Thinking of moving to a cheaper state? We break down the numbers

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A ConsumerAffairs study found the lowest costs in the Midwest and South

Heightened interest in the future of the nation’s housing market has demonstrated one thing convincingly: not all housing markets are the same.

Where prices escalated the most – cities like San Francisco, Phoenix and Austin – prices are falling but homes are still unaffordable for most would-be buyers. While home prices are still rising in cities like Memphis and Indianapolis, home prices there are much less expensive.

Since housing is a big part of the cost of living, lower home prices usually translate into a lower cost of living. In a new ConsumerAffairs study, 35% of respondents said their cost of living is so high they’re thinking of moving to a cheaper state. But what states are the cheapest?

That’s what ConsumerAffairs researchers asked and determined that North Dakota has the lowest cost of living in the U.S., followed by West Virginia and Michigan. In fact, the lowest-cost states are clustered in the Midwest and Appalachian Southeast.

It wasn’t easy compiling the list because of the other components going into the cost of living. For example, Louisiana has higher home prices than North Dakota but has lower taxes.

West Virginia has the lowest home prices but higher grocery and health care prices, as well as higher taxes.

The 10 states with the lowest cost of living in 2023 are:

  1. North Dakota

  2. West Virginia

  3. Michigan

  4. Louisiana

  5. Ohio 

  6. South Dakota

  7. Missouri

  8. Kentucky

  9. Oklahoma

  10. Arkansas

Michigan health insurance costs

You might not think of Michigan as a low-cost-of-living state but we found Michigan has the country’s most affordable health care. That’s largely achieved by the low premiums on union job-based health care benefits.

ConsumerAffairs researchers found general healthcare-related expenses make up 16.1% of Michiganders’ monthly outlays, slightly less than the national average of 16.25%. Michigan’s median home prices are also well below the national average.

States with the highest cost of living are clustered along the North Atlantic Coast, but the two most expensive states are all the way across the country – Hawaii and California. New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts round out the top five.

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