The Quick Report

Here’s How Each State’s Cost of Living Ranks

The US might be one big country, but each state kind of functions as its own society. The average cost of living fluctuates dramatically depending on which state you want to call home. Today, we’re ranking each state in the US by how expensive it is to live there, starting with the priciest!

1. Hawaii

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Hawaii is an expensive place to live for a lot of reasons. It’s pretty far from the rest of the US, geographically, sitting right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. That makes it a huge “goal” state to live in as well as pumping up the cost to receive supplies from the mainland.

2. California

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The Golden State is home to Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and many other places where many people want to live. With a median household income of $84,000, you could expect to pay nearly $750,000 just to buy a house in California.

3. New York

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Photo by Michael Discenza via Unsplash

It’s not surprising to learn that it’s expensive to live in New York State. After all, New York City is there, and it’s one of the most densely populated places on the planet. When you get that many people living in close proximity to one another, things start to get downright expensive.

4. New Jersey

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New Jersey has an average home value of nearly $500,000 and a median household income approaching $90,000. It’s one of the most expensive places in the country to live largely due to its proximity to New York City.

5. Washington

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Seattle is a beautiful city, but if you plan to live there, you’re going to shell out some serious money. Getting a house anywhere in Washington State will run you around $570,000 on average. The Evergreen State is a popular place to live, and people moving in have really increased prices lately.

6. Massachusetts

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Who would have thought that it’d be expensive to live in Boston—or anywhere else in Massachusetts, for that matter. New England is expensive! The average house in the state costs around $590,000 and the median household income is hovering around $89,000.

7. Maryland

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The Old Line State is the seventh most expensive state in the US to live in, which is a result of its population density and proximity to major cities like Washington DC. Baltimore is a huge metropolitan city, which contributes heavily to the average house price of $400,000.

8. Alaska

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Alaska is one of the few states near the top of the list where population density isn’t really a factor in its cost of living. Instead, it’s got everything to do with remoteness: outside of the handful of cities along the southern coast of the state, Alaska is a brutal Arctic region that is very difficult to live in.

9. Oregon

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People love moving to Portland. That makes it little surprise to hear that Oregon as a whole has an average home cost of around $490,000. That, combined with the median household income of $70,000, makes Oregon the ninth most expensive state to live in.

10. Colorado

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Colorado is a beautiful state with soaring mountains and some of the coolest cities in the country. That makes it a popular place for young people to move to, which has resulted in a huge spike in population for cities like Boulder. It costs an average of $2,200 to rent a place to stay in the state!

11. Connecticut

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Even the least-populated state of New York City’s “tri-state area” is still among the most expensive states in the US to live in. It’s got everything to do with proximity to the Big Apple, which sees the state’s average home value sitting around $380,000.

12. New Hampshire

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The Granite State continues the trend of New England states being downright prohibitively expensive to live in unless you make somewhere near the household median income of $80,000. The average home price is $450,000, and renters pay a median of $2,100 per month.

13. Virginia

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Virginia is high on this list for many of the same reasons as Maryland: it’s very close to Washington DC. Also, cities like Chesapeake and Virginia Beach have very dense populations, increasing the cost of living for the state dramatically.

14. Rhode Island

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Rhode Island might be a small state, but it’s also located in New England, which makes it an expensive place to live. The Ocean State’s proximity to Boston also goes without saying, as states in the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area are just pricey to live in.  

15. Florida

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Florida is the only place in the contiguous US where you can access tropical temperatures and find places where the icy grip of winter can’t find you. That makes it a popular destination for retirees, or just those seeking some fun in the sun.

16. Illinois

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Why is it expensive to live in Illinois? Well, Chicago is there. That’s reason enough to understand why the average home cost is $250,000 in the state, and median rent hovers around $1,750. The median household income in Illinois is around $72,000, to boot.

17. Vermont

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If you pop open a map, you’ll see that Vermont is located in New England. If you consult this list of the most expensive states to live in, you’ll see that many of them are in New England. It’s expensive to live in a very cold part of the world for some reason. Go figure!

18. Texas

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Texas is a huge state and, as these things go, is not very densely populated. However, a handful of major metropolitan areas in the Lone Star State like Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio contribute to this state’s sky-high average home value of $300,000.

19. Minnesota

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Photo by Nicole Geri

We’re as surprised as you are. People like living in one of the coldest states in the US for some reason, giving it an average home value of $330,000 and median rent of $1,500. Folks just really want to spend time in the Twin Cities, apparently.

20. Delaware

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Just cracking the top 20 is Delaware, a state that is close to both Baltimore and Philadelphia. The relatively small state is home to just over a million people, and that population density helps make it a relatively expensive state to live in.

21. Maine

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The Pine Tree State is the only state in New England that isn’t bizarrely expensive to live in, but it’s still not cheap. This could be due in part to its remoteness and extreme northern position in the US, giving it brutally cold winters that keep all but the most determined people away.

22. Arizona

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If you want to live in the Grand Canyon State, expect to spend around $425,000 for a home or $2,000 per month for rent. Many of Arizona’s cities are located in the desert, making it unsurprising that it’s a bit pricey to live there—it’s hard to get stuff out into such an inhospitable region!

23. Pennsylvania

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You might expect Pennsylvania to be at least a little higher on this list, given that it’s got Philadelphia. However, despite the presence of that large city, the average home cost in the state is just $257,000, and median rent is $1,500.

24. Georgia

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Getting near the middle of the pack, Georgia is a unique state when it comes to cost of living. If you want to live in a densely populated place like Atlanta, Savannah, or Augusta it’s going to cost you. However, most of the state’s cities are much more affordable.

25. Nevada

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Directly in the middle of our list is Nevada, which could come as a bit of a surprise. However, don’t let the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas fool you: most of the cities in Nevada are relatively small and affordable to live in.

26. Utah

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You might see a pattern developing here in the middle of the states: one notable big city doesn’t make the whole state expensive to live in. Utah’s average home cost is a whopping $500,000, but the median household income is nearly $80,000.

27. Michigan

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It’s been a long time since Detroit’s numerous car companies were a meaningful economic force in the state. As such, it’s the 27th most expensive state to live in. And most of the price is coming from the aforementioned Detroit and some expensive lakefront property in the northern region of the state.

28. North Carolina

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Sure, you could spend a fortune to live in Charlotte, North Carolina, or you could save some money and live in any other city in the state.  Nothing against Charlotte, it’s just a bit too bland to justify how expensive it is to live in.

29. South Carolina

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Unsurprisingly, South Carolina is right behind North Carolina in terms of cost of living due to the states’ nearly identical demographics. There are a handful of pricier cities to live in, like Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston, but the state is otherwise quite affordable.

30. Wisconsin

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Getting into the bottom half of the list, Wisconsin has an average home pricey of $290,000 and a median monthly rent of $1,250. It’s a somewhat remote state with a cold climate, which could explain the smaller costs.

31. Indiana

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It’s not too expensive to live in the Hoosier State, with an average home cost of $232,000 and monthly rent around $1,300. This could be partly due to the lack of major metropolitan areas in the state and its relative distance from big cities.

32. Ohio

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This one might surprise you: Ohio is only the 32nd most expensive state in the US. This is despite the presence of several major cities and relative proximity to other populous states. Chalk it up to a huge disparity in the cost of rural versus urban living!

33. Missouri

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As long as you don’t want to live in St. Louis or Kansas City, you won’t break the bank to live in Missouri. The Midwest as a general rule is a very affordable place to live due to its lower population and relatively straightforward topography.

34. Idaho

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Idaho is the most affordable state of the Pacific Northwest to live in, which could help its popularity in the years to come. As a far-northern state that borders Canada to the north, Idaho’s sparse population and relative remoteness make it very inexpensive to live in.

35. Nebraska

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What goes on in the Cornhusker State? If we had to guess, we’d say college football, mostly. But if you want to live there, you’ll only need to shell out around $250,000 for a home on average. The median household income is just over $66,000.

36. Montana

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Another far northern state with a low cost of living, Montana is kind of “the middle of nowhere.” That being said, it’s a beautiful place with lots of untouched wilderness, so many people who want to get far away from the hustle and bustle move there!

37. Wyoming

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Who doesn’t want to live in a state that’s officially called “the Cowboy State”? A lot of people, apparently: more people live in Washington DC than in the entire state of Wyoming. Somehow, there are still states with a lower overall cost of living, though.

38. Louisiana

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As long as you’re not looking to live in New Orleans, you won’t need much cash to make the Pelican State your home. Louisiana has an average home cost of $200,000 and median household income of $53,000.

39. Kansas

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The Heartland of Kansas might be right in the middle of the country geographically, but it’s near the bottom of our list in terms of cost of living. That could be due to its low population density and relatively uninspiring, flat topography.

40. North Dakota

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North Dakota is very sparely populated and quite remote, but that doesn’t mean it’s the cheapest state to live in. The average house is $254,000, and the median household income is $68,000. The average monthly rent in the Peace Garden State is $945.

41. Tennessee

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Tennessee is an interesting state on this list: it’s home to some major cities like Nashville and Memphis, but it’s still near the bottom of our list in terms of cost of living. Why is that? Well, Tennessee is a much bigger state than you probably realize and most of its cities are quite rural.

42. West Virginia

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It’s not surprising to hear that West Virginia is an inexpensive state to live in. Many of its cities grew out from older coal mining settlements, and the region isn’t well-known for being a “cool” or “hip” place to live.

43. Oklahoma

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Oklahoma is very close to Texas geographically, but it’s dramatically more affordable to live in the Sooner State. Why is that? There are a number of factors contributing to this affordability, including an abundance of real estate and surprisingly low gas prices.

44. South Dakota

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Few states are more “the middle of nowhere” than South Dakota. It’s a massive expanse of mountains, forests, and a few scattered cities. It’s the seventh most affordable state to live in, only pricier than the other states on our list due to its remoteness.

45. New Mexico

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Why is it so cheap to live in the Land of Enchantment? It’s got a lot to do with the availability of high-paying jobs in the state. Or, specifically, the lack of them! Many people with higher education choose to move away, leaving the state at a lower income level than many of its neighbors.

46. Iowa

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The Hawkeye State is surprisingly affordable to live in. The only cheaper states to call home are all in the Southeast US. So, what gives with Iowa? The Midwestern state is just rather distant from any notable activities or population centers, making it a sleepy, quiet state to live in.

47. Arkansas

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The cheapest states in the US to live in are all throughout the Southeast. While the average home value is $200,000, the state’s median household income is only $48,000. That’s stunningly low for the US and speaks to a general lack of high-paying positions in the state.

48. Kentucky

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Much like Arkansas, Kentucky has an average home value of $200,000 and a median household income of around $50,000. Once again, this is due to a number of factors that plague the Southeast, including a lack of investment from large companies.

Read More: The Coolest Small City in Every State

49. Alabama

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It should come as no surprise that Alabama, a state with well-documented race and class divisions, is among the lowest cost of living states in the US. The average home costs around $223,000 and the median household income hovers around $55,000.

Read More: The Best Pizza Place in Every State

50. Mississippi

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Mississippi routinely ranks last in terms of education and job opportunities, which makes it one of the poorest states in the country. It’s also got access to plenty of shipping from the Mississippi River, which keeps the price of groceries and other goods inexpensive.

Read More: The Most Iconic Food From Every State