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Unfortunately, the median salary in many states won’t cover the cost of living, which includes buying basic necessities, making discretionary purchases and saving for the future. We’ve tabulated the living wage you need to pay for life in all 50 states comfortably. 

We’ve also compiled the top 10 states with plenty of jobs and very low costs of living. See if your state made the list.

10. Oklahoma

  • Unemployment rate: 2.8%
  • Annual cost of necessities: $28,345

Oklahoma has the highest unemployment rate on this top 10 list but the cheapest annual cost of necessities. Generally, residents in this state pay the lowest prices for housing and groceries than residents in the other states in our top 10 list.

9. New Hampshire

  • Unemployment rate: 1.9%
  • Annual cost of necessities: $38,645

New Hampshire has the highest cost of necessities. However, it is in a three-way tie with South Dakota and Nebraska for the lowest unemployment rate.

8. Utah

  • Unemployment rate: 2.3%
  • Annual cost of necessities: $33,894

Utah’s utility prices are among the lowest on this list. The state’s healthcare costs fall in the middle of the pack.

7. Wisconsin

  • Unemployment rate: 2.4%
  • Annual cost of necessities: $32,481

Wisconsin’s healthcare costs run high. However, grocery and transportation expenses are competitive with the other states on our list.

6. Arkansas

  • Unemployment rate: 2.7%
  • Annual cost of necessities: $29,003

The state’s unemployment rate is the second highest. Fortunately, its necessities cost less than most of the other states. Arkansas boasts the second-cheapest healthcare and third-cheapest housing.

5. Missouri

  • Unemployment rate: 2.5%
  • Annual cost of necessities: $29,379

Missouri’s unemployment rate is higher than most states on this list. However, residents enjoy the cheapest transportation costs and third-cheapest groceries.

4. North Dakota

  • Unemployment rate: 2.1%
  • Annual cost of necessities: $32,297

North Dakota residents pay the third-highest transportation costs. Fortunately, housing prices are competitive, and groceries are affordable.

3. Alabama

  • Unemployment rate: 2.2%
  • Annual cost of necessities: $28,744

Alabama’s unemployment rate is lower than many states on this list. Plus, residents benefit from the second-cheapest cost of necessities, thanks to the least expensive healthcare services and second-most affordable housing prices.

2. South Dakota

  • Unemployment rate: 1.9%
  • Annual cost of necessities: $31,888

South Dakota boasts a low unemployment rate. Plus, the state has the second-lowest utility prices on our list.

1. Nebraska

  • Unemployment rate: 1.9%
  • Annual cost of necessities: $30,098

Nebraska’s unemployment rate is also very low. While the state’s grocery prices are in the middle of the pack, residents pay the least for utilities than anyone else on our list.

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best states to live with both plenty of jobs and a low cost of living. GOBankingRates first found each state’s (1) May 2023 unemployment rate as sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Then for each qualified state, GOBankingRates found the itemized costs of living for necessities, sourced from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center’s Q1 2023 Cost of Living data series, such as (2) groceries cost of living; (3) healthcare cost of living; (4) utilities cost of living; (5) transportation cost of living; and (6) housing. GOBankingRates then factored out the cost of living indices from factors (2) – (6) by the 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Consumer Expenditure Survey; to find (7) total annual cost of necessities. Factors (1) and (7) were then scored and combined, with the lowest score being the best. All data was compiled on June 26, 2023.


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