The cost of living in a state can be the gap between living a comfortable life and struggling to survive. The cost of living is simply your entire expenses, such as homes, insurance, groceries, and utilities. This means it is the cost to live.
Weighing the cost of living is an important factor when determining where to live.
The cost of living is the amount of money you need to sustain a specific standard of living by affording basic needs like housing, healthcare, food, and others.
The cost of living is usually used to make a comparison of the cost of living in one location to another and is often used as a huge factor for people to find out where they want to live together with cultural attractions, the employment market, and other factors.
If you are planning on a move, you will want to look into the list of best states to live as well.
In the United States, the cost of living here varies based on the state you are living. Housing is s major determining factor for the cost of living index. The figures mentioned in this write-up are from December 2020. The rent of a 2-bedroom home is also included together with livable income in each state.
Factors Included in Average Cost of Living by State
A recent survey by insure.com of 502 people asked for the most important thing when moving to a new area from respondents. The major issue by far is the cost of living.
Outcomes from the respondents:
- How much more or less could I afford here: 44%
- Low crime: 20%
- Insurance (auto and home) cost: 13%
- State taxes: 9%
- A welcoming neighborhood: 7%
- Things to do there: 5%
- A bustling area: 1%
Considering those results, it is clear that money is the biggest motivation in relocating to another neighborhood or state. When respondents were asked about their biggest motivation to relocate to an expensive area, they chose higher salary:
- A higher salary: 32%
- To be closer to loved ones: 13%
- A great employment opportunity: 13%
- A better work/life balance: 11%
- To retire in a place I like:10%
- Better schools: 3%
- To live in a small town/rural area: 3%
- To live in a big city: 2%
- Wouldn’t move to an expensive area regardless: 11%
The cost of living is so much important when changing jobs. PA prospective employer may be ready to increase your salary by $10,000, but will the additional money take care of much in a new location?
Or is it better to remain in an area with lower pay with a lower cost of living? You may know that your cost of living is hugely determined by housing and groceries but might not know that insurance is also a part.
Insurance providers put home and auto premiums at risk. They may charge you expensive rates based on the claim history of the area, social and economic factors.
Weather can also affect home rates. Homes located in places that are more susceptible to harsh weather will pay higher insurance rates than areas with calmer weather.
The Average Cost of Living by State
We’ve created the data from different sources to determine the cost of living for New York, Columbia, and California. On the other hand, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Tennessee have the lowest cost of living.
We considered eight different factors when comparing the cost of living.
- Miscellaneous goods and services
- Housing costs
- Auto insurance
- Home insurance
- Health care
We compared them in order of importance and effect on the cost of living of an area. The list is topped by goods and services and housing. Together, they make beyond half of the overall result for the cost of living of an area. Find the average cost of living here.
The average cost of living of the whole country is 100.
That implies that Mississippi that has an 84.78% average cost of living index is below the national average.
On the other side, Hawaii is 195.8, which implies that it is almost double the country’s average.
Let’s take a look at the cost of living of some states.
States with the Most Expensive Cost of Living
Cost of Living in Hawaii
Hawaii is the state with the highest cost of living index at 196.3. This implies that the cost of living in Hawaii is above the national average by 96.3%.
The housing index in the state is 336.3, where a 2-bedroom costs around $1,895 per month, and the average home value is around $660,000.
Groceries in Hawaii are highly expensive as well, since most goods are shipped to the island.
The livable wage in Hawaii is $61,000.
One of the largest factors in the cost of living in Hawaii is housing costs. It has the most expensive housing costs in the country. The average property in Hawaii costs more than three times the national average. Housing is not the only higher cost in the state. Hawaii also has expensive utilities and grocery costs.
Cost of Living in District of Columbia COL
The second-highest cost of the living index goes to the District of Columbia at 161.1. Its housing index is 279.2, with a median rent price of a 2-bedroom apartment at $2,776 per month.
The living income in the District of Columbia is $67,000 and is the highest in the country.
Cost of Living in California
The third-highest cost of living index in the country is in California at 138.5. The highest transportation index in California is second to Hawaii at 132.4, due to the insanely high gas prices (highest in the US).
The housing index in California is 196.5, with the cost of a 2-bedroom apartment at $2,495 and even more expensive in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Livable income in California is $57,000. Your money will probably work further in locations like Bakersfield and Redding than it will in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Home insurance costs are at the lower side for California than the national average. Apart from that, residents pay more for vehicle insurance, housing, transportation, groceries, healthcare, utilities, and miscellaneous goods.
Cost of Living in Oregon
The fourth-highest cost of living index in the country is in Oregon at 134.6. Its housing index is 184.8, with rent for a 2-bedroom cost at $1,123 which is lesser than the national average but is much higher compared to cities like Portland.
Some of the most expensive gas prices in the country can be found in Oregon, with 129.4 as the transportation index. The livable income in Oregon is $52,000.
Cost of Living in Florida
In general, the 31st less expensive cost of living is in Florida, so it stands in the middle. The Sunshine state is around average for most cost factors except for, of course, insurance if you live here.
Some of the most expensive home insurance rates in the country are in Florida. You will possibly pay more for insurance in Florida than elsewhere. Residents pay more for home insurance due to the weather and claims history of the area.
Hurricanes are common in the Sunshine State, whether towards the east coast, west coast, or the panhandle. You will want to remember this if you choose Florida as your next home.
Florida is a common destination for those coming from the northern states when they retire. Based on the location in Florida where you choose to settle, how much you spend will be dependent on it.
Read our Guide For Moving to Florida
Cost of Living in New York
The fifth-highest cost of living index in the United States is in New York at 133.7. Its housing index is 197.5.
A 2-bedroom home in NYC costs an average of $3.675, and a 2-bedroom in the state of New York cost around $1,528.
Utilities, groceries, and transportation are all more than the country’s average, but not significantly high.
The living income in New York is $59,000. Similar to Texas and California, you will want to know more about the cost of each area when planning to move to New York.
A condominium in New York City or a home in Westchester County will cost you a lot of dollars. However, neighborhoods in upstate New York are highly affordable.
In general, the average resident of New York pays more than twice for housing than the national average. Auto insurance is also expensive.
Syracuse and Buffalo are examples of places in New York that beseech snow, but the state, in general, doesn’t experience many storms that cause major damage. Hence, cheaper home insurance rates than other states.
Read our guide to Moving to NYC.
Cost of Living in Texas
Texas ranked 19th on the list of least expensive states in the country as regards the cost of living. In general, the cost of living is below the national average. You won’t pay much to live in Texas than other areas, including auto insurance, housing, and transportation.
However, you’ll spend more money on home insurance, and possibly more on utilities, Texas is more susceptible to hurricanes, which implies higher rates of home insurance.
Don’t forget, Texas is a vast state. The cost of home insurance and other costs varies greatly. If you reside in El Paso, your home insurance rates will possibly be lower than if you lived in Houston or Galveston, which can experience many hurricanes.
So, do not let the state averages lead you into moving to Texas. Ensure you compare the certain area to determine its cost of living.
States with the Lowest Cost of Living
Cost of Living in Mississippi
The lowest cost of living in the United States is in Mississippi at 84.8. The housing Index in Mississippi is at 66.7 and is the lowest in the country. The median cost of a home in the state, is $128,000, and the average cost to rent a 2-bedroom apartment is $746. The living income in Mississippi is just $46,000.
Cost of Living in Oklahoma
The second-lowest cost of living index in the country is in Oklahoma at 86.8. Oklahoma also has much lesser housing costs, with the cost of renting a 2-bedroom apartment on the average around $879 per month. The living income in Oklahoma is around $47.000.
Cost of Living in Arkansas
The third-lowest cost of living index in the United States is in Arkansas at 87.8. Healthcare, housing, and transportation are particularly on the lower side in Arkansas than in other parts of the United States. The living income in Arkansas is just $45,000.
Cost of Living in Kansas
The cost of living index in Kansas is the fourth-lowest in the country. Its housing cost index is significantly low at 71.8. Renting an average 2-bedroom in Kansas is just around $752 per month. The livable income in Kansas is about $48,000 per year.
Cost of Living in Missouri
The cost of living index in Missouri is the fifth-lowest in the United States at 88.9. Its housing index is 71.6 and is the second-lowest in the nation, with median rent for a 2-bedroom apartment at $827 and the median home value around $159,000. The living income in Missouri is $46,000.
Cost of Living within the States
Rates in states like California and Hawaii are higher than in places like Utah and Idaho. However, the cost of living is different for each region in a state, also. Rural areas often have cheaper costs of living than urban and suburban areas.
Even metropolitan areas inside the same state vary. Texas is one typical example. Cities like Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso, Beaumont, and Amarillo are all in Texas, but the cost to live in each of them varies.
The more populated Northeast is not escaped from the huge cost of living fluctuations either.
New York has Westchester County, New York City area, and Long Island which all have expensive costs.
However, the Empire State also has more affordable places, such as Rochester, Albany, Buffalo, and Utica. So, do not cross out an entire state if its overall cost of living is high. Instead, find out more about the numbers to compare certain regional costs.
Knowing the amount you need to earn to keep your standard of living provides you important information to find out if it’s worth it to relocate to that area. Make sure you do your findings very well. With this post, you should be able to make an informed decision about your choice of state to live in.
Thomas has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. Thomas is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.