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The cheapest state in the nation lets you pocket more cash

2 minute read

When you’re stressed about money — which we all are — you tend to think about ways to make more money because spending less is often harder. What about moving to a less expensive place?

You may not be able to keep the same job or even always the same pay, but you can find a place where it’s worth it. ranked all 50 states by median household income and calculated how much money was left over after living expenses. Mississippi took the number one spot for lowest living expenses.

Residents there have a median household income of just over $40,000 a year, and after living expenses a leftover income of 49 percent. That’s a big difference compared to last place Hawaii, where residents actually lose money — nearly 13 percent of their monthly income — to live there.

This is the second year that Hawaii took the top (bottom?) spot, the state where you’re most likely to live paycheck-to-paycheck. Even though they have the second-highest median household income, more than $73,000, utilities cost more than double the U.S. average, says. They are the only state in the nation where it costs residents more to live there than what they are earning.

Not that all the other states have it that great, either.

California was just ahead of Hawaii in terms of affordability. Residents can only expect a handful of cash after they pay their living expenses, about 6.5 percent of their income. It’s not entirely surprising, as home prices are usually some of the highest in the nation and continue to grow. says this state has some of the highest transportation costs in the country too: Californians can expect to pay 17 percent of their income on it.

So that’s the bad. What about the good?

If you’re feeling bad about how expensive it is to just live based on these pricey states, move to a cheaper spot. Aside from Mississippi, another Southern state will save you quite a bit: Arkansas.

People on average are making just about $42,000 a year, a stark difference from Hawaii and California. But Arkansas has some of the lowest cost of living expenses in the country. While Cali residents are putting more than half of their paychecks to housing, Arkansas residents are putting up about 20 percent. After you add in food and utilities, you’ll have about 48 percent of your income left over — to save and invest, we hope.

Rounding out the top three is yet another Southern state: Oklahoma. You’ll have about the same amount of money left over after expenses as Arkansas, 48 percent. Housing is dirt cheap, too, as residents only spend $326 per paycheck on housing.

Tennessee came in at number four and rounding out the top five is Indiana. Housing in Indiana is about 20 percent of your paycheck, while food costs make up less than 10 percent. You can expect to save more than $900 after you pay off your living expenses in Indiana, or almost 48 percent.

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About the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Published by, LLC Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Want to Stop Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck? Move to Mississippi - AMP.