Economy
11:47 am
Mon August 26, 2013

St. Louis Named Among 'Best Cities For Cheapskates'

Kiplinger's says St. Louis is a great city for cheapskates - and insists we take that as a compliment.

The Gateway City ranks at number 9 on the Kiplinger compilation, and it's the biggest city in their top 10 (full list is below).

They say St. Louis' housing costs, at 27 percent below the national average, are what cemented our place on the list.

As a bonus: If you value museums and libraries, Kiplinger's says the concentration of libraries and museums in St. Louis beats that of New York City. We have 1.6 libraries and museums per 10,000 people while New York City has 1.3.

They also counted up the number of Dollar General stores in each area - we had 16 by their count. Only Austin, Texas (17) and Columbus, Ohio (24) had more. 

St. Louis has the second-lowest median household income of cities on the list at $54,149. Columbus was the lowest, but barely, at $54,112.

Here's the full list - with some description from Kiplinger as to why each locale was included:

1.       Omaha, Nebraska—Omaha tops our ranking and sports the lowest cost of living (12.3% below average) of all cities with median incomes above the national level. Housing costs fall 18.8% below the national average and you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained—the city tallies 1.8 public libraries and museums per 10,000 people and a flurry of free activities.

2.       Ogden, Utah—residents earn the highest household income of all our cheapskate cities, 18.2% more than the US median. Enjoy the 100-year-old 25th Street Historic District, the 152-acre Nature Center and Dinosaur Park

3.       Des Moines, Iowa—grocery and health care expenses are about 6% cheaper than average. The median home value is $153,700, or $32,500 less than the national median; the concentration of public libraries and museums is the second highest of this list, with 1.92 per 10,000 people.

4.       Columbus, Ohio—hit the Buckeye State for more affordable living—Columbus has the second-lowest overall living cost of all the cities on this list (12% below the national average) and below-average costs on everything from groceries to health care. Home to Ohio State University, Columbus offers plenty of campus amenities to the entire town.

5.       Raleigh, North Carolina—while sporting the lowest average housing-related costs of all the cities on this list—a whopping 30.7% below the national average—Raleigh still affords its residents a generous household income (on average, $61,407) and offers more than 40 free cultural attractions to enjoy around town.

6.       Cincinnati, Ohio—home values stand 16% below the national median, at $156,400; energy costs are 17.7% less than the national average. Cincinnati also offers five regional and 70 neighborhood parks, 34 nature preserves and a 1,459-acre forest to explore.

7.       Salt Lake City, Utah—most of your living costs in Salt Lake City will add up to less than the national average. Housing and utilities are the biggest budget savers—15.9% and 13.7% below typical costs, respectively. Food, transportation and health care also contribute to the area’s affordability and National Geographic named Salt Lake one of the best US cities for hiking.

8.       Austin, Texas—food, housing, utilities and transportation in the area are all priced well below the national average, and local groceries prove to be the most affordable of all the cities on this list at 10.4% under par. Music lovers will have no shortage of affordable venues to visit—you could see more than 250 live performances without having to revisit a single spot.

9.       St. Louis, Missouri—St. Louis is the biggest city on this list and houses the greatest number of public libraries and museums of all of our cities. Housing is the biggest contributor to St. Louis’s affordability; the area’s housing-related expenses fall 27% below the national average.

10.   Cedar Rapids, Iowa—the least populous city on our list, Cedar Rapids offers below-average transportation and grocery costs, and its biggest budget saver is housing. The median home value is $137,100—the lowest of all the cities on this list and $49,100 below the national median. The city also has an average of 2.4 public libraries and museums per 10,000 people, topping the US average of 1.5.

Note: Kiplinger's Stacy Rapacon says they used the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area to compute these rankings - this includes more geographical areas than just the city of St. Louis. 

Follow Kelsey Proud on Twitter: @KelseyProud