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 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 in the United States
- West Virginia
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As of 2019, Mississippi is ranked as the most affordable states to live in, with a cost of living that’s about 15% lower than the United States 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 cost of living, Mississippi 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 state.
Arkansas is next on the list. 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 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. In addition, Arkansas’s healthcare is among some of the cheapest in the country.
The Sooner state is known for its exceptionally low cost of housing. Residents here pay about 25% less for their homes than 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.
Affordable housing is the biggest factor that puts Missouri on the list. 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 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 is one of the states that checks all the boxes.
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 has many cities known for 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.
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. Utilities and transportation are especially cheap when compared to other states in the country. Michigan 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. Rent is also extremely affordable, with the median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment coming in at just $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 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.
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. There truly is something for everyone.
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Sweet home Alabama. Housing is particularly cheap in Alabama, 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.
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. With low housing, food, and transportation costs, the state also boasts a steady stream of new jobs in the tech industry. Healthcare, finance, education, and manufacturing are also booming industries here. Indiana is also home to nationally renowned schools and training opportunities in a variety of fields.
Iowa not only has a low cost of living; it also houses the third best healthcare 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 than you would elsewhere in the country.
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 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 healthcare.
The Buckeye State has some of the most affordable housing and healthcare 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.
See also: 15 Reasons to Move to the Midwest
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 hugely affordable, with the median home price coming in at just $96,400. 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 and commute to Washington, D.C., where the cost of living is significantly higher.
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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 healthcare 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 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.
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to states with a low cost of living. Any of these fifteen states make great options and offer endless opportunities. Of course, cost of living is only one factor to consider when deciding where to settle down. So make sure to carefully research states you might be interested as you set out to find a new spot to call home.