Plus: States that strike a good balance between cost-of-living and quality of life
With rising house prices, increasing interest rates, and ballooning inflation, many Americans are leaving overpriced centres for greener—and cheaper—pastures. While finding the right fit can be challenging, there are options. Here are the most affordable places to live in the US.
With a cost-of-living index score of just 83.3 (compared to Hawaii’s score of 193.3), Mississippi is the most inexpensive state to live in in America. With a median signal family home cost hovering around $140,818, Mississippi also boasts the lowest average housing costs in the US at 33.7%. Other pros include warm weather and milder winters as well as the lowest transportation costs in the country, not to mention a plethora of inexpensive Southern comfort food.
On the downside, Mississippi currently has the highest poverty rate in the US with 19.5% of people there living below the poverty line. Other challenges in Mississippi include fewer job opportunities, a struggling healthcare system, and a lower quality of education.
The median home price in Alabama is $170,184—the second cheapest behind Mississippi—and the cost-of-living index score here is 87.9, which is third in the US. Housing costs are also 29.9% below the national average. While costs for healthcare and transportation are among the lowest in the US, Alabama remains among the states with the highest percentage of people living below the poverty line. It should be noted, however, that the unemployment rate in Alabama remains relatively low, at 2.9%.
The cheapest state in multiple categories—including food, housing, and healthcare—Oklahoma’s cost-of-living index is 87.9. The median cost for a home here is $151,469 and housing costs are 25.3% below the US average. As mentioned, grocery and healthcare costs are 5.5% lower than the national average. At 15.1%, however, Oklahoma also has one of the highest poverty rates in the US.
With a cost-of-living index score of 86.5, Kansas is the second-least expensive state to live in in the US. With housing costs 27.4% below the national average, the median cost of a single-family home in Kansas is roughly $177,000—the third-cheapest housing cost in the country. Another bonus about Kansas is that it also has the one of the lowest unemployment rates in the US, which bodes well for the state’s economy.
Georgia’s cost-of-living index score is 88.8 and the median cost for a single-family home is $246,272. The housing costs in the Peach State are 25.6% below the national average and the utility costs are 9.5% below the national average. Access to major Southern hub Atlanta also increases Georgia’s value.
The median price for a single-family home in Tennessee is $230,253 and housing costs run 20.7% below the national average. Meanwhile, at 89.0, the cost-of-living index score in this southern state is the sixth cheapest nationwide. While the poverty rate is relatively high at 13.8%, the unemployment rate is lower than the national average at 3.4%. Tennessee’s unique draw is there is no state income tax on earned wages. Another aspect of Tennessee that increases the state’s value is its rich musical history for blues, country, jazz, and rock.
With a cost-of-living index score of 89.8, Missouri is the seventh most inexpensive state in the US. The median single-family home in Missouri costs $194,226, with housing costs 19.7% lower than the national average. Other pluses for Missouri are a high minimum wage at $11.15 per hour and a strong job market in numerous fields. On the downside, Missouri’s crime rates are relatively high especially in urban centers like St. Louis, while there is also a risk of tornadoes.
The median cost of a single-family house in Iowa is $167,036, and the housing costs here are 24% lower than the national average. With a cost-of-living index score at 89.9, Iowa comes in as the eighth most inexpensive state to live in in the US. It also boasts a poverty rate lower than the national average at 11%. With a good education system and a strong economy, Iowa has also been ranked as one of the best states to live in. That it is home to the Ice Cream Capital of the World—Le Mars, Iowa—might have something to do with that.
West Virginia is one of the most affordable places to purchase a property in the US with the average cost of a single-family home coming in at $117,639. Housing costs are in West Virginia are 21.4% below the national average and the overall cost-of-living index score here is 90.5, ninth in the US. While the beautiful Appalachian landscape is certainly a draw, a challenging job market and high poverty rates are among the challenges of settling here.
Housing costs in Indiana are 21.7% below the national average and the average single-family home costs $185,805. It ranks tenth in its cost-of-living index score at 90.6, plus some of the best universities in the country like Purdue and the University of Notre Dame make it a compelling draw. Indiana also has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the US at 2.2%.