The 10 Cheapest States In America To Live For 2022


We used science and data from MIT to determine which states are the cheapest to call home in America.

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Struggling to make ends meet? Broke as a joke? That’s probably because you either spend too much money or it’s really expensive where you live. There are some places in the country where you can earn a lot of money and still feel poor. We’re talking San Francisco or New York City — where a 2 bedroom apartment costs over $4,000 a month on average.

Well, thank god we don’t have to live there. Instead, we can choose to live in some of the cheapest places in the country. Where a dollar of income goes way further than the big cities mentioned earlier. Take Tennessee, the cheapest state in the country this year according to MIT’s Living Wage data.

Today, we’re going to talk about the cheapest – or most affordable – places you can live in America. These places are going to be cheap for a reason. A family of 2 adults and 1 child requires $78,800 to reach a living wage in Tennessee. That’s almost 30% cheaper than Massachusetts where it takes $121,414 to reach a living wage.

Here are the 10 cheapest states to live in America according to MIT’s living wage data for 2022:

  1. Tennessee (Photos)
  2. Mississippi (Photos)
  3. Alabama (Photos)
  4. Indiana (Photos)
  5. Arkansas (Photos)
  6. South Dakota (Photos)
  7. South Carolina (Photos)
  8. Kentucky (Photos)
  9. Oklahoma (Photos)
  10. Utah (Photos)

And for those playing at home, a living wage in the San Francisco Metro clocks in at a staggering $81,795.

Read on to learn more about the cheapest states. Or check out the best states to live in or the safest states in America.

For further reading the cheapest places in the cheapest states check out the cheapest places to live in Mississippi and the cheapest places to live in California.

The 10 Cheapest States In America For 2022

1. Tennessee

Welcome to the wonderfully cheap (except Nashville) state of Tennessee. We’re back to some Southern living. Taxes? Really low. Food costs? Really low. Housing costs are slightly higher than most of the other places on this list at about $810 a month, but that’s still really low for most people watching this video, wishing their mortgage payment was 810 dollars.

However, it must be mentioned that Tennessee, overall, perhaps surprisingly, is one of the most dangerous states in the nation. Especially Memphis, which is one of the more dangerous big cities in America. If you move to Tennessee to start a better life and downsize, make sure you know where you’re moving or we might not ever hear from you again.

Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 3)
Living Wage: $78,800
Housing: $10,853
Child Care: $12,473
More On Tennessee: Photos | Rent

Tennessee|Tn, TN

2. Mississippi

Our second cheapest state in America is… Mississippi. Like the other cheap states, food and personal necessities are very cheap here — actually the cheapest you’ll find in America. The most affordable place in the cheapest state would be Aberdeen.

Here in the Magnolia State, the cost to rent? or buy is about $795 a month. That’s REALLY low. It also costs far cheaper here for food, child care, health care, and every other care you can name. And, of note, Mississippi has by far the cheapest child care costs of any other state – even $150 a month less than Arkansas! You can be daddy warbucks around here if you bring in anything over 50k.

Now, some people might say – it’s Mississippi. Why would I want to live there? There’s a reason it’s so cheap.

Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Living Wage: $80,523
Housing: $9,444
Child Care: $10,663
More On Mississippi: Photos | Rent

Mississippi|Ms, MS

3. Alabama

The Alabama tide rolls into the third cheapest state spot for 2022. Relatively high taxes and medical care for the South prevented the state from appearing higher on our list. Here in Alabama, the living wage is about $50,000, or about $25 an hour. And if both people work, than you each only really need minimum wage jobs to live a decent life in the Heart of Dixie.

If it wasn’t for the higher than average taxes here, and above average healthcare costs, Alabama would be in the top 5 for sure.

Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Living Wage: $80,777
Housing: $9,794
Child Care: $11,652
More On Alabama: Photos | Rent

Alabama|Al, AL

4. Indiana

Here in Indiana, the living wage is about $52,000 a year. That means that if you make this amount of money each year – as a household – you can live comfortable enough. Sure, you’ll have to work until you’re 70 and you probably won’t have a big ole boat, but at least you won’t be on welfare. And, the housing costs in Indiana are about $9,600 a year. That means your mortgage or rent payments will be about 800 bucks a month. Not too shabby if you ask me.

In comparison, in our most expensive state to live, California, you need to make about $68k a year to live a decent life. And believe you me, that’s nowhere near enough. Try living in San Francisco on $68k a year and you’ll be renting a bedroom in the tenderloin district with a window that looks out on a sidewalk with poop on it. The living wage for the city of San Francisco is $89,000. That’s just to get by without struggling. That’s the most expensive place you can live in the US.

Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 6)
Living Wage: $81,321
Housing: $10,258
Child Care: $12,286
More On Indiana: Photos | Rent

Indiana|In, IN

5. Arkansas

It’s time we check out our fifth cheapest state in which to live, Arkansas, giving the South a clean one-two sweep of the cheapest states to live.

Don’t everyone jump up at once.

Okay, so it’s Arkansas, but what did you expect? You get what you pay for here, which isn’t a lot either way. Like we mentioned with Mississippi, the core necessities in Arkansas are as cheap as you can find in America.. An Arkansawian can make about $48k a year, and spends about only about 708 dollars a month on rent or mortgages. That’s probably half what you spend. And that’s also the lowest housing costs in America.

However, the reason it’s the second cheapest place to live is people earn the second lowest salaries in America, so if you want to move here to movin on up in the world, you’d better make another plan.

Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 3)
Living Wage: $82,857
Housing: $9,037
Child Care: $13,717
More On Arkansas: Photos | Rent

Arkansas|Ar, AR

6. South Dakota

We’re gonna ride the rails all the way up to our next cheapest state, South Dakota. In South Dakota, a family can get by pretty comfortably on about $4,200 a month in income. Housing and food will cost you about $1,300 a month total. Not too bad at all. But the real kicker is there’s no income taxes in South Dakota. This means South Dakota has the lowest taxes in America. Sure beats New York, where people spend about a thousand bucks a month in taxes alone.

Yuck.

Of course, it IS South Dakota. But with all your extra savings here, you can go out and buy up all of the Bierocks and and pheasants and walleye and chislic? You want? What is this stuff? This is what South Dakotans eat?

Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Living Wage: $83,274
Housing: $9,639
Child Care: $15,014
More On South Dakota: Photos | Rent

South-Dakota|Sd, SD

7. South Carolina

Buckle up, because we’re heading to South Carolina. Here in the Palmetto State, the cost of living is really inexpensive – cheap child care and food makes things doable. However, the South Carolina is the 16th cheapest when it comes to housing costs. In fact, housing costs are the highest for any other state on this list. Part of that is because the awesome coastline skews the numbers. South Carolina has perhaps the best coastline in the nation. But the rest of the state? Not very stimulating.

In South Carolina, the average home sells for about $250,000. Not too shabby. Now, if you lived in say, Egypt, where it’s only $27,000 for a house. Or, in Antartica, where a house is – free. Did you know in Hong Kong, you spend half your money on housing? You spend 49% of your income on a place to live in China and Taiwan.

Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Living Wage: $83,827
Housing: $11,223
Child Care: $10,594
More On South Carolina: Photos | Rent

South-Carolina|Sc, SC

Source: Public domain

8. Kentucky

Our next cheapest place to live isn’t too far away, as we take a spin in Kentucky. I have a feeling we’re going to be in the south a lot for this trip.

Here in Kentucky, housing costs are actually the third lowest in the entire nation behind Arkansas and West Virginia. It’s relatively more expensive for food than other states on this list, and for some reason, child care costs in Kentucky are a little more expensive – at about 523 dollars a month.

Life is slow in Kentucky – so if you want cheap and a whole lotta rolling hills, then this is your place. You can probably get a trailer and get a job down at Ramsey’s. Sounds like a great life to me. Of course, the dating scene down in Kentucky is challenging.

Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Living Wage: $83,862
Housing: $9,708
Child Care: $14,955
More On Kentucky: Photos | Rent

Kentucky|Ky, KY

9. Oklahoma

The ninth most affordable state for 2022 is Oklahoma based on the most recent set of living wage data. The living wage takes into account the cost of living via childcare, taxes, utilities, and, most importantly, housing costs. In Oklahoma, housing is cheap, hence their ninth place ranking this year. The overall cost of living is 6.1% lower than the US average.

Some of the more more affordable metros include the Tulsa area and Adair County. In fact, Adair County has the cheapest housing in the state per the most recent Census data. Our data shows that Anadarko is the cheapest place to live, some 50 miles outside of Oklahoma City.

Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 2)
Living Wage: $84,290
Housing: $10,068
Child Care: $13,808
More On Oklahoma: Photos | Rent

Oklahoma|Ok, OK

10. Utah

The cost of living in Utah is about 5.5% lower than the US average, which makes it the tenth cheapest state in the United States. The average home value in Utah is about $300,000 per the most recent Census, which is actually pretty good considering America as a whole. Rent is also very affordable in Utah relative to the country as a whole.

The cheaper places to live within Utah include Price, UT which has the lowest home prices in the state and Piute County which is the county with the lowest home prices. Our rankings for 2022 had Hyrum outside of Ogden as the most affordable place to live in Utah. So if you’re looking for a cheap place to live within a cheap state, check out Hyrum as your possible next destination.

Rank Last Year: 23 (Up 13)
Living Wage: $84,823
Housing: $12,484
Child Care: $14,686
More On Utah: Photos | Rent

Utah|Ut, UT

Methodology: How We Determined The Cheapest States In America For 2022

Cheapest States In America Map

Click to enlarge

When we at HomeSnacks normally measure how affordable a place to live is we check in on whats called a cost of living index. That analyzes the costs of goods in basket of things like housing, milk, utilities, and gas across the country.

But for this analysis we had an even better source — MIT’s Living Wage data.

The team at MIT compiles the best set of geographical data on what a family of various sizes can realistically expect to spend to live a decent life each year. Not super comfy, but not in poverty.

In particular they look at the cost of the following items:

  • Food
  • Child Care
  • Medical
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Other Personal Necessities
  • Taxes

They just updated their data with the beginning of 2022.

We took their average required wage for two adults and one child and ranked them from lowest to highest. The lowest state, Mississippi, was crowned the cheapest state to live in America for 2022. You can download the data here.

Summary: The Cheapest States In America To Live For 2022

Okay, so that’s it. Our cheapest states in America. After all the dust settled and the analysis was over, we crowned Tennessee as the cheapest place to live in America for 2022.

While it’s good news for Tennessee that a dollar goes further there any other place in the country, the downside might be the reason behind it. People are willing to pay more to live in nicer places — that whole supply and demand thing. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with living a cheap life, and being content with the way things are. If your car runs, you have heat on, and you can go out every now and then, then you have it better than like 70% of the rest of the world.

So even though it might be cheap to live in Tennessee, Tennessee still might be a better place to call home if you can afford it.

If you’re curious, here are the most expensive states you can live in America. If you live in one of these expensive places, and you’re thinking about moving away and starting over – somewhere cheap, and where your ex wife can’t find you, we gave you a good list to start looking into more. Here’s a quick look at the most expensive states in America:

  1. Massachusetts
  2. California
  3. New Jersey

For more reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Cheapest States In America For 2022

Rank State Living Wage
1 Tennessee $78,800
2 Mississippi $80,523
3 Alabama $80,777
4 Indiana $81,321
5 Arkansas $82,857
6 South Dakota $83,274
7 South Carolina $83,827
8 Kentucky $83,862
9 Oklahoma $84,290
10 Utah $84,823
11 Georgia $85,101
12 Wyoming $85,468
13 Idaho $85,747
14 Louisiana $85,909
15 New Mexico $86,326
16 Missouri $86,410
17 Arizona $86,581
18 West Virginia $86,704
19 Texas $86,749
20 North Dakota $86,873
21 Iowa $89,241
22 Kansas $89,353
23 Ohio $89,500
24 Nebraska $89,596
25 Montana $89,744
26 Alaska $90,080
27 Pennsylvania $91,069
28 North Carolina $91,578
29 Florida $91,891
30 Wisconsin $92,622
31 Nevada $92,843
32 Delaware $93,755
33 Maine $93,871
34 Minnesota $94,430
35 Illinois $94,525
36 Rhode Island $95,005
37 Washington $95,068
38 Oregon $96,003
39 Vermont $96,665
40 Virginia $97,710
41 New Hampshire $98,702
42 Connecticut $99,955
43 Maryland $100,959
44 Michigan $101,378
45 Colorado $102,689
46 Hawaii $107,702
47 New York $110,255
48 New Jersey $112,597
49 California $114,059
50 Massachusetts $121,414

Cheapest Places By State

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.