These Are The 10 Cheapest States To Live In For 2019


We used science and data from MIT to determine which states are the cheapest to call home in America.

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Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2019.

Cheapest States In America Map

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There are some places in the country where you can earn a lot of money and still feel poor. We’re talking San Francisco or New York City — where a 2 bedroom apartment costs over $4,000 a month on average.

Well, thank god we don’t have to live there.

Instead, we can choose to live in some of the cheapest places in the country. Where a dollar of income goes way further than the big cities mentioned earlier. Take Mississippi, the cheapest state in the country this year according to MIT’s Living Wage data.

A family of 2 adults and 1 child requires $48,537 to reach a living wage in Mississippi. That’s almost 30% cheaper than California where it takes $68,190 to reach a living wage.

Here are the 10 cheapest states to live in America according to MIT’s living wage data for 2019:

  1. Mississippi (Photos)
  2. Arkansas (Photos)
  3. West Virginia (Photos)
  4. Tennessee (Photos)
  5. South Dakota (Photos)
  6. Alabama (Photos)
  7. Kentucky (Photos)
  8. Ohio (Photos)
  9. South Carolina (Photos)
  10. Indiana (Photos)

And for those playing at home, a living wage in the San Francisco Metro clocks in at a staggering $81,795.

Read on to learn more about the cheapest states. Or check out the best states to live in or the safest states in America.

For further reading the cheapest places in the cheapest states check out the cheapest places to live in Mississippi and the cheapest places to live in California.

How We Determined The Cheapest States In America For 2019

When we at HomeSnacks normally measure how affordable a place to live is we check in on whats called a cost of living index. That analyzes the costs of goods in basket of things like housing, milk, utilities, and gas across the country.

But for this analysis we had an even better source — MIT’s Living Wage data.

The team at MIT compiles the best set of geographical data on what a family of various sizes can realistically expect to spend to live a decent life each year. Not super comfy, but not in poverty.

In particular they look at the cost of the following items:

  • Food
  • Child Care
  • Medical
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Other Personal Necessities
  • Taxes

They just updated their data with the beginning of 2019.

We took their average required wage for two adults and one child and ranked them from lowest to highest. The lowest state, Mississippi, was crowned the cheapest state to live in America for 2019.

Here’s a look at the top ten.

1. Mississippi

Mississippi|Ms, MS

Living Wage: $48,537
Housing: $9,009
Child Care: $2,869

Mississippi takes the top spot in 2019 as the cheapest state to live in America. Let’s see why you don’t have to live on ramen noodles in the Magnolia State.

Like the other cheap states, food and personal necessities are very cheap here — actually the cheapest you’ll find in America. So what made Mississippi stand out?

That would be child care. Compared to the other states amongst the cheapest, Mississippi has the cheapest child care by a wide margin — over $2,100/year cheaper than Arkansas.

2. Arkansas

Arkansas|Ar, AR

Living Wage: $49,970
Housing: $8,584
Child Care: $4,964

Sliding in as the 2nd cheapest state in America is Arkansas, giving the South a clean one-two sweep of the cheapest states to live.

Like we mentioned with Mississippi, the core necessities in Arkansas are as cheap as you can find in America. Additionally, Arkansas has the honor of being home to the cheapest housing.

See what we did there.

3. West Virginia

West-Virginia|Wv, WV

Living Wage: $50,068
Housing: $8,749
Child Care: $5,980

While coal jobs might not be coming back soon, you might want to consider West Virginia purely for the low cost of living.

Child care is the big problem here relative to the top 4 — a couple of extra thousand a year relative to the cheap-sters above it.

4. Tennessee

Tennessee|Tn, TN

Living Wage: $50,152
Housing: $9,723
Child Care: $5,975

And we’re back to some Southern living with Tennessee.

What’s going to be a common refrain in this analysis is the low cost for necessities in the South. Tennessee pairs up nicely with Mississippi and Arkansas on the cost of food and necessities.

Tennessee’s 2nd overall cost of taxes wasn’t enough to make up for slightly higher child care and housing costs.

5. South Dakota

South-Dakota|Sd, SD

Living Wage: $50,166
Housing: $8,936
Child Care: $5,459

Breaking the South’s strong hold on this list is South Dakota — the fifth cheapest state in the union.

While food and necessities aren’t as cheap as the first two state on the list, South Dakota has a big advantage over them:

No income tax.

Those sweet words place the Mount Rushmore State in the number 1 overall place in terms of tax cost in America.

6. Alabama

Alabama|Al, AL

Living Wage: $50,585
Housing: $9,086
Child Care: $5,163

The Alabama tide rolls into the 6th cheapest state spot for 2019.

Relatively high taxes and medical care for the South prevented the state from appearing higher on our list.

7. Kentucky

Kentucky|Ky, KY

Living Wage: $51,925
Housing: $8,872
Child Care: $6,280

The last bastion of southern living on our list is Kentucky.

Off course fried chicken (food) and necessities (wet clothes for the post chicken feast) are cheap, but so is housing — the second cheapest behind Arkansas.

However, child care will set you back a couple of grand more than others in the top ten.

8. Ohio

Ohio|Oh, OH

Living Wage: $52,013
Housing: $9,450
Child Care: $7,037

Ohio welcomes you to cheap living in the Midwest as the 8th cheapest state in America.

The fist state to cross the $50k threshold, Ohio has some of the cheapest medical care available in the States. It’s just that food and necessities cost here aren’t what they are in the deep south.

9. South Carolina

South-Carolina|Sc, SC

Source: Public domain

Living Wage: $52,038
Housing: $10,168
Child Care: $4,621

South Carolina boasts cheap child care and standard Southern costs for food and such.

However, relatively expensive medical care and housing prevented it from being one of the uber cheap places to live.

But it makes sense that people would pay more to be a short drive from the Atlantic ocean with great weather.

10. Indiana

Indiana|In, IN

Living Wage: $52,207
Housing: $9,641
Child Care: $6,463

And rounding out the top ten is the Hoosier State — Indiana.

While Hoosier Pie might cost a bit more than chocolate chess pie, medicine is pretty cheap.

It’s the pesky price of housing that prevented Indiana from being higher on the list. Which might actually be a good thing…

There You Have It — The Cheapest States In America To Live For 2019

After all the dust settled and the analysis was over, we crowned Mississippi as the cheapest place to live in America for 2019.

While it’s good news for Mississippi that a dollar goes further there any other place in the country, the downside might be the reason behind it. People are willing to pay more to live in nicer places — that whole supply and demand thing.

So even though it might be cheap to live in Mississippi, Mississippi still might be a better place to call home if you can afford it.

Here’s a quick look at the most expensive states in America:

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. Massachusetts

For more reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Cheapest States In America For 2019

Rank State Living Wage
1 Mississippi $48,537
2 Arkansas $49,970
3 West Virginia $50,068
4 Tennessee $50,152
5 South Dakota $50,166
6 Alabama $50,585
7 Kentucky $51,925
8 Ohio $52,013
9 South Carolina $52,038
10 Indiana $52,207
11 Oklahoma $52,805
12 North Dakota $53,161
13 Kansas $53,201
14 Texas $53,219
15 Michigan $53,281
16 Louisiana $53,501
17 Iowa $53,502
18 Missouri $53,654
19 Pennsylvania $53,884
20 Wyoming $54,316
21 Nebraska $54,332
22 North Carolina $54,429
23 Utah $54,627
24 Idaho $54,631
25 Georgia $54,964
26 Maine $55,665
27 Arizona $56,189
28 New Mexico $56,228
29 Wisconsin $56,231
30 Nevada $56,277
31 Montana $56,410
32 Florida $57,029
33 New Hampshire $58,161
34 Minnesota $58,289
35 Vermont $58,841
36 Delaware $58,886
37 Rhode Island $59,221
38 Oregon $59,237
39 Illinois $59,498
40 Washington $61,988
41 Alaska $62,102
42 Hawaii $62,413
43 Virginia $62,598
44 Colorado $62,950
45 New Jersey $64,436
46 Connecticut $64,668
47 Maryland $66,150
48 Massachusetts $66,376
49 New York $67,419
50 California $68,190

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