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Cheapest U.S. States to Live in 2024

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Photo by Isabella Fischer on Unsplash

The cost of living is a pivotal factor when choosing where to reside, affecting not only your financial health, but also the overall quality of life. As we move into 2024, the cost of living across the United States continues to vary significantly from state to state, as does the housing market affordability.

“In today’s dynamic real estate market, particularly in states like Georgia, the key to navigating housing purchases is understanding local trends,” says Darren Robertson from Northern Virginia Home Pro. “With median home prices rising, buyers and sellers need to stay informed and agile. Especially in high-demand, low-supply markets, timely decision-making based on accurate market data can make a significant difference.”

 In this comprehensive analysis, we have utilized data from authoritative sources such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and World Population Review to identify the most affordable states.

Understanding Cost of Living

The Cost of Living Index (COLI) is a critical measure used to compare living expenses across states. It incorporates various components:

  • Housing: Reflects the cost of buying or renting a home
  • Utilities: Covers electricity, water, and other basic services
  • Groceries: Includes food and everyday shopping items
  • Transportation: Encompasses the costs associated with commuting and travel
  • Healthcare: Reflects medical and healthcare expenses
  • Miscellaneous: Includes other goods and services not covered in the above categories

The COLI helps gauge a state’s affordability relative to the national average, providing a standardized scale to compare different regions; a COLI value lower than the national average of 100 indicates a cheaper state to live in.

The Cheapest States


House in the countryside in Mississippi
Photo by Austin Goode on Unsplash

With the lowest COLI in the nation at 86, Mississippi offers remarkably affordable living. Housing is particularly inexpensive, contributing to its status as the most cost-effective state.

  • Housing market: Features some of the most affordable housing in the nation, with average prices in major cities like Jackson being significantly lower than the national average. The median home value in Mississippi has increased notably from $129,000 in March 2020 to approximately $171,440, reflecting a growth trend observed over several years​
  • Economic factors: The state has diverse employment opportunities, though it’s important to consider income levels relative to living costs
  • Quality of life: Mississippi offers various educational and healthcare facilities, along with rich cultural heritage and recreational activities


Kansas, with a COLI of 86.5, ranks as the second most affordable state. Its housing market is notably economical, with costs substantially below the national average.

  • Housing affordability: Known for its affordable housing market, particularly in cities like Wichita and Topeka. As of November 2023, home prices in Kansas were up 4.1% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $264,200 – still well below the current U.S. median home price of $412,000 as of September 2023
  • Economic drivers: The state’s economy is bolstered by industries like agriculture and manufacturing, offering diverse job opportunities
  • Quality of life: Kansas is known for its quality educational institutions and healthcare systems, as well as a variety of leisure and cultural activities


Alabama stands out with a COLI of 87.9, boosted by its relatively low housing costs.

  • Housing market: As of 2024, the median home sale price in Alabama has slightly increased from the previous year, rising from $272,100 to $274,200. This change reflects a modest but steady growth in the housing market of the state. Alabama offers a range of affordable housing options, with significant variations across different regions like Birmingham and Montgomery
  • Economic landscape: Key industries include manufacturing and technology, contributing to steady employment trends

Quality of life: Alabama boasts excellent healthcare facilities, a range of educational institutions, and rich cultural diversity


Clock on the street in Oklahoma
Photo by Isaac Martin on Unsplash

Oklahoma’s COLI of 86.9 places it among the most affordable states. Housing is a significant factor, with median home prices and rent falling well below national averages.

  • Housing market: Characterized by affordable rent and property prices, especially in cities like Oklahoma City and Tulsa. As of November 2023, home prices in Oklahoma were up 2.1% when compared to last year, and selling for a median price of $234,300
  • Economic overview: Major industries include energy, agriculture, and aviation, providing a robust job market
  • Quality of life: Oklahoma offers a balanced lifestyle with good education and healthcare systems, as well as recreational opportunities


Georgia, with a COLI of 88.8, rounds out the top five cheapest states. Its low transportation and housing costs significantly contribute to its affordability.

  • Housing market: As of November 2023, the median home sale price in Georgia experienced a year-over-year increase of 6.3%, rising to $364,800. This increase reflects the ongoing trend in the state’s real estate market, characterized by high demand and low supply. Georgia provides a mix of urban and rural living options, with affordable housing in both settings
  • Economic health: Boasts a strong economy with sectors like technology, agriculture, and entertainment
  • Quality of life: Georgia is known for its high-quality education system, healthcare facilities, and vibrant cultural scene

Comparison with High-Cost States

Contrastingly, states like Hawaii, New York, and California have the highest living costs. Hawaii’s COLI stands at an astonishing 193.3, nearly twice the national average. California and New York follow suit with indices of 142.2 and 148.2, respectively, driven by high housing and utility costs.

We’re seeing cities continue to become more expensive across the board out here in California. A ton of people moved out of the Bay Area to places like San Diego. Living costs bleed into housing prices and affect how our business operates here. Buying real estate at high prices with high interest rates is getting more difficult throughout our area,” says Alex Capozzolo of SD House Guys, a professional homebuyer is San Diego. “Rising costs to live are changing how many business compete and survive.”

Economic Indicators

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a 3.1% increase in overall expenses as of November 2023, indicating inflation trends that impact living costs. Food and energy categories have seen notable changes, influencing household budgets.

Quality of Life Considerations

While affordability is crucial, it’s also important to consider factors like median income, poverty rates, and employment opportunities. For instance, states with low COLIs may also have lower median incomes or higher poverty rates, as seen in Alabama and Mississippi.

Making an Informed Decision

When deciding to relocate for cost reasons, it’s vital to balance affordability with quality of life and personal preferences. Factors like job opportunities, climate, community, and educational facilities should also play a role in your decision-making process.

Many Factors to Consider

States like Mississippi, Kansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Georgia offer some of the most affordable living conditions in the U.S. However, it’s essential to consider all aspects of living in these states beyond just the financial metrics. Careful consideration of all factors will ensure a well-informed decision that aligns with your lifestyle and financial goals.

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