25 Cheapest Places to Live in Kentucky


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Kentucky is known for quite a few things, from the Kentucky Derby to bluegrass music to a certain fried chicken brand. But those aren’t the only reasons people might choose to live here. The Bluegrass State also features plenty of job opportunities, affordable housing, lots of natural beauty, and a cost of living that’s 14% below the national average.

Where are the best places to live in Kentucky? There are plenty of cities and towns that could be an ideal place to call home, depending on whether you’re raising a family, seeking a job, planning to retire, or simply looking to relocate on a budget. Here are some of the best places to live in Kentucky now.

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Best Places to Live in Kentucky

What makes one city better than another when deciding where to live? That’s the question we attempted to answer with our research. Specifically, we honed in on these factors to decide which cities rate as the best places to live in Kentucky:

  • Median household income
  • Overall cost of living
  • Median rent prices
  • Home price to income ratio
  • Average property taxes

The following rankings include larger cities in Kentucky, along with a few smaller locales you might not have heard of. We’ve organized them by category to make it easier to find your next place to live if you’re planning a move here or relocating within the state.

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Best Affordable Places to Live in Kentucky

Affordability is an important consideration when deciding where to call home. As mentioned, the cost of living in Kentucky is below the national average and housing prices play a big part in that.

If you’re a first-time buyer, it’s worth looking into first-time homebuyer programs in Kentucky to see what options you might have for saving money when purchasing property. Regardless of whether you plan to rent a home or buy one, the Kentucky cities on our list prove to be among the most affordable options based on housing and overall cost of living.

1. Princeton

Princeton could be a great choice if you’re interested in small-town living at an affordable price. Located not far from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation area, it offers ample opportunity for backpacking, camping, boating, and more, plus lots of local flavor. Newsom’s Old Mill Store on Main Street sells Col. Bill Newsom’s Aged Kentucky Country Ham and other regional specialties.

  • Population: 6,210
  • Median Household Income: $41,506
  • Cost of Living: 84% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $700
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.22
  • Average Property Tax: 0.64%

Housing Affordability: Home prices have declined by 11% year over year, but inventory is somewhat limited as the area continues to rebuild after a devastating December, 2021 tornado. Rentals are affordable if you’re not quite ready to buy just yet.

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2. Henderson

Henderson is a suburb of Evansville, Indiana (population: 116,000), and it has all the amenities you’d expect from proximity to a larger city, along with plenty of job opportunities. Those with kids may especially appreciate its well-regarded schools.

  • Population: 27,697
  • Median Household Income: $43,413
  • Cost of Living: 86% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $575
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.52
  • Average Property Tax: 0.92%

Housing Affordability: The housing market in Henderson has seen a fairly steep increase in prices year over year, as demand for properties has outpaced the available inventory of homes for sale. Renters can find plenty of great deals here and the split between renters and homeowners is roughly 50/50.

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3. Madisonville

Overall, the cost of living is well below the national average in this western Kentucky city, which adds greatly to Madisonville’s ranking as one of the best affordable cities in Kentucky. There are ample opportunities for outdoor recreation here, as well as numerous museums and agritourism spots. Families may especially like the fact that the county’s schools are rated above average.

  • Population: 19,214
  • Median Household Income: $46,816
  • Cost of Living: 83% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,500
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.70
  • Average Property Tax: 0.86%

Housing Affordability: Madisonville has also seen its housing market heat up over the last year, though not quite as substantially as Henderson. Rather than being a buyer’s or seller’s market, it’s fairly well-balanced with an equal ratio of inventory to demand. Rental rates are a bit higher here compared to some of the other Kentucky cities we’ve profiled, which could be an incentive to consider buying instead. Comparing the cost of living by state can help you to find an affordable place to live if you’re planning a move but not 100% set on Kentucky.

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4. Ashland

This eastern Appalachian town sits on the bank of the Ohio River and boasts a pleasant downtown and riverfront area. It is home to the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center and the Paramount Arts Center.

  • Population: 21,342
  • Median Household Income: $45,414
  • Cost of Living: 81% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $750
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.52
  • Average Property Tax: 1.02%

Housing Affordability: Home prices in Ashland have remained relatively flat year over year and prospective homeowners will find that it’s a buyer’s market. It’s one of the cities where you’ll spend the least proportion of your income on housing, which could make buying more attractive. Should you decide to rent, however, you’ll find that there are a wide range of units available and median rents are well below the national average.

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5. Owensboro

Another Ohio River town, Owensboro is Kentucky’s fourth largest city and boasts a year-round ice arena, unusual for Kentucky. Families flock to the expansive new Smothers Park Playground on the river but the city also is home to a museum of fine art and hosts an annual barbecue festival. The overall cost of living is below the national average, making it another affordable pick if you’re looking for a mid-sized place to call home in Kentucky.

  • Population: 60,037
  • Median Household Income: $47,411
  • Cost of Living: 86% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $850
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.85
  • Average Property Tax: 0.99%

Housing Affordability: Home prices have been on a downward trend for the past year in Owensboro but limited inventory has resulted in a seller’s market. The home-to-price income ratio is relatively low and rent prices are moderate, given the city’s population.

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Best Places to Live in Kentucky for Families

If you’re raising a family or planning to start one, there are certain factors that might influence your decision to choose one city over another. Good schools, access to quality daycare, and safety might be just some of the things on your list of must-haves. These cities are some of the best places to live in Kentucky for families on a budget.

1. Bowling Green

Some of the things that make Bowling Green a good fit for families include the overall low cost of living and wide range of suburban amenities available. Parents will likely also value its top-rated schools. There are plenty of things to do with kids in the city but if you’re interested in taking a family trip, Nashville and Louisville are both within driving distance.

  • Population: 74,926
  • Median Household Income: $43,633
  • Cost of Living: 84% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,290
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 7.90
  • Average Property Tax: 0.82%

Housing Affordability: While housing prices are up slightly year over year, Bowling Green is still a buyer’s market and there’s a solid variety of properties to choose from.

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2. Union

Although it’s located in Kentucky, Union is technically a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio and it’s a relatively short drive into the city. Families will appreciate that public schools in the area are highly rated. And there are plenty of local events held throughout the year that are designed to appeal to families with kids, including a city Easter Egg hunt and a Celebrate America parade.

  • Population: 7,592
  • Median Household Income: $128,050
  • Cost of Living: 107% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,135
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.74
  • Average Property Tax: 1.03%

Housing Affordability: Union might be an ideal choice for families who are looking for a quieter, rural feel, and who are willing to spend a little more on housing to be near a major city.

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3. Mount Washington

Mount Washington is a suburb of Louisville and it plays host to a number of young families along with young professionals and job-seekers. Families there appreciate its above-average schools, and for entertainment the big city is only half an hour away.

  • Population: 18,424
  • Median Household Income: $83,216
  • Cost of Living: 92% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,764
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.92
  • Average Property Tax: 1%

Housing Affordability: Thanks to its affordably priced homes, chances are you’ll spend a lower percentage of your pay to cover housing costs here if you own. Rent prices are on the higher side but are still below the national average, as is the overall cost of living for the area.

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4. Bellevue

Like Union, Bellevue is a suburb of Cincinnati, though it’s much smaller in size by population. Some of the things that might attract families to Bellevue include good job opportunities, and well-regarded schools. Despite being a smaller suburb, there are still plenty of things to do and see with kids in the area, including visiting the Newport Aquarium.

  • Population: 5,630
  • Median Household Income: $69,135
  • Cost of Living: 87% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,200
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.77
  • Average Property Tax: 1.36%

Housing Affordability: Bellevue home prices have been on a steady upward trend while median rent prices have held fairly steady.

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5. Lawrenceburg

On weekends, families here can head out to local parks, tour a local museum, or make the drive into Louisville or Lexington (both are less than an hour away) for concerts, sports events, or other local fun.

  • Population: 11,919
  • Median Household Income: $52,808
  • Cost of Living: 80% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $825
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 6.99
  • Average Property Tax: 0.91%

Housing Affordability: Lawrenceburg consistently rates as one of the best places to buy a house if you’re looking for suburban living in the Lexington area. While home prices have jumped steeply year over year, housing is still highly affordable overall and rents are some of the lowest of any Kentucky city.

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Best Places to Live in Kentucky for Young Adults

Job opportunities, affordable housing, and a thriving nightlife are some of the things that might motivate you to choose one Kentucky city over another if you’re a young professional. These cities offer a great combination of affordability, employment options, and things to do for young people.

1. Fort Thomas

Fort Thomas, outside of Cincinnati, has earned a reputation for being a good place to raise a family but the area also attracts lots of young job-seekers who are looking for work. The town boasts its fair share of restaurants, clubs, and bars, as well as walking and hiking trails for nature lovers.

  • Population: 17,133
  • Median Household Income: $85,938
  • Cost of Living: 92% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,200
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.48
  • Average Property Tax: 1.36%

Housing Affordability: Home prices are on an upward trend but rents are affordable, which could make it ideal for professionals who are commuting into nearby Cincinnati each day for work. If you are looking to purchase a home, going through the mortgage preapproval process can help you make a more competitive offer if there are multiple bidders involved.

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2. Louisville

Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky and with so many companies located in the area, it’s a natural draw for young adults who are looking for a place to start their career or make a job change. Major employers here are Norton Healthcare, United Parcel Service, and Humana, Inc. From ghost tours to Churchill Downs race track to the Louisville Slugger Museum, there’s also no shortage of things to do here.

  • Population: 624,444
  • Median Household Income: $58,537
  • Cost of Living: 99% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,299
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.43
  • Average Property Tax: 1.05%

Housing Affordability: The overall cost of living isn’t as low as it is in other Kentucky cities but surprisingly, home prices are not so high as to push prospective buyers out of the market. Rental inventory abounds and rental prices are reasonable. If it’s your first time shopping for a home, study this first-time homebuyer guide to learn more about the purchase process.

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3. Lexington

Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky. Its population is diverse and a substantial number of young people live in the area, which is perfect for newcomers who are looking to make friends. Some of the largest employers include Lockheed Martin and Toyota, though there are plenty of smaller companies to attract job hunters. Nightlife abounds, with bars, restaurants, sporting events, and bourbon distilleries abundantly available, and a vibrant arts scene as well.

  • Population: 320,347
  • Median Household Income: $61,526
  • Cost of Living: 94% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,500
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 6.32
  • Average Property Tax: 1.1%

Housing Affordability: Although Lexington is probably one of the places in Kentucky where you’re most likely to need a jumbo mortgage loan, there are still some affordable options. The median home value is $286,820 and rising. Like many university towns, Lexington, home to the University of Kentucky, has an elevated median rental price, but there is abundant inventory to be had.

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4. Lyndon

Lyndon is a suburb of Louisville and it attracts both young adults who are preparing to start their careers and older adults who are ready to retire. Lyndon rates well for diversity and offers lots of local indoor and outdoor attractions.

  • Population: 10,917
  • Median Household Income: $61,078
  • Cost of Living: 96% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,065
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.66
  • Average Property Tax: 1.05%

Housing Affordability: Housing prices have held relatively steady here year to year and median rents aren’t astronomical. The cost of living is below average, though not quite as cheap as some of the other Kentucky cities mentioned so far. If you’re specifically interested in buying a home here, researching different types of mortgage loans is a good place to start.

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5. Oak Grove

Oak Grove is a smaller town with a younger population and a local government that strongly encourages business development. Nearby Army installation Fort Campbell offers opportunities for young adults who are specifically interested in gaining employment with the federal government. If you’re looking for things to do, you might visit a local museum or distillery or pay a visit to the local casino if you’re feeling lucky.

  • Population: 7,997
  • Median Household Income: $37,297
  • Cost of Living: 85% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,100
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 6.03
  • Average Property Tax: 0.78%

Housing Affordability: Housing is affordable for both buyers and renters, and the cost of living is well below the national average. If you’re planning on buying a home, getting familiar with tips to qualify for a mortgage could make it easier to find the right home loan option for your needs and budget.

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Best Places to Live in Kentucky for Retirees

Finding the best place to live in retirement isn’t always easy, as you have to consider things like housing affordability, access to healthcare, and what you’ll pay in taxes. If you’re collecting Social Security in retirement or plan to, that income is tax-exempt in Kentucky. The state also offers tax deductions for other types of retirement income, which can yield additional savings.

1. Shively

Shively is a suburb of Louisville that offers convenience to the city, with a suburban feel. Nearly 20% of the population is 65 or older. There are numerous assisted living facilities available for seniors who are moving out of their homes, either out of choice or need, and Louisville offers easy access to medical care.

  • Population: 15,482
  • Median Household Income: $41,104
  • Cost of Living: 95% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $755
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.32
  • Average Property Tax: 1.05%

Housing Affordability: The average home value in Shively is a relatively affordable $171,190 and there are apartments in the $800-$900 range, although renting a full house will cost more than $1,000 per month.

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2. Mayfield

Mayfield is a good place to retire for older adults who are looking for a smaller town with a lower cost of living. Just under 20% of the population is 65 or older, though there are a good many young families living in the area as well. Mayfield offers convenient access to parks for retirees who enjoy spending time outdoors and the Mayfield-Graves County Senior Center routinely sponsors social events to give older residents a chance to connect.

  • Population: 9,894
  • Median Household Income: $37,212
  • Cost of Living: 90% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $674
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 6.05
  • Average Property Tax: 0.66%

Housing Affordability: Mayfield is still recovering from the December, 2021 tornado that destroyed 257 of the small town’s homes and damaged another 1,000. But there are properties for sale and, with a median home value of $138,505, prices are affordable for those on a tight budget. Rental apartments remain in very short supply, however.

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3. Glasgow

Glasgow has an older population and reasonably priced housing, which may draw in other retirees who are looking for an affordable place to live. The area has a quiet, tranquil charm and the residents have a reputation for being welcoming and friendly. The cost of living is below the national average and the local senior center ensures that the retirees have opportunities to stay active. For a pleasant day trip, Bowling Green is just over a 30-minute drive away.

  • Population: 15,282
  • Median Household Income: $38,669
  • Cost of Living: 87% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $800
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.95
  • Average Property Tax: 0.76%

Housing Affordability: The average Glasgow home value is $188,686, and has been rising over the past year. The median rent sits at $800, making this an affordable option for renters.

Image Credit: BOB WESTON/istockphoto.

4. Williamsburg

Williamsburg is one of the smallest towns profiled so far, but it’s worth mentioning for retirees thanks to its exceptionally low cost of living. Social Security income and other retirement benefits may go much further here than they would in other parts of Kentucky. The senior population is a bit smaller here and there are fewer amenities overall, but Williamsburg’s location makes it a short and easy drive to neighboring towns. And for retirees who love the outdoors, Daniel Boone National Forest is less than 20 minutes away.

  • Population: 5,163
  • Median Household Income: $31,287
  • Cost of Living: 70% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $593
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 6.39
  • Average Property Tax: 0.71%

Housing Affordability: The average Williamsburg home value sits around $100,000, among the least expensive on our list. Rentals are very affordable here as well, with one-bedroom apartments priced around $800 per month.

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5. Berea

Berea is a smallish town located about 45 minutes south of Lexington. It’s one of the fastest growing cities in the state and is a mecca for retirees, students, and folk artists. Berea is situated in the bluegrass region and there are several annual festivals and fairs that attract visitors to the area. In terms of cost, the town is an affordable option for retirees and the Active Senior Network encourages older residents to get social on a regular basis.

  • Population: 15,494
  • Median Household Income: $49,974
  • Cost of Living: 85% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $925
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.70
  • Average Property Tax: 1%

Housing Affordability: The housing market is moving briskly in Berea, with average home values hovering around $222,000 but rising. Median rent is $795.

Image Credit: Jacqueline Nix/istockphoto.

Best Places to Live in Kentucky Near the Water

Looking for a scenic place to call home? These towns are the best places to live in Kentucky if you love the great outdoors and want easy access to a river or lake.

1. Bardstown

Bardstown is one of the most beautiful small towns in America and its downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It also has the distinction of being one of Kentucky’s bourbon capitals. If you’re looking for things to do on the water, the Beech Fork River is ideal for paddleboarding, kayaking, or canoeing. Boating and fishing are also an option at Sympson Lake.

  • Population: 13,739
  • Median Household Income: $49,298
  • Cost of Living: 85% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,500
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.88
  • Average Property Tax: 0.89%

Housing Affordability: With home values at an average of $235,000 and median rents around $850 per month, Bardstown remains an affordable spot for buyers who want to put down roots in a pretty historic town in the heart of Kentucky.

Image Credit: BOB WESTON/istockphoto.

2. Corbin

Corbin, the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken, is perfect for adventure-seekers who are interested in exploring the outdoors. The town is near the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park and the Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort, which are both well-known spots for white water rafting. The low cost of living and budget-friendly housing options certainly don’t hurt.

  • Population: 7,856
  • Median Household Income: $45,307
  • Cost of Living: 82% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $999
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.29
  • Average Property Tax: 0.71%

Housing Affordability: Homes are affordable here, with a median value of $162,222 that sits at less than half the national average. Rents, at an average of $999 per month, are higher than in some other small Kentucky towns, but the town is well positioned along a major highway between Lexington and Knoxville, Tennessee.

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3. Pikeville

Pikeville and Pike County could be a natural fit for outdoor enthusiasts who are also interested in local history. You can spend time kayaking down the Levisa Fork River with the Hatfield and McCoy River Trails, cruise in a canoe, or try your hand at fishing instead. Along with some picturesque waterfront views, Pikeville boasts a low cost of living and a friendly, small-town vibe.

  • Population: 7,358
  • Median Household Income: $41,094
  • Cost of Living: 85% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,200
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 7.30
  • Average Property Tax: 0.76%

Housing Affordability: With average home values sitting below $100,000 purchasing a property would be an attractive option if you can find a home that fits your needs. Median rent is $1,200.

Image Credit: 6381380/istockphoto.

4. Frankfort

Frankfort is a larger city but it’s still small enough to feel cozy and comfortable, while also offering a low cost of living. Some of the best things to do outdoors here include golfing, canoeing, kayaking, paddling, and mountain biking. If cycling isn’t your thing and you’re not inclined to spend time on the water, you can also get out and test one of the many hiking trails in the area.

  • Population: 28,391
  • Median Household Income: $51,731
  • Cost of Living: 88% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $898
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.44
  • Average Property Tax: 0.94%

Housing Affordability: The housing market here is a busy one, with average home values at around $212,000 and sales moving quickly. Many small rental apartments are available and affordable, and with all the outdoors to explore, who needs an extra bedroom?

Image Credit: Ray Tan/istockphoto.

5. Paducah

Paducah sits where the Tennessee and Ohio rivers converge, halfway between St. Louis, Missouri and Nashville, Tennessee. It has a larger population than some of the other cities that rate as the best places to live in Kentucky but that doesn’t keep it from being an affordable place to live. If you’re interested in exploring nature, you can check out a variety of recreational activities at nearby Land Between the Lakes, including cycling, camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, ATV trails, and hunting. Paducah is also one of nine Creative Cities in the U.S. designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

  • Population: 26,834
  • Median Household Income: $42,024
  • Cost of Living: 84% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,025
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 6.19
  • Average Property Tax: 0.94%

Housing Affordability: Paducah’s median rent is $850 and average home value is just north of $160,000 and rising, although there are abundant options for those looking to make the move to this historic city.

Image Credit: BOB WESTON/istockphoto.

The Takeaway

Kentucky offers a wide range of options to fit almost any budget for renters and homebuyers alike, which could make it an ideal choice if you’re looking for ways to cut down on your cost of living. Whether you are looking for a bustling city with lots of entertainment options, or a smaller town rich with local food, fun, and tradition, the Bluegrass state could be right for you.

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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