By CIC Staff
Cars can be expensive possessions, and the amount spent on annual auto insurance premiums can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars based on things like the driver’s age, education level, and address. For this reason, it’s smart to consider average insurance costs of a particular town as one decides where to live.
We know that insurance companies use myriad factors to determine how much to charge a driver for auto insurance. How far is the car driven each day? Where is it parked at night? So we consulted websites like Movoto, Livability, and Value Penguin Inc. to find the average premiums paid by residents of various cities and towns around the country. While different insurance companies and personal situations will necessitate different rates, the small towns on this list are all affordable and livable, and tend to be places with lower-than-average annual insurance rates.
Most people have heard of Albany, Georgia as the site of Radium Springs, one of the Seven Wonders of the Peach State and the largest natural spring in Georgia. But hot springs aren’t all Albany has to offer. It also has an appealing cost of living, including affordable insurance rates. Drivers in Albany can expect to pay $1,206 annually to insure themselves and their cars. That’s 7% less than the Georgia median cost.
Nestled on the shores of Lake Winnebago, Appleton, Wisconsin has repeatedly been named one of the best places to live in the United States. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is Appleton’s overall affordability for young professionals and families. The average auto insurance premium here is $602 per year, 11% less than the Wisconsin norm.
Asheville, North Carolina
Despite its recent spike in popularity, Asheville is still very much a small town. The youngish population takes full advantage of all that Asheville has to offer, including a vibrant arts scene, farmers markets, and dozens of locally owned breweries and restaurants. For those who prefer to spend their time doing something adventurous, Asheville is surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, perfect for hiking or camping. With so much to do, it’s a good thing Asheville residents can save on auto insurance. The average annual rate to insure a car and driver is only $609 — one of the lowest of any city in America.
This small town of only 2,600 people is big on quality of life and overall affordability. Bethel has carved a niche for itself as a resort town. In winter, the skiing is top-notch at nearby Mahoosuc Range, while summertime brings perfect weather for mountain biking, zip-lining, and golf. With so many fun activities in Bethel residents’ backyard, the fact that the town is so affordable is good news. Indeed, the average resident pays only $1,163 in auto insurance each year, which is far less than the national average, even if it is on the higher end for Maine.
Despite being the largest city in the state of Vermont, Burlington’s population of roughly 43,000 people puts it squarely in the category of small town. Burlington, which is perhaps most famous as the hometown of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, has one of the best downtowns in America, a lively student scene surrounding the University of Vermont, and low unemployment numbers thanks to its important local lumbering and manufacturing industries. All of this contributes to Burlington’s low cost of living, including its average auto insurance rate of $817 annually.
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
This affordable suburb has just about everything one might want in a small town in Maine: top-ranked schools, scenic attractions, oceanfront parks, fun restaurants and hangout places, and great overall affordability. While the housing costs and average income rates are both a bit higher here than in many other places in Maine, one thing that is lower is car insurance. In a safe place like Cape Elizabeth, the average yearly cost to insure a car and driver is only $1,069, almost $150 less than the state average.
Residents of Clive, Iowa pay an average of $1,000 per month for their auto insurance. This lower-than-average rate is partly due to Clive’s low crime rate, but more to do with the general lifestyle of Clive residents. A whopping 98% of people living in Clive have achieved at least a high school diploma, one of the factors insurance companies use to determine rates. Walking is another big lifestyle factor. With such fantastic outdoor amenities as Greenbelt Park, a sports and recreational program, and various trail systems running all throughout town, residents choose to walk rather than drive to a number of places.
Concord, New Hampshire
A state capital with low insurance rates? Yep! That’s the case in Concord, New Hampshire, the home of the oldest continually used capitol building in the nation. Other cool Concord accomplishments include the first alarm clock, the first private citizen to be sent up to space, the world’s largest meatball, and of course, some of the lowest insurance rates in the nation. Concord residents can get auto insurance for an average annual premium of $1,106, about 8% lower than the state norm.
Corvallis, Oregon and its population of just over 55,000 people has some of the lowest average insurance rates in the state. To insure their vehicles, Corvallis residents can expect to pay an average of $1,038, a whole 9% lower than the rest of the state average. Such low insurance rates contribute to the overall appeal of Corvallis as a place to live. Oregon State University and Hewlett-Packard are both located here, and are among the city’s biggest employers.
There are few places in the world as charming as Damariscotta, Maine. This small town is located right on the water, and is best known for its beautiful views of the Damariscotta River, historic downtown, and lovely old churches complete with steeples. Better yet, Damariscotta is affordable. The median household income is $43,341, while the average home sale price is $249,500. And thanks to Damariscotta’s practically nonexistent crime rate, residents don’t pay an arm and a leg for insurance. In fact, the average yearly cost to insure a car and driver is $1,180 — slightly above the Maine average, but far below the national norm.
Essex Junction, Vermont
Located in Chittenden County, Essex Junction, Vermont is best known as the home of IBM’s Data Processing Division facility, which employs more than half of the people in this town of 9,400. A high employment rate and a practically nonexistent commute are two factors that help Essex Junction residents when it comes to finding auto insurance. The average annual costs of insuring a car and driver is $822 per year. Such a low rate should leave plenty in the budget to enjoy some of the other things this charming small town has to offer, such as the annual Champlain Valley Fair with its well known exhibits, local food offerings, and nightly concerts with big name performers!
Findlay, Ohio is home to about 40,000 people and some of the lowest insurance rates in the country: an average of $569 per year. But that’s not even close to where Findlay’s appeal ends! Nicknamed “Flag City,” this charming small town is home to a top liberal arts college and one of the 100 best hospitals in the United States. It repeatedly is named to lists of the best places for young professionals and young families.
Located just eight miles from the California-Nevada border, Gardnerville is an affordable small town with some of the lowest insurance rates in the country. The average yearly rate for insuring a car and driver is about $1,350. That’s far below the national average, and nearly $300 below the Nevada state average. Gardnerville’s 6,000 residents have easy access to both Sacramento and Reno for any “big city” needs, though Gardnerville itself has a successful local economy and a full calendar of fun community events that help to make it an ideal place to live for families.
Greeley, Colorado has been a booming place in recent years, perhaps because its cost of living is so affordable compared with some of the other, bigger Colorado locations. The average auto insurance policy in Greeley is roughly $1,233 per year. That’s nearly $200 less than the Colorado average, enough for Greeley residents to enjoy even more of the town’s many restaurants, breweries, and music venues.
Iowa City, Iowa
Usually larger cities have trouble maintaining low insurance rates, but Iowa City seems to be an exception to that rule. Of course, it also helps that despite being the fifth largest city in Iowa, Iowa City has a population of just 68,000. Here, residents pay an annual rate of only $995 for auto insurance, beating the state average by more than 13%. Such affordable rates are due in part to the fact that Iowa City has low unemployment numbers thanks to the presence of big employers like the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the ACT college testing service.
King, North Carolina
The 7,000 residents of King, North Carolina pay an average of only $630 annually for car insurance. This is the second best rate in North Carolina, after Asheville, and is 9% lower than the North Carolina average. With such low rates, residents have more time to enjoy all that King has to offer, like the large public parks and growing arts scene.
Insurance rates are sky-high in Las Vegas, but in Laughlin — a smaller, lesser known gambling destination — people can insure their cars for a very reasonable annual rate of about $1,280. Laughlin is both fun and affordable. Casino hotels are packed into Laughlin’s downtown, while the banks of the Colorado River are often swarmed with families looking to escape the heat with a swim or some other fun water activity.
Like so many other college towns across the nation, Lawrence, Kansas enjoys lower insurance rates than many other places. Here, residents can expect to pay an average of $1,008 per year to insure their car, 11% less than the Kansas average. University of Kansas is located in Lawrence, as is the Free State Brewing Company and Haskell Indian National University. As a college town, Lawrence offers its residents plenty do see and do, including good restaurants and great sporting events.
Lexington, North Carolina
Yet another great North Carolina town to make our list is Lexington. Home to around 19,000 people, Lexington is known as the “Barbecue Capital of North Carolina.” Each year, hundreds of people from around the South swarm to Lexington for its annual Lexington Barbecue Festival. Besides good barbecue, Lexington boasts an affordable cost of living and low crime rate, to features contributing to Lexington’s low insurance rate. The average annual auto insurance policy costs only $634 per year.
Mason City, Iowa
The 22,000 residents of Mason City, Iowa can expect to pay somewhere around $996 each year for their auto insurance. That’s 13% lower than the state average, and significantly lower than the national average. Known as the “River City,” Mason City enjoys a lively arts scene and a rich musical heritage. Besides dozens of theater performances each year (“The Music Man” playwright Meredith Wilson was from here), Mason City hosts the annual North Iowa Band Festival and its prestigious battle of the bands.
Medford, Oregon is a well-known retirement destination with a burgeoning wine industry. Despite age and — well, alcohol– often contributing to insurance rates, these things don’t seem to affect Medford’s average annual insurance rates. Medford residents can expect to pay an average of $1,057 annual to insure their vehicle, a whole 7% below the average for the state of Oregon.
Auto insurance rates in Meridian, Idaho are actually the highest of any large city in the state. Since the average annual cost to insure a car here is $1,084 — far below the national average — that goes a long way in showing just how affordable insurance rates are in the Gem State. Meridian is home to 85,000 people, all of whom have access to the great community programs and outdoor amenities the city has to offer. There are large shopping complexes, 17 public parks, an urban market that is popular during the summer, and a thriving arts scene.
Nashua, New Hampshire
Nashua, New Hampshire is only 32 square miles, but its population of 86,000 people have plenty of benefits to reap in this great small town. Nashua is within easy access to both the Merrimack River and the state of Massachusetts, so outdoor activities and big-city amenities are both part of life here. Nashua is a great place to live for people of all ages, a reputation that is reflected in average car insurance rates. A driver in Nashua can expect to pay an average of $1,251 per year, 4% higher than the state average, but still below the national norm.
North Liberty, Iowa
Located only a few miles outside of Iowa City, North Liberty is one of the safest towns in the state of Iowa, with a crime rate of only 841 crimes per 100,000 people (that’s 66% lower than the state average). This low crime rate, combined with a minuscule unemployment rate and an affordable cost of living, makes North Liberty a desirable place to live, and contributes to the fact that residents pay an average of only $1,058 per year to insure their cars.
Orem, Utah has been called one of the best places to live and raise a family by a number of major publications, including Forbes. The town is located about 40 miles from Salt Lake City, and its growing population has reached around 88,000 in recent years. Orem is full of family-friendly activities and businesses, including Provo Canyon for hiking and other outdoor activities. With so much to do, it’s a good thing Orem boasts an affordable cost of living. When it comes to auto insurance, Orem residents can expect to pay an average of $1,011 per year.
Racine is home to 80,000 residents, making it the 5th largest city in Wisconsin. The town is full of things to do, from enjoying Lake Michigan to hanging out with the animals at the Racine Zoo. On average, drivers in Racine pay $827 per year to insure their cars. That comes out to roughly $69 per month, 13% higher than the Wisconsin average, but much, much lower than the national average.
Rock Springs, Wyoming
The entire state of Wyoming boasts lower-than-average auto insurance rates, and the small town of Rock Springs is no exception. The town’s 18,000-odd residents pay an average of only $972 per year, the third lowest rate in all of Wyoming. Rock Springs is a fun city with a variety of restaurants and local entertainment, plus a unique annual festival called International Day.
Shelburne, Vermont is a quaint and charming small town of fewer than 1,500 residents. The town is located along the banks of Lake Champlain. Its most famous residents include the Vermont Teddy Bear Company and a local museum that has a pretty impressive collection of local Americana. The crime rate in Shelburne is practically nonexistent — good news for those shopping for auto insurance. Indeed, insurance rates in Shelburne are some of the lowest in the country, and average $825 per year.
Though it has a population of only 18,000 people, Sheridan is actually the sixth most populated city in Wyoming. Residents here enjoy a quiet existence, blessed by the stunning natural surroundings of both Wyoming and Montana. Despite recent increases in home values and a population growth that has outpaced both the state and national averages, Sheridan remains a welcoming and affordable place to live. To insure a car in Sheridan, drivers will likely pay an average of $959 per year, well below the national average.
State College, Pennsylvania
Yet another college town on our list of great small towns with low insurance rates is State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University. More than 40% of State College’s population are students, so the town has plenty to do and see. Best of all, its large student population keeps State College affordable. In terms of auto insurance, the average annual premium is $1,195, lower than the Pennsylvania average.
See also: Compare Car Insurance Rates