These are the Cheapest Cities for Cell Phone Plans

That’s a lot of phones, which can be a huge chunk change especially when the Council for Community and Economic Research says the average cell phone plan costs $179.21 per month.

Still, there are dozens of U.S. cities where you can afford to live and save money to dial and download for less.

Finding the cheapest cities for cell phone plans

We took cost-of-living data and ranked 256 cities and counties on affordability for cell phone plans, with 1 being the most affordable and 256 being the most expensive.

So, what are the most affordable cities for cell phone plans in America? Three are in Delaware, where you can enjoy low-priced mobile packages minus sales tax. Here are the top spots to net deals throughout the nation.

10. San Diego, CA

san diego

San Diego offers 266 sunny days per year and 70 miles of coastline, so it’s no wonder you can surf in the morning and hike in the afternoon. A great place to start is La Jolla, the so-called Jewel of San Diego, where you can snorkel some of the best reefs in the state, hang glide off oceanside cliffs and surf the sapphire blue waves. Or, you can hit the “Rodeo Drive of San Diego,” La Jolla’s strip of upscale boutiques and designer stores.

If trail running is more your speed, hoof it to Balboa Park, a haven for urban hikers who find their way to the Sixth & Upas Gateway. It features five trails ranging in difficulty with smooth sidewalk areas and steep natural walkways with stands of oak and pine covering hillsides. It is also home to the San Diego Zoo, which is a favorite among locals.

You could be one of them for the average one-bedroom price of $2,314 a month while saving on a cell phone plan that will run you just about $171.85 a month.

9. Wilmington, DE

wilmington de

You may recognize the city from your credit card statements. Wilmington is, after all, the national financial center for the credit card industry. But this is no place to swipe through.

As the cultural capital of the state, residents have good reasons to stay put. Take, for example, the Christina Riverfront District. Once an industrial eyesore, the Riverfront Trail stands as the place to meet up in Wilmington.

You can watch a movie at the IMAX theater, imbibe in a pineapple-infused vodka martini at the Big Fish Grill, slurp oysters at Banks Seafood, putt-putt at Riverwalk Mini Golf and catch air at the Altitude trampoline park. You can test your own paddle skills with a two-hour lesson at Wilmington Rowing Center, too.

Once you’ve tested the waters, you may want to dive right into Wilmington. A one-bedroom apartment can be had for $1,118 a month on average, while a cell phone plan’s in the area average $171.74 a month.

8. Sussex County, DE

sussex county de

Life’s beachy in Sussex County, where there’s plenty of fun to be had golfing, birding, windsurfing and delighting in boardwalk entertainment. Dewey and Rehoboth beaches attract the lion’s share of visitors, especially in summer months.

With broad sandy strands and 5-star rated water quality awarded by the National Resource Defense Council, it’s no wonder. The region’s ponds and rivers are also ideal for canoeing and kayaking. You can rent canoes and kayaks at state parks or from local businesses.

Shoppers also love Delaware for its tax-free shopping, and Sussex County has plenty of unique finds to be scored at antique shops, boutiques and outlet centers.

You can make yourself at home for $1,370 a month for the average one-bedroom apartment in the Sussex County city of Lewes — not bad when you’re only paying $171.74 a month on the average cell phone plan.

7. Dover, DE

dover de

Delaware’s capital is a city in motion with one foot proudly planted in the past. Twice a year, Dover revs up for NASCAR races at the Dover International Speedway and tunes in to a wholly different set of grooves at the annual summer Firefly Music Festival.

Meanwhile, history buffs will enjoy a stop at First State Heritage Park. There, you can reflect on the colonial history surrounding Delaware. It was the first state to join the Union after the Revolutionary War.

Walking past the 18th-century buildings and houses may inspire you to call Dover home, especially since apartments run $978 on average for a one-bedroom. A cell phone plan will run you about $171.74.

6. Bozeman, MT

bozeman mt

A four-season destination for outdoors-minded people, Bozeman beckons visitors with winter skiing at Big Sky Ski Resort or Bridger Bowl Ski Area, spring river rafting the Gallatin River, summer backpacking the Gallatin Divide and autumnal escapes to Yellowstone.

You may also want to hit downtown, where storefronts boast moose burger specials and craft beers on tap. But locals recommend you mosey along to the Gallatin History Museum, an impressive tribute to pioneer living.

Old jail cells and hanging gallows offer a nod to the wild, wild west. The museum also celebrates local American Indian tribes, Fort Ellis, the infamous Big Horn Gun and historical fashions.

You can stake your claim for a one-bedroom apartment at $1,075 a month, with a monthly cell phone plan for about $171.31.

5. Las Vegas, NV

las vegas nv

What happens here stays here. But that doesn’t mean you need to stick to the Strip. The desert oasis is an excellent basecamp for outdoor sightseeing and even hiking adventures.

For a different set of neon hues, venture 20 minutes out to Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains, which rises like a technicolor-dream Stonehenge from the desert floor. Or, drive a bit farther (58 miles northeast of the slot machines and tables) to the aptly-named Valley of Fire State Park.

Settle into a meditative state far away from the cling-clang of chips, and watch as the light hits the spires and cliff faces just right, making everything appear to ignite. It’s the shot to share with your Instagram devotees.

You can visit as often as you want when you call Vegas home in a one-bedroom apartment for an average $1,114 a month. A monthly cell phone plan for capturing all those sites will run you about $170.58.

4. Tucson, AZ

tucson az

Tucson is a funky college town tucked away in a valley surrounded by jagged mountains and enormous saguaro cacti. See it from all sides when you venture out to Saguaro National Park, downtown’s 8,000-square-foot Thunder Canyon microbrewery or Barrio Viejo’s bright yellow Teatro Carmen.

And look out for the Fourth Avenue Underpass. There, you’ll come face-to-face the Tucson Portrait Project, a collage of thousands of Tucson locals’ faces.

Picture yours to be one as you contemplate living in Arizona’s second-largest city at $734 a month, the average price for a one-bedroom apartment. It’s a steal of a deal considering you’d be paying just $170.04 a month on average cell phone bills.

3. Twin Falls, ID

twin falls id

In 1974, daredevil Evel Knievel attempted a steam-powered motorcycle jump across Twin Falls’ Snake River Canyon. He failed, but it only heightened Twin Falls’ reputation as a mecca for thrill-seekers.

While there’s no need to outdo Knievel (someone else nailed that feat in 2016), you can BASE jump into the Snake River with a parachute from Perrine Bridge. Or, perhaps you’d prefer simply hiking and birdwatching at stunning Shoshone Falls (40 feet taller than Niagara Falls). Watch for the deep blue of the Steller’s jay along with rainbows rising in the mist.

The average monthly cell phone plane in Twin Falls can be yours for $166.13.

2. Boise, ID

boise id

While Idaho may be famous for its potatoes, Boise is better known for its paella and bocadillos. The city is home to one of the largest Basque populations outside of Spain. Book a reservation at one of the many authentic restaurants along the iconic Basque Block or download the schedule for pelota at the Anduiza Fronton Building.

If outdoors is your game, you’re in for a treat. Boise was named one of the “Best Bike Cities” by Bicycling magazine. The so-called City of Trees also boasts more than 190 miles of trails. Whether you opt for a full-day hike or a lazy afternoon floating on a raft down the Boise River, you’ve found the perfect place to capture a selfie.

It’s worth it when you’re only paying $165.38 a month on the average cell phone plan. And for an average of $1,078 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, you could be home.

1. Portland, OR

portland or

Portland is one of the world’s most environmentally-conscious cities due to its noted walkability and farm-to-table dining. It’s also a great place for bicycling. The city’s wide bike lanes and relatively flat streets make peddling a breeze.

Download the BiketownPDX app to unlock one of more than 1,000 bikes at 125 stations across the city. Then, zip down the ultra-scenic Waterfront Loop past fountains, public art, the Japanese American Historical Plaza and along a 1,200-foot floating bike path on top of the Willamette River.

If it rains, which is just about every day except in July and August, don’t worry! Portland pours. Duck into Powell’s City of Books for coffee (and the largest new and used bookstore in the world) or hit one of more than 55 local breweries.

Home to many a transplant, the city is a magnet for an eclectic mix of craftsmen, artists, outdoor enthusiasts and musicians. Should you wish to join them, a one-bedroom apartment runs about $1,699 a month on average. And you’ll pay just $164.96 a month on the average cell phone plan.

Swiping another 40: The full list

Whether you subscribe to a major network (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon) or a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), such as Cricket, MintMobile, Simple Mobile, Ting or Tello, you have your pick for affordable voice and data plans from the Atlantic seaboard to Hawaii.

Here’s the remainder of the top 50 rankings of the most affordable cellphone plan cities in America.

RankCity/County StateAverage Cell Phone Plan Cost
1Portland OR$164.96
2Boise ID$165.38
3Twin Falls ID$166.13
4Tucson AZ$170.04
5Las Vegas NV$170.58
6Bozeman MT$171.31
7Dover DE$171.74
8Sussex County DE$171.74
9Wilmington DE$171.74
10San Diego CA$171.85
11Orange County CA$171.85
12Bakersfield CA$171.86
13Bullhead City AZ$172.67
14Morgantown WV$172.82
15Reno-Sparks NV$172.99
16Milwaukee-Waukesha WI$173.03
17Martinsville-Henry County VA$173.12
18Lexington-Buena Vista-Rockbridge VA$173.12
19Hampton Roads-SE Virginia VA$173.12
20Staunton-Augusta County VA$173.12
21Roanoke VA$173.12
22Danville City VA$173.12
23Winchester VA-WV$173.12
24Blacksburg VA$173.12
25Richmond VA$173.12
26Charlottesville VA$173.12
27Harrisonburg VA$173.12
28Alexandria VA$173.12
29Arlington VA$173.12
30Lynchburg VA$173.12
31Honolulu HI$173.42
32Yuma AZ$173.51
33Surprise AZ$173.64
34New Haven CT$173.72
35Hartford CT$173.72
36Stamford CT$173.72
37Eau Claire WI$173.81
38Fond du Lac WI$173.81
39Marshfield WI$173.81
40Madison WI$173.81
41Findlay OH$173.86
42Lima OH$173.86
43Benton Harbor MI$173.96
44Kalamazoo MI$173.96
45Detroit MI$173.96
46Monroe LA$174.13
47Baton Rouge LA$174.13
48Ashland OH$174.24
49Cincinnati OH$174.24
50Mankato MN$174.38

The chargers: The 10 most expensive cities

The jury’s out on whether better cellphone service truly comes at higher prices. But these 10 cities are sure to drop your jaw, even if you don’t lose that signal.

The primary factor is the cost of living, which explains the presence of the New York City boroughs and San Francisco. Here’s how much you’ll be paying when you ask, “Can you hear me?”

RankCity/County StateAverage Cell Phone Plan Cost
1Chicago IL$198.50
2San Francisco CA$193.57
3Olympia WA$193.42
4Omaha NE$190.82
5Lincoln NE$190.39
6Seattle WA$189.42
7New York (Brooklyn) NY$189.09
8New York (Queens) NY$189.09
9New York (Manhattan) NY$189.09
10Moses Lake WA$189.08

Methodology

Average prices for cell phone plans come from the Council for Community and Economic Research‘s Q1 2019 Cost of Living report. The C2ER defines coffee as wireless mobile phone service subscription and associated taxes and fees; customer owns instruments, does not include tax rates for phone purchase. Price estimate for unlimited talk and text for a three-line family plan at $150 fixed-rate; fees and taxes include provider administrative and regulatory fees, Federal Universal Service Charge, state and local 911 fees, communications and sales taxes where applicable.

We ranked each city in the C2ER report in terms of affordability for cell phone plans, with the cheapest being 1 and the most expensive as 256. The cities with the lowest average price were determined to be the most affordable.

The rent information included in this article is based on August 2019 multifamily rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com and is used for illustrative purposes only. We did not have 2019 rent prices for Twin Falls, ID in our database. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

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Lindsay MorrisLindsay Morris is a Los Angeles-based writer. An outdoors enthusiast and former travel editor, Morris has trekked the Inca Trail, paddled the Bay of Fundy, jumped off the southernmost point of the U.S., toured the Amazon and skied with Olympian Picabo Street. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Shape, Advertising Age, Chicago Tribune and Forks Over Knives. Morris is a Marquette University graduate and has previously called Milwaukee and New York home.

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