10 Cheapest States In America To Live In

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

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

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

2 thoughts on “10 Cheapest States In America To Live In

  1. I must be dead if the living wage is 40K+ in MS. I can say they also have the best rest areas.
    It had taken 22 years to get my income to 15K a year. I am not living. Breathe in, breathe out.

    I had a work injury that led to four surgeries. The third shouldn’t have been but because a pool nurse from India pulled an IV out of my right hand as another vein blew, using the same needle, put in my left hand, I had a massive infection along with the puncture of the dura, a massive headache. I am not a litigious person though too late I could be a millionaire. I had to have hardware removed. Because my then husband and I had left Orlando to Savannah where we had our honeymoon in 1993, my surgeon kept me there in 1998, I came home to find divorce papers. In one month, he found a new job, new apartment and of course, the new gf. It was me and my 16yo son from my abusive husband, escaping when my son was 3. I was taking him to school, legs still weak, I went to step down and went down 15 metal encased stairs of cement, hitting cervical, thoracic, lumbar surgical site creating problems I never had prior! In the most awful Garden City industrial, the worse stench due to paper and sugar mills, found a 410.00 apartment. I think my income was about 700. I didn’t apply for SSDI as I didn’t expect to be w/o work much less a fall. I had been able to work up walking 5mi per day, M-F in Savannah’s Historic District. We had been given a 2000sf apartment as my husband’s perk of being the GM of the restaurant. I called the man who hired my husband, pitching an idea to cold call their many hotels for quality service to guests, leading to more growth. I was shooting for bartering as calls were free as were utilities. He was more than fair giving 60 days and I had begun “working” with an interest in hiring in a larger capacity. While still in Orlando, I was trying to get groceries and learned my debit card was shut down by my husband. I didn’t have a car & my Bishop told me to get to the courthouse the day of divorce tell the judge (in front of spectators) what my soon to be ex had done & having a 16yo son, ask to be given the car. I didn’t have $ for attorney. My 6’5 husband was looking quite small. He asked why I was there. You are divorcing me? I mustn’t be dead as my stomach & anxiety are in full force. (Have you been hearing a tiny violin?) My brother asked why I was complaining one time. Just facts. I shall throw laughter in there I reckon. I must get back on task. When you are alone 24/7 (no ankle monitor) you tend to “talk” too much.

    So yes, 1500.00 per month with rent at 650.00 + and because I turned 62 in December, work comp took 400.00 away. YAY! Sis boom bah! I do not get any assistance save for 16.00/mo for food though that was stopped after a few months. Good thing I am a “veganarian” as when I escaped the brutality of my 1st spouse, I couldn’t afford meat. I think I was predestined as not too keen as a kid. I have been bone on bone near 10 years, I need both hips replaced and a 5th spine surgery. My 2001 Ford Taurus needs near a grand in repairs. So, haven’t seen Mississippi Rest Areas in a while. Alabama is another thumbs up. The last 2-3 years of hurricanes left me stranded. My black Lab Gracie passed May 2 2018. Her bed is still here. I have to use two hiking poles/canes. It is hard to carry things. I had trained Gracie to pick them up as well other things that dropped. Even an envelope. She had a tumor on her spleen and her heart would beat 30-47 per minute. I checked it 2-3 times a day. Give her massages, praying, begging her not to leave me. It was 4:46 in the morning when she screamed out three times in a row. I have had four dogs sent my way, surely by God since 1991. I am loyal and as bad as I have gotten, they loved me unconditionally. Having to make that dreaded decision & then seeing them trying to move..I have second guessed myself, admonishing that I didn’t try hard enough. Last year, January 2, it snowed in Savannah and it was the first time Gracie had seen snow. She didn’t want to come back in. I had a visitation three days after her passing and I touched her. It was if she was still here and it had been a bad dream. I still hear her at times. I don’t think dead people shed tears.

    I don’t know if there is a list for persons such as myself. The best states or towns that have services. I know without a doubt that I am SO much more blessed than others. My first time at the Mayo Clinic, I learned face masks were for patients who had transplants. I saw one person in front of me but I was touched by two. One had another chance at life, while the person who passed, also gave a few more people chances. It is kind of Jesus-like in a way if you think about it.

    Peace be with you.
    The next time you get something to eat, imagine how many it takes to get it on your plate.

  2. I see my email is pending and made me wonder, what exactly was I commenting on? I believe part of the write up was, “If you are coming to America, here are such and such cities.”

    I guess I need to say it again that I AM blessed beyond many others. There are homeless people, many who are part of tent cities in way too many places. Veterans. Some of them live underground. Our infrastructure is on shaky ground. Some who live underground, for example in Las Vegas, NV rains have taken lives as they couldn’t get out in time. Recent flooding in the midwest such as Nebraska, North Dakota, farmers have lost crops, livestock. A few reservations for Native Americans are in trouble as well. Hurricane Harvey took out Houstonians & surrounding areas. Animals drowned. It has been devastating. Natural disasters are up 50% from 20% in the 20th century as well as the late 19th century. Polar bears are at odds with a remote village of people as the ice has melted. Fires have killed people, animals, wiping out towns. Last year Florida, parts of Georgia, the Carolinas. According to the Weather Channel, it’s an active season again. Cyclones wiped out three countries in Africa and Australia is inundated with water and more to come. Thousands of jobs are GONE! in the first three months of this year. Those claims of lowest unemployment is due to the fact they must work 2-3 jobs and still struggle. Many serving military need food stamps. The shutdown of the government left a month’s worth of salaries that aren’t that well paying to begin with.

    The American Dream is unavailable to many of its own citizens. People who lost homes in 2008, are in tent cities. Still!

    Rents are so high in the Silicon Valley, contracted workers who serve Google, Yahoo and so on, have had to park their cars, make shift curtains for privacy get up and do it again. Perks in those businesses include, free daycare, free gym, free dry cleaning, free food which is thrown away instead of given to those contracted employees who struggle.

    I just thought I needed to add this. Just never give up.

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