15 Cheapest States to Live in the United States
Want to get more bang for every buck? Consider moving to one of these states, where you'll find bargain prices on everything from your home to your daily cup of coffee.
How the rankings were determined
If you’re looking to move somewhere where you can stretch your dollar a little bit farther, you might want to start your search with one of these cheapest states to live in. CNBC crunched the numbers on prices across 64 metrics for each state, including pricing on basic items like housing, groceries, and energy costs, to determine where you’ll be able to live big for less. They gave each state both a points ranking and a letter grade—and these states all scored B+ or above for their low cost of living.
The rankings were part of their overall “top states for business” coverage, which ranked states based on other factors beneficial to businesses, such as good infrastructure, educational system, and the quality of the workforce.
15. New Mexico (tie)
It may be cheap to live in New Mexico, but you’ll have other issues in the “Land of Enchantment”—CNBC ranked it 44th in the country for quality of life, and 45th for its education system. See what every state is best—and worst—at.
You can thank Ohio’s super-low housing costs for its ranking among the cheapest states to live in—U.S. News & World Report ranked it as the second cheapest state for housing in the country. One of Ohio’s largest cities, Cincinnati, was ranked in the top 10 best affordable cities in the U.S. by US News & World Report and people who live there put just 21 percent of their income toward living expenses.
Iowa was lucky #13 for both affordability and its economy by CNBC’s measures, and U.S. News & World Report ranked it as the cheapest housing market in the country. So go ahead and buy that farm you’ve been eyeing!
Everything’s bigger in Texas—but living large there doesn’t have to come with an equally large price tag. Texas was the cheapest state in the Union for groceries, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, and the median home value is under $200,000, according to Zillow. Texas is also one of the happiest states in America.
Don’t let Hotlanta’s scorching growth and housing market scare you off—Georgia still is near the top of the charts in affordability, per the CNBC report. If you’re in the market for a home, the current average listing price is $265,000. The Peach State is also home to one of the top ten cities where you can live for under $40,000 a year.
Wyoming also ranks close to the top in the country for quality of life, at #12—which means you can have your cake, and afford it, too, since it’s one of the cheapest states to live in in the country. The average house price in the state is just over $270,000, according to CNBC, making it easy for you to afford to set up your own homestead in the Cowboy State.
You might have some dough left for your own pair of ruby slippers if you move to Dorothy Gale’s home state. Prices are significantly less in the Sunflower State’s most expensive city—the aptly named Manhattan—than in most of the country. According to CNBC, you can score a Manhattan apartment for just $800 a month.
Tied with Alabama for sixth place, Tennessee pairs livability with some other stellar numbers—it was ranked as the fifth-best economy and the fifth-best state for infrastructure as well on CNBC’s list.
6. Alabama (tie)
Alabama tied with Tennessee for affordability, thanks to some of the cheapest home prices in the country. Huntsville, Alabama was ranked the top affordable place to live in the country—with just 19.3 percent of the median income going toward housing expenses.
Michigan dropped a spot on CNBC’s list this year, to 5th place for affordability. And it also ranked fifth on the U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the cheapest states to live in. Food prices, in particular, are low in Michigan; you can buy a half-gallon of milk for just $1.77 or a pound of ground beef for $3.78.
Even with major metropolitan areas like St. Louis and Kansas City within its borders, the Show-Me State can show you the money. The average home price there is just over $275,000, according to CNBC, and eggs are only $1.32 a dozen.
Two Arkansas cities—Little Rock and Fayetteville—were ranked among best low-cost places to live by U.S. News & World Report, as many Arkansans are able to keep a lot of their money in their pocket. One fly in the ointment: The state was ranked dead last in the country for quality of life.
You’ll be able to afford to pay for retirement a lot sooner in the Sooner state—it’s the second cheapest state to live in in the United States. For instance, at $2.03 for a half-gallon, milk’s even cheaper in Oklahoma than it is in the most-affordable state.
The Magnolia state once again tops CNBC’s list for the lowest cost of living, thanks to reasonable housing and food costs. Of course, there’s a downside that could be contributing to that rock-bottom cost of living—Mississippi’s economy ranks 50th in the country. America doesn’t have a lock on inexpensive living; these towns around the world are so cheap, you barely have to work.