15 Cheap States to Move to: The Lowest Cost of Living States in the US
It’s no secret that the cost of living in the United States varies widely from state to state. Many people make the mistake of focusing only on dollar figures when it comes to determining their financial health, without considering how far their dollar is really going. If you’re trying to determine where you want to settle down and possibly look for employment, the overall cost of living in a particular area should at least be a factor in your decision.
How Are the Cheapest States in the US Determined?
To determine cost of living, an organization called the Council for Community and Economic Research factors in the costs of goods and services in six categories: housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous necessities. The Council also considers what is referred to as purchasing power. In other words, how many items and services can a person buy with the average income in a particular state? If you move to a state with a lower cost of living, you’ll be able to live comfortably on a more modest income.
You should keep in mind that the cost of living can fluctuate, and even states with lower costs of living now may see increases due to a variety of factors. The affordable states on this list have consistently been cited as having low costs of living in at least a few of the categories considered by the Council.
Let’s take a look at where your dollar will go furthest in the United States.
Top 15 Cheapest States to Live in the United States
- West Virginia
See also: Best Places to Raise a Family
As of 2019, Mississippi is ranked as the most affordable and cheapest states to live in, with a cost of living that’s about 15% lower than the United States’ national average. Median rent is about $1000 and homes cost about 30% less than the average home in the United States, with median home prices in the state at about $180,000. Groceries and transportation costs are also among some of the lowest in the country. In addition to a very affordable and lowest cost of living, Mississippi (also known as the Hospitality State) boasts great employment opportunities in ever-expanding industries like agriculture and aerospace. There’s also no shortage of natural landmarks and activities to enjoy throughout the Magnolia state.
Average cost of living: $3,589
Median household income: $45,081
Median home price: $1,80,000
Median Rent: $1,000
Arkansas is next on the list of cheapest states to move to in the U.S. The Council reports that the state has a cost of living that makes it about 13% cheaper to live in than anywhere else in the United States. What really makes Arkansas (The Natural State) stand out is the extraordinarily low cost of transportation relative to other places in the country. This is good news if you want to get out and explore the natural beauty and sprawling mountains that the state is known for. Average rent here starts at about $1,095 and houses have a median price of $175,000 which is way below the national average. In addition, Arkansas’s healthcare is among some of the cheapest in the country.
Average cost of living: $2,778
Median household income: $47,597
Median home price: $1,75,000
Median Rent: $1,095
See also: Moving to Arkansas [Relocation Guide]
The Sooner state is known for its exceptionally low cost of housing and for the same reason it’s the third most cheapest state to live in. Residents here save money on housing costs as they pay about 25% less for their homes than national average, with utilities and groceries also known for being quite low. You can expect to pay an average rent of about $1,000 and the median home price clocks in at $119,800. Oklahoma also has a low unemployment rate and career opportunities in industries like biotechnology, energy, and meteorology. As an added perk, the state is home to virtually any kind of natural landscape you can imagine. From mountains to lakes, Oklahoma is renowned for the variety of its natural beauty and its rich cultural heritage. The same is true for residential areas. Residents can choose between sprawling urban areas like Oklahoma City, suburbs like Broken Arrow, or rural areas like Adair.
Average cost of living: $3,037
Median household income: $52,919
Median home price: $119,800
Median Rent: $1,000
Affordable housing is the biggest factor that puts Missouri on the list of cheapest states. With houses that are about 27% lower in cost than the national average and rent averaging $998, housing in the state is among some of the most affordable anywhere in the country. Transportation is also astonishingly cheap, which will come in handy and helps save money when you get out and explore the food, music, and lakes that the state is known for. Utilities and healthcare are also cheaper than average here. When it comes to a low cost of living, Missouri (The Show-Me State) is one of the states that checks all the boxes.
Average cost of living: $3,203
Median household income: $55,461
Median home price: $157,200
Median Rent: $998
See also: Moving to Missouri
While the median rent of $1,315 is a bit higher than in other states on this list, Tennessee is known for the exceptionally low cost of groceries, health care, and transportation. That puts the overall cost of living at about 11% lower than the national average. Don’t let the state-wide housing cost worry you; Tennessee also known as The Volunteer State has many cities known for extremely affordable homes. Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Johnson City, Clarksville, and Chattanooga are all places that offer low housing costs. These cities also boast booming economic opportunities. In fact, job opportunities are consistently on the rise state-wide, and the state is home to some great food, arts, culture, and music.
Average cost of living: $3,417
Median household income: $53,320
Median home price: $167,200
Median Rent: $1,315
See also: Moving to Tennessee – Relocation Guide
Michigan is where you’ll find the lowest cost of groceries in the country. In fact, residents here spend around 10% less on all necessities across the board. You can save money on utilities and transportation as they are especially cheap when compared to other states in the country. Michigan (The Great Lakes State) is also home to several vibrant industries, including the country’s leading car manufacturers. Like Tennessee, Michigan has pockets of even more affordable areas. Detroit is one example, with median home values here at just $48,188 compared to $161,063 state-wide median or the national average. Rent is also extremely affordable, with the median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment coming in at just $915.
Average cost of living: $3,220
Median household income: $57,144
Median home price: $48,188
Median Rent: $915
Anchoring the Midwest, Kansas has a cost of living that’s about 10% lower than the national average. This is another state that checks all the boxes when it comes to low cost of living. You’ll find that housing, food, and transportation costs here are particularly cheap. The Sunflower state also maintains low unemployment and income tax rates. Kansas is also a great place to invest in home ownership, with property taxes costing less here than the national average. Food processing and alternative energy are big industries here if you’re looking for employment. You’ll also find plentiful opportunities in logistics and distribution, bio-science, and aerospace.
Average cost of living: $3,162
Median household income: $59,597
Median home price: $151,900
Median Rent: $850
Though you may find the city of Atlanta to be relatively expensive, the cost of living in the rest of the state is significantly lower than in the rest of the country. Housing and utilities are especially cheap here, and the state is known for its thriving business community. In fact, Georgia has consistently ranked the top state to do business in the United States. Median home costs here are just $186,500 and there’s no shortage of beautiful urban areas to settle down in. The state also boasts one of the country’s strongest economies and the state has been a consistent center of activity for the real estate, communications, and technology industries. Agriculture, mining, and the United States military have also invested in a major presence here in the Peach State. There truly is something for everyone.
Average cost of living: $4,124
Median household income: $58,700
Median home price: $186,500
Median Rent: $1,006
See also: Moving to Georgia – Relocation Guide
Sweet home Alabama. Housing is particularly cheap in Alabama (The Beautiful), with some of the lowest home prices in the country. The median price for a home in the state is $129,300. Transportation is also quite affordable here. If you’re looking for specific cities with a particularly low cost of living, check out Birmingham and Mobile. You’ll find housing particularly cheap in Birmingham, with a median home cost of just $65,500. There is also no shortage of career opportunities here. The tech, automotive, and aeronautic industries are thriving. Many major corporations also have headquarters here, including Continental Motors and Encompass Health. Mercedes-Benz also has a manufacturing plant near the city of Vance.
Average cost of living: $3,326
Median household income: $50,536
Median home price: $129,300
Median Rent: $792
While the cost of living here has increased over the past year, Indiana remains one of the most affordable places to live in the country and one of the cheapest states in America. With low housing, food, and transportation costs, the state also boasts a steady stream of new job opportunities in the tech industry. Healthcare, finance, education, and manufacturing are also booming industries here. Indiana also known as ‘The Crossroads of America’ is also home to nationally renowned schools and training opportunities in a variety of fields.
Average cost of living: $3,787
Median household income: $56,303
Median home price: 141,700
Median Rent: $826
Iowa not only has a low cost of living; it also houses the third best health care system and fifth best education system in the United States. Des Monies has been named the fourth best place to live in the United States and is also one of the most affordable cities in the state. The median home in the city runs just $140,800. That’s even less than the state median home price of $141,200. Transportation is also quite cheap state-wide. You can expect to pay around 8% less for transportation costs in Iowa (The Hawkeye State) than you would elsewhere in the country.
Average cost of living: 3,188
Median household income: $60,523
Median home price: $141,200
Median Rent: $789
Kentucky is consistently one of the cheapest places to live in the United States, particularly when it comes to food. Residents here pay about 9% less for food than anywhere else in the country, and housing and transportation costs are also quite low. The median home here in the Bluegrass State costs about $146,000. Like many states, you’ll find areas where living costs are even cheaper. Louisville is one example. If you’re looking for work, Kentucky offers opportunities in industries like agriculture, energy, and health care.
Average cost of living: $3,344
Median household income: $50,589
Median home price: $146,000
Median Rent: $763
The Buckeye State has some of the most affordable housing and health care anywhere in the United States. This is especially true in cities like Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland, where you can easily find an apartment for $1,000 or less. In fact, in parts of Cleveland the rent can drop significantly lower. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, the state is also well-known as a powerful incubator for businesses. The state is well-known for employing young creatives and tech-savvy college grads. The well-regarded Columbus College of Art and Design is partly to thank for the state’s booming creative industry.
Average cost of living: $3,673
Median household income: $56,602
Median home price: $145,700
Median Rent: $1,000
14. West Virginia
Food and utilities are especially low in West Virginia, with costs about 9% lower than anywhere in the United States. Housing is also extremely affordable, with the median home price coming in at just $96,400 which is well below the national average. The economy in West Virginia is one of the fastest growing in the country, and the state is also home to stunning outdoor spaces that are perfect for hiking, fishing, or rock climbing. Washington, D.C. is a nearby metropolitan center, which is great news for history buffs or anyone who might want a career in government or public service. In fact, many people who work in Washington, D.C. live in parts of West Virginia(The Mountain State) and commute to Washington, D.C., where the cost of living is significantly higher.
Average cost of living: $4297
Median household income: $46,711
Median home price: $96,400
Median Rent: $725
See also: 13 Reasons to Move to the Southeast
Last but not least on the list is the second biggest state in the country. Texas has a strong economy and an abundance of employment opportunities, and housing and utilities being among some of the cheapest in the country. The median home cost here is about $130,800, and health care is also lower in cost than average. Because the state is so vast, you’ll find some places that are more expensive than others, but even some of the larger cities are surprisingly affordable. For example, Dallas has housing costs that are well below the national average. One of the biggest benefits to Texas is variety. Dallas and Houston have you covered if you prefer a large, urban environment. If beach living is your dream, Corpus Christi is surprisingly affordable. The median home price here in the Lone Star State is $195,000. For a more rustic lifestyle, El Paso offers stunningly beautiful outdoor spaces and a cost of living well below the national average.
Average cost of living: $4,133
Median household income: $46,711
Median home price: $130,800
Median Rent: $725
9 Factors to Consider When Choosing one of the Affordable States to Live in
You’re probably considering moving to a new state. It may be because you want more job opportunities or lower taxes, or maybe the cost of living is just too high in your current location. Whatever the reason, there are some things that need to be considered when choosing where to move: the job market, schools, demographics and housing prices. All these factors will have an impact on your quality of life and how much money you’ll spend each year.
Moving to a new state can be expensive, and it’s easy to make the wrong choice.
If you don’t consider all of these factors when choosing where to move, you could end up in an area that doesn’t have good schools or many job opportunities. You may even find yourself spending more money than expected on housing and transportation because of high prices.
Before deciding on an affordable place to live, take the time to research each state carefully so you know what kind of quality-of-life it offers before making your decision. Use this guide as a starting point for your research!
1. State Income Tax and Property Taxes
Taxes are a big consideration when it comes to choosing an affordable state to live in.
If you’re not careful, taxes can eat up a huge chunk of your paycheck. You don’t want to find yourself moving out of the state because you’re spending too much on property and state income tax.
When looking for an affordable place to move, consider these 2 factors that will help keep your tax bill low:
State Income Tax exemptions: Qualifying for certain tax exemptions can lower your property or state income taxes. For example, if you’re a veteran, filing as head of household (with dependents), disabled, blind, etc., you may qualify for an exemption that will lessen the amount of taxable income. You should do some research to see what kind of exemptions are available in each state.
Property Tax Rates: Property and land taxes might be one thing to consider when looking at affordable living costs. In general, states with higher populations have higher real estate values and therefore more expensive property taxes than places like Vermont which is sparsely populated and not densely urbanized leaving it cheaper on average to buy homes there regardless of any other factors.
2. Job Market
The job market varies significantly from state to state. Some states are more affordable than others, but they might not have the best opportunities for you.
If you want a new job, it’s important that you live in an area with lots of jobs available and good salaries. You should also consider your future prospects when choosing where to move.
Some states are better for your future job prospects than others. For example, California has plenty of job opportunities available at many levels and salaries in its tech industry are often very competitive, however the downside is that the cost of living in California is quite high.
The job market is also different if you have a college degree or not, and it can be hard to find work if you don’t have any training. Some states are better for these groups than others as well. For example, South Carolina has low unemployment rates and great salary prospects but the downside is that there aren’t many jobs available at higher levels without a college degree.
It’s important to think about your future when choosing where to move! Do some research on what kind of careers people with your education level do best in so that you know which state will give you the most promising opportunities down the line.
3. Education (Schools and Universities)
When it comes to deciding on a state, many people are concerned with the quality of education that their children will receive.
Some states have better schools than others. It’s important to find out which ones are best before you move there, because you won’t be able to change school districts once your kids are enrolled.
If you have younger children, it’s important for them to attend a quality pre-school before they enter kindergarten so that they can get ready for the challenges ahead. There should also be a lot of enrichment programs and summer activities available at their schools in order to keep them stimulated when out of class.
When moving with older children, consider whether or not colleges near where you’ll live will offer an education level high enough for what your child wants to do in life? If this is also something that concerns you then make sure there are plenty of universities nearby!
Many people move to a new city without considering the demographics of the area they’re moving into.
If you don’t know what the demographics of an area are before moving there, your move could end up being a lot more difficult than expected. You may not like where you’re living because of the lack of culture or nightlife, or maybe even due to the high crime rates.
Before making any big decisions about where you want to move next, take some time to research each state’s demographics so that your new home will have all the things that matter most in life!
5. Housing Market (Purchase and Renting)
The local housing market (housing costs) is one of the most important considerations, but it’s also one of the trickiest ones to get right. Many people don’t know how much they can afford until they’ve spent some time looking at homes and talking with real estate agents in their area. If you want to avoid getting stuck in an expensive home that’s too big or too small for your needs, you should start by doing research on housing costs and average prices for homes in your target areas before you begin house-hunting.
In the market for a new rental? It’s important to do your research before you sign anything. Find out when apartments in your target area are typically available, what kind of amenities they offer (e.g., pools and high-speed internet), how much utilities cost, whether there will be any application fees or other costs, and how long it usually takes landlords to respond to applications. The more information you have about housing costs and an apartment’s pros and cons before signing on the dotted line, the better equipped you’ll be with figuring out if it’s right for you!
If you are looking to purchase a home, you should start by determining what your budget is, what are the housing costs and what kind of property that price range can get you.
6. Average Household Income
The average household income of the state is another important factor when choosing an affordable state to live in America. When you consider the cost of living, the average household income will play a role in determining whether or not you can afford to live there.
The state with the highest average household income is Connecticut at $71,346. The lowest median household incomes are found in Alabama and Arkansas which come in at just over half that amount each year of $39,930 per year on average.
7. Cost of Living Index
The cost of living index determines how expensive the essential goods and services are, in comparison to how they cost in another state. For example, a high number means it’s more costly to live there and vice versa. The Cost of living index is often used as an indicator for economic strength because higher costs indicate that people earn higher salaries but also suggests difficulty meeting basic needs
A low-cost of living index indicates that goods and services are typically less expensive than average while a high-cost of living index implies that these things tend to be much more pricey than usual. Consider this when you’re trying to find affordable places where you can thrive economically.
8. Health Care Costs
Health care costs are one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing an affordable state. Health insurance premiums vary from one region to another, and some states have no individual mandate requirement for health coverage which may lead to higher rates of uninsured individuals as a result. Uninsured residents can face huge out-of-pocket expenses that they would not otherwise incur in other regions with mandated comprehensive health coverage such as Obamacare. For example, someone who has been diagnosed with cancer might spend tens or hundreds of thousands on treatment without any help if he/she does not qualify for financial assistance programs like Medicaid (which is unavailable in Idaho). With this being said, it’s important for people looking at living expenses to understand what their healthcare needs will cost them so they can prepare accordingly.
9. Grocery Costs
Grocery costs are sometimes overlooked when considering affordability. Grocery costs can be substantial and will vary based on the size and type of family you have as well as what types of products they like to eat. Generally speaking, groceries are cheaper in Southern states than Northeastern or Western states because food is shipped from warmer climates farther south where there’s less demand for them.
Therefore, when looking for an affordable place to move to, always factor in the grocery costs.
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to states with a low cost of living. Any of these fifteen cheapest states make great options to save money and offer endless opportunities. Of course, lowest cost of living is only one factor to consider when deciding where to settle down. So make sure to carefully research affordable states you might be interested as you set out to find a new spot to call home.