Study Finds Cost of Living Is Going Up (and Down) in These States

See if your state’s cost of living is rising or decreasing.

Are you thinking of uprooting and starting a new life in a different state? Depending on where you land, your bank account might either thank you for relocating or demand you go out and get a second job.

A recent GOBankingRates study found that the cost of living can swing enormously from one state to the next — so before you pull up stakes in search of greener pastures, make sure you’re prepared for what you’re walking into.

Keep reading to see which states you’re most and least likely to live paycheck to paycheck.

Using data from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, GOBankingRates analyzed the 2017 cost of living across all 50 states and the District of Columbia and then measured the cost in each state against the national average. The study examined spending across six critical categories: groceries, transportation, utilities, healthcare, housing and miscellaneous expenses. You can use this information first to find out if you live in an expensive state, a cheap state or somewhere in between.

If you’re planning on moving, pursuing a career in a different state or considering relocating for retirement, these findings will help you discover a place where expenses are low.

How the Cost of Living Varies in the United States

The study found that the cost of living is lowest in the Midwest and the South. Prices are highest in New England, the West, the District of Columbia and America’s two non-contiguous states. The cheapest state is Mississippi and the most expensive state by far is Hawaii. Those extremes remained the same from the year before — but many other states became cheaper or more expensive between 2016 and 2017.  

Indiana, for example, dropped from the second-cheapest state in America in 2016 to No. 10 in 2017.  The cost of living decreased the most in South Dakota, with the state rising from the No. 34 spot in 2017 to the No. 27 spot in 2017.

Other states witnessed fluctuations that weren’t as dramatic but certainly affected those who live there. Oregon, for example, was No. 39 in 2017, but the cost of living there rose enough to push the Northwest state to No. 45 in this year’s study. Wyoming moved from No. 16 to No. 21, Utah moved from No. 17 to No. 22 and Virginia moved from No. 28 to No. 33.

Here is the complete ranking:

StateRankCost of Living Index
Mississippi185.1
Arkansas287.8
Oklahoma389.2
Michigan489.7
Tennessee589.8
Missouri689.9
Kansas790.2
Alabama890.3
Georgia990.8
Indiana1091.1
Texas1191.2
Iowa1291.3
Idaho1392.2
Ohio1492.3
Nebraska1592.9
Kentucky1693.7
Louisiana1794.4
North Carolina1894.6
New Mexico1994.9
Arizona2095.6
Wyoming2195.6
Utah2295.7
West Virginia2395.9
Wisconsin2496.2
Illinois2597.2
Florida2699.3
South Dakota2799.5
South Carolina2899.5
North Dakota2999.7
Minnesota3099.7
Montana31100.4
Pennsylvania32102
Virginia33102.2
Colorado34102.3
Delaware35102.9
Nevada36104.7
Washington37107.1
Maine38113.6
New Hampshire39115
Vermont40120.7
New Jersey41121.9
Rhode Island42123.6
Connecticut43125.7
Maryland44128.7
Oregon45129.3
Alaska46131.3
New York47132.5
Massachusetts48132.9
California49141
District of Columbia50155.7
Hawaii51188.3

Click through to see where incomes are shrinking and growing fastest.

Methodology: GOBankingRates analyzed the cost of living in every state across America by examining six factors: 1) housing, 2) groceries, 3) utilities, 4) transportation, 5) healthcare and miscellaneous goods based on 2017 data (the most recent data available) from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. The U.S. average is 100 across all index categories so a number higher than 100 is above average in cost and a number below 100 is below average in cost.