Beverages alone can sink your budget. Between that artisanal fresh-ground coffee and small-batch craft beer, a trip to the market can often lead to sticker shock. Oh, you eat organic? Enjoy that $3 peach.
Fortunately, you don’t have to fill your cart with ramen and generic cola to afford the basic staples. In fact, some cities make it easy to load up on all the fancy eats you can shake a free-range rotisserie chicken at.
Finding the most affordable cities for groceries
We took cost of living data and ranked 257 cities and counties on affordability for a variety of groceries. Just one question … how do you feel about Texas?
They say that everything’s bigger in Texas, but when it comes to grocery bills, we beg to differ. Seven of our top 10 call the Lone Star State home. Here are the 10 cities in America where groceries cost well below the national average.
10. Wichita Falls, TX
Home of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, this North Texas town wrestles up some serious bargains when it comes to filling your shopping cart. Expect to pay 15 percent below the national average when you stock up on staples.
Rent prices are equally low here just across the state line from Oklahoma. A one-bedroom apartment in Wichita Falls will cost you around $704 per month.
9. Salina, KS
Home to a trio of colleges, Salina is an excellent place to fill up your belly on a student budget. Between a pair of Dillons Food Stores and a Wal-Mart Supercenter, there are plenty of places to stretch your grocery dollar. Here in the heartland, your grocery receipt will be nearly 15.8 percent lower than your fellow Americans.
The news is equally promising when it comes to rent prices, as the average rental in Salina costs around $525* per month.
*Price is for a two-bedroom apartment as of December 2018, the most recent price in our inventory for this market.
8. San Marcos, TX
Located between Austin and San Antonio, this Lone Star city is home to Texas State University and it’s nearly 39,000 students. Lucky for them, this is one bargain-minded locale. Between the sprawling outlet mall and grocery prices that are 15.9 percent lower than what the majority of Americans pay, it’s simple to stick to a student budget.
As for rent, a one-bedroom apartment in San Marcos will only set you back around $995 per month — a bargain compared to Austin standards.
7. Lynchburg, VA
Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, the mid-Atlantic “City of Seven Hills” boasts a rich history dating back to the Civil War. When you’re not cruising the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway or exploring the James River, you can fill up your grocery cart for 16 percent less than average.
If mountain scenery and inexpensive provisions are your jam, you can move into a one-bedroom apartment in Lynchburg for around $832 per month.
6. McAllen, TX
Nestled on the Southern tip of Texas, this Rio Grande Valley city is located on the Mexico border. Known for its historic Old Mexico charm, along with its impressive population of birds and butterflies, McAllen also boasts grocery prices that are 16.7 percent below the national average.
Ready to relocate? Expect to pay $779 for a one-bedroom apartment in McAllen.
5. Harlingen, TX
Located about a half-hour east of McAllen, this border-hugging city is less than an hour and a half west of spring break central: South Padre Island. Lucky for you, you can load up your cart with chips and salsa, margarita mix and Jell-O (for those wiggly spring break shots) for less than you probably expect.
Your grocery tab in Harlingen will be a sweet 17 percent lower than the rest of the country pays. Better yet, you can rent a one-bedroom apartment for just $737 per month.
4. Round Rock, TX
A short 20 minutes north of Austin you’ll find Round Rock, home of the annual Hairy Man Festival, which celebrates a colorful myth that dates back to the stagecoach days. As for the shopping scene, you’ll find plenty of Texas’ H-E-B grocery stores, along with bargain-minded options like ALDI and Trader Joe’s.
And the price is most definitely right. How does 19.6 percent below the national average sound? Rent is a little more pricey compared to the other cities on our list, with a one-bedroom coming in around $1,071 per month.
3. Kalamazoo, MI
When it comes to monikers, Kalamazoo is number one in our hearts. Home to several colleges and universities, there’s plenty to do in Kalamazoo, including museums that cover aviation, cars, science and history.
Living in Southwestern Michigan also means that your grocery budget is going to stretch super far. Food and other essentials will cost you 20.3 percent below the national average. And the rent? You’ll pay around $786 per month to call Kalamazoo home.
2. Waco, TX
Living in Central Texas can get steamy, but here in Waco, you’ve got the Brazos River and sprawling Lake Waco to keep things cool. Home of Baylor University, the Dr. Pepper Museum and Magnolia Market at the Silos (for all you HGTV “Fixer Upper” fans), Waco is an excellent place to call home for many reasons — not least of which is groceries that cost 20.4 percent less than most places in this country.
Rent is also awesomely affordable at just $879 per month for a one-bedroom.
1. Temple, TX
Perched north of Austin and Round Rock, and just south of Waco, Temple earns the number one spot on our list ahead of six other Texas cities on our top 10. The roughly 76,600 residents who call Temple home have it made when it comes to their monthly grocery bill.
At 23.8 percent below the national average, groceries in Temple will cost you nearly a quarter less than most places in the United States. What does that mean for rent? Try $831 per month for a one-bedroom.
More affordable cities for groceries
Not quite sold on living in Texas, Kansas, Virginia or Michigan? Peruse our top 50 cities for affordable groceries to cast a wider net.
|Rank||City||State||Percentage Below National Average|
Most expensive cities for groceries
Bargain-minded shoppers take heed: These cities are to be avoided at all costs if you’re set on sticking to your grocery budget. Here are the 25 most expensive cities for groceries.
|Rank||City||State||Percentage Above National Average|
|3||New York (Manhattan)||NY||39.7%|
|7||New York (Brooklyn)||NY||32.3%|
|8||New York (Queens)||NY||28.6%|
|10||Mount Vernon-Skagit County||WA||21.5%|
Average prices for groceries come from the Council for Community and Economic Research‘s Q1 2019 Cost of Living report. The C2ER uses the following specifications to describe groceries:
- Ground beef
- Frying chicken
- Chunk light tuna
- Whole milk
- Parmesan cheese
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Whole wheat bread
- Fresh orange juice
- Corn flakes
- Sweat peas
- Facial tissues
- Dishwashing powder
- Cooking oil
- Frozen meals
- Frozen corn
- Potato chips
- Soft drinks
We ranked each city and county in the C2ER report in terms of affordability for groceries, with the cheapest being 1 and the most expensive as 257. The cities with the lowest overall scores were determined to be the most affordable.
The rent information included in this article is based on July 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.