The 10 Cheapest Cities for Enjoying a Drink

Since many favorite American past times revolve around grabbing a drink with friends, we’ve analyzed the cost of beer and wine across the country to highlight the cities with the most affordable alcohol.

To help you out, we took cost-of-living data and ranked 256 cities on affordability for beer and wine, with 1 being the most affordable and 256 being the most expensive. That’s right, we’ve got the buzz on cheap booze! Here are the cities with the cheapest bottles and six-packs.

10. Rockford, IL

rockford illinois

When you think of Rockford, the first thing that probably comes to mind is peaches. Home to the most decorated All-American Girls Professional Baseball League team, the Rockford Peaches, this city is also home to inexpensive beer and wine.

We gave it an affordability score of 29.5. With four championships and the subject of one of the most beloved sports films, “A League of Their Own,” you can score a one-bedroom rental here for $714 a month.

9. Thibodaux, LA

thiboodaux louisiana

Thibodaux is located on the riverbanks of Bayou Lafourche, just 60 miles southwest of New Orleans. This city has an affordable alcohol score of 29.

If you want to get out of the house to enjoy your drinks, the small community has several great bars highly rated by the locals, such as Billy’s Tavern, which has live performances, and Norm’s Daiquiris & Grill, which has bar games like pool and karaoke. It’ll cost you $683 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in Thibodaux.

8. Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA

waterloo-cedar falls iowa

After exploring local sites like the John Deer Tractor Museum or going for a hike in George Wyth State Park, you can grab an affordable drink to enjoy at home in Waterloo. For those looking for pub eats and a bar arcade, Spicoli’s Reverb is a local bar with live music, too.

Meanwhile, Jameson’s Public House is known for its happy hour and bar games, while the Screaming Eagle has a down-to-earth vibe with biker decor and live music. Waterloo is a little more affordable for rent prices of the two — a one-bedroom there runs $745 a month.

7. Kalamazoo, MI

kalamazoo michigan

In Kalamazoo you’ll find a lot to do. There’s the Kalamazoo Mall and a handful of museums featuring vintage cars, planes and science and visual arts exhibits.

If you’re tired of staying in for your drinks, you should head to the Entertainment District, where you can experience 11 different venues, including nightclubs, bars and restaurants. With a score of 23.5 and an average rent of $821 a month, you’ll find affordability and fun here.

6. Peoria, IL

Peoria illinois

Peoria is the largest city on the Illinois River. It’s home to the Heart of Illinois Fair and the Spirit of Peoria, a beautiful old-fashioned riverboat with paddlewheel.

The city has many museums, annual events and more than 9,000 acres of parks and trails. As for nightlife, Club Diesel and the Pitch Karaoke Bar are favorites among locals. A one-bedroom apartment here runs an average of $647 a month.

5. Milwaukee, WI

milwaukee wisconsin

Milwaukee is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan. The largest city in Wisconsin has many festivals and lots of outdoor activities, such as sailing and windsurfing, among others.

Milwaukee is also known for its plethora of ethnic dining and affordable alcohol prices. It is one most walkable cities in the U.S., featuring gorgeous skyline views along the water. And, of course, it’s home to Miller Brewing Company.

Rent in Milwaukee is the priciest of all the cities on our list. A one-bedroom will costs $1,285.

4. Meridian, MS

meridian mississippi

Located between southern cities like Birmingham, New Orleans and Memphis, Meridian has always been like a junction from its early railroad days. Now, the city serves two military facilities, but also has healthcare, retail and manufacturing jobs to support its economy.

Culturally the city is known for its art and architecture, but if you want a beer and burger, fire up your grill or head out to Mugshots Grill or Brickhaus. As fourth on our list, it comes in with a score of 18 on our alcohol affordability ranking. The average one-bedroom rental here is $709.

3. Grand Rapids, MI

grand rapids michigan

It’s probably no surprise that Grand Rapids, which is fondly referred to as “Beer City,” is one of the most affordable cities in the U.S. for alcohol. Voted as one of the “best beer towns,” it has over a dozen local breweries with many events and venues for beer enthusiasts.

Alcohol aside, this affordable city has many concert venues, museums and theaters, too. Rent here is slightly more expensive than other cities on this listing, coming in at $1,102 a month.

2. Rio Rancho, NM

rio rancho new mexico

Rio Rancho is known as the “City of Vision.” The community has a handful of stores and shops where you can pick up a six-pack or a bottle of wine to have with dinner. Rio Rancho gets an affordability score of 17.5 and features the Local Brewhouse, where you can enjoy pub eats and a beer with a mountain view.

Another popular spot is Turtle Mountain Brewing Company, which is modeled after TV show, “Cheers,” and serves pizza, calzone and more than a dozen beers on tap. And with an average rent here of $725, you’ll have plenty of money leftover to stock your fridge.

1. Benton Harbor, MI

benton harbor michigan

With the lowest alcohol score on our list of only 11, Benton Harbor is the most affordable city for beer and wine in the U.S.

Whether you’re heading to Silver Beach with a picnic and pack of cold brews or you’re getting a bottle from the White Pine Winery Tasting Room, Benton Harbor offers exquisite views of Lake Michigan and inexpensive libations. And with an average one-bedroom going for just $575 a month, you can’t go wrong.

The remaining 40 most affordable cities for drinks

While the cities listed above are the most affordable, the next roundup of cities has well-priced beer and wine, too.

Find out which cities have the most bang for the buck, so you can save money for a new corn hole set, or better yet, that crystal wine carafe and aerator you’ve been eyeing.

RankCity/County StateBeer ScoreWine ScoreFinal Score
1Benton Harbor MI121011
2Rio Rancho NM13417.5
3Grand Rapids MI211518
4Meridian MS201618
5Milwaukee-Waukesha WI43519.5
6Peoria IL83722.5
7Kalamazoo MI74023.5
8Waterloo-Cedar Falls IA114427.5
9Thibodaux-Lafourche Parish LA283029
10Rockford IL65329.5
11Decatur IL314638.5
12Edmond OK185938.5
13Fond du Lac WI37639.5
14Champaign-Urbana IL305241
15Joplin MO681742.5
16McAllen TX751143
17Ponca City OK58143
18Las Vegas NV326046
19Kokomo IN405447
20Texarkana TX-AR464947.5
21Des Moines IA732850.5
22Wichita Falls TX168651
23Phoenix AZ99652.5
24Lafayette IN535554
25Lake Charles LA347454
26Birmingham AL446554.5
27Moses Lake WA941956.5
28Indianapolis IN113157
29Evansville IN526357.5
30Waco TX932358
31Eau Claire WI199758
32Temple TX853258.5
33Denver CO912759
34Madison WI269862
35Springfield MO844162.5
36Columbia MO676164
37Bismarck-Mandan ND963867
38Memphis TN1171867.5
39Manhattan KS2511067.5
40Ardmore OK459168
41Twin Falls ID429568.5
42South Bend IN924769.5
43Hutchinson KS776671.5
44Danville IL3810672
45Las Cruces NM1513273.5
46Orange County CA144876
47Houston TX1094376
48Fort Wayne-Allen County IN836976
49San Antonio TX1302477
50Conroe TX1153977

Top 10 most expensive cities for drinks

Seattle is one of the most famous beer cities in America, with 174 breweries and even more pubs. It’s also the most expensive place to consume alcohol with a score of 252.5.

Juneau and Mount Vernon, WA, also have high prices with Manhattan and Brooklyn rounding out the top five.

RankCity/County StateBeer ScoreWine ScoreFinal Score
1Seattle WA252253252.5
2Juneau AK243250246.5
3(t)New York (Manhattan) NY254225239.5
3(t)Mount Vernon-Skagit County WA245234239.5
5New York (Brooklyn) NY253223238
6Albany NY235227231
7Glenwood Springs CO234221227.5
8Blacksburg VA227226226.5
9Winston-Salem NC225218221.5
10Atlanta GA198244221

Methodology

Average prices for alcohol come from the Council for Community and Economic Research‘s Q1 2019 Cost of Living report. We used the following specifications from the C2ER for our calculations:

  • Beer: Heineken’s, 6-pack, 12-oz. containers, excluding any deposit
  • Wine: 1.5-liter bottle, Chablis or Chenin Blanc or any white table wine

We ranked each city in the C2ER report in terms of affordability for each of these items, with the cheapest being 1 and the most expensive as 256. We added up the raw score number for each of the categories and divided by 2 to get a total alcohol affordability score. The cities with the lowest overall scores were determined to be the most affordable.

The rent information included in this article is based on August 2019 multifamily rental property inventory on ApartmentGuide.com and Rent.com and is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

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Christa FletcherChrista Fletcher is a professional writer living in Orange County, CA., who specializes in lifestyle, travel and technology content. She has worked for start-ups and large corporations, managing and creating digital content for consumers. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Marie Claire, Women eNews, Grow Wire and Fox Business. Fletcher is a graduate of New York University.

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