February 12, 2024 | Sammy Tran

Mississippi: The Least Expensive State in the U.S.


Mississippi

With the overall cost of living on a steady inclined, there are many states that are becoming increasingly expensive to live in. However, there are still some that provide a haven from the cruelty of the financial-driven world.

Mississippi is one of those states, in fact, across the board, it is the cheapest state in the country to live in. But affordable living comes with a price of its own.

Mississippi Cost Of Living Split Gallery

Population

First off, Mississippi is home to over 2.95 million people, as of 2022. Jackson, being the capital city of the state, has the most population.

Jackson Skyline, Mississippi - 2012Visit Mississippi, Flickr

Cost of Living

Mississippi has the lowest cost of living in the United States. With a cost-of-living index of 83.3, expenses are nearly 17% less than the national average.

Street in Jackson, Mississippi - 2009Ken Lund, Flickr

Cost of Living: Defined

The Cost-of-living index measures the average cost of living in the U.S. as a baseline of 100—over 100 means a high COL and under 100 means less than the national average.

Man with documentsKampus Production, Pexels

Housing Costs: Ownership

Mississippi's housing costs are the lowest in the nation. Home prices range from $32,000 to $240,000 depending on the city, with an average of $162,292.

Housing costs vary based on neighborhoods, personal credit scores and current interest rates. 

House for sale signJuice Flair, Shutterstock

Housing Costs: By City

It’s important to note that housing prices can significantly differ across various regions within the state. According to Zillow, Jackson has an average home value of only $68,103, while Biloxi has an average home value of $216, 118.

The Redding House - Biloxi, MS - 2012Brent Moore, Flickr

Housing Costs: Two Cheapest Cities

The two cheapest places to buy a home in Mississippi are Jackson and Gulfport, where they apparently rarely exceed $200,000.

Sign for Gulfport Mississippi along highway 90, November of 2019.clayton harrison, Shutterstock

Housing Costs: Rent

Average Rent for a 1–2-bedroom apartment can also range from around $700 to just over a thousand. Many places include utilities, but not all.

It greatly depends on which part of the state you live in.

People renting a house.Ivan Samkov, Pexels

Housing Costs: Rent by City

For example, in Jackson, Mississippi a 1-bedroom apartment costs around $1,200, but in Southaven a one bedroom starts at around $588. 

Places like Hattiesburg and Biloxi are somewhere in between, with a one bedroom costing closer to $700. 

A family in an open house viewing,MART PRODUCTION, Pexels

Utilities

Utility costs play a significant role in Mississippi's overall cost of living. According to Forbes, the average monthly cost in Mississippi is around $412.

Utilities in Mississippi are approximately 9% lower than the national average.

Couple are looking at bills.Mikhail Nilov, Pexels

Utilities: Breakdown

The average cost of an energy bill in Mississippi is about $135. Water bills can be as cheap as $23 per month, and natural gas can be as low as $63 depending on usage.

Woman is looking at bills.Mikhail Nilov, Pexels

Utilities: Breakdown Cont'd

The average internet bill sits at only $30 per month, while the average phone bill can reach $114.

Again, the average costs of utilities depend on the area, the company, and the usage.

Calculator and notepad placed over stack of paper bills.Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

Groceries

Food and grocery costs per month are approximately $420. However, this will change from place to place. For example, those in Jackson may pay slightly more than that.

This number also depends on items purchased and quantity purchased.

Young man buying groceries at the supermarkethedgehog94, Shutterstock

Groceries: Breakdown

The following numbers vary depending on city, store, brand and quantity. 

The average cost of 1 gallon of milk in Mississippi is around $3.35, a loaf of bread is around $2.30, a dozen eggs is about $3.50, and two pounds of potatoes is around $2.84.  

Testing The Limits Of Human StupidityFlickr, Ben Schumin

Groceries: National Average

When it comes to groceries and food costs, Mississippi generally aligns with prices found elsewhere in the country.

According to 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average spending on food at home is $5,259 annually, or about $438 per month for most US households.  

Groceries, mother, kidFamVeld, Shutterstock

Transportation

Transportation costs include gas prices and vehicle maintenance.

According to MIT, a single adult with no children can expect to pay upwards of $5,400.

Street in New Albany, Mississippi - 2017Timberwolf62, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Transportation: Gas Prices

Gas prices in Mississippi are typically in and around the national average, however these prices fluctuate over time.

According to Numbeo, Oxford has higher gas prices than other major cities in Mississippi, and Jackson often has the lowest. 

Street in Oxford, Mississippi - 1994.Still The Oldie, Flickr

Healthcare

MIT estimates that one adult with no children can expect to pay about $3,150 annually on healthcare. This number increases significantly once you add children.

University of Mississippi Medical Center - 2020Chad Robertson Media, Shutterstock

Healthcare: Including Children

One adult and one child can expect to pay around $9,400. The number hovers around the $9,000 mark for 2 adults and 1-2 children, even with a working adult.

Healthcare costs can vary depending on factors such as insurance coverage and individual circumstances.

Kid in hospitalLos Muertos Crew, Pexels

Childcare

Families in Mississippi currently pay around $5,937 per year for childcare for one child. This number doubles for two children.  

This number can vary across the state depending on the childcare service, and what is personally needed. 

Three Toddler Eating on White TableNaomi Shi, Pexels

Taxes

Mississippi has a state income tax rate of a flat 5%, and the sales tax rate is 7% for most tangible personal property and some services.

Property taxes in Mississippi are the lowest in the country. 

Person filing tax documents.Nataliya Vaitkevich, Pexels

Explanation: Why is Mississippi Cheaper?

Land availability, lower rent prices and access to the Gulf and highways for shipping make Mississippi the least expensive place to live in the U.S.

Harbor Scene In The Mississippi Gulf Coast.Christie's, Picryl

Most Expensive City in Mississippi

The cost of living in Mississippi varies depending on the city you live in.

The most expensive city in Mississippi is Hattiesburg. The cost of living is 5% higher compared to the state average and 11% lower than in the rest of the U.S.

The Lucas Administration Building ,University of Southern Mississippi - 2021Stephen Reeves, Shutterstock

Least Expensive City in Mississippi

The cheapest major city in Mississippi is Tupelo. It has a cost of living 3% lower below the state average and 18% lower than the national average.

Downtown Tupelo, Mississippi Historic District - 2014Fredlyfish4, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Income: Average Salary by Hour

Minimum wage in Mississippi is currently $7.25/hour, and tipped minimum wage is only $2.13/hour.

However, if Americans work an average of 1,801 hours per year, at 37.5 hours a week, then the average hourly salary in Mississippi is $21.68.

Woman giving moneyPanumas Yanuthai, Shutterstock

Income: By Age

The Census Bureau data finds that householders under 25 have a median household income of $35,512.

Householders aged 25 to 44 have a median income of $53,440, and those aged 45 to 64 years old have a median income of $61,823.

Householders 65 and older have a median income of $43,991.

Young man wearing black shirt is holding money.Tima Miroshnichenko, Pexels

Income: Average Salary by City

City living is often more expensive than rural living, but it is also where the money is.

Mississippi’s own cities can vary in average salary; Southaven sits just under $65,000, while Jackson’s average sits below $37,000.

Happy woman talking on the phone on the street.Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Income: Poverty Rate

Although the cost of living is low, nearly one-fifth of Mississippi residents live at or below the poverty line.

Man holding a empty wallet.Nicola Barts, Pexels

Income: Poverty Rate Cont’d

The median income of a family of four in Mississippi is $70,656, but the living wage for a family of four is $80, 523.

The discrepancy between needs and wages results in the nation’s highest poverty rate. 

Poor man sleeping on the ground outside.MART PRODUCTION, Pexels

Other Advantages to Living in Mississippi

The low cost of living is the top advantage to living in Mississippi. However, there are a few other things people rave about, including: affordable education, community involvement, delicious food, and religious involvement.

Mississippi State University Campus - 2009Jimmy Smith, Flickr

Other Disadvantages to Living in Mississippi

Aside from the poverty rate in Mississippi, other common concerns include: low life expectancy rate, high rates of infant mortality, and high obesity rates.

As well, Mississippi is known as the least educated state in the U.S., and apparently it is not very LGBTQ+ friendly.

A person is holding his fat belly.Towfiqu barbhuiya ,Pexels

Final Thoughts

Although Mississippi has an overall lower cost of living, the income potential adds to the challenge. Even still, in most cases, Mississippi’s average costs are still lower than the national averages, which continues to make it a top choice in affordable living.

Girl makes Thumbs Up.Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels


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