If you can see the continental US map included the cheap cities are clumped together, drawing a slightly arced bow laterally through the country, sweeping up from Amarillo and Shreveport in the south to Detroit in the north. With the exception of Buffalo they are all in states that voted red (pun?) the last election.
The red state politics are reflected in many ways that impact quality of life. Red states have the highest per capita enrollment in public assistance programs, yet none of the red states recommended here are among the top ten states awarding the most assistance to benefits recipients. Ohio and New York are the only listed states without union busting “right to work” laws.
These cities and states also lack LGBT nondiscrimination laws, again with the exception of Buffalo, NY. Four of the ten cheap cities are in states with bathroom bills restricting toilet access (and public life) for transgender people: Birmingham, Springfield, Knoxville, and Amarillo. Of the eight trans women of color murdered in 2017 thus far, five were killed in states this graphic cheerily recommends.
Abortion restrictions are in place, or currently under injunction, in most of these states. Every state listed but New York requires parental notification and/or consent for a minor seeking an abortion. Mississippi and Ohio require the consent of both parents beforehand. Waiting periods are mandatory in all but New York, with waiting periods in excess of 24 hours required of abortion patients in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Michigan, and Ohio.
Mandatory “counseling” designed to discourage abortion is law of the land in each of these states except New York. Louisiana, Mississippi, and Indiana require such manipulation happen in person. Ultrasounds are mandatory to obtain an abortion in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Of the seven states with a single clinic offering abortions, two (Mississippi and Missouri) are recommended for their thrift here.