The 15 most affordable places to live in America

By Laurie Kulikowski/TheStreet

Does living in Ohio appeal to you? If it doesn't, perhaps knowing that the Buckeye State is home to several cities among America's most affordable places to live might change your mind.

In fact, Midwestern cities dominate the top 15 affordable places to live, according to a recent report by online real estate listings site Trulia.

It's not just housing costs that are affordable in many of these middle-class cities. Other fixed expenses, such as commuting costs and utility bills, contribute to the city's affordability.

Trulia sought to get a truly accurate picture of housing affordability in the 100 largest metro areas by measuring what proportion of monthly income is spent on living expenses, like mortgage payments, utility costs and commuting, according to its recent report.

Trulia used median incomes from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey, adjusted for 2015 dollars. To calculate monthly mortgage payments, it used the median-priced home for sale in the 100 largest areas and based mortgage payments on a 30-year fixed rate loan at 4 percent interest plus property taxes and insurance.

To calculate utility costs, Trulia used data from the American Community Survey on median monthly household expenditures for electricity, gas, and water in each of the areas. Commuting costs were calculated by using the median household driving commute time to work for each metro area. Trulia assumed a $7 per hour operating cost (at $3.50 per gallon, 20 miles per gallon average, and 40 miles per hour average speed) plus 25 percent of the local median hourly wage, it said.

Click ahead for a look at the 15 places where it costs relatively little to live.

​15. Columbia, South Carolina

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 33.7%

Median household income: $51,850

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $174,990

Columbia, South Carolina, had approximately 132,000 residents as of 2014. Its population rose by 1.5% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 4.5% for the entire state of South Carolina, according to the U.S. Census.

​14. Gary, Indiana

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 33.4%

Median household income: $46,665

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $164,900

Gary, Indiana, had approximately 78,000 residents as of 2014. Its population decreased by 3% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 1.7% for the entire state of Indiana, according to the U.S. Census.

​13. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 33.4%

Median household income: $62,220

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $185,900

Grand Rapids, Michigan, had approximately 194,000 residents as of 2014. Its population rose by 3.1% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 0.3% for the entire state of Michigan, according to the U.S. Census.

​12. Indianapolis, Indiana

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 33.4%

Median household income: $59,109

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $169,950

Indianapolis had approximately 849,000 residents as of 2014. Its population rose by 3.5% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 1.7% growth for the entire state of Indiana, according to the U.S. Census.

​11. Rochester, New York

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 33.4%

Median household income: $48,532

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $137,700

Rochester, New York, had approximately 210,000 residents as of 2014. Its population rose by 3.5% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 1.9% for the entire state of New York, according to the U.S. Census.

​10. St. Louis, Missouri

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 33.2%

Median household income: $51,850

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $165,900

St. Louis had approximately 317,000 residents as of 2014. Its population fell by 0.6% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 1.2% for the entire state of Missouri, according to the U.S. Census.

​9. Syracuse, New York

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 33.1%

Median household income: $51,850

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $149,900

Syracuse had approximately 144,000 residents as of 2014. Its population fell by 0.6% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 1.9% for the entire state of New York, according to the U.S. Census.

​8. Toledo, Ohio

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 32.3%

Median household income: $55,480

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $119,900

Toledo had approximately 281,000 residents as of 2014. Its population fell by 2.2% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 0.5% for the entire state of Ohio, according to the U.S. Census.

​7. Cleveland, Ohio

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 32.3%

Median household income: $62,220

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $129,900

​6. Little Rock, Arkansas

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 31.9%

Median household income: $57,035

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $155,000

Little Rock had approximately 197,000 residents as of 2014. Its population rose by 2.2% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 1.7% for the entire state of Arkansas, according to the U.S. Census.

​5. Wichita, Kansas

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 31.7%

Median household income: $70,516

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $150,000

Wichita had approximately 388,000 residents as of 2014. Its population rose by 1.6% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 1.8% for the entire state of Kansas, according to the U.S. Census.

​4. Kansas City, Missouri

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 31.6%

Median household income: $49,776

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $164,900

Kansas City had approximately 471,000 residents as of 2014. Its population rose by 2.4% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 1.2% for the entire state of Missouri, according to the U.S. Census.

​3. Louisville, Kentucky

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 31.1%

Median household income: $68,235

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $159,900

Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky, had approximately 612,000 residents as of 2014. Its population rose by 2.6% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 1.7% for the entire state of Kentucky, according to the U.S. Census.

​2. Dayton, Ohio

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 30.9%

Median household income: $47,495

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $119,700

Dayton had approximately 141,000 residents as of 2014. Its population fell by 0.5% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 0.5% for the entire state of Ohio, according to the U.S. Census.

​1. Akron, Ohio

Monthly income spent on housing, utilities & commuting: 28.9%

Median household income: $45,628

Median listing price (as of August 2015): $120,450

Akron had approximately 198,000 residents as of 2014. Its population fell by 0.6% between April 2010 and July 2014, compared to growth of 0.5% for the entire state of Ohio, according to the U.S. Census.