Michigan is the state that offers the best and most affordable cities to live in. Its landscape is diverse, ranging from industrialized skylines to sweeping sand dunes to gorgeous waterfalls.
Once home to Henry Ford, it’s also considered the epicenter of America’s automotive industry with the headquarters of The Big Three: Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. Michigan is also the only state in the United States with two separate peninsulas and five surrounding Great Lakes.
With weather that encompasses the entirety of the four seasons, Michigan is a beautiful and populous state with plenty to see and do for tourists and locals alike. It’s also a very affordable state in which to live, with an income tax of 4.5% and a state tax of 6% (as of October 2020).
If you’re looking to live in a state with an affordable cost of living as well as lakeside beaches, urban city activities, comfortable metropolitan areas, and unique opportunities, Michigan may be the state for you.
With the 10th highest population in the United States—thanks in part to Detroit, whose metro area is home to over 6 million–Michigan also offers a multitude of quaint towns and suburbs with average costs of living that are far below the national average. Many of these cities also boast a low crime rate, ample employment opportunities, and a high satisfaction rate.
The 10 best & most affordable cities to live in Michigan are:
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Lansing is the capital city of Michigan. It is home to the Michigan State Capitol, the state Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeals. The city is also a hub for learning, with Michigan State University in the neighboring city of East Lansing and plenty of opportunities for people seeking higher education. There are also medical schools, veterinary schools, nursing schools, and law schools in the area.
In the summertime, locals can shop at the farmer’s market and attend various music festivals. There are also libraries, art galleries, museums, and theatres for people seeking a more cultural excursion.
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Muskegon is a gorgeous city on the western shore of the lower peninsula that offers several relaxing beaches along Lake Michigan. It also borders the smaller Muskegon Lake, which is located to the north of the city.
The city is home to some of the best public schools in the state, as well as Muskegon Community College and Baker College. For children interested in the arts, it hosts the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, a program that’s well known all over the state.
Most famously, it’s the home of the biggest amusement park in the state, Michigan’s Adventure, which features both roller coasters and an outdoor water park. There are also plenty of cultural activities in which to partake, including festivals, museums, and theaters.
The median home value in Muskegon is $68,800, with an average household income of $30,737. The median gross monthly rent is $697.
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Kalamazoo is located in the southwest region of the lower peninsula and has a population of around 75,000 people. The city is home to one of the larger public universities in the state, Western Michigan University. Its economy is diverse, ranging from breweries and distilleries to life sciences, industrial design, and research.
Anyone who appreciates culture will love the opportunities offered in Kalamazoo. There’s an “Art Hop” on the first Friday of every month, featuring a multitude of downtown businesses and galleries. The downtown features plenty of music, exhibitions, restaurants, festivals, and museums.
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Manistee is a gorgeous lower peninsula city located in the northwestern part of the state. It has miles of clean beaches along the shores of Lake Michigan. Manistee River is the perfect place to fish, with large populations of salmon and steelhead. Hunting is also a popular activity, due to the abundance of public land.
The city is also home to Manistee National Forest, where people are welcome to admire local wildlife, camp, hike, and bike. Nearby rivers allow visitors to canoe and kayak as well.
The median home value in Manistee is $105,400, with an average household income of $39,141. The median gross monthly rent is $671.
Geographically, Oregon boasts dramatic Pacific coastlines as well as volcanic mountain ranges. Its climate spans from rainforests along the coast to semi-arid conditions in the central and southeastern regions. The Beaver State is home to both Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the U.S., and Mount Hood, the second-most-climbed mountain in the world…
5. Battle Creek
Battle Creek is one of the larger cities on this list, with an estimated population of over 52,000 people. Most famously, it is home to the Kellogg Company. Several universities and colleges have campuses located in the area, making it a great place for families with older children.
In your free time, you can visit the symphony orchestra, parks, museums, planetariums, and zoos. The city also has sister city relationships with Santo Andre, Brazil and Takasaki, Japan. This grants many junior high and high school students and teachers the opportunity to participate in cultural exchanges.
The median home value in Battle Creek is $83,900, with an average household income of $41,106. The median gross monthly rent is $757.
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6. Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain, a city in the Upper Peninsula adjacent to Wisconsin, is aptly named for its abundant stores of iron ore. Ski lovers will take particular interest in Iron Mountain, as it’s located near the Pine Mountain ski resort, home to one of the biggest artificial ski jumps in North America. The city hosts an annual World Cup for skiing, where world-class skiers from all over the country come and compete.
In addition to skiing, the city also boasts several outdoor activities, including golfing, hiking, fishing, boating, and camping.
The median home value in Iron Mountain is $79,700 with an average household income of $44,776. The median gross monthly rent is $657.
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Albion is located in the south-central region of the lower peninsula. While it used to be known as a factory town, it has more recently taken on the cultural undertone of a college town due to the existence of Albion College, a small private liberal arts college. It has a sister city in France, Noisy-le-Roi, which offers opportunities for cultural exchange programs.
The median home value in Albion is $57,600 with an average household income of $31,134. The median gross monthly rent is $655.
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Springfield is a small town in the southern part of the lower peninsula. It has a multitude of beautiful parks to visit, with farmer’s markets, playgrounds, trails, ponds, and sports fields. It offers one of the best disc golf courses in the state. Nature lovers will enjoy the city’s arboretum and zoos, which are home to all kinds of plants and animals.
The median home value in Springfield is $69,000 with an average household income of $37,782. The median gross monthly rent is $622.
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Jackson, named in 1829 after President Andrew Jackson, was an area that attracted many southerners and immigrants at the beginning of the automotive movement. Located in the south-central region of the lower peninsula, the city has a population of over 30,000 people.
For people who enjoy being outside, there are plenty of parks with ample trails and water activities. Cascade Falls Park is home to one of the largest man-made waterfalls in the country, which has always been a point of pride for the city. If you’re interested in exploring your athletic side, there are also plenty of fields and courts for a multitude of different sports.
The median home value in Jackson is $66,700, with an average household income of $33,404. The median gross monthly rent is $696.
Houston, Texas is a vibrant city with much to offer. U.S. News & World Report ranks Houston #30 in its Best Places to Live assessment and #26 in Best Places to Retire. There’s much to love about this southern city, nicknamed Space City in the days of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center (now known as the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center)…
Menominee is located on the southernmost tip of the upper peninsula. Because it borders Wisconsin so closely, the city shares multiple public properties with Marinette, Wisconsin. It has a humid continental climate with winters that can drop well below zero.
The downtown district offers upscale restaurants, salons and spas, antique shops, and galleries. The area also hosts plenty of concerts, art shows, car shows, and community festivals for locals.
The median home value in Menominee is $73,400, with an average household income of $35,558. The median gross monthly rent is $550.
Michigan is a beautiful and unique state with plenty of affordable opportunities for everyone. Please share it with others so they can benefit from it as well. Thanks in advance!
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