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The 5 Most And Least Expensive States To Live In

One strategy for stretching your money is to relocate from an expensive area to a place where life is more affordable. In recent years, a steady exodus from expensive states like New York and California has helped fuel the growth of the Southeast and the desert in the Southwest.

If you’re considering such a money-related move, has a cool interactive map to kick-start your research.  It shows the “living wage” for all 50 states, which they define as the amount of money needed to support two adults and a child.

A quick look at the map reveals no surprises.

The most expensive places to live in America are:

1. Washington, D.C. 

As often as we hear how expensive New York and California are, it’s interesting to see D.C. at the top of this list. According to this research, residents need to pull in $67,867 per year to afford life in our nation’s capital. Considering the folks who live and work in D.C., though, (politicians, government workers, lawyers, etc.) they probably aren’t hurting too much from this hefty figure. For the people who are pulling in less than that $67,867, though, there’s always the ‘burbs.



2. Hawaii

The life of a Hawaiian beach bum is actually pretty expensive. Of course, considering that Hawaii is an island, it’s not too surprising to hear that you need to make about $60,000 per year for a living wage in this state. When most of your groceries and gas are flown in from the mainland, it does bump up the price.



3. Massachusetts

States in the northeast are notoriously expensive. It turns out Massachusetts in particular, though, is expensive, with the living wage being $59,560.

Kripalu Center in the Berkshires Massachusetts


4. Connecticut

Connecticut comes in with the fourth highest living wage at $59,502. Considering their access to fresh lobster, though, it’s hard to blame them.



5. New York State

Sure, we knew New York City was bad, but it turns out the entire state is expensive! The living wage in New York is $59,128. That’s a lot of dough!



The cheapest places to live are:

1. Idaho

Potatoe-lovers rejoice! It turns out living in Idaho is cheap, so the living wage is just $45,801 per year. It looks like you can have your potato and eat it too…



2. South Dakota

It’s not surprising to see this state on the list considering it’s the fifth least populated state in the country. The living wage is just $45,410.



3. West Virginia

The Mountain State comes in third for lowest living wage with just $44,823. While we don’t always hear great things about West Virginia, it’s hard to ignore that low living wage, and just look at that view.



4. Arkansas

The living wage for this state with two adults and a child comes in at just $44,571. Just be sure to take a close look at the town you’re moving to before packing up. That number does change depending on where you move.



5. Kentucky

Calling all Mint Julip and horse racing fanatics. It’s time to consider the move to Kentucky. The Bluegrass State’s living wage comes in with the lowest living wage at just $43,308.


Thomas Kelley /

Zippia built its map using MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, which allows you to determine the cost of living at the county level in all 50 states.

As you look at these numbers, remember that a living wage provides a minimal living.  You aren’t going to live like a king at these income levels.  You will be providing the basics.  Still, this information provides a good starting point for determining whether and where you should move – and how big a raise you’ll be giving yourself by relocating.

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