The cost of maintaining a basic standard of living varies throughout the United States. Housing, food, transportation, health care, taxes, and other necessities vary in cost from county to county, with the total cost of living in the most expensive place in the country more than twice that of the least expensive place.
The cost of living also varies drastically within states, with rural areas often offering cheaper goods and services than denser, urban areas. In most states, there is a county where the cost of living is at least 25% less than that of another county.
24/7 Wall St. used data from the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator to identify the least expensive place in every state. We ranked counties based on the estimated monthly cost for a single adult to maintain a modest yet adequate standard of living.
Housing is one of the largest components of cost of living. On average, housing accounts for approximately 25% of the total cost of living nationwide. In many of the least expensive places to live in every state, however, housing accounts for less than 15% of total living expenses. These are America’s 25 most affordable housing markets.
Many of the least expensive places to live in every state may also be less desirable than other counties. In a majority of the counties on our list, the population change from 2013 to 2018 was less than the +3.6% national figure, with roughly half of the places experiencing negative population change. These are the 25 worst counties to live in.
Many of these places are also currently experiencing high levels of joblessness due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In roughly half of the counties on this list, unemployment was still above the 13.0% national rate as of May 2020. For more on how COVID-19 has impacted U.S. counties, see the counties in every state where COVID-19 is growing the fastest.