The essence of the American dream is living in a place you love, can afford and being financially secure. But while the American dream is an aspiration shared by citizens from sea to shining sea, this ideal masks the huge disparities that exist between the different states in the journey to realizing the dream. An income that would be barely livable in one state may afford you a fairly comfortable lifestyle in another.
For this reason, a growing number of Americans are relocating in search of better incomes, lower taxes, lower costs of living and a better quality of life overall. Determining which states are most affordable state doesn’t come down to just one or two metrics. To evaluate how financially attractive a state is, you have to take into account incomes, unemployment rates, housing, transportation, food, utilities, schooling, child care, healthcare and taxes.
Mississippi is sometimes derided as the poverty capital of America but the Magnolia State is actually the most affordable place to live in in the US today. The cost of living is about 15 percent lower than the national average. Median rent is an attractive $1,000 with fairly good scores in food and transportation as well.
There are diverse job options ranging from aerospace, shipbuilding and auto manufacturing, to agriculture, energy and healthcare. If you love the outdoors, Mississippi is teeming with parks, forests and wildlife reserves. Its residents have a reputation for being kind and welcoming hence the nickname the Hospitality State.
The Razorback State comes a close second with a cost of living that’s 13 percent lower than the country’s average. The food, utilities and housing are very affordable. However, it’s the cost of transportation that really makes Arkansas stand out from the rest.
Progressive and beautiful, Arkansas delivers a comfortable lifestyle that combines numerous recreational activities with a wide range of career opportunities. You’re especially likely to land a job quickly if you are pursuing a career in manufacturing, agriculture or information technology.
Residents of the Sooner State pay about a quarter less for their homes than Americans elsewhere in the country. Oklahoma has a low unemployment rate and saw one of the highest growths in personal incomes between 2010 and 2015.
Industries you can work in include healthcare, transportation, communications, professional services, energy, weather science and biotechnology.
The Show Me State has long had a reputation for great music, craft beers, delicious cuisine and beautiful lakes. Well, Missouri can add another feather in its cap—affordability. Housing prices are a breathtaking 27 percent lower than the US average. Transport too is incredibly cheap.
As far as work prospects go, Missouri has a well-developed wholesale and retail trade industry in addition to the growing science, biotechnology and agricultural technology sectors. Tourism thrives as well thanks to the scenic parks, lakes, rivers and caves.
The Volunteer State has something for everyone—great culture, music, arts, history and sports. You can add cheap healthcare, transportation and groceries to that mix. The cost of living is 11 percent below the national average. Thousands of new job openings have emerged in recent years, increasing the chances of any new resident finding work and settling quickly.
Michigan residents spend roughly 10 percent less on core necessities compared to the average American. The state was badly hit by the 2007-2008 global financial crisis. The crisis had a silver lining since housing prices came down significantly in the aftermath.
Whereas average Michigan home value is steadily increasing, it remains relatively low compared to the rest of the country. Still, if you are hoping to take advantage of Michigan’s affordable homes, it’s probably best to start organizing your relocation before prices become too expensive.
If you move to Kansas, expect to spend about 10 percent less than the national average for the most common expenses. The low tax and unemployment rates are complemented by the attractive prices of housing, good and transportation. There are regularly new work opportunities in the logistics, transportation, food processing, alternative energy and bio science industries.
This may be a somewhat surprising entry in this list given that Atlanta isn’t exactly known for being affordable. Nevertheless, Atlanta is not synonymous with Georgia. The overall cost of living in the Peach State is 10 percent below the national average. The low price of utilities and housing combined with a conducive environment for business make Georgia one of America’s most affordable places to live.
Alabama, like Mississippi, isn’t a state that comes to mind when one things about financial success. While poverty statistics don’t paint the Yellowhammer State in a positive light, the cost of living qualifies it to be among the top 10 most affordable states in America.
The taxes, medical care and utilities are pricey compared to cheap southern states but the housing prices are attractively low.
Indiana’s cost of living has gone up recently but it’s a statement of how low its prices were that the state is still considered one of the more affordable places to live in America. Food, transportation and housing are low priced in the Hoosier State.
The state is seeing a significant influx of tech jobs which are a welcome addition to the already thriving sectors of healthcare, manufacturing, real estate, finance, insurance, education and social assistance. Indiana has excellent schools, training programs as well as a plethora of opportunities in sports, arts and culture.
Iowa conjures images of sprawling farmland but the Hawkeye State offers more than just a sea of corn fields. It is home to the fifth best education system in America and comes third in healthcare. Its capital Des Moines is regularly ranked as one of the country’s best cities to live in.
The second largest state in both area and GDP, the Lone Star State has for decades been perceived as a land of possibilities and opportunities. It has a low cost of living with energy prices being especially attractive (see http://texaselectricityplans.com/). This only adds to the ample employment options and the strong economy in making it such a compelling place to move to.
It experienced the second highest growth in personal incomes and the third fastest economic growth which is phenomenal for a state with a fairly good GDP already. The affordability of Texas is not just in its rural areas and small towns. Its largest cities like Houston, Austin and Dallas are more affordable than similar sized metro areas thanks to the high salaries and the low cost of accessing basic essentials.
Use this information to identify the place where it will be most financially conducive for you to build the future you’ve always wanted for yourself. Remember though that states are not a monolith. There are substantial variations in living costs within a state, especially between rural and urban areas. Nevertheless, when comparing similar profile locations in any two states, this ranking is a pretty good indicator of which state is the most affordable.
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