Level Up Your Finances In These Most Affordable States To Live
Are you looking for the cheapest states to live in?
Perhaps you want to save money, be financially independent, or retire early? Maybe you just want to manage your money better?
Then know that where you live can make a significant difference. On whether you achieve your long-term financial goals. Or not.
So today, let’s review some of the cheapest states to live in. To make your hard-earned dollars go further.
Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Cheapest States To Live In
First, here’s our list of the 15 best states to live in financially.
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
Furthermore, each state has something unique to offer regarding your budget. And your quality of life too.
So, I will use the BestPlaces.net cost of living index as a guide. Where 100 equals the average cost of living in the entire U.S.
While state scores less than 100 mean a lower cost of living.
Finally, I will do my best. To offer up a little perspective. On what living in each state is like.
Let’s get moving and go through each state one by one…
Cost of living index: 82
Alabama life can be had for a reasonable price. No doubt about it.
Here’s how this state can make the most of your money…
Reasonable Median Home Prices
The median home value of an Alabama residence is very affordable.
Coming in at almost half. Versus the median price of homes across the entire United States.
This makes the state’s homes very inexpensive.
But, the savings on your home doesn’t stop there. Because of real estate taxes…
Cheapest States To Live In Means Low Property Taxes
First of all, to understand your property tax bill. It is a combination of 2 things.
First, the state and local tax rate. Second, the value of your property.
Combine Alabama’s affordable property values. With one of the lowest real estate tax rates in the country.
And you come with some big-time savings.
Other Costs Of Living
Saving money on your housing costs is important. Because they typically make up the biggest part of a family budget.
But you can save even more here. Since groceries, transportation, health care, and utilities tend to be affordable too.
Most noteworthy, they all run near or below the national averages.
Okay. One down and 14 states to go.
Thus, we are just getting warmed up here. So, it’s onto the next one of our most affordable states to live in…
Cost of living index: 79
Since my in-laws live here. I have visited Arkansas many times. It’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors.
So, when looking to save money. And wanting to step out and get some fresh air and exercise.
You can have it In Arkansas. Without breaking your budget.
Cost of Living
Furthermore, Arkansas boasts one of the lowest costs of living in the U.S. It is another cheap state to live in.
Transportation, groceries, utilities, and health care all fall below the national average. With transportation being significantly so.
This state’s low cost of living makes it an attractive option if you make minimum wage. And need to make the most of every dollar.
Your expenses will depend on where you choose to live in Arkansas. But, on average the cost of living is about 20% lower. As compared to the average of all states in America.
Cost Of Housing
But, where Arkansas rises above other states is in the cost of housing. It is a big contributor to the low cost of living.
Because the median home value is very affordable. It is nearly half of the average across the United States.
However, choose your location wisely. Because homes are much more expensive in the northwest corner of Arkansas. Compared to the rest of the state.
Here’s another area where Arkansas wins for cost savings. Property taxes. Also called real estate taxes as you likely already know.
Whether you own a home and pay property taxes directly. Or, rent. The property tax bill still comes out of your pocket. Either directly or indirectly.
And when it comes to property taxes, living in Arkansas is a winner. Because property taxes on a median-priced home come in as one of the lowest of all states in the nation!
Another benefit of living in Arkansas is that healthy food is extremely affordable when compared with other states. Locally grown crops include rice, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelons, and assorted other fruits.
Those looking to make an average household income go a little farther. Will still be able to eat well. And won’t have to worry about sacrificing healthy foods. Due to concerns about money.
Next up. Another one of the cheap states to live in…
Cost of living index: 93
Overall, this is a less expensive state to live in. As measured by the cost of living in Georgia.
This means the average resident can afford more goods and services. Since they are less expensive here.
Reasonable Home Prices
First of all, the savings in this state also start here with the housing cost index. Translating into lower home prices.
For example, take the average home price in Georgia. Because it is about 20% less than the national average.
This means more families can:
- Buy homes, or
- Afford higher quality housing, or
- Have more living space.
Versus buying a home in other parts of the country.
I don’t want to imply that there are no expensive homes in this state. For example, parts of Atlanta and Savannah can be very costly.
So, no matter what state you decide to move to.
Always choose your location wisely.
Because that alone can make a big difference in your costs.
Furthermore, other expenses in the state are reasonable. Leaving residents with more money left over after household expenses.
Specifically, costs for groceries and health care. They are both below national averages.
Adding to the lower cost of homeownership. Are the reasonable property taxes.
Georgia’s property tax rate is about average. But, because home prices are lower.
The total real estate taxes paid. By an average Georgia resident. Will be lower than most other states in the country.
Now it’s time to head to the Midwest. To review another one of the cheapest states to live in the USA…
Cost of living index: 82
Living on a lower budget. Is more realistic because of how life works in Indiana.
Since you can save money by living in this state.
Here are a few reasons why…
In Indiana, the price of housing is less.
Because the median home value is almost 40% below. The median home price for the entire country.
Low Property Taxes
Similar to other states that we have already discussed. You can get a good deal on real estate taxes.
First, Indiana’s property tax rate is in the middle of the pack. When compared to other states in the country.
However, when the rate is applied to Indiana’s low home prices. Taxes on an average property come out looking good.
Specifically, in the top 10 lowest. Of all states in the country.
Other Living Costs
Groceries, health care, utilities, and transportation. All cost less than national averages.
Put these things together. And in my opinion, the cost of living in Indiana is very reasonable.
But, here’s a little teaser on an important topic I have more on a bit later…
Unfortunately, Indiana isn’t one of the select few states. That does not charge residents a tax on their income.
On the other hand, the state’s individual income tax rate is pretty low. At just a little over 3%.
Much lower than some of Indiana’s neighbors!
As I said, more on no-tax states later. But now, another one of the cheap states to move to…
Cost of living index: 84
Iowa is another one of the most affordable states to live in. And a state with a low cost of living.
It is an often-overlooked state. Being stereotyped as mostly farming.
However, Iowa is one of the cheapest places to live in America. And also has some of the best options for health care and education in the country.
Cost Of Living
Depending on where you live, the average cost of living in Iowa is about 10-15% lower. Versus the average of all states in America.
Groceries, utilities, and transportation all contribute to cost savings.
Furthermore, do you like to drive? Then know that Iowa ranks highly for the low cost to own and operate a vehicle.
Finally, the median housing cost in the USA is around $290,000. However, in Iowa, it’s much less.
Put it all together. And these characteristics of Iowa make it one of the cheapest states to live in based on the cost of living.
Cheapest Cities To Live In
The capital of the state is Des Moines. It is also the largest city based on population.
Furthermore, Des Moines is rated as one of the best cities to live in across America. It gets high marks for having an excellent median home value to median household income ratio. When compared to similar-sized cities.
Utilities are about the same as the national average. But, housing costs are significantly cheaper. Which helps keep your mortgage costs down.
High-paying industries in the Des Moines metropolitan area include professional opportunities. Insurance, banking, manufacturing, and technology all play a significant role.
Furthermore, despite the city’s higher earnings potential. Des Moines also maintains a low cost of living. Just like the rest of the state. Making the city and all of Iowa one of the most affordable states to live in.
So, do you work in the education or healthcare industries? Are you a business professional?
Then, consider Iowa as a great place to earn an income. Without paying extremely high rent or transportation costs.
Next, I have another one of the lowest cost of living states for you…
Cost of living index: 83
There’s no place like home. Especially, if you call Kansas your state.
Because this state is on the list of most affordable places to live every year. And makes our list of cheap states to live in, work in, or retire to.
First of all, it is known for its low housing and transportation costs. Furthermore, grocery costs are significantly less than the national average too.
These features make it one of the cheapest places to live in America.
Cost Of Living
So, let’s put some numbers behind Kansas’ low cost of living. To see what makes it one of the most affordable states to live in.
First of all, I can assure you this. Kansas living is much more affordable versus its neighboring state of Colorado.
Since the median cost of a home in Kansas is about 40% less than the national average. Thus, Kansas easily ranks near the top of all states for low house prices.
Furthermore, grocery bills check in about 7% below the national average.
Plus, auto ownership comes in nearly 20% less. Because of gas, insurance, and maintenance for vehicles. They are all pretty cheap in the state.
Finally, you will love this. Topeka Kansas offers cash incentives for workers willing to relocate to the county in which the city resides. Or, work remotely for applicants that qualify.
And here’s one more way to keep your cost of living low in Kansas (or anywhere). By saving on all your online purchases.
We use the cashback app, Rakuten. And receive rebates on everything we buy online.
This little secret works anywhere you decide to live. But, why not make it even less expensive to live in Kansas. After you move there.
You can learn more about Rakuten here.
Speaking of getting paid…
Economic Opportunity AND One Of The Cheapest States To Live In
Kansas isn’t as entrepreneur-friendly as other states. But it offers several industries with robust employment opportunities.
Kansas has growing healthcare, manufacturing, and agriculture industries. And they frequently have openings available for skilled workers.
Cheap But Good Food
Finally, if you move to Kansas. Make sure to sample some of the local delicacies.
Barbeque, country fried steak, burgers, and great steaks top the list. Of tasty food to enjoy in Kansas. All of which can be found at very reasonable prices.
Okay. There’s no time for rest. We are continuing on with the cheapest states to live in…
Cost of living index: 84
As you go through every line. On your monthly budget.
You are going to find this out: Kentucky life provides you with money-saving opportunities. When compared to the rest of the United States.
Allow me to break it down. On exactly how Kentucky is one of the best cost of living states…
First, you will discover that home prices here are quite affordable.
Where the median home value. Comes in at about 40% less. Versus the country as a whole.
Rental apartments are available too. More so in the larger cities of Louisville and Lexington.
But, if you find an apartment that fits your needs. You will likely see rents 25%-35% less. Verus the national average.
On the other hand, you will pay a little more for the privilege of living in the north-central part of the state. South of Cincinnati, Ohio. And across the banks of the Ohio River.
Specifically, I’m talking about the region forming a triangle. And often referred to as The Golden Triangle of Kentucky.
Connecting the city of Louisville with Lexington, and Covington. While the capital city of Frankfort sits in the middle.
In this area, you will find higher-paying jobs. And more commercial entertainment options. But higher expenses come with these benefits.
Other Costs Of Living
And cost savings in Kentucky do not stop with your home. Since other expenses in the state are less too.
You will find groceries, health care, utilities, and transportation. All run anywhere between 5-10% lower than the national average.
Okay now. We are far from being done.
So, let’s keep plowing through our list of cheap states…
Cost of living index: 90
Take a close look and you will find the average cost of living in the state of Michigan is quite reasonable.
Here’s the good news about housing costs in the state.
First of all, the median home value here is about 30% less. When compared to the national average.
But perhaps you looking to rent rather than buy?
I understand. Because owning a home is a lot of responsibility.
But the state won’t let you or your budget down. If you decide to lease.
Since rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is also very affordable. Running nearly 20% less than the average across the United States.
And be sure to check out the city of Grand Rapids.
It is located near the center of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. And is often considered one of the best places to live in the U.S.
Other Costs Of Living
Furthermore, you can pick up some additional cost savings in this state. To better balance your budget here.
For example, groceries run about 6% lower. Health care, a 14% savings. While utility costs are on par with the rest of the country.
Unfortunately, transportation expenditures will run a little more. Partly due to the high cost of auto insurance in the state.
Next, of all the best cost of living states. This one may offer the lowest expenses…
Cost of living index: 81
Because when it comes to the cheapest states to live in. The southern state of Mississippi always ranks near the top. No matter what survey or analysis you choose to read.
Cost Of Living
While there is no official cost of living index reported by the U.S. Government. There are private indices and surveys that do.
These take into account the big-spending areas I have already mentioned. Those being housing, food, and transportation.
But also costs like health care, insurance, and services.
For example, child care services in Mississippi. They are much cheaper in comparison to other states.
Also, Mississippi offers some of the lowest college tuition costs in the country.
Good Things About This Cheapest State To Live In
The state has mild winters. Is home to dozens of high-quality colleges and universities.
Also, you won’t be far from great areas to relax. And have a good time. Like the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Also, the party town of New Orleans.
Finally, jobs are plentiful in certain industries. Especially, education, agriculture, manufacturing, and food processing.
Across the board, Mississippi shines. When looking for one of the cheapest states to live in.
There’s more. Since our discussion about the most affordable states rolls on…
Cost of living index: 86
The Midwest state of Missouri is another area with extremely affordable housing. It is rated at about 70% of the national average. This makes the state one of the cheapest areas to live in.
While the cost of groceries, utilities, transportation, and health care also come in below average. As compared with the rest of the country. Thus, opportunities to make the most of your finances are tremendous here.
Missouri also offers a rich job market in specialty areas like biotech. Also, plenty of jobs in retail, service, and business management.
This plays out in the state’s favorable unemployment rate. Which is ranked in the lowest quarter of all states in the U.S.
Also, Missouri promotes a healthy business environment. A WalletHub survey showed that small businesses in Missouri were quite resilient during the recession of 2020.
And you will want to think about locating in St. Louis.
Because it is often ranked as an attractive American city to live in. Because it scores high marks for affordability and vibrant culture.
Plus you are just a short drive to many beautiful state parks. For some outside recreation. So life doesn’t become all about money, work, and no play.
Next, we are heading to the southwest. Where you will find some of the lowest living costs in the U.S.
Cost of living index: 88
The cost of living in New Mexico is really low! So, a dollar goes a long way here!
Moderate Median Home Value
Home prices run about 15% lower than the U.S. national average.
On the other hand, you may prefer to rent. Rather than buy a home.
Then you will like that rents are nearly 16% less than averages across the U.S.
Next, here’s another great way to save money in New Mexico. Unlike other states in the country.
Since it is one of the few places. Where higher education won’t bankrupt you.
Not that the cost of a college degree. Can ever be considered cheap.
But, in-state college tuition is much less here. Versus other places in the country.
Since New Mexico’s in-state tuition is one of the lowest in the country.
Other Living Costs
Finally, other costs, like groceries, health care, and transportation. Are also below other areas in the country.
Making New Mexico an affordable place to live.
Next, I have another one of the best states to live in for the cost of living…
Cost of living index: 85
Consider living in Oklahoma when developing your financial goals. That is if you desire a state with a low price of living.
Furthermore, the state also boasts a low unemployment rate. Making it a smart option.
Housing costs are only a fraction of the national average. And, Oklahoma has a bustling economy.
The job market is diverse for both skilled and unskilled laborers. But there are also a lot of areas ready for development.
Here are some examples of what I’m talking about…
Cost of Living
First of all, the median price of a home is nearly half of the median-priced home across the entire United States.
Furthermore, rents are affordable too. Ranking near the lowest cost one-third of states in the U.S. for renters.
Finally, food, utilities, and transportation expenses are all below national averages.
Make Money Too In This Cheapest State To Live In
If you have a business. Or, are thinking about starting one. Then consider Oklahoma.
What keeps the state’s cost of living low. Also, benefit your company.
Specifically, low costs for property, rent, utilities, and transportation. Make for a business-friendly climate.
On the other hand, are you looking for a job? Then you should know Oklahoma ranks in the top one-third of all states. For the lowest unemployment rates.
Some of the largest employers include the U.S. Department of Defense, Walmart, and the Chickasaw Nation gaming business.
The energy industry is also well represented in Oklahoma. Because several Fortune 500 companies operating in this sector are headquartered there.
Examples include NGL Energy Partners, Oneok, Devon Energy, and Chesapeake Energy. Furthermore, the state university system is another large employer.
Before you apply for that new job in Oklahoma. Make sure your credit score is in good shape.
Because new employers will frequently check. You can check your credit score for free using Credit Karma.
So, while living in Oklahoma. You have the option to buy an extremely affordable house. That may come with plenty of extra property.
Also, enjoy an overall low cost of living. And combine all of these positive traits with solid prospects for improving your household income.
Next up, one of my favorite inexpensive states to live in…
Cost of living index: 88
The best of living in Tennessee is partly due to the state’s cost of living. It is about 12% lower than the national average.
Furthermore, Tennesse has plenty to offer new and existing residents of the state. Employment opportunities are plentiful. And Tennessee boasts an unemployment rate lower than the national average.
Plus, plenty of land for recreation, farming, or business use.
But, a couple of more points that keep Tennessee on top. As perhaps my personal favorite cheapest state to live in…
Cost Of Housing
Tennessee gets high marks for the cost of housing. The median price of a home in the state is nearly 20% less than the national average.
This makes for many cheap places to live in Tennessee.
Cost Of A College Education
Finally, don’t forget about the Tennesse Promise. It is a unique program that furthers Tennessee as one of the best cheap states to live in.
Tennessee Promise is both a higher education scholarship and mentoring program. It is focused on increasing the number of students that attend college in the state. And encouraging their success in school.
The program provides students a last-dollar scholarship to attend community college.
What this means is the scholarship will cover tuition and fees not covered by the Pell grant, the HOPE scholarship, or state student assistance funds.
And let’s not forget about another cost of living factor: taxes! Since people tend to overlook taxes when looking for an affordable place to live.
And Tennessee checks in as a very tax-friendly state.
Since there is no tax on earned income. And, property taxes are also very low.
Next, another one of the most affordable states to live in. Not the cheapest by any means. But it still makes our list…
Cost of living index: 94
They say everything is bigger and better in Texas. And it’s the truth!
But did you know that Texas is also one of the cheapest states to live in?
Texas is a land of opportunity with a strong foundation for entrepreneurial exploration and achieving business goals. It is also known as a state with a low cost of living.
The main metropolitan areas of Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Check-in as being more affordable than in similar cities throughout the country.
Cost Of Living
Specifically, the cost of living in Texas is about 6% lower than the average of all states in America. Groceries and health care contribute to cost savings.
Cost Of Housing
But, where Texas shines is in the cost of housing. The median cost of a home in the state. Is nearly 16% less than the national average.
No Income Taxes Makes For One Of The Cheapest States To Live In
Next, add to the Texas quality of life. Since it is another one of the few states that do not levy an income tax.
That is a big bonus. And just one more reason why Texas is a cheap state to live in.
In addition to one of the lowest costs of living in the U.S. With a high earning potential.
Furthermore, Texas is a deregulated state with progressive energy options.
The state has strong green initiatives. And is a leader in the generation of electricity from wind power.
So, you can save money on your utilities while protecting the environment.
Okay. The last on our list of cheap states to live in…
Cost of living index: 78
The average cost of living in West Virginia is very low. Versus other areas in the country.
It is here. Where you may find the lowest cost of living in the U.S.
Since all of the big-spending categories. Are lower than the national average.
Including the median home value. At nearly 60% less than the rest of the country.
Rental apartments are available. But less so than other states. Due to the limited population density.
But, when apartment hunting here. You will likely see rents 25% less. Versus other areas of the United States. Even more in some cases.
Furthermore, groceries, utilities, and transportation are anywhere between 5-10% lower.
But know that costs will vary. Depending on where you choose to live.
So, with any state. Do your homework on specific cities and towns. Before settling down.
Next, another one of the good things about West Virginia. As it relates to your budget.
And keeping a lid on the state’s cost of living…
Because you will find that property taxes are very low here.
You know the components by now. It results from the combination of low property values. And a low real estate tax rate applied to those values.
The combination means your property tax bill will be one of the lowest you can find. Here in West Virginia.
Okay. That concludes my review of the 15 cheapest states to live in.
Next, I want to talk about what it is exactly. That makes for affordable living. No matter where you choose to settle down.
Things To Consider When Determining The Cheapest States To Live In
When identifying states with the lowest cost of living. For most families, the following expenses will take the greatest share:
It just makes sense that these represent the largest expenses for most of us.
We all need a place to live, food to eat, and a means to get where we need to go. Managing these areas wisely will limit your expenses.
So, keep these costs in mind. When searching for the most affordable states to live in.
But there’s more to your budget than these 3 areas. Let’s focus on 2 others next…
Cheapest States To Live In: Health Care Costs
Health care costs are another area to check into. But health care impacts some of us more than others.
Are you in your 20’s and striking out on your own for the first time? Well, health care costs are probably not a big deal at that age.
On the other hand, as we get older, health care costs become a larger concern. In addition to convenient access to that care.
Next, one more important point. To throw into this discussion…
Cheapest States To Live In: Taxes
Don’t forget to consider tax-friendly states. Because income taxes and sales taxes can take a big chunk out of your budget.
Here’s a shortlist of some tax-havens. In other words, where to live, if you want to minimize taxes. As part of your overall cost savings strategy.
States With No Income Taxes
Alaska: Not only does Alaska not charge income taxes. The state pays residents an annual dividend just for living there!
Florida: That’s right. The Sunshine State is known for more than just warm weather.
Because Florida does not collect income taxes from individuals. The state also offers up one of the lowest state corporate tax rates in the country.
Making taxes. One of the big benefits of Florida living.
And the cost of living in Florida? Well, it’s not outrageous. Especially considering the state’s popularity.
Furthermore, if you don’t mind living in small towns, off the coast, or in rural areas. Then Florida has inexpensive living options.
Nevada: Then we have another one of the sunniest states. Logging more than 300 days of sunshine each year.
But that’s not all. When talking about Nevada. Since the sun shines on your tax bill too.
Because one of the advantages to living in Nevada is? No income taxes!
New Hampshire: There is no tax on earned income in this state. Nor does it charge a sales tax on your purchases. But…
The rugged state of New Hampshire taxes investment income. Specifically, interest and dividends at 5%.
Thus, you do not get off completely income tax-free. But very close to it.
South Dakota: If you don’t mind cold winters. And hot summers.
Then choosing to live in South Dakota can save a lot in taxes.
Texas and Tennessee: See the discussion on these states. Earlier in this article.
Washington: Arguably, one of the most beautiful states in the country. For its picturesque landscape. And dramatic coastlines.
Also, there are no individual or business income taxes. For those residing in Washington state!
And last, but not least. In our list of tax-friendly places…
Wyoming: This state is a tax dodgers paradise. All within the confines of the law.
- No individual or corporate income tax
- Reasonable property taxes
- Low sales and gasoline taxes
So, if you do not like forking your money over to state governments. And who does?
Then taking up residence in Wyoming. Might be the best decision you ever make.
Cheapest States To Live In: Sales Taxes
Finally, don’t forget about states that have no sales tax. Since many states tack on 5-8% on top of the cost of your daily purchases.
It can add up fast. And every dollar counts. When considering the most affordable states to live in.
I already mentioned that the state of New Hampshire charges no sales taxes.
Here are 3 more states:
Delaware: Did you know that Delaware was the first state? To ratify the U.S. constitution.
It’s not a cheap state to live in. But at least you won’t have to pay sales tax.
Montana: This state is known for a reasonable cost of living too. It just didn’t make it into my top 15.
Plus you won’t have to pay sales tax. Making it a little cheaper to live in Big Sky Country.
Oregon: Then head a little farther west. Into the west coast state of Oregon.
Actually, the state is known for high living costs. So, it will never make a list of the cheapest states to live in.
But, no sales tax is one break you will find here for your budget.
Okay. That’s it for today. Allow me to wrap up with a summary…
Cheapest States To Live In
There are many affordable states in which to live. No matter where or how you choose to work and play.
Find the state that helps achieve your financial goals. Then set off on your new adventure.
To conclude. Here is our list of the most affordable states to live in…
15 Cheapest States To Live In
Be sure to consider these best cost of living states:
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
It is interesting to note that states on the East and West Coast are not represented.
For example, California has a very high cost of living. Otherwise, it would be a great state to live in.
And don’t forget to consider tax-friendly states.
Cheapest States To Live In For No Income Taxes
- New Hampshire (5% tax on investment income)
- South Dakota
Cheapest States To Live For No Sales Taxes
- New Hampshire
More Reading About The Cheapest States To Live In
Level Up Your Finances In The Cheapest States To Live
Throughout the article, I mentioned several of my favorite financial tools. For making the most of your money.
They are summarized here for your convenience:
- Check your credit for free with Credit Karma
- Get cash back on your online purchases with Rakuten
- Manage all your money with Personal Capital
Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.