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.
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.
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:
- Child Care
- Other Personal Necessities
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.
Living Wage: $47,881
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.
Living Wage: $48,780
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
Living Wage: $48,817
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.
Living Wage: $49,027
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.
Living Wage: $49,502
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.
Living Wage: $49,826
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.
Living Wage: $50,668
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.
Living Wage: $50,732
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.
Living Wage: $50,759
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.
Living Wage: $50,774
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:
- District Of Columbia
- New York
For more reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Cheapest States In America
|District Of Columbia||51|