The Most Affordable Mountain Towns To Live In

If you’ve ever dreamed of living in a mountain town but were scared off by the price tag, think again. Here are some mountain towns in the western United States that can give you some serious bang for your buck.

Ogden, Utah

This incredible mountain town has an elevation of 4,280 feet and is home to a population of about 87,000. The tiny town packs a big punch in terms of affordable mountain living. Uinita-Wasatch-Cache National Forest lies just next to Ogden. It might be a mouthful to say, but you can’t complain about the 170,000 sprawling acres of protected willows and pines that the forest offers. 

The median home price in Ogden is a comfortable $140,500, or over $50,000 less than the U.S. average. The average rent is just $759 per month. The low housing costs means residents can spend less time working and more time exploring the outdoors on Ogden’s 13,000 acres of freshwater lakes. 

Ogden is great for families with children. The Kangaroo Zoo, Treehouse Children’s Museum, Dinosaur Park and the Ogden Nature Center are all in the vicinity. You’ll keep the kiddos entertained for hours at either of these for just $10 or less. With free museums, gardens and concerts throughout the year, it’s easy to see why Ogden is highly regarded as one of America’s most affordable mountain towns!

South Lake Tahoe, California

Not to be confused with its northern, more expensive counterpart, South Lake Tahoe is a breathtaking mountain town that won’t break the bank. 22,000 people are lucky enough to call South Lake Tahoe home. It’s situated on the pristine Lake Tahoe sits on the border of California and Nevada.

Average home costs in South Lake Tahoe hover around $375,000. While this might seem high compared to other cities, it’s actually much more affordable than the surrounding areas. If you’re looking for California living on a budget, you’ve come to the right place. Renting a home may be a better option for those who are a bit more conscious of their funds. Rental properties are plentiful and will cost you just under $1,000 on average.

The mountain views in South Lake Tahoe are unmatched. The Sierra Nevada climate lends itself to an average of 249 sunny days each year which allows for unobstructed panoramic views of the peaks year-round. Mount Gardiner towers over the town with a peak of 12,907 feet! 

Wildflowers run rampant after the area’s snowy winters, making for gorgeous spring hikes. And, once-rundown buildings are being restored and investments are being made in the local economy. There’s certainly no shortage of hiking, biking or water sports for adventure seekers looking to call South Lake Tahoe home.

Leadville, Colorado

Leadville was started in the late 1800’s during the silver boom. It is seated amongst the Rocky Mountains and the city’s elevation is not for the faint of heart. Leadville sits at 10,152 feet above sea level and has a history as rich as its soil.

Leadville was established as a mining town and has been a place for families to live on a budget since its conception. It was also once home to the “Unsinkable Molly Brown”- A famous philanthropist and community leader who survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Leadville is a small, close knit community that is ready to welcome new residents. The population is under 3,000, making Leadville a warm and inclusive place to live.

Leadville sits two hours outside of Denver where the average cost of a home is over $400,000. In Leadville, however, the average is just $167,200, making it the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts on a budget.

Unpack your snowshoes because Leadville is home to the National Snowshoe Championship! This quaint mountain town is all about fun! The community comes together for BBQ’s, parades and celebrations throughout the year, many of which have no admission fee.

Crestline, California

Crestline is a mountain town that truly gives you the most for your money. Beaches, theme parks, nature- you name it! Crestline is located less than 30 minutes from San Bernardino and 90 minutes from the thrills and magic of Disneyland. You can literally do it all!

Crestline is surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest. The thick and luscious tree lines help to keep Crestline’s average temperatures about 20 degrees cooler than surrounding areas year-round. Lake Gregory also calls Crestline home. This mountain lake is perched at 4,550 feet and allows you the opportunity to take part in your favorite water recreation.

Homes in Crestline average $213,500 and rent sits at a comfortable $907 per month. These numbers are truly unbelievable when you consider all that Crestline has to offer. The smaller population of under 15,000 allows for relaxing commutes and uncluttered access to the trails and parks nearby.

Take a trip down the Rim of the World Highway for an unforgettable view. Peering over the cliffs will surely make you feel like you are on the edge of the Earth. You won’t be the only one expressing your love for the mountain landscape. There’s even a rock that has formed into a heart shaped, aptly called Heart Rock. A day of hiking will lead you past the unique formation and also some serene waterfalls.

Leavenworth, Washington

The population of Leavenworth is just about 2,000 but don’t let the town’s small size fool you. This mountain town is packed full of wineries, bed and breakfasts, local attractions and of course those gorgeous mountain views. 

Leavenworth is proud that their region leads the way in export of organic pears. Pear trees dot the town, using the peaks of the Cascade Mountains as their backdrop. Consider one of Leavenworth’s championship golf courses if you’ve ever wanted to hit a hole in one with a mountain view. The crisp, clean air lends itself to endless outdoor activities.

With a population of 2,000, you can’t go wrong. The median home price is about $252,000 and rent averages $900 per month. These are a small price to pay to have the Cascade Mountains in your backyard.

Seattle is about a two hour drive and the Stevens Pass ski resort is just 35 miles away. There is a lot to do in the towns surrounding Leavenworth, but you probably won’t want to venture too far. 

The annual Oktoberfest in town is one of the biggest events of the year. Locals and tourists alike come together to celebrate their German heritage. The annual Christmas Lighting Festival is jaw-dropping. Thousands of Christmas lights adorn trees and buildings throughout town. They twinkle and bounce off the snow as fireworks cascade in the background. Leavenworth becomes a winter wonderland that you almost must see to believe.

Lead, South Dakota

Home to 3,000 residents and nestled within the Black Hills of South Dakota, Lead is a mountain town you don’t want to pass up! The outdoor activities and beauty in Lead are great on their own, but the housing cost makes it even more enticing.

The average home price is a pretty sweet and affordable $102,400. 76% of homes are rented but you can forget those sky-high rental price tags. The average rent payment is just $507 per month! But wait, it gets even better. The average commute? Under 15 minutes. Lead sounds almost too good to be true!

The town itself sits at 5,280 feet above sea level. The mountain landscape makes the perfect backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the 350 miles of snowmobile trails. Fishermen can indulge in some of the best fishing around at Spearfish Canyon. History enthusiasts will be delighted at the Americana surrounding Lead. Mount Rushmore is just an hour away.

 South Dakota has also been voted one of the “Most Tax Friendly” states. There is no state income tax and local and state sales tax averages just 6.4%. Gas taxes are some of the lowest in the nation at just 30 cents per gallon.

Hamilton, Montana

Hamilton, Montana is bursting at the seams with mountain landscapes. The Bitterroot Mountains border the town in the east while the Sapphire Mountains take the west. This picturesque mountain town is a great option for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and save a few dollars. Living is affordable and the proximity to Missoula still allows for plenty of job opportunities.

Average home prices hover around $177,000. The population is close to 5,000, giving residents a taste of small town mountain living. If you opt for renting, you can expect to spend about $769 per month for a nice sized two-bedroom home.

Wildlife refuges, hiking trails and museums make Hamilton an affordable place for entertainment. The leaves change color in the fall which creates a breathtaking landscape filled with fiery oranges, yellows and browns.

Montana has no sales tax. Yes, you read that right! This savings alone can be life changing. Average sales tax in the United States ranges from 2.9% to 7.25%. This adds up quicker than you think. Montana’s generous tax policy means you’ll have more money for vacations, savings, or anything else you see fit.

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