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This North Carolina city ranks as the nation’s cheapest place to live. Here’s why

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Downtown Hickory

Hickory ranks No. 1 on a list of cities offering residents the most for their money, according to a new ranking by U.S. News & World Report.

North Carolina is home to the nation’s most affordable place to live, a new report finds.

Hickory ranks No. 1 on a list of cities offering residents the most for their money, according to results published Tuesday.

To create the rankings, U.S. News & World Report said it studied 150 metro areas across the country. Then, it used U.S. Census data to determine each place’s median income, homeownership rates and costs of living.

“To pinpoint the most affordable places on the list, we looked at the proportion of the median annual household income that goes toward the average cost to own or rent a home, including the typical cost of utilities and taxes,” analysts wrote in their report.

Hickory is home to about 43,000 people and lies within the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metro area. The region roughly 55 miles northwest of Charlotte was the only place in North Carolina to earn a top 10 spot on the national list.

“The area is fairly affordable, with rents low and the median sale price for homes lower than the state average,” U.S. News & World Report said. “But the supply of homes is still low, so finding a home can be tricky. Local entities are working to bring more new construction, but the price of homes is still rising due to that lack of supply and higher construction costs in the area.”

In the report, officials said the Hickory area had an average annual salary of $43,630, median home price of $161,000 and monthly median rent of $708. The area’s residents put about 19.3% of their income toward housing, results show.

In addition to its costs, the region also received nods for its mild weather, arts scene and recent growth.

“Hickory offers a high quality of life and an affordable cost of living for residents,” Mayor Hank Guess said Tuesday in a news release. “This makes our community a desirable place to live and we’re experiencing steady growth as more and more people realize its value and choose Hickory as their home.”

Rounding out the top five cheapest places to call home were the metro areas of Green Bay, Wisconsin; Huntsville, Alabama; Davenport, Iowa; and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Still, Hickory wasn’t the only place in North Carolina to receive national recognition.

On the overall list of “best places to live” — which considered costs, desirability and other factors — Raleigh and Durham ranked No. 6 in the country, The News & Observer reported.


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