No. 1 Cheapest Place to Live: Harlingen, Tex.

Monthly rent for 2-br apartment: $659
Monthly house payment: $847
Gallon gas: $2.650
Hamburger: $3.31
Half-gallon milk: $1.99

The cost of living in Harlingen, the southern Texas city in the Brownsville-Harlingen metro area, is about 18 percent below the U.S. average—the lowest in the country, according to the Council for Community & Economic Research. Major employers in this developing city, which was once mainly agricultural, include the school district, Valley Baptist Medical Center, and Advanced Call Center Technologies, according to the Harlingen Economic Development Corp. Like many other cities on the list, costs are exceptionally low—a loaf of bread costs about 90¢. So are earnings: Household income is $31,797 and 30.4 percent of residents live below the poverty level, estimates the U.S. Census Bureau.
 
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