The 10 Least Expensive States to Live in the U.S.

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(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

 

How important is your location to you? When searching for a place to live, generally each person (or family) has something at the very top of their priorities list, which is the single most important factor for them in choosing a home. For many people, this factor is location.

Golan’s Moving and Storage reports that around 43 million Americans move each year — around 60 percent of people move for work, military, or government, and another 40 percent move for personal reasons. For those who have the option to choose their location — they’re unattached, they’re retired, or maybe they work from home — living costs may play a large role in where they decide to relocate.

It’s pretty amazing to see how a two-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,500 square foot house on a quiet street can cost $100,000 in one city, and then the exact same house (same size, specs, and amenities) in another city and state may cost upwards of $500,000. In the past on Zillow, there’s been a listing for a three-bedroom, two and a half-bathroom, 1,500 square foot home in Johnson City, Tennessee. This home is priced at $126,000. A townhouse with similar specifications in San Diego is priced at $499,000.

The difference? Location, location, location.

If you’re looking for a low-cost place to live with cheaper housing, groceries, and utilities, reviewing the cheapest states is a good place to start. This list of the cheapest states uses data from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center and other resources. Each state is ranked by its cost of living index, as of the first quarter of 2014.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

10. Arkansas

  • Cost of Living Index: 92.5
  • Grocery Index: 94.0
  • Housing Index: 83.6
  • Transportation Index: 88.8
  • Utilities Index: 97.3
  • Health Index: 90.0
  • Misc: 99.3

According to Zillow, the median home value in Arkansas is $110,800 — around $65,000 less than the national index. Keep in mind that although the median value is around $111,000, the median list and sale prices for homes are $143,000 and $149,810, respectively. You’re more than likely going to pay closer to list or sale prices. Property taxes are reasonable in Arkansas, though, with the median tax rate currently at .52 percent. If you were to rent a place in Arkansas, you’d be looking at a median rent price of $850.

Groceries, transportation, utilities, and even healthcare are a bit cheaper in this state, as well. If you live in a small apartment in Little Rock, you’re looking at a cost of around $135 for your utilities (electric, water, and trash service). You can go to the movies for less than $9 per person, and if you want to go out to a mid-range restaurant afterwards, you’re probably going to pay around $30 for you and a guest.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

9. Iowa

  • Cost of Living Index: 92.5
  • Grocery Index: 93.3
  • Housing Index: 88.5
  • Transportation Index: 94.0
  • Utilities Index: 91.4
  • Health Index: 96.7
  • Misc: 94.3

Iowa is neck and neck with Arkansas in terms of overall cost of living. Housing is a bit more expensive in Iowa, however, with the median home value at just under $130,000. If you buy a home at the median list price, you’re going to pay around $140,000, which generally results in a mortgage payment of no more than $900 per month. At a 1.29 percent median rate, Iowa’s property taxes are in the mid-range.

Your bills should remain pretty low in most areas of Iowa, as well. According to Numbeo, utilities for a small apartment (water, trash service, and electric) in Des Moines should only cost around $110. Dinner and a movie will probably be around $50 for you and a guest.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

8. Alabama

  • Cost of Living Index: 92.4
  • Grocery Index: 99.6
  • Housing Index: 78.8
  • Transportation Index: 93.6
  • Utilities Index: 102.7
  • Health Index: 88.4
  • Misc: 97.1

In Alabama, you’re looking at home values of around $123,000. As of late, homes are selling for around $158,000. In some areas, like the Mobile metropolitan area, you can buy residential real estate for under $100,000 and also reap the benefits of Alabama’s low median property tax rate of .33 percent. You can rent for pretty cheap as well — the median rent across the state is only $850.

According to Numbeo, you can buy a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Birmingham for around $11, and utilities for a small apartment in that area (electricity, water, trash service) should cost around $190. If you and a friend go out to dinner and a movie, you’re probably going to pay around $60.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

7. Nebraska

  • Cost of Living Index: 91.7
  • Grocery Index: 95.2
  • Housing Index: 81.2
  • Transportation Index: 95.8
  • Utilities Index: 97.4
  • Health Index: 98.8
  • Misc: 94.2

Inexpensive housing and lower miscellaneous costs make Nebraska an affordable state to live in. You can rent a home for a median price of $900 per month and if you decide to buy, median home values are around $132,000 and selling prices are under $150K, according to Zillow estimates. Property taxes in this area can be high, though, with the median rate at 1.76 percent.

You may be able to catch a break on costs like gym memberships, movie and theater tickets, and clothing in some areas of the Cornhusker state. That dinner and a movie we’ve been talking about — it’ll cost you around 50 bucks or so in Omaha.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

 

6. Kansas

  • Cost of Living Index: 91.3
  • Grocery Index: 91.2
  • Housing Index: 83.3
  • Transportation Index: 93.9
  • Utilities Index: 95.3
  • Health Index: 95.6
  • Misc: 94.7

Items like milk or bread may be a bit cheaper in many parts of Kansas, as a result of lower food costs. Numbeo estimates the cost of a dozen eggs at around $1.35 in the Topeka area, which is less than in many other areas of the country.

Housing in the Sunflower state is especially inexpensive, with median values sitting at around $115,000 and list prices at around $145,000. In some areas of Kansas — again, such as the Topeka metro area — you may just find a home for under $100,000. Property taxes, however, can be a bit on the higher end, with the median rate at 1.29 percent.

(Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)

5. Indiana

  • Cost of Living Index: 90.7
  • Grocery Index: 92.5
  • Housing Index: 79.6
  • Transportation Index: 98.9
  • Utilities Index: 93.4
  • Health Index: 95.7
  • Misc: 94.1

Zillow reports median home values in Indiana at around $110,000, which is only around two-thirds of the national median home value. List prices are closer to the $140,000 price point and property taxes are right in the mid range, with a median rate of .85 percent. You can rent a home in the Hoosier state for a the median price of $825.

Lower prices on grocery and utilities in some areas of Indiana also allow for a lower overall cost of living. In Indianapolis, utilities in a small apartment will probably run you about $155, and for dinner and a movie for you and a friend (or a date), you may pay a little over $60.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

4. Oklahoma

  • Cost of Living Index: 90.4
  • Grocery Index: 92.4
  • Housing Index: 79.8
  • Transportation Index: 93.5
  • Utilities Index: 92.2
  • Health Index: 96.5
  • Misc: 95.2

In the Sooner state, you can rent a home for the median price of $950. Although rent is a bit higher, median home values seem much more affordable, with values of just under $109,000 and list prices of around $145,000 to $150,000. Property taxes are also on the lower end, wit a median rate of .74 percent.

According to Numbeo, dinner and a movie for two in Oklahoma City should cost $60, and utilities in a small apartment should be around $142. Other entertainment expenses, like gym memberships and theater tickets, are a bit lower in many of the OK metros, as well.

(Photo by Jeff Gentner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jeff Gentner/Getty Images)

3. Kentucky

  • Cost of Living Index: 90.0
  • Grocery Index: 91.2
  • Housing Index: 77.3
  • Transportation Index: 96.5
  • Utilities Index: 98.4
  • Health Index: 91.1
  • Misc: 94.4

Across the board, Kentucky’s living costs are lower than the U.S. average. In several areas of the Bluegrass state, like certain parts of Louisville for instance, you can find areas where there are fairly priced groceries and utilities. Numbeo estimates the average cost of utilities for a small apartment in Louisville at less than $140, and the average cost for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant at only around $8.

To rent a home, you’re looking at a statewide median price of $850 and for those looking to buy, median home values currently sit at around $126,500 and list prices, at around $150,000. In addition to well-priced housing, you can also benefit from Kentucky’s lower median property tax rate of .72 percent.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

2. Tennessee

  • Cost of Living Index: 89.7
  • Grocery Index: 93.5
  • Housing Index: 77.2
  • Transportation Index: 93.5
  • Utilities Index: 91.1
  • Health Index: 89.7
  • Misc: 96.0

In Tennessee, you can find some of the most inexpensive housing in the U.S. Although the median home value in Tennessee is a little over $120,000, in some areas like Union City and Humboldt, you can easily find a nice, single family home for around $60,000. Property taxes are also low, with the median rate at .68 percent.

Current Zillow listings in the Knoxville area for small 1,000 foot detached homes with three bedrooms and one or two bathrooms are priced in the $20,000 to $50,000 range. For someone who works from home or is retired, and is seeking a lower cost life style, Tennessee is certainly an option worth checking out.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

1. Mississippi

  • Cost of Living Index: 87.8
  • Grocery Index: 90.1
  • Housing Index: 72.4
  • Transportation Index: 95.4
  • Utilities Index: 86.6
  • Health Index: 91.3
  • Misc: 95.9

In Mississippi, you’re looking at a rent payment of around $875 (if you pay the state median). If you were to buy a home, low property taxes and lower-cost housing make Mississippi an affordable option. Zillow reports median home values are just over $112,000 and median list prices are currently $155,000. The median property tax rate is only .52 percent.

In addition to affordable housing, you can also find lower-priced food, healthcare, and utilities in the Magnolia state. In Jackson, utilities in a small place can be purchased for around $175 per month, and you and a guest can go out for the night for dinner and a movie for around $60.

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