In today’s increasingly globalized world, finding the right place to call home can be both exciting and challenging. The cost of living is a critical factor when considering your next move, and with the United States offering a wide range of options, it’s essential to know which states are the most affordable. In this article, we’ll reveal the top 5 cheapest states to live in 2023, taking into account factors such as housing, utilities, groceries, and transportation.
Affordable States to Reside in the USA
1. Mississippi: The Budget-Friendly Southern Charm
- Cost of Living Index: 84.8 (as of 2023)
- Living Wage per Hour: $11.29
- Median Household Income: $45,792
- Average Rent per Month: $760 (1-bedroom apartment in a city center)
- Average Child Care: $600 per month (for one child in a licensed childcare center)
Mississippi consistently ranks as one of the cheapest states to live in the United States. With low housing costs and affordable utilities, it’s no wonder that people are flocking to this charming southern state. The overall cost of living index in Mississippi is significantly lower than the national average, with its housing index being one of the lowest in the country. Plus, you’ll find a warm climate and a rich cultural heritage that’s hard to beat.
2. Arkansas: The Natural State with Unbeatable Affordability
- Cost of Living Index: 86.9 (as of 2023)
- Living Wage per Hour: $11.52
- Median Household Income: $48,952
- Average Rent per Month: $720 (1-bedroom apartment in a city center)
- Average Child Care: $650 per month (for one child in a licensed childcare center)
Arkansas is another southern state that boasts a low cost of living, making it an attractive choice for those seeking affordability without sacrificing quality of life. Known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse landscapes, Arkansas offers a low housing index, affordable transportation, and reasonably priced groceries. This combination of cost savings and outdoor activities makes it a popular choice for families and retirees alike.
3. Oklahoma: The Sooner State’s Wallet-Friendly Appeal
- Cost of Living Index: 87.6 (as of 2023)
- Living Wage per Hour: $11.65
- Median Household Income: $52,919
- Average Rent per Month: $750 (1-bedroom apartment in a city center)
- Average Child Care: $675 per month (for one child in a licensed childcare center)
Oklahoma ranks high on the list of cheapest states to live in due to its low housing costs and overall affordability. The state’s cost of living index is well below the national average, with housing being its most significant contributor. Oklahoma also has a thriving economy, with sectors such as energy, aviation, and biotechnology driving growth. This state offers a unique blend of urban and rural living, with plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures and cultural experiences.
4. Kansas: The Budget-Conscious Heartland
- Cost of Living Index: 88.3 (as of 2023)
- Living Wage per Hour: $11.80
- Median Household Income: $57,422
- Average Rent per Month: $775 (1-bedroom apartment in a city center)
- Average Child Care: $700 per month (for one child in a licensed childcare center)
The Sunflower State is another excellent choice for those seeking an affordable place to live. With a low cost of living index and reasonable housing prices, Kansas offers its residents a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank. The state’s strong agricultural industry provides a stable economy, while its vast plains and rolling hills make it an ideal location for outdoor enthusiasts. Additionally, Kansas boasts excellent educational institutions and a strong sense of community, making it a great choice for families.
5. Missouri: The Show-Me State’s Frugal Finds
- Cost of Living Index: 89.1 (as of 2023)
- Living Wage per Hour: $11.95
- Median Household Income: $54,578
- Average Rent per Month: $800 (1-bedroom apartment in a city center)
- Average Child Care: $725 per month (for one child in a licensed childcare center)
Rounding out our list of the cheapest states to live in is Missouri. With a cost of living index below the national average, Missouri offers affordable housing, utilities, and transportation. The state is home to bustling cities such as St. Louis and Kansas City, as well as picturesque small towns and rural areas. Residents can enjoy a diverse range of recreational activities, from exploring the Ozark Mountains to attending cultural events in the city.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are these states also the best for job opportunities?
A: While these states are known for their affordability, job opportunities vary depending on the specific industries and job markets in each state. It’s essential to research the job market in your field before deciding to move to one of these states.
Q: What is the cost of living index?
A: The cost of living index is a measure that compares the expenses of living in different regions or cities. It takes into account factors such as housing, transportation, groceries, and utilities. A lower cost of living index indicates a more affordable area compared to the national average, which is set at 100.
Q: How does the living wage differ from the minimum wage?
A: The living wage is an estimate of the hourly wage a person needs to earn to cover basic living expenses without relying on government assistance or falling below the poverty line. The minimum wage is the lowest hourly pay rate that employers can legally pay their workers. The living wage often exceeds the minimum wage to account for the actual cost of living in a specific area.
Q: Is the cost of healthcare included in the cost of living index?
A: Yes, healthcare costs are considered when calculating the cost of living index. However, it’s essential to note that healthcare costs can vary greatly depending on factors such as insurance coverage and personal health needs.
Q: How do taxes affect the cost of living in these states?
A: Taxes, including income, property, and sales tax, can influence the overall cost of living in a particular state. While some states may have lower costs of living, they may have higher taxes that offset the savings. It’s essential to consider the overall tax burden when evaluating the affordability of a state.
Q: Are these states suitable for retirees?
A: The affordability of these states makes them attractive options for retirees, particularly those on a fixed income. However, factors such as climate, healthcare availability, and recreational opportunities should also be considered when choosing a state for retirement.
Q: How do these states rank in terms of education quality and availability?
A: The quality of education varies within each state and can be influenced by factors such as funding, teacher quality, and student performance. It’s crucial to research the quality of schools and educational institutions in the specific areas you’re considering before making a decision.
Q: Can I expect the cost of living to remain stable in these states?
A: The cost of living can fluctuate over time due to various factors, such as economic growth, inflation, and changes in government policies. While these states are currently among the cheapest, there is no guarantee that they will remain so in the future. It’s essential to stay informed about the economic trends and factors affecting the cost of living in your chosen state.
Choosing the right place to live is a critical decision, and these five states offer some of the cheapest living options in the United States in 2023. Each state has its unique advantages and charm, making them excellent choices for those seeking affordability without sacrificing quality of life. Whether you’re a young professional, a growing family, or a retiree, these wallet-friendly states are worth considering for your next move.
- David Garcia is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps people make smart decisions with their money. He has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, and CNBC as well as in The New York Times & other media outlets. With more than 13 years of experience in the personal finance space, David is an experienced writer and researcher. He has written for major publications where he provides readers with actionable advice to save money on groceries, insurance, and more. With his work for various publications, David is an active contributor to the Credit Card Insider blog where he shares insights into credit cards such as rewards programs and interest rates.
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