The cost of living is a very important factor to consider when planning to set up a small business or deciding on a new place to call home. “Cost of Living” is the amount of money that you would need to make each year in order to maintain a specific standard of living. This typically includes essentials such as clothing, food, health care, housing, taxes, and utilities. This standard can help provide a baseline for comparing the affordability between states. If you are specifically looking for the best states to grab an excellent warehouse job read our list of the top 5 most popular us employers with warehouse jobs.
The U.S. government does not provide an official state by state cost of living comparison. There are third party reports available from other independent sources. The Council for Community and Economic Research’s cost of living index is considered to be the standard. There are many other websites that allow you to compare the cost of living state by state or by city. BestPlaces.Net allows you to compare the cost of living in different cities and states to the national average. Numbeo takes it a step further and allows you to compare the cost of living in New York City to other cities around the world.
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Keep your options open with our list of states with low costs of living.
10 States With Low Cost of Living
Here is a list of the top 10 states with the lowest cost of living starting with the cheapest, Mississippi. The “Cost of Living Index Score” is based on a comparison to the national average, which is a base score of 100. Any state with a score that is below 100 is considered to be less expensive to live in than the national average.
Mississippi: Cost of Living Index Score - 86
With an overall cost of living index score of 86, Mississippi is by far the most affordable state. The state has a score of 89.9 for health care and 89.6 for utilities. What really sets Mississippi apart from other states is it’s score for housing, 68.4. On average the monthly rent for a home is $1,050. A typical two bedroom apartment rents for $727 a month which is $300 less than the national average. The average home in the “Hospitality State” is valued at $112,000.
Indiana: Cost of Living Index Score - 87.9
The “Hoosier State” is second on the list with a cost of living index score of 87.9. In contrast to Mississippi, which is filled with smaller towns and cities that typically lead to cheaper lifestyles than big cities, Indiana’s state capital Indianoplis has an index score of 89. It is one of the most affordable cities in the country. The average rent for a two bedroom apartment is $764. A home in Indiana averages $139,900. They have the second lowest housing index score in the country, 75.8. In addition the state also scores well in grocery and utilities with the respective scores of 92.4 and 91.1. The utilities score may go up in the coming years as the state continues to transition from fossil fuels towards natural gas and other renewable resources. If you are looking to change your career and location, Indiana is a great choice.
Michigan: Cost of Living Index Score - 88.2
For being third on the list, with a cost of living index score of 88.2, Michigan has a lot to offer. The state has more miles of freshwater shorelines than any other state in the U.S.. The state itself is basically two peninsulas surrounded by the Great Lakes and is also home to more than 11,000 inland lakes. The “Wolverine State” boasts over 350 breweries, 150 commercial wineries, and plenty of MI warehouse jobs. The average price for a home in Michigan is $147,900 while a two bedroom apartment typically rents for $802. For these reasons Michigan’s housing index score is 77.1. They also score well in grocery and health care metrics with scores of 89.6 and 93.3.
Arkansas: Cost of Living Index Score - 88.5
The state has an overall cost of living index score of 88.5. Overall Arkansas scores well in health care - 87.8, housing - 77.7, and transportation - 89.1. Arkansas has some of the lowest commute times in the nation but also has a walkability issue so make sure you have a vehicle or access to their public transportation system. In 2019 Fayetteville Arkansas was ranked 4th in the nation in the U.S. News & World Report's “20 Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.” Arkansas is also the most affordable state for people making minimum wage according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Oklahoma: Cost of Living Index Score - 88.6
Oklahoma has a cost of living index score of 88.6. There is plenty of land for development which is a major reason their housing index score, 76.7, is one of the lowest in the country. The capital of the “Sooner State”, Oklahoma City, was named one of the most affordable cities in america by Kiplinger. A two bedroom apartment rents for an average of $740 a month while houses are moderately priced at $114,800.
Idaho: Cost of Living Index Score - 89.6
Idaho’s cost of living index score of 89.6 benefits greatly from having the cheapest groceries in the country as well as comparatively low housing index score of 77.8. Both of these factors help keep the “Gem State’s” overall score relatively low considering that they are above the national average in other key demographics. When it comes to transportation they have a score of 106.1 while they are also above average in health care expenses with a score of 101.9.
Tennessee: Cost of Living Index Score - 89.8
It’s relatively inexpensive to live in Tennessee. With a cost of living score of 89.8, the Nashville music scene, and Memphis BBQ it’s easy to see why so many Americans call Tennessee home. It also doesn’t hurt the “Volunteer State” to have better than average scores for housing - 77.5, transportation - 89.9, groceries - 92.7, and healthcare - 90.
Kansas: Cost of Living Index Score - 90.4
Coming in at number eight, Kansas has an overall cost of living index score of 90.4. The “Sunflower State” has a housing index score of 77.4 which is considerably less than the rest of the country. Kansas City is benefiting from cheap real estate that allows it to keep rent and home prices low as it continues to grow. Two bedroom apartments are renting, on average, for $777 a month. Meanwhile the average purchase price for a home in Kansas is $124,400.
Texas: Cost of Living Index Score - 90.7
Texas has a cost of living index score of 90.7. Housing is very affordable in the “Lone Star State”. With houses averaging $163,100 and extremely favorable zoning and construction regulations the state has a housing index score of 84.5. The state also has a grocery index score of 89.5 and a slightly higher score of 93.7 for transportation. Everything in bigger in Texas, including warehouses. Here is our list of warehouse jobs hiring now in Texas.
Kentucky: Cost of Living Index Score - 90.8
Coming in last on the list with a cost of living index score of 90.8 is the “Bluegrass State”, Kentucky. A two bedroom apartment goes for $725 a month. The median cost for a home is $131,300. This gives Kentucky an impressive housing index score of 80.5. Although the scores are nearly 10 points higher they still score relatively well in both grocery - 88.9 and health care - 88.7.
Factors to Consider
Knowing where a state’s cost of living ranks amongst the nation is useful when finding a new state to call home or when determining where to start a business. However there are other factors to take into consideration. How populated is the state? What are the housing options? Is the state considered to be mainly rural or are there urban and suburban options? If you plan on making one last move before retirement you may want to also consider the weather, entertainment options, and crime rates for the state. Keep in mind that finding an easy part time job is a great way to test out employers before committing to a full time job. When moving this is a great way to find the right position or increase your income by having a part time job in addition to your full time job.