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Whether you’re considering moving to a new place or you’ve lived somewhere you love for a while, it’s completely natural to get curious about the cheapest places to hang your hat. The cost of living can be extremely different between places, and finding somewhere that works with your budget is an important part of building a healthy lifestyle for yourself. If you’re asking yourself, “Where is the cost of living low?” You definitely are not alone.
No matter where you are in life, the cost of living wherever you reside can have a large impact on your financial life as well as your personal life, as the two are often intertwined. Whether you want to own property, rent, or simply search for more options, there are plenty of places where the cost of living is low and you can get a bit more bang for your buck.
What Is Cost of Living?
Before going into the details, it’s important to understand just what “cost of living” means in the first place. To put it plainly, the cost of living is the amount of money required to cover the basic expenses of living in any given place — food, housing, taxes, health care, transportation, and other necessities.
While “basic needs” may have a different meaning to everybody, it’s generally understood that the cost of living doesn’t include things like vacations or going out to eat, but goes beyond the simple cost of rent and utilities. Obviously, different places have different standards for the cost of living, hence the fluctuation between different locations and neighborhoods.
Factors that Impact Cost of Living
There are plenty of factors that influence the cost of living in any given area. Logically, many of them are intertwined. Things like population density, geographical location, and job availability can all impact the cost of living in an area. Additionally, details like the minimum wage, the tax burden, and the cost of things like housing and gas can all contribute to an area’s cost of living.
Although it truly does vary from place to place, recognizing the ways these details can impact living costs will help you recognize the places where the cost of living is the lowest and head for them.
Another detail that’s important to recognize when you consider the cost of living in any given state or region is that there can be quite a bit of local fluctuation between towns, counties, and even individual neighborhoods. You may notice already that a lot of the states on this list are located in the south and the midwest. While suburban and rural areas in those states might be consistent with the low cost of living, there is definitely room for fluctuation and variation between different areas.
Larger metropolitan cities, wealthier areas, and higher-cost neighborhoods still exist within those areas, and it’s important to recognize that the cost of living can vary not just across the country, but sometimes just a few miles down the road.
For example, living in Atlanta will likely cost more than living in a more rural or suburban area of Georgia, just like living in Boca Raton will run much higher than many other areas in Florida. Even with these local discrepancies, you can still learn about where the average cost of living is the cheapest so you can get a bit closer to that sweet deal you’re hunting for. Here are a few of the places where the cost of living is low.
Mississippi is by far the cheapest state in the Union, with low housing costs and rent prices. It’s not uncommon to find a one-bedroom apartment for $700 or less. Additionally, the prices of things like utilities and gas fall below the national average. If you’re thinking about where it’s pleasant to live in Mississippi, cities like Madison, Ridgeland, Flowood, Ocean Springs, and Clinton all have great reviews.
Arkansas is another reasonable state, with low costs for housing, health care, transportation, and plenty of other necessities. There are also quite a few major employers within the state of Arkansas — Walmart, Tyson, Sam’s Club, Baptist Health, and Verizon Wireless — so finding employment and attaining job security can be simpler than many other states with a low cost of living.
This central American state boasts low housing costs with lots of land to spread out in. It’s not uncommon to find houses below $150,000 and apartments below $700 per month. Both Tulsa and Oklahoma City rank among the nation’s most reasonably priced cities to live in, too, so you can still have the community experience of living in a city if you desire that.
Missouri is another state similar to Arkansas in that there is ample industry and job security to go along with the low cost of living — this can be especially true for those who work in health care and manufacturing. Even some of the state’s larger cities, like Kansas City and St. Louis, are fairly reasonable as far as cities are concerned.
Right across the state line from Missouri, you’ll find Kansas. With low housing costs and rent prices, this sparsely populated state has plenty of room to spread out. Places like Overland Park, Leawood, Prairie Village, and Westwood are all great cities to check out.
Even with the metropolitan hub of Atlanta, Georgia is still one of the states with the lowest cost of living. With one-bedroom apartments under $900 and job opportunities in the Atlanta area and beyond, Georgia seems like a wonderful state to check out.
Keeping it within the south, Alabama is another state with low housing and rent prices — with homes often below $130,000 and rent often below $650. With cities like Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile, there are plenty of options to choose from.
8. New Mexico
Heading to the southwest? New Mexico is a great state for those who love dry heat and sunshine. It’s a truly scenic destination, and therefore one of the main industries is tourism — in addition to oil, gas, and government work. Rent prices dip below $700, even with cities like Albuquerque and Santa Fe, which are just a few of the great places you can live in New Mexico.
Heading further north, Indiana is another state with a low cost of living, even with larger cities like Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. With rent prices regularly below $700 and housing regularly below $150,000, Indiana offers lots of space and suburban areas for a reasonable price. One of the only northern states on this list, this is a great place for those on the hunt for somewhere that’s a bit more seasonal.
Headed back to the south, the Lone Star state is another place with a low cost of living. With many of the cheapest cities in the Union located in Texas, there are plenty of options for places to live. Even with Austin, Houston, and Dallas being the state’s headliners, cities like Odessa, Abilene, McAllen, Amarillo, Beaumont, Brownsville, and Killeen are all some of the cheapest in the nation.
The land of country music is also a great bang for your buck. Especially if you work in agriculture or a trade, there’s plenty of job opportunities and industry available in Tennessee. Of course, Nashville is the star of the state, but you should also check out places like Franklin, Elliston Place, Hope Gardens, and Brentwood if you’re looking for cities.
If you truly want a beach getaway to be your home, look no further than Florida. Although there are definitely places that are extremely expensive in Florida, the state boasts a low overall cost of living. With housing and rent prices on the cheaper side, Florida is also a big state with a variety of options in terms of your living arrangements. Orlando is highly different from Miami, and that’s a part of the beauty of it.
The very last of the northern states on this list, Ohio is a great place to move if you are looking for a low cost of living, nice suburbs, and a seasonal climate. Akron, Dayton, Toledo, Columbus, and Cincinnati are all among some of the more reasonable cities in the United States, all with their own communities and thriving local lives. Ohio is a place where many people see themselves settling down, and it isn’t hard to see why.
Places With a Low Cost of Living
There are so many states where you can find a great deal, in addition to a great community. Everybody has their own priorities and tastes when it comes to finding a home they love, and budget can be a primary factor when making that decision. However, there are so many places that offer a good deal, from the southern charm of Mississippi to the beachy shores of Florida, all the way up north to the central and seasonal states of Ohio and Indiana. Do any of the states on this list catch your eye?