8 cheap places you'd want to live (taken from MSN- real estate area)
Look for a strong economy, a college and low crime in your search for an area where you can afford to live.
How Asheville compares
Asheville U.S. average
Median home price $166,000
Median household income $32,976
Cost-of-living index 90.7
Future job growth 8.15%
Asheville has the interesting distinction, Sperling notes, of being named a "best place" by both Rolling Stone and Modern Maturity magazines. That's because it's popular with artists and musicians as well as with retirees who like the vibrant art scene, beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain scenery and the abundance of recreational activities. The 3,500-student University of North Carolina at Asheville offers cultural and intellectual stimulation.
Watch out for: Crime, both property and violent, is relatively high compared to the U.S. average. Also, the economy is not as robust as in many of our other picks.
Other area included were Austin, Tx...Boise, Idaho...Fayetteville, Ark. ...Minneapolis...Nashua, N.H....Olympia, Wash....Prescott, Ariz.
IN GENERAL ....
How to find your own best place
If you're looking for your own best place, Sperling recommends the following:
Look for a healthy economy. "Having a good job is important, but it's important that your neighbor has one too," Sperling said. "In a poor economy, crime goes up, and there's a lack of tax revenue for school funding and social services for the young, old, and poor,
not to mention basic city infrastructure."
Try to avoid a place in the middle of a huge boom. "After the party, there's often a hangover," Sperling said. "Cities and businesses necessarily plan far into the future, and the inevitable slowdown will catch them with expensive, and now unneeded, projects left half-completed. It's also tough to control growth and spending in the middle of a wild boom cycle."
Look for places on the outer fringes of metro areas. This may seem obvious, but many people trade extra commute time to get a house they can afford. "Similarly, if you're retired, you don't need to commute, so you can be free to move to the outskirts of a metro area, and cash in that desirable inner-city home."
Seek out that college presence. Whether you're still working or retired, a university can provide intellectual and cultural stimulation that helps make a town more interesting.
Do some basic research. Sperling's Best Places allows you to drill down on a town's economy, housing situation, climate and other telling details. MSN City Guides can help you check out local restaurants and other businesses -- as well as weather and local news headlines.
Get the local newspaper. "When you narrow your list down to a few favorites, subscribe to the local paper for a couple of months," Sperling said. "Newspapers don't pull any punches when comes to reporting all the news, and you'll soon find out what some of the major local issues are."
Visit. "There is no substitute for 'feet on the street,' he said. "Try to spend at least a week there, so you have enough time to relax and get the rhythm of the place."