for food.
According to our data, Grovetown, a city in Columbia County, has the lowest unemployment rate of the places we looked at: 7 percent. Another factor in Grovetown’s top-three berth is it’s utilities rank. The city took the No. 10 spot with a score of 95, five points lower than the national average. The single criterion that kept Grovetown from making the top two places in our ranking is food costs. For this criteria, Grovetown ranked No. 64.
4. Canton (tie)
The first of two places at our No. 4 spot, Canton earned accolades for its unemployment rate and food costs. This city in Cherokee County is the fifth best when it came to unemployment, and tied for the No. 3 spot with a bevy of other places when it came to food costs. Aside from these criteria, Canton’s next best rank is for its adjusted median income. In this category, Canton placed 22nd, with an adjusted income of about $55,000.
Both Canton and Perry, the next place on our ranking, narrowly missed out on making the top three. In Canton’s case, the city’s median home price is a major factor. The median home price in Canton is about $174,000. Nonetheless, a home in Canton is vastly less expensive than a home in Milton, which has an median price of $462,700.
4. Perry (tie)
Two ranks helped propel Perry into the top five–its unemployment and utilities ranks. This city in Houston County ranked as the third best place for our unemployment criterion and the 15th best places for utilities. According to our data, Perry has a 7.2 percent unemployment rate. As for utilities, the city scored a 96, making it slightly less expensive than Canton.
Similar to Canton, Perry’s cost of food pushed it out of the top three; the city took the No. 54 spot in this criterion. And finally, Perry’s adjusted median household income kept it from placing higher. Our analysis indicated that a household in Perry brings home $47,966, much lower than the the No. 1 place for this criterion, Johns Creek with an adjusted median income of more than $84,000.
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As with many locations in our ranking, Woodstock scored well because of its unemployment level and cost of food. Woodstock’s unemployment rate is 7.7 percent, allowing it to tie for the No. 3 spot on our list with Grovetown. Woodstock ranked as No. 14 for our food criterion, with munchie prices one point lower than the national average of 100.
Woodstock’s lowest ranking came from its median home value. In this case, the city ranked No. 64 with the median price of a home at $197,100. And yes, this isn’t the most affordable place to purchase a home, but it’s nothing like the next place on our list.
7. Johns Creek (tie)
The first No. 7 on our list, Johns Creek took took the No. 1 spot for our adjusted median income criterion, a tidbit we mentioned above. It’s a good thing too, because homes in the area are on the expensive side. The median price for a home in Johns Creek is $336,000, which is not the most expensive but certainly among the higher priced places to consider purchasing property.
7. Thomasville (tie)
Thomasville is the second No. 7 on our top 10 ranking, thanks in part to its utilities and unemployment ranks. With a utilities score of 97, the area’s utility costs are lower than the national average of 100, though not as low as Albany, the place that took the No. 1 spot for this criterion. As for working in Thomasville, the city’s 8.2 percent unemployment rate is good enough for it to rank as the 10th best in this category.
It’s not all pretty for Thomasville, however. The area’s adjusted median income is $38,569, low enough for Thomasville to fall to the No. 60 spot for this criterion.
9. Milton (tie)
The two highest ranks for Milton were its adjusted median income and food costs. For both criteria, this city in Fulton County ranked No. 3. Milton’s adjusted median income is $73,616, while for the food criteria Milton scored a 99, one point below the national average.
What kept Milton from placing higher is its median home price, which is the highest among the places we studied. The median price for a home in Milton is $462,700. For comparison, a home in Milton costs $396,100 more than for a home in Waycross, which has the the least expensive homes in our ranking.
9. Cusseta-Chattahoochee County (tie)
The cost of homes and miscellaneous items in Cusseta-Chattahoochee County propelled this area onto our top 10 list. The value of a home here is $84,400, which is low enough to give the locale its No. 3 rank for this criterion. Unfortunately, unemployment in this area is extremely high at 17.3 percent, making it the worst location on our list for employment.
The Least Affordable Places
Now that you know what places make it easy to fill your piggy bank, we need to discuss the other side of the affordability coin. The areas that ranked the lowest in our analysis, in descending order, are: Covington, Dalton, Cartersville, Griffin, and finally Augusta-Richmond County.
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