BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — The cost of living is rising in the United States — and no matter your status, it’s easy to notice that people all across the country are paying more for basic needs. The prices for these can be so high for some that they choose to move to some states specifically because of their low cost of living. But which states hold the title of the cheapest to live in?

To determine the most affordable states in the US, Consumer Affairs focuses on six major aspects for life that have significant costs for the typical adult. The following is a list of the cost factors, as well as the percentage that they each contributed to the overall results and the method that data was obtained.

  • Housing Rent/Mortgage Payments (35%): This score is based on a combination of the state’s median home listing price and their overall apartment rent, stemming from and Apartment List (respectively).
  • Tax Burdens (25%): A score based on 2022’s figures for effective tax rates and per-capita averages in dollars from the Tax Foundation. Property tax rates paid by the middle 20% of taxpayers from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy’s 2018 analysis was also added into this score.
  • Groceries (15%): Grocery spending as a share of per-capita spending by state residents from the BEA in 2021, indicating the percentages of PCE devoted to ‘food and beverages purchased for off-premises consumption’.
  • Out-of-Pocket Health Care (15%): This is the combination of three equal elements from 2021 — BEA’s PCE figures for health care spending as a share of per-capita spending by each state’s residents, each state’s average annual family premium per enrolled employee for employer-based health insurance from the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the percentage of adults in the state who went without medical care due to cost from The Commonwealth Fund.
  • Gas/Fuel for Vehicles (5%): This is the combination of the state’s most recent per-gallon cost of middle-grade gasoline (provided by AAA on November 9, 2022) and the BEA’s “Gasoline and other goods” percentage as of 2021 PCE for each state.
  • Home Utilities (5%): This is each state’s regional price index in 2020 for utilities as calculated by the BEA.

When all the factors are weighed together, the list of the cheapest states to live in reveals some unexpected results — including particularly good ones for ND. The top ten cheapest states to live in and their total price scores, according to Consumer Affairs, are as follows:

RankStateHousing ScoreTaxes ScoreGroceries ScoreHealthcare ScoreGasoline ScoreUtilities ScoreTotal Score
1North Dakota12.4710.7311.046.944.375.1650.72
2West Virginia9.0610.0113.488.315.476.3452.67
6South Dakota14.8311.3510.977.914.496.1155.65

North Dakota took the first spot on the list of overall cheapest states due to low numbers in housing, grocery, gas, and utility costs. This can easily be explained when looking our industries — in addition to having plenty of farmers and ranchers to deliver cost-effective and delicious food, we are one of the USA’s largest producers of crude oil. Combined with low taxes, this makes ND a shoo-in for the top spot. However, as the table points out, healthcare costs in the state are extremely high when paid for out-of-pocket — even more so than other states.

We can continue seeing how well ND stacks up to other states in each individual category by taking a more exact look at the numbers themselves. Here are a few particular categories that North Dakota ranked highly in.

RENTING: According to the Apartment List and U.S Census, in October 22, North Dakota was among the states with the lowest amount of rent paid every month.

RankStateMedian Rent in October 2022
1West Virginia$595
2North Dakota$855

GROCERIES: According to PBS, food costs overall rose 13.5% nationwide from 2021 – 2022 — the largest increase in 43 years. However, North Dakota’s food prices are still some of the lowest in the nation, according to the BEA’s study. In order to normalize intra-state price gaps, Consumer Affairs looked at grocery expenses as a percentage of consumers’ monthly budget instead of a dollar amount.

RankState% of Monthly Budget on Groceries
3New York6.75%
4South Dakota6.91%
5North Dakota6.97%

GAS AND UTILITIES: With electric power, home heating fuel, and gasoline prices ripe for discussion and a frequent hot topic nationwide, North Dakota’s prices for these services are rather low. This, according to the Energy Administration Information, stems from the fact that higher utility prices are related to high prices of natural gas. This is something ND has few issues with, and the numbers show.

RankStateRegional Price Parity
5North Dakota81.5

To view the full study on the cheapest states to live in, visit this page on Consumer Reports’ website.