These Are The 10 Cheapest States To Live In

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

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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 $47,881 to reach a living wage in Mississippi. That’s almost 30% cheaper than California where it takes $66,019 to reach a living wage.

Here’s a quick look at the 10 cheapest states to live in America according to MIT’s living wage data:

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

And for those playing at home, a living wage in the San Francisco Metro clocks in at a staggering $78,386.

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 on the cheapest places in each state, check out the cheapest places to live in Mississippi and the cheapest places to live in California.

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How We Determined The Least Expensive States In America

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 data on what a family of various sizes can realistically expect to spend to achieve a decent standard of living each year. Not super comfy, but not in poverty.

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

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

They just updated their data with the end of 2017.

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 2018.

Here’s a detailed look at the top ten cheapest states.

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1. Mississippi


Source: Wikipedia

Living Wage: $47,881
Housing: $9,214
Child Care: $2,907

Mississippi takes the top spot in 2018 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


Source: Wikipedia

Living Wage: $48,780
Housing: $8,504
Child Care: $5,030

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. South Dakota

South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Living Wage: $48,817
Housing: $8,665
Child Care: $5,531

Breaking the South’s strong hold on this list is South Dakota — the third 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.

4. Tennessee


Source: Wikipedia

Living Wage: $49,027
Housing: $9,464
Child Care: $6,054

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. West Virginia

West Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Living Wage: $49,502
Housing: $9,012
Child Care: $6,060

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.

6. Alabama


Source: Wikipedia

Living Wage: $49,826
Housing: $9,187
Child Care: $5,231

The Alabama tide rolls into the 6th cheapest state spot for 2018.

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

7. Ohio


Source: Wikipedia

Living Wage: $50,668
Housing: $9,296
Child Care: $7,130

Ohio welcomes you to cheap living in the Midwest as the 7th cheapest state in America.

The fist state to cross the $50k income 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.

8. South Carolina

South Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Living Wage: $50,732
Housing: $9,833
Child Care: $4,682

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.

9. Kentucky


Source: Wikipedia

Living Wage: $50,759
Housing: $8,620
Child Care: $6,363

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

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

Just be alert that child care will set you back a couple of grand more than others in the top ten.

10. Indiana


Source: Wikipedia

Living Wage: $50,774
Housing: $9,374
Child Care: $6,549

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 States With The Lowest Cost Of Living In America For 2018

After all the dust settled and the analysis was over, we crowned Mississippi as the cheapest place to live in America for 2018.

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, California 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. District Of Columbia
  2. California
  3. New York

For more reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Cheapest States In America

State Rank Living Wage
Mississippi 1 $47,881
Arkansas 2 $48,780
South Dakota 3 $48,817
Tennessee 4 $49,027
West Virginia 5 $49,502
Alabama 6 $49,826
Ohio 7 $50,668
South Carolina 8 $50,732
Kentucky 9 $50,759
Indiana 10 $50,774
Oklahoma 11 $51,398
Michigan 12 $51,752
Texas 13 $51,756
Iowa 14 $52,066
North Dakota 15 $52,122
Kansas 16 $52,123
Louisiana 17 $52,294
Missouri 18 $52,488
Pennsylvania 19 $52,787
Nebraska 20 $52,912
Wyoming 21 $53,108
North Carolina 22 $53,120
Idaho 23 $53,231
Utah 24 $53,283
Georgia 25 $53,537
Maine 26 $54,399
Montana 27 $54,709
Wisconsin 28 $54,845
Arizona 29 $54,891
Nevada 30 $55,113
New Mexico 31 $55,357
Florida 32 $55,680
Minnesota 33 $57,037
New Hampshire 34 $57,197
Oregon 35 $57,281
Delaware 36 $57,918
Vermont 37 $57,955
Illinois 38 $58,185
Rhode Island 39 $58,393
Washington 40 $59,130
Colorado 41 $60,767
Hawaii 42 $60,784
Alaska 43 $60,815
Virginia 44 $61,817
New Jersey 45 $63,400
Connecticut 46 $63,855
Maryland 47 $64,765
Massachusetts 48 $64,929
New York 49 $65,820
California 50 $66,019
District Of Columbia 51 $66,267

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